Business Briefs: January 2020

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Ivy Road House is coming to the intersection of Routes 240 and 250. Photo: Theresa Curry.

Ivy Road House to Open this Spring

It’s been 15 years of planning, and almost as much time tied up in approval and permits, but the restaurant at the intersection of Rtes. 240 and 250 is set to open as the Ivy Road House in the first quarter of 2020, according to Bill McKechnie, one of the owners. McKechnie is the owner of the local “Five Guys” franchise and has more than 30 years of experience in the food business, including owning a bakery in Alexandria.

There are three other team members: “Between us, we have more than 100 years of experience in restaurants,” he said, “and we have a chef working with us on the menu.” That chef (and part of the management team) is Christian Kelly, co-owner and chef at Maya. Kelly also ran the kitchen at the Clifton Inn when it received its Relais and Chateaux designation. 

Stu Rifkin, a realtor and restauranteur who buys, sells and puts together restaurants both for himself and others, is another partner. He’s had a hand in more than a dozen Charlottesville-area restaurants, including Northern Exposure, Sweetbones, The Nook, and Rococo’s.

The fourth Ivy Road team member is Jonathan Drolshagen, who manages Ten, The Southern, Cinema Taco and the Jefferson Theater for Redlight Management. 

The nearly-finished building is on the site where successful restaurants once stood (two of them were Pop & Ethel’s and The Gallery), but the audience at the November 2016
Crozet Community Advisory Committee, held after the older structure was demolished, expressed concern about everything from the traffic problems to the type of food being served, to the reason why construction was taking so long. 

McKechnie acknowledged the traffic situation. “It’s a difficult place, and people need to slow down,” he said. He expects the roundabout planned there will help calm traffic once installed. There are 51 parking spaces attached to Ivy Road House, and there will be designated spaces for people picking up orders. That’s where being in a heavily traveled area will be an advantage, he said. “We expect a good part of our business to be carry-out. The location is perfect for people coming home from work, and we’ll have an app that will allow them to send in their orders.” 

What will they be carrying out? American cuisine with some surprising touches, McKechnie said. “We’ll buy local meat and vegetables wherever we can and offer many plant-based dishes.” Once inside, patrons will find the design casual but not rustic, and be able to sit at a bar offering local wine and beer.

It won’t be a white tablecloth kind of a place, but it will show the presence of a chef-in-residence. After years of being referred to by the temporary name, “Mechum’s Trestle,” the restaurant will open under its new name: “We think of that intersection as kind of a gateway into western Albemarle and beyond,” McKechnie said. “We want it to be accessible in both price and atmosphere as well as high-quality.”

Batesville Market for Sale

Got a dollar? If you do, you could be the owner of a thriving local business. Alex Struminger, owner of the Batesville Market, wants the village landmark to continue and is searching for the right buyer. Struminger, who re-opened the store in 2017, said the time is right for a transfer of ownership. “It’s been in the black now for six months, and I think we’ve finally found the right business model.” 

Alex Struminger is selling the Batesville Market. Submitted photo.

That model has been to increase the retail offerings at the store, while maintaining the homemade deli items and baked goods. “Retail sales make up about two-thirds of our sales,” he said. The inventory of specialty, locally made crafts, wine, and food products has become a draw. “People who live nearby want to support local businesses and people visiting the area want to take home something they’re not likely to find anywhere else,” he said. He’s also made sure to stock items that his neighbors might need in a pinch, like a jug of milk or a pound of butter. 

Struminger works in technology and has been part of several start-ups, so he’s been appraising his business for clues to profitability from the start. He noted that in the past, owners have focused primarily on the homemade baked goods and specialty deli items, kind of like a casual cafe with a few other items for sale. Through trial and error, he flipped that focus and the market became a reliable destination for shoppers. That’s why he’s looking for a buyer with a solid retail background, he said.

Something else he’s learned: “The owner really needs to be on the scene, managing the store, in order for it to work.” 

People throughout the community love the weekend scene at the market, where they can hear live music in a warm, neighborly setting. When Struminger initiated a $10 cover charge several months ago, there was no dip in business, he said. “In fact, people seemed relieved that they could contribute somehow to the musicians and the store.” If the buyer is not familiar with local musicians or how to manage booking, it won’t be much of a drawback. “We have volunteers with ties to the music community who will be glad to help.”

The Batesville Market is at the corner of Plank Road and Craig’s Store Road. It was built before 1900 and has had a number of lives, first as the Charles Joseph Store, then for three generations as Page’s Store. More recently it has been known as the Batesville Store and the Plank Road Exchange.

Struminger said he’s had hundreds of offers since he put the business up for sale. Why is the price so low? “I don’t want to ask anybody to pay for my mistakes,” he said.

