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Upperville Country Store Back in Business

Upperville Country Store Back in Business

by Dulcy Hooper

Just a few short months after opening The Local Taste in Upperville, Chris Patusky and Kiernan Slater Patusky were presented with an offer very close to home, one that made too much sense to pass up.

“Actually,” Chris said. “Kiernan and I were just finishing up the renovation of The Local Taste when we learned that there was an opportunity to lease the Up-perville Country Store business right next door.  It allows us to coordinate the op-erations, products, marketing and parking much better.”

According to Kiernan, “it just kind of evolved.”  

For many years, Bryant and Kim Beach had successfully run the store, to-gether with their catering company, Barn Door Catering.  Along the way, the store developed a dedicated following for both the barbecue and the Beach’s catering services.  Last year, the couple decided to close the store (they still own the build-ing) in order to focus their efforts primarily on catering.

On a recent morning, a steady stream of local customers stopped in for coffee and a breakfast sandwich.  Among those customers was Bob Slater, Kiernan’s father.  Bob and Alice Slater’s Plum Run Farm is the site of Slater Run Vineyards, a five-acre, 10,000-vine vineyard and winery that Bob helps manage.

Kiernan said that while they were very excited about the opportunity, they were also cautious.  “After all,” she said, “we had just opened The Local Taste and we had a lot on our plates.”

Still, she added, the difference is the team they’ve assembled.  “We were so lucky,” she said.  “The best thing about the store is that the team just fell into place.”

That would Include Julien Lacaze and his brother-in-law, Omar Sharif, who spent much of December and January renovating the store before its Jan. 29 opening.  Similar to The Local Taste, Chris and Kiernan incorporated a number of elements from the family farm, including a repurposed barn door. 

Soon to be included in the decoration are an assortment of enlarged photo-graphs of the store taken in the late 1940s and 1950s. One even features the old gas pump that used to be out front.

In addition to Lacaze and Sharif (who also serves as the breakfast cook), the team includes Bonnie Makely, who many will recall as the former assistant manager at the Marshall IGA.  Makely runs the “front of the house,” according to Kiernan, and Carol Lee, known in the community for 25 years of catering, runs the kitchen.  In an interesting small-world twist, Lee had actually catered the Patusky’s wedding several years ago.

Kiernan said the mission is to be a community store, not a specialty store, 

o accommodate what the community wants.  “Our goal,” said Chris, “is to satisfy our friends and neighbors with both the Upperville Country Store and the Local Taste.  We want to provide what folks here want, and to carry as many local products as we can.”

“We have coffee and breakfast,” said Kiernan.  “We have the basics, because that is a convenience to the community.  We have rotisserie chicken—no hormones and no antibiotics—and a made-to-order deli counter for sandwiches.  We heard that people want local eggs, so we have local eggs.  And we do carry some local honey.”

The Country Store also will continue to have some barbecue items and will carry a small assortment of wine, including wine from Slater Run Vineyards. Plans this spring include a small farmers market in the area in front of the store.

“We appreciate the local farmers,” said Kiernan.  “What they’re doing to support local land use is important to us, and we want to honor that.”

On one recent day, Kiernan recalled asking a customer, “what do you wish you could see here?” She assumed that he would indicate a preference for a different kind of bread or cheese or maybe a wider assortment of cleaning products.  His response delighted her:“Just those two ladies,” he said, nodding toward Makely and Lee.  

“Between us,” said Kiernan, “I think we know about 90 percent of the people who walk through the door, and I think that really matters.”

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