Business Briefs: October 2023

Paige and Chase Rannigan opened CroZeli sandwich shop in the former Morsel Compass space at Piedmont Place. Photo: Beth Kagarise.

CroZeli Adds to Menu and Hours

Need a sandwich on a Sunday? CroZeli will now be open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Co-owner Paige Rannigan said business has been great, with tremendous support from the community. Fridays and Saturdays are the busiest days. To find out more, or to place an order online, go to

“We decided to open on Sundays,” Rannigan said, “to offer a quick and easy lunch option for people going on a fall hike or picnic, to King Family polo, and for the after-church crowd.”

CroZeli Sandwich. Photo: Beth Kagarise.

CroZeli has added catering boxes for people to take to tailgates or meetings. The boxes include 15-25 half-sandwiches with condiments and toppings. Now there’s also the option of a giant, freshly baked chocolate-chip cookie. Look for weekly specials like the turkey-caesar wrap and turkey, brie, and apple butter sandwiches this fall.

Brittany Barnett with the horse and hen that inspired the name of her shop plus son, Lane, who will help her in her new business at Piedmont Place. Submitted photo.

New Piedmont Place Shop Supports Small Growers

Sometime this month, Brittany Barnett will open a new store, “Horse and Hen,” in the former Nest Realty office at Piedmont Place. Barnett, who grew up in Crozet, is a floral designer, and she’s always bought her flowers from a cooperative of local growers. She wanted to do more for those who have high-quality agricultural products but don’t produce them on a large enough scale to have their own storefront. 

“I know how hard it is to make a living this way,” she said. Her interest began years ago and only grew when she earned a degree in both agriculture and wildlife biology. There are a number of ways that people with small agriculture-based businesses can grow their bottom line: they can sell direct to consumers, market their goods at specialty shops like Horse and Hen, or turn the fruits of their labor into quality items of higher value than the original.

Barnett will have a mix of direct-from-the farm items like eggs, honey, and flowers and produce in season. She’ll also sell cheese, soap, and home goods that have been made in small batches by growers or makers. She anticipates opening in mid-October with pumpkins, apples and potted plants, plus whatever other produce remains. She hopes to have orchids and will always feature floral arrangements of her own design.

She hopes to build sustainability into her procedures as well as her products. “I’ll only buy from growers and makers with environmentally sound practices,” she said, “and I’ll prioritize sustainability in my shop and my packaging as well.”

Courtney O’Connell, owner of Crozet Plant Social. Submitted photo.

Plant Shop First Tenant of New Small Business Incubator

Crozet Plant Social, owned by Courtney O’Connell, will be the first small business to occupy the space (called “The Nest”) below Bluebird & Company. Bluebird’s Flannery Buchanan and Chelsea Powers hope to use the renovated space to offer fledgling businesses a place to grow. Crozet Plant Social will open October 7, and will feature gardening accessories as well as plants. “I am a huge believer that plant therapy should be accessible to all, regardless of budget or experience level,” said O’Connell. “It can be overwhelming to try and keep up with trendy plants, ‘necessary’ equipment, and this drive to have an indoor jungle, but I promise there is more joy when you learn how to combine your environment with the right plants!” O’Connell hopes to build a thriving and diverse community of area plant lovers, and she’ll offer regular workshops and events where those who love plants can learn, share, and connect.

The Nest is a small business incubator beneath Bluebird & Company. Submitted photo.

Pro Re Nata Expansion Goes Forward

John Schoeb, Crozet dentist and co-owner of Pro Re Nata, cleared a major hurdle in September when he was granted approval to brew beer at the former Coca-Cola plant in Staunton. The planners were unanimous in their Sept. 21 decision to allow a zoning change that would enable the popular Crozet business to use the huge facility to expand brewing operations. 

John Schoeb’s plans for expanding the brewery operation for Pro Re Nata have been approved by Staunton city planners and await approval by city council. Photo: Malcolm Andrews.

The change in zoning is necessary for the initial part of Schoeb’s expansion plan, which is to brew beer in the absence of a restaurant. The restaurant will come later, Schoeb said, and so will an additional restaurant serving Pro Re Nata beer in Staunton’s former steam laundry plant. Many residents spoke in favor of the brewery; objections mostly involved parking. Schoeb said parking would not be a problem at first, with just a few brewers, and that he’s in conversation with owners of some vacant property downtown to purchase more parking, once the tasting room and restaurant are operational. 

Both the Coca-Cola and steam plant buildings have a long history in Staunton, and both have been vacant for years. The planners would like to see their restoration and use revitalize the area. The expansion won’t happen until the project receives approval from the Staunton City Council at its October 12 meeting. Meanwhile, “We’re moving forward,” Schoeb said, “and appreciate all the support we’ve received from Staunton residents and city officials.”

