Business Briefs: July 2021

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Crozet Avenue starting to feel a post-covid revival. Photo: Malcolm Andrews.

Augusta Health Expands Urgent Care, Adds Primary Care Practice

The renovation of several smaller shops east and offices east of town will increase the presence of Augusta Health in the Crozet community. Chad Shomo, speaking for Augusta Health, said the expanded facility was originally scheduled to open in July, but shortages of manpower and supplies have pushed the opening date back, most likely to August. New imaging and laboratory services associated with both practices will allow staff to treat broken bones, diagnose infections on site, and better treat injuries in addition to the services already provided at the Blue Ridge Shopping Center.

The diagnostic imaging and lab services will also be available to Crozet health care providers, regardless of their affiliation, Shomo said. “For instance, if your doctor orders a lab test, you could come here for it.” Urgent care providers at the new office will use Crozet’s existing community emergency services to transport patients with conditions too serious to treat locally. 

Dr. Stephen Brawley will lead Augusta Health’s new primary care practice. Submitted photo.

Stephen Brawley will be the primary care doctor in the new practice, Shomo said. “His background is very interesting in that he has a Ph.D. and an M.D.” Brawley worked in aerospace for the U.S. Navy before studying general surgery and family medicine. 

Shomo said the expansion came about when Augusta Health took a look at the best ways to serve communities to their east and south, and identified the lack of a full-service urgent-care practice in Crozet, and also a need for an additional family practice. Most of the present staff of the smaller urgent care office will be employed as the practice expands. 

Augusta Health’s redesign of several smaller retail outlets at the Blue Ridge Shopping Center adds space for a primary care practice and expansion of the urgent care practice. Submitted photo.

Without a firm opening date, Shomo acknowledged it was difficult to schedule prospective patients, but those interested in joining the Crozet-based practice may call centralized scheduling (833-AHC-HLTH) or 540-213-2630 and ask to be added to Dr. Brawley’s Crozet schedule. Staff will work with them on appointment dates once the practices open. The urgent care practice will be available every day from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., and the primary care practice will have typical weekday office hours.

A Sweet Way to Pay: New Crozet Platform Helps Businesses Extend Credit

Sweet Pay has set up its world headquarters in Crozet’s Blue Goose building, serving businesses seeking to accommodate a variety of consumers making large purchases. David Weyher, the founder and CEO, saw the many ways in which traditional lenders don’t quite match the needs of today’s retailers and contractors, and he foresees more gaps as time goes by. 

Ordinary people needing a new car, home repairs or furniture, for example, may fall short of the highest credit tier, or may not have used credit enough in the past to establish a rating, but still need to pay over time for expensive purchases. These are important reasons for merchants to have an additional option for extending credit, but one of the most important to the millennial market is that the platform offers an application process that’s completely online, Weyher said. “They’ll never need to go to an office or a bank.” He noted that the demographic that prefers this kind of self-service is continuing to grow well beyond millennials.

Sweet Pay Founder and CEO David Weyher. Submitted photo.

There are other features attractive to businesses wanting to serve the interests of their customers. “Buyers will never need to fill out multiple applications,” he said. “It’s a uniform process. If one lender isn’t interested, the same application automatically goes to the next one.”

The Sweet Pay model keeps credit checks to a minimum to avoid penalizing consumers for multiple requests for their credit information. The process begins with a pre-screen, a “soft credit pull” that never appears on their record, but enables lenders to begin their evaluation using a number of other factors to determine the consumer’s ability to pay.

Sweet Pay’s small sales force seeks out reputable national lenders and markets the platform to businesses wanting to update their consumer services at the point of sale, and is having success in attracting both, Weyher said. He’s a serial entrepreneur who previously founded and continues to lead LendPro LLC, and has held leadership positions with several large, publicly traded technology companies.

Sweet Pay doesn’t offer loans directly to individuals. Businesses wanting to know more can inquire through the website, sweetwaytopay.com.

Cross Motorcoach Rolls Into Crozet

He’s a gospel singer, a pastor and a part-time bus driver, and John Muncy has found several ways in which they all fit together. He’s recently purchased Cross Motorcoach and is offering tours marketed to the Christian community. “We go anywhere that’s wholesome and family-friendly, as well as to religious destinations,” he said.

His familiarity with negotiating a large passenger bus on the highway originally came from singing in a family gospel group, where he took his turn at the wheel whenever needed. As an adult, he went on to log 750,000 miles with several major Virginia operators throughout the years. 

John Muncy receives ownership of Cross Tours from Rod Harman. Submitted photo.

One of Muncy’s most interesting driving experiences was traveling with his wife, Pam, and the Daraja Children’s Choir of Africa. “We would leave each year in September with 23 states and approximately 18,000 miles ahead of us, and return the following May,” he said. “We did four tours each year, having 24 kids from Uganda, six college interns, a choir director, school teachers and the tour directors. It was an amazing experience.”

