Written by Heidi Baumstark | Photos by Gracie Withers
Imagine a feast of fresh ingredients picked only a few feet from your seat surrounded by plants, herbs, and flowers, right in the historic district of downtown Middleburg. Bluewater Cocina, slated to open mid-August, will offer just that in the form of tacos, seasonal margaritas, wine, and beer served in the gardens of Nature Composed, a lovely little garden shop and floral design studio at 12 South Pendleton Street.
Bluewater Cocina is owned by Christina Kozich and her husband, Michael Kozich, of Bluewater Kitchen, a boutique, full-service catering and event company which opened in 2013. In November 2019, an opportunity popped up for the couple to open The Market at Bluewater Kitchen, a charming market in Upperville with creative grab-and-go meals, catering, tailgate party menus made completely from scratch, specialty baked goods, and locally curated finds of jams, sauces, drinks, and gifts. “The Market is our home base,” says Christina Kozich. “It’s where it all happens and it’s the heart of the operation.” When opportunity came knocking again, the husband and wife team answered by expanding their culinary empire into Nature Composed’s backyard with the help of the shop’s owner, Jenn Pineau.
Kozich explains, “Jenn and I have become good friends and I’ve seen her take that building [Nature Composed] from bare bones and turn it into her vibe in such an experiential space. We’re very excited about being there!”
Kozich and Pineau’s working relationship stems from the early days of Bluewater’s catering business when Kozich and her team rented the upper level of Nature Composed to host tastings and rental appointments, before opening The Market at Bluewater Kitchen.
Though the Koziches moved to Upperville, the relationship with Pineau remained. Pineau still designs the window boxes in front of The Market at Bluewater Kitchen using flowers from her Madison County farm.
In 2021, Kozich and crew started selling their signature tacos at the Hunt Country Farmer’s Market at Buchanan Hall on Wednesday evenings. “Everyone loved our tacos,” Kozich remembers. “We got a lot of positive feedback, and since we run tacos as a special at The Market, we thought tacos could be our focus for Bluewater Cocina.” She continues, “I thought there was a need for more casual, affordable options while still giving people great food and great hospitality. Because when you work in Middleburg — you eat in Middleburg. As the area grows, we wanted to offer more approachable options for a broader audience.”
Pineau adds, “I was putting the word out about leasing the backyard of my shop, and Christina was the first to say ‘yes.’” She continues, “Christina’s going to do it the right way; they know how to do business. We have a nice, collaborative relationship.” Not only providing location, Pineau will contribute to the new spot’s ingredient list, too. “And we’re growing lots of plants in the backyard of the shop for their tacos and tequila drinks, including herbs, peppers, tomatillos, tomatoes, and microgreens. In the middle of a historic district, you can only plant so much in a small place; but I like to think we’re also growing relationships and gatherings,” she finishes.
The garden setting will include patio dining, under the covered pergola with hanging vines and café string lighting, or at tables in the garden. “People love being in the backyard,” Pineau notes. “A space where people come together with food and plants. There’s so much life there.”
Menu items include an impressive list of taco varieties, salad bowls, chips and salsas, plus a rotating menu of fresh-catch fish tacos. Bluewater works with sustainable fisheries that overnight fresh-caught product. The culinary team will be preparing their own ceviche, salsa, and guacamole with ingredients that change with the seasons. Desserts created by their pastry chef will be seasonally influenced, too.
The drinks are thoughtfully crafted as well. Margaritas are made with tequila and fresh-squeezed juices, not premade mixes. Summer margarita examples are blueberry and basil. Other cocktails will include mezcal, a smoky-type spirit much like tequila.
Those who don’t have the time to enjoy the charming patio can take the party on the road with taco boxes, chip platters, and margarita pitchers. To-go options are perfect for tailgates or family gatherings.
Kozich shares, “I want customers to walk away happy. Gathering around a table with good food and friends is where memories are made. I want people to think, ‘Ok… when are we coming back?’”
Published in the August 2023 issue of Middleburg Life.