To inquire about the sale, email [email protected]

Pap-n-Zan’s Open at Clover Lawn

Pap-n-Zan’s has opened in Clover Lawn and has quickly become a part of the community there. “I’m surprised at how many people have already become repeat customers,” said owner Andrew Haggard. That part has gone smoothly, he said, but filling all the positions necessary for the home-style cafe to be open at night has been a little more difficult. Haggard said that with any luck the restaurant will be open for dinner this month and for brunch in the spring. Haggard, who previously managed the Timberwood Grill in Charlottesville, said he wants to properly recruit and train the night shift. Haggard said the present menu is a start, but it will be expanded and refined according to the needs of Pap-n-Zan’s patrons and will offer daily specials. 

Andrew Haggard welcomes diners to Pap-n-Zan’s. Photo: Theresa Curry.

It was Haggard’s original vision for Pap-n-Zan’s (named after his grandparents) to be a welcoming small-town cafe with well-cooked comfort cuisine and a neighborly style. He said he’s been able to adjust to the time demands of working people with short breaks who have offices in the eastern edge of Crozet. In fact, one of his repeat customers is a neighboring office worker who has no break at all. “She’s the only one there,” he said, “so I just run her lunch over to her.” Presently, Pap-n-Zan’s is open 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., with evening hours to begin this month.

Crozet-Made Chocolate Finalist for National Award

Wild Blue Chocolate, the local chocolate handmade by Crozet resident Mike Sever from single-source cacao and maple sugar, has been named a finalist in the 2020 Good Food Foundation Awards. 

The foundation, now in its 10th year, announced the 307 companies in the running for the awards. The finalists all show a commitment to environmental stewardship and business practices that remain in harmony with a better food system. 

Wild Blue Chocolate

The foundation said the businesses selected demonstrate fairness and transparency from seed to plate, have safe and enjoyable working environments, build soil health without pesticides and herbicides, and safeguard biodiversity by creating products free of genetically modified ingredients.

The 403 finalists in 17 categories will be judged for crafting food good for both consumers and the environment. The products first rose to the top in a blind tasting of 1,835 entries by 252 grocers, makers, farmers, journalists and chefs. The finalists have also passed a rigorous screening to confirm standards of ingredient sourcing and environmentally sound agricultural practices. Previously, 17 high-scoring products were disqualified for not meeting the sustainability standards. All of the finalists have worked with growers, ranchers and fishermen to focus on a better food system. The winners will be announced January 17.

Tea Party and Crafts Offered at January Second Saturdays

A couple of new activities distinguish January’s focus on the arts in and around Crozet. This month’s “Second Saturdays” are on January 11. 

At Barn Swallow Artisan Gallery, 796 Gillum’s Ridge Road, owners Janice Arone and Mary Ann Burk invite everyone to a tea party.  Nothing is better than hot tea in the winter, and it’s also a wonderful way to show off the handmade tea pots created by these gifted local potters. Tea will be poured and treats will be served from 2 to 4.

A crafts project creating star ornaments to be offered at Crozet’s “Second Saturdays.”

At the Crozet Artisan’s Depot, crafters of all ages can learn from mixed-media artist Eve Watters. She’ll teach participants how to make a fantastic three-dimensional paper star ornament that can be customized for any occasion. Anyone older than 6 is welcome to attend, but children between 6 and 12 must be accompanied by an adult. Pre-registration is requested at 434-205-4795 or [email protected] Choose one of two sessions: 1 to 2 p.m. or 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. A fee of $4 per person includes all materials, instruction, and tools to make one ornament.

At Over the Moon Bookstore, the display of “Natural Light” continues into January, and is featured throughout Piedmont Place. John Carr Russell paints in oil and acrylic. He’s a Crozet resident and art teacher at St. Anne’s-Belfield in Charlottes-ville.

Jerry O’Dell, a stained glass artist, will demonstrate the Tiffany method of stained glass. Participants will learn about soldering and will be invited to solder a piece to a project. Open Studio at Crozet Arts, 1 to 4 p.m: Demonstration: 2-3 p.m.

A complete schedule and map can be found at www.downtowncrozetinitiative.com/crozet-second-saturdays.

Biz Bits

Jake’s Bar and Grill in Waynesboro has closed, but it will re-emerge as a burger and beer joint with local crafts, wine and liquors, led by Mandi Smack, one of the owners of Blue Mountain Brewery. Smack said the time table is about four months. Nearby, a new co-working space, 143CoWork, is seeking members. There will be a hard hat tour January 15 beginning at the French Press from 6 to 7 p.m. For information, go to 143CoWork.com.

Afton photographer Norm Carter has won the Mildred W. Spicer Arts Fund award for his efforts on behalf of local nonprofits, especially those that support people with disabilities. The award, now in its sixth year, honors those involved in visual arts, music, writing, poetry, or movement. Carter was recognized for contributing high-quality phots to be used by area non-profits in publications and promotions. Minda’s Boutique, which started as a Crozet business and then moved to Charlottesville, is making the transition to an online store. For more information, go to mindasboutique.com. 

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