The Muncys established Valley Community Church in 2018, and then moved it to Crozet. Shortly afterwards, John Muncy began driving for Cross Tours and Cross Motorcoach Inc, a business Rod and Pat Harman began in 1996, and built into a successful company. The Harmans had driven together for Little Debbie and struck out on their own after their retirement. The owners and the Muncys became warm friends and, when it came time to sell the business, the two families prayed together and made the transfer in early June.

Cross Tours establishes new headquarters in Crozet. Submitted photo.

In talking about his new business, Muncy said he wanted to thank the Harmans, not only for transferring their business but also for providing their unique service to the area for the past 25 years.

Muncy is already getting bookings, and is open for more. Does he sometimes combine all his talents? Yes, he said, he can sing and preach if requested while he drives. “And sometimes the passengers join in.”

Inquire about booking Cross Tours at 434-365-9571.

Greencroft Club Responds to Pickleball Fans

In mid-June, the Greencroft Club invited the public to celebrate the opening of one of the area’s few 100% pickleball-dedicated courts, just in time for summer.  General Manager John Van Peppen said the courts are open to both full-time and racquet members, with lessons and clinics from local pros available, too. Van Peppen said the club and its membership are enthusiastic about the prospect of being the “epicenter for anyone interested in the fast-growing sport of pickleball,” and will offer charity tournaments as well as the brand new courts and lessons.

Former tennis courts at Greencroft are being converted to pickle ball courts. Photo: Malcolm Andrews.

No one could fail to notice the phenomenal growth of this hybrid sport, created out of necessity by a few dads near Seattle hoping to entertain their children. They had a badminton net handy, but no one could locate a shuttlecock. With a little creative inspiration, they lowered the net, commandeered a whiffle ball, established new boundaries, re-purposed some table tennis paddles and launched a sport that accommodates those of almost any age and ability. It requires less running than tennis, less finesse than badminton, and can be played in a much more confined space than either. 

Those in the know differ about how the new sport got its peculiar name, but it caught on in the northwest and spread nationally, appealing on the one hand to aging tennis players and on the other to extreme athletes intrigued by its novelty. The pandemic sealed its fate, with participation growing by 21% in 2020, as people searched for no-contact competitive activities. 

Interest in pickleball continues to grow, and the Greencroft club invites fans to apply for the pickleball membership available to the general public. To apply, go to www.greencroft.com, or call the club at 434-296-5597.

Biz Briefs

Good news: Coconut Thai Kitchen has navigated licensure hurdles and is due to open July 11 at its Old Trail location, said owner Kitty Ashi. Bad news: Sabor Latino has permanently closed its restaurant on Rte. 250. The authentic Mexican cafe is now open at Fashion Square Mall in Charlottesville and the food truck is parked on Route 29, across from Best Buy. Sal’s Pizza is serving curbside, with outdoor dining and carryout, and is getting ready to open inside when possible. Rockfish Gap Outfitters has a buyer, with a closing scheduled this month. Also in Waynesboro, there are no buyers yet for the venerable Purple Foot, but the price has been lowered considerably. For more information, contact Rifkin Associates at rifkinassociates.com. Ivy Road House is open from 5 to 9 p.m., with reservations at the Open Table web site and a choice of dine-in, dine outside and carryout. After shortened hours in June, Restoration Crozet will be back with longer (10 a.m. to 8 p.m.) hours in July. Green House Coffee is open inside and doing a brisk business both inside and out. Brunch is back at Fardowners on Sundays, and there’s lunch on Saturdays, with limited indoor seating for those meals as well as continued evening hours on weekdays, all with the outside and carry-out options. After some air conditioning glitches, Crozet Creamery is open daily and folding the best of local fresh fruit into their wonderful product. Find current flavors at crozet creamery.com. The Batesville Market is now open every day with prolonged summer hours, wonderful food, and local music. Find details at batesvillemarket.com. 

The popular “Steal the Glass” promotion at Blue Mountain Brewery continues with July’s blue metal campfire pint, available July 1 with every purchase of draft beer. In Waynesboro, “Groovin’ at the Greenway” continues in July at Constitution Park with a free concert every Thursday through July. July 1 features the popular local “Wahokies.” Waynesboro Marketplace (at the former Ladd School) has announced its initial tenants: Popeye, Chipotle, Sheetz, Aspen Dental and Take 5 Oil Change, to add to the assortment of fast food and automotive businesses on Waynesboro’s west end, anchored by Exit 94. Slightly to the south of the exit, near Home Depot and a cluster of motels, the former Plaza Azteca has separated itself from the regional chain, adopting the name “Plaza Antiqua.” The independent restaurant has also added a large outdoor live music venue, with local and regional bands on a rotation. 

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