Business Briefs: February 2023

Rose Guterbock and her art cart will travel to your event or classroom. Photo: Beth Kagarise.

Inspiration Station Rolls around Crozet

Crozet artist Rose Guterbock has come up with an idea and a vehicle as colorful as her clothing and her canvases. Guterbock, who’s been a working artist for all of her adult life, has always wanted to demonstrate that art is for everyone, not just the classically trained or preternaturally gifted. She’s taken some time in the past year to discuss with development specialists how best to do this.

That’s where the vehicle comes in. She’ll wheel her “Inspiration Station,” a beautifully designed art cart, into your party, your business, or your children’s play group, loaded with materials chosen according to the project. All will come away from a session with a product that proves that everyone has a fierce creativity burning inside them, and that everyone can benefit from expressing it. 

The cart is one way to expose all Crozet citizens to art; Guterbock has a couple of others. She’s started the “Inspiration Station Art Club” in Crozet, scheduled for 4:30 to 6 p.m. every Tuesday at the Bluebird & Co. Annex (next door to Bluebird, around back in the basement). The club is geared towards 8- to 14-year olds. Guterbock wants her young learners to harness creativity to build confidence. She’ll use creative prompts rather than formal instruction to encourage freedom, conversation and collaboration. There will be plenty of supplies to choose from, and offbeat exploration and innovation will be welcome. 

“We’re looking to encourage enjoyment of the creative process,” she said, “not necessarily the creative product.”

Guterbock has some projects in mind for adults as well, with the same theme. In January, she led a “Wine and Design” workshop, offering materials and assistance in making a fabric collage. In March she’ll welcome women to a two-part workshop on two consecutive Saturdays to examine, through art, what they’ve learned about strength and power in their lives and what they might learn in the future. 

For details on events, and to register, visit

Perrone Robotics Exits The Square

Fans of TONY (To Navigate You), Perrone Robotics’ autonomous shuttle, have missed seeing the colorful vehicle parked at Crozet’s central square and venturing out and about downtown and in the neighborhoods. Perrone’s CEO, Paul Perrone, said the business moved its office and testing grounds to U.Va.’s North Fork Research and Industrial Park late last year. The move follows Perrone’s contract with University of Virginia Foundation to provide a free circulator shuttle service at North Fork.

TONY, Perrone Robotics’ autonomous vehicle, now calls North Fork Industrial Park home.

A news release said the autonomous shuttle will begin by having a fixed schedule, transporting employees and visitors between its nine office and laboratory buildings, and also to North Fork’s Foods of All Nations Café, the fitness studio, and the meeting center.

Throughout this year, the service will expand to include many types of vehicles powered by Perrone’s TONY technology, demonstrating driverless alternatives for moving both passengers and goods about the park.

North Fork Park is a discovery park with a span of more than 500 acres anchored by science and technology companies, government agencies, academic institutions, start-ups and non-profits, all dedicated to innovation. It’s a few miles from the Charlottesville-Albemarle Airport.

Marketa Johnson will serve Czech and American pastries in the former space of the Tack and Saddle Shop in downtown Crozet. Submitted photo.

Crozet Bakery Will Feature Czech and American Pastries

Soon the space once dominated by the smell of fine leather and horse blankets will be filled with the fragrance of honey, butter and sweet spices. In early April, Marketa Johnson plans to open Praha Bohemian Bakery and Cafe on Three Notch’d Road in downtown Crozet, in the building that formerly housed Crozet Tack and Saddle.

Fine European pastries coming soon to downtown Crozet. Submitted

Johnson said she misses the old European Cafes of Vienna, Budapest, and especially Prague, her beloved birthplace. In Czech, Prague is “Praha,” which gave her dream of a Crozet bakery and gathering place its name. She’ll serve coffee from a Staunton roaster with koláče, the pastry rounds filled with fruit or cheese; medovnik, the traditional Czech honey cake; and seasonal baked goods like vánočka, named for the Czech word for Christmas. There will be plenty of American baked goods, too, Johnson said, like muffins and cookies. She singles out her coffee roaster and her blueberry muffins for special praise: “The best roaster and the best recipe I’ve found.”