Fall Brings Focus on Arts, Festivals

The Crozet Arts and Crafts Festival, set this year for October 7 and 8, drew so many people in the spring that for the first time, there were no parking places left at Crozet Park. For the fall event, planners are making parking a little easier by offering a free shuttle, operated by Crozet Trolley Company, at Western Albemarle High School. 

With a new option for parking, the Crozet Arts & Crafts Fall Festival is Oct. 7 and 8. Photo: Dick Brown.

This year’s festival sponsor, Lumos, will hold a ribbon cutting Sunday to mark the progress of its 100% Fiber-Optic service to the community at 11:30 a.m. Find out more and buy tickets at the festival’s website,

A week later, Waynesboro will present its 51st Annual Virginia Fall Foliage Festival Art Show throughout downtown. The show, produced by the Shenandoah Valley Art Center, always features more than 150 artists. The show is well known for its $10,000 in awards each year, and its annual attendance of more than 20,000 visitors.

Using both time-honored and new techniques, photographer Dale Carlson captures scenes from the Shenandoah Valley. Submitted photo.

At the Crozet Artisan Depot, potter Corinna Anderson and photographer Dale Carlson are the final guest artists for 2023, with their work featured from October 1 to November 17. There will be a “Meet the Artists” event on Saturday October 21, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Potter Corinna Anderson creates useful items that reflect images found in nature. Submitted photo.

Anderson, a Richmond artist, calls her show “Backyard Nature Studies.” Her ceramic pieces are meant for daily use and enjoyment. She begins with simple, classic forms and organic curves. She layers colored slips, linework, oxide washes and glazes into freeform designs that reflect natural patterns. “I enjoy the challenge of bringing these elements together into an object that communicates joy, peace and nurturing,” she said.

Carlson, who lives in Staunton, presents “Change of Seasons.” His photography focuses on capturing the essence of the culture and natural beauty of places. He also uses new photographic techniques, including the use of selective color and high dynamic range photography. “I love to create images that evoke the emotion of time and place,” he said. “I strive to create detailed, vivid images that permit you to experience the feelings of the scene.” 

The “Friends of Greenwood” is a group of carefully-selected artisans who present seasonal market at the store on Route 250. Submitted photo.

Saturday, October 21, and Sunday, October 22, a group of carefully selected artisans will gather at Greenwood Grocery on Rt. 250 for a “Friends of Greenwood Mini Makers Market.” The friends have been staging seasonal markets from time to time and one of the artisans, Vu Nguyen of The Dustworks, said the October event will feature the largest number of artisans to date. Included are jewelry by Molly Schermer of Temper & True, ceramics by Jessie Rublee, textiles by Emily Ruth Prints, and paintings by Sage Latane Hastert and Roshi K. Dustwork’s Nguyen will have his hand-crafted kitchen tools, and others may join as well. The hours are 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Biz Bits

Those who have attended previous events produced by Marinus in the Vineyard know to expect world-class performers. The audience is invited to bring a picnic, enjoy a glass of wine, and listen to some of the most talented string musicians in the world today. Tango Nuevo, performed in September, featured celebrated Argentine cellist J.B. Jofre and Joseph Kuipers, one of the founders of Marinus. They played three selections, including dance music by Bach and a composition by Jofre. The next event, also at King Family Vineyards, is April 16, 2024.

A book by Brian Livingston, “The Habits of Squirrels” follows a retired mailman using a thru-hike of a fictional trail to assess his life, career, and relationships. Livingston was inspired by his experience during a through-hike on the Appalachian Trail in 2013. He’ll speak about the book at Bluebird & Company on October 14. To find out more, and to see other Bluebird events, go to 

Rusticae, a boutique specializing in unique clothing, jewelry and housewares, is in the former Twice is Nice space in Waynesboro. Owner Jacqueline Montanez Williams also has a space in the Greenwood cooperative. Submitted photo.

Rusticae opened a few months ago in the former “Twice is Nice” space on Waynesboro’s Main Street, specializing in re-purposed, re-styled, and just plain unusual clothing and housewares. Also in Waynesboro, Adorn opened a few weeks ago. It’s a boutique specializing in small batch production clothing, and offers styling help as well as special orders for hard-to-find sizes. It’s at 141 N. Wayne Avenue. Find hours and days for both on their Facebook pages.

Katie Harris has opened Adorn, a small boutique, in Waynesboro. Submitted photo.

Peak Mountain Vanilla, with ethically sourced vanilla and vanilla beans, is now on the shelves at Crozet Artisan Depot. 

Stone Soup Books and WMRA present “Micro Books & Brews” at Rockfish Valley Community Center. This series is modeled on the original Books & Brews, an author series focused on discussions with writers from our area, hosted by Mary Katharine Froehlich of Stone Soup Books. The October discussion is on “Energetic Herbalism” by Charlottesville herbalist and author Kat Maier. She’ll talk about her award-winning book October 25 from 7 to 8 p.m. 


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