Archive for August, 2018


Three Blacksmiths forge new tradition

Posted on Aug 29 2018 | By

Sperryville restaurant draws on legacy of historic village

Over 100 years ago the picturesque, sleepy village of Sperryville lay in the shadow of the Blue Ridge Mountains much as it does today. But one unique similarly between now and then is the population. It’s only increased from 300 to some 350 inhabitants.

Growth is not a Rappahannock County trait; traditional life holds sway here.

Originally the town supported five general stores, six mills, an apple packing plant, saloon, barbershop, pharmacy and…three blacksmiths.

When change comes the emphasis is often on building upon the past while looking to the future. The newest vision of that philosophy is located at 20 Main Street.

Welcome to the Three Blacksmiths. Step inside and let the hospitality of yesteryear embrace you in a warm and comforting dining experience.

The force behind the restaurant is John and Diane MacPherson. The energetic and attractive couple are not interlopers from distant parts. Rather, they’re an established team with a reputation for hospitality and food earned while operating the Foster Harris House bed and breakfast for 13 years in little Washington.

What drove the couple to transition from innkeepers to restaurateurs?


“We had a good business from our five guestrooms and popular cycling tours. For the last three years we were also serving dinner to overnight guests and locals,” said John MacPherson.

Then the phone rang. A Northern Virginia real estate broker inquired if the inn was for sale. “Well, no, not really. But at the end of the day, everything is for sale.” The broker mentioned a princely sum if the business was ever placed on the market.

Later that morning the MacPhersons took a bike ride and talked about selling and what they might do if they left the inn behind. Opening a restaurant was high up on their list. And while they never again heard from the broker, the single phone call set in motion the next chapter of their lives.

“We watered and fertilized and watered and fertilized and thought about it until we could not go back after receiving that phone call,” said John MacPherson.

After the inn was sold there was a gap in time before the couple embarked on their new venture. “We had been to Europe in the past and really loved the way the restaurants operated there. The experience was magical. They didn’t have to talk about farm-to-table. They didn’t have to talk about food and wine. Everything was just normal for them.

“We realized we needed to go back and see what we loved about those places and incorporate it into our restaurant,” said Diane MacPherson.  A six week “research trip” was undertaken to England, Austria, Switzerland, Lichtenstein, Italy and other countries. The vision crystallized.


The Three Blacksmiths

Back stateside the building they had purchased was a blank palette ready for a total make over. An architect designed the exterior and Jolly Construction Inc. completed the work.

The MacPhersons, along with their sous chef Ethan Taylor—the three blacksmiths— began a build-out of the interior of the restaurant.

The interior was to be an elegant setting of soft wood hues showcasing an open hearth so diners could see the chefs as they crafted each evening’s dinner.

“Diane, Ethan, my mom, sister and I renovated the entire interior. We worked on every surface, including the cooking line, all the electrical, and the bathrooms. The only thing we didn’t build were the tables, chairs and cooking equipment,” said John MacPherson.

On June 9, the first dinner was served to 16 guests. And less that seems like a modest size crowd for opening night, consider the restaurant only seats 16. The MacPhersons wanted an intimate setting that reflected in-home dining with personalized service, from the welcoming flute of champagne to dessert.

Much of the food and libations are procured from local farms, breweries, wineries and a distillery.

Moreover, there is only one 7 p.m. seating each Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Dedication to providing a unique one-of-a kind experience dictated a limited service of just three days a week. Each evening diners have the entire restaurant to themselves.

“We have a small staff and we wanted a manageable amount of work so we could be involved personally with every meal. The only way you can do that is by keeping it small and intimate. There are no plans for expanding in the future. What we have today is what we’ll have in five years,” said Diane MacPherson.

The pricing and payment for the dinners is also unique. The multi-course tasting menu is $99 per person plus a $70 alcohol charge; gratuity and tax not included. Both reservations and payment are made online.

A $50 deposit is levied when reservations are made. On the morning of the dinner the remaining bill is charged to the guest’s credit card. “When guests arrive they just sit down, enjoy their meal and leave when they’re finished. There’s no business transactions during dinner,” said John MacPherson.

And how popular is the new restaurant? Since the opening, every dining night has been booked. The pace of business has matched demand.

Initially, much of the business was generated from their legion of former B&B fans and locals. Today, nearby wineries and inns are recommending the restaurant to their guests.

“The percentage of outside guests is growing and the business is stabilizing. It was a matter of getting the word out,” said John MacPherson.

For more information on weekly menus and reservations, open the “restaurant door” and take a peek inside the region’s latest fine dining venue at:


Published in the August 29, 2018 edition of the Fauquier Times.

Categories : HAGARTY TALES

Barrel Oak Winery pulls celebratory cork

Posted on Aug 24 2018 | By

Popular Delaplane winery marks tenth anniversary

 For legions of Fauquier County residents, it may come as a surprise a decade has gone into the history books since Barrel Oak Winery opened on Memorial Day 2008. And you thought a bottle of wine disappears quickly.

Consider what’s unfolded in those lightning-quick 120 months: Almost a million bottles of wine have been produced, over a half million guests have sipped and chatted on the hilltop venue and 50,000 tail wagging dogs have gazed lovingly at their relaxed owners.

On the community-oriented side, dozens of fundraisers have generated $1.8 million for a host of worthwhile charities.

By any measure it’s a business that’s had a uniquely positive impact on the community it serves.

“I don’t think we could have picked a better place to open Barrel Oak,” said Brian Roeder, a self-confessed serial entrepreneur and co-owner of the canine friendly “grape shop”.