You won’t have to wear fringe or be a starving artist (although if you’re starving or partial to fringe, you are welcome) to sit and sip coffee at this Bohemian establishment. “Bohemia” is the historical name for what is now the western part of the Czech Republic.

As the spring warms up, Johnson hopes to expand her seating area outside, just like the magical European coffee shops of her youth.

Local Flowers Thrive with Sustainable Practices

There’s more than meets the eye in flower production, said Susannah Byrd of Spring Creek Blooms, a small farm near White Hall. In addition to the farmer who plants, weeds and cuts, there’s a community of thousands laboring year-round for our aesthetic delight: worms, microorganisms, bees, butterflies, praying mantises, parasitic wasps, birds, and foxes. Natural forces like wind and rain are at work, as well as the grower’s knowledge of the genealogy and needs of individual plants.

Susanna Byrd harvests ranunculus at her farm near White Hall. Submitted photo.

In order to keep all the players in this floral drama healthy, Spring Creek Blooms uses no-till or low-till practices, and no pesticides, herbicides, or synthetic fertilizers. Byrd has found that she can rely on sustainable practices and the workings of nature to keep pest populations and soil fertility in balance.

To give local growers a chance to compete with the huge national and overseas suppliers of flowers for Virginia floral designers and wedding planners, Byrd joined with other small growers to form the Central Virginia Flower Collective last year. The Collective is a group of local flower farms seeking to make locally grown flowers a reliable source for straight-from-the-farm blooms.

Spring Creek Blooms markets its flowers straight to the consumer in a variety of ways, including a flower share program that operates like a vegetable CSA, offering members a fresh bouquet April through August, a sustainable and beautiful alternative to the repetitive offerings, mostly sourced offshore, of the grocery store or retail florist.

Crozet patrons can pick up their bouquets at Bluebird & Company or at the farm on Fridays during the season. There are other subscriber and pick-up options, too, including one that sponsors a donation to The Haven in Charlottesville. Find details and subscribe at

Transition to Less Plastic for Crozet Market

After a few days of dealing with frustrated customers, Crozet Market made the decision to offer paper bags free to customers and give a $.05 per bag credit to those shoppers with their own bags. As of Jan. 1, retail outlets in Albemarle County and Charlottesville are required to collect $.05 for plastic bags at the checkout line. Some bags are exempt from the disposable bag tax, including the thin plastic bags used for produce and meat.

“So far it’s been going over pretty well and it’s been surprisingly smooth,” said Raphael Strumlauf, one of the Crozet Market’s owners. “The first few days until we implemented this policy it was very confusing and customers were definitely objecting.” Strumlauf said the move was meant to decrease the single-use plastic bags additionally by rewarding customers for using their own bags, while not adding to their grocery bill or ruining their shopping experience if they forgot to bring a bag. Once everything was sorted out, he said, customer response has been fantastic. He added that the store plans to offer some reusable produce bags for sale as well.

The Albemarle County website notes that “while disposable bags are recyclable, the recycling rates are actually quite low. In fact, a lot of recycling equipment can’t handle the bags as they can get snagged and clog up machinery.” For more information on the new law, visit

Rustic Realism, Rustic Elegance at Crozet Artisan Depot

The Crozet Artisan Depot presents Craig Peterson of Staunton and Suzanna Garrett of Lexington as guest artists for the month of February. Peterson’s show, “Rustic Realism” features his acrylic painting on Masonite. Peterson has been painting since he can remember, and painting seriously since 2013.  He’s developed a style he calls “rustic realism,” starting with wildlife and then expanding to landscape, architectural, and still-life work over time.

“Living in (Staunton’s) historic district made doors, windows, and chimneys have a special attraction,” Peterson said. “The textures of bricks and wood are fun to paint, and the shimmer of the sunlight off a glass window pane can really make a painting pop.”

Suzanna Garrett draws inspiration from the world around her, creating rustically elegant, nature-inspired jewelry. Her show is titled “Outdoor Inspirations.” Garrett’s jewelry is made with brass,  silver, collected river stones, glass, plant life, and leather. To bind the pieces together, she uses drilling, wire wrapping, and resin work.

Both shows will run through February in the historic Crozet train depot, 5791 Three Notch’d Road. Meet Craig Peterson Saturday, February 11, from 1 to 3 p.m.

Book Shops Build Community

February’s a short month but two book shops––Bluebird & Co. and Stone Soup Books at the South River in Waynesboro––have crammed their schedules full of creative, and sustainable activities for book lovers, nature lovers, and those seeking a little magic. Both offer creative takes on valentine making: you can say it with cookies thanks to two cookie-making classes at Bluebird & Co., or make your own valentine at Stone Soup Books. Classes featuring crystals and Mandela will help you contemplate your relationship with the spiritual at Bluebird & Co. as will the discussion of near-death experiences hosted by Mary Froehlich of Stone Soup Books.

Both places have plenty of bookish offerings, from book groups to book swaps to story hours for kids. And both stores include activities for nature lovers, whether it’s a nature walk by a naturalist along the South River or an introduction to beekeeping. There’s more: a visit from an esthetician, fine jewelry, candle making, crocheting, a 100-day creative challenge, a class in candle-making, all at Bluebird. Those interested in sustainable living can refill bottles and jars when Dogwood Refillery visits Crozet or swap their old Christmas puzzle for someone else’s at Stone Soup.

For specific times and details, visit and

Repairs at Piedmont Place Move Forward

Fans of the Crozet Creamery and Smoked will be glad to know that these popular destinations at Piedmont Place should be open within a few months. “They had the least damage,” said Andrew Baldwin, the owner of complex. “We’ll work out a way to have the entrance to the Creamery draped off from the rest of the building as the drywall repair is underway.”

Other, more heavily damaged shops will take a little longer, Baldwin said, but six months is probably a realistic assessment of when they’ll be up and running.

The building was damaged when a cap broke on a pipe upstairs from the retail operations on Christmas Day, and water poured down through the floors, affecting Newtown Fitness, the Blue Ridge Bottle Shop, Carolina Obanda Beauty, Morsel Compass, and a Nest Realty office as well as the Crozet Creamery and Smoked Kitchen and Tap.

Carolina Obando Beauty has found a temporary home in the studio of CVILLE Hair , a small studio at 580 Radford Lane. CVILLE Hair owner Holly Herring said Obando will see clients there until the renovation of her studio Carolina Obando Beauty, at Piedmont Place is complete.

Biz Bits

The City of Waynesboro is seeking developers for one of the few undeveloped local exits from Interstate Rte. 64. The city received a grant of $3,911,144 in January as part of the state’s “Business Ready Site Program,” for infrastructure needed to move forward with Nature’s Crossing Technology Center, which will have a main entrance on Delphine Avenue, less than a half-mile from exit 96. The secondary entrance on Oak Street is two miles from I–64, at exit 94. The city has prepared six different scenarios to attract investors:

No one was hurt when a Waynesboro rescue squad vehicle caught on the roof of Micah’s Coffee in Waynesboro. Photo courtesy

Also in Waynesboro, assorted food vendors have set up shop in the South River Mill Complex on 12th Street, in the maze of industrial buildings there. The Mill Yard is billed as a virtual food hall, with multiple menu brands operating in one location. Familiar brands include Hops Kitchen, Za Spot Detroit Style Pizza, Smokebox and Tacos on Tacos, with others expected to join. Order online,, and choose pick-up or delivery. All items are packaged to go.

The small but beloved Micah’s Coffee stand was significantly damaged January 3, when a Waynesboro Rescue Squad ambulance hooked its roof as it pulled away after a coffee order. Police said that neither of the two baristas inside the tiny structure were hurt, and charges were not placed against the driver. The popular coffee stand is in the parking lot of Rockingham Hardware on Main Street.

An application by Hershey Chocolate of Virginia Inc. for a grant to construct a new 4,750-foot rail spur at the chocolate company’s Augusta County plant was approved by the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation, the Commonwealth Transportation Board announced in January. The Rail and Industrial Program grants are aimed at promoting truck diversion by assisting businesses in connecting to freight railway networks. The state awarded Hershey $450,000 for the new rail spur, which will be served by Norfolk Southern, creating 111 new jobs, and diverting nearly 1,500 trucks each year. 


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