“When we opened we had a dream and its being fulfilled. We’ve employed hundreds of people over the years; it’s been a wonderful journey. Challenging at times, yes, but nonetheless wonderful.”

How many can similarly rapture about their place of employment after a decade in the harness? Exactly.

Brian and Sharon Roeder share operating responsibilities; Sharon Roeder is the production manager and one of two winemakers and Brian Roeder wears the green eye shade with a sharp pencil tucked behind his ear.

The saga began in 2006 when Sharon Roeder sought to execute on a life-long dream: growing grapes. They scoured properties from Loudoun County to Albemarle County before settling on their Delaplane site. Within a year, it was obvious financial success might not lie in just pruning vines and selling grapes. The decision was made to take the endeavor to the next level and open a winery.

The budding lady vintner honed her skills by volunteering at local wineries; essentially creating an internship for developing her enological skills.

Both Roeders loved dogs and knew they would be an integral part of the winery. You’d be hard pressed to find a Virginia winery that doesn’t have canine buddies circulating through the vineyards shooing deer away while greeting guests with a tail wag.

Serendipitously, Sharon Roeder was walking around the winery during its opening days carrying her Golden Retriever puppy. The ensuing hugs and cooing often ended with the question, “Can we bring our dog here too?” Of course!

BOW WOW was born.

Brian Roeder

“We knew we were going to be dog friendly but, in the beginning, didn’t know exactly what that meant,” said Roeder. In essence, the early guests and owners worked collaboratively to create the first family-kid-dog friendly winery in Virginia. The intuitive move was the catalyst for explosive growth.

“Before opening the winery our experience with wine was centered around family and friends in a living room setting. It was just natural to create the same atmosphere at Barrel Oak,” said Brian Roeder.

“We wanted people to come out and celebrate important moments; graduations, anniversaries, birthdays and other life celebrations.”

A well-honed Barrel Oak trait is innovation or thinking outside the wine barrel.

Never satisfied to rest on past successes, the entrepreneurial couple were the first winery to open a food court, first to provide dozens of picnic tables for large capacity outdoor seating—some 500 seats are available at any given time—first to be awarded a permit to produce and serve beer alongside side their wine and the first to extend hours on Fridays and Saturdays to 9 p.m.

The brewery operation is emblematic of searching for the new and thus becoming the first.

With the ascendency of craft beer in Virginia—and its financial impact on wine sales—Roeder knew he wanted to be in both the grape and hop game but not a single winery in Virginia had broken the ice with a dual production and sales permit.

In reality, even ABC officials were reluctant to agree with his initial request without researching the inquiry. The interim response of “We’ll look into it” turned into a “Yes, it’s legal” answer.

“It was an important question that nobody had thought to ask,” said Roeder. “Today other wineries are following suit.”

The dual social lubricant solution also addressed the question whether men prefer beer and women wine? Maybe, but not necessarily so.

Gender could play a role in the issue but more important to Barrel Oak was the ability to fulfill co-customer desires. In trade speak, it was simply a freedom of choice issue and freedom wins every time.

Today, the winery Tap House is a thriving center of craft beer sales. The menu includes a variety of brews including Kolsch, IPA, Winter Amber, Irish Red, Saison, Belgian Doubel and more. Even some of their hops are grown on the property.

But with the advent of beer sales, it did not mean a de-emphasis on wine.

To the contrary, last year there were over 8,000 cases of wine produced and a new premium red category placed in the lineup. The new bottlings will receive extended aging in oak barrels for three to four years to enhance body and complexity before taking a position on the tasting menu.

With the continued emphasis on expanding the adult Disney World atmosphere, the guest count on weekends is as strong as ever. “During the Fall weekends we’ll have between 1,200 and 1,600 people here with parking for 400 cars,” said Roeder.

But he quickly underscores no one waits to be served. “We have eight tasting bars operating when its busy.”

Since opening its doors the winery has sponsored hundreds of fundraisers. The events range from donating $150 gift certificates to a deserving charity for auction or door prizes to turning the entire winery over to a charitable entity who plan and organize a dedicated event for their organization.

“We hand the winery over to them so to speak,” said Roeder. “These large events typically raise between $5,000 and $45,000.”

One such affair was held last year in support of the Washington Area Animal Adoption Group, or WAAAG. The money raised was used to help rescue dogs impacted by the hurricanes. Animal rescue is especially important to the winery since, “We are committed to the welfare of dogs.”

Many guests may not be aware that Barrell Oak has a dog rescue organization located on the winery grounds. On October 18, WAAAG will again hold a fundraiser called Vineyard Trails & Tails 5K and Family Fun Dog Walk.

As Roeder reflects on the success of Barrel Oak he notes customer support has been an integral part of its accomplishments. “We have 35,000 Likes on Facebook and more reviews on Yelp than any business in Fauquier. Our social media is unequal in Virginia wine thanks to our customers.”

Here’s to the grape and the hop.



                                              BeLEIGHve Fest at Barrel Oak 

On September 8, join the fun while supporting a wonderful cause when Barrel Oak dedicates the day to the Leigh family and their sons, Noah and Kaleb. Both brothers have faced cancer; Kaleb is in remission for the second time and Noah is currently in treatment. The funds raised will go to help the family with medical expenses.

The festival kicks off at 12:30 p.m. with live music starting at 1 p.m.; five talented groups will perform nonstop until 8 p.m.

General admission tickets are $20; children $5. For more information visit:


Published in the August 22, 2018 edition of the Fauquier Times.

Categories : WINE ARTICLES

Celebrating the Hop

Posted on Aug 20 2018 | By

August’s monthlong craft beer party

The ascendancy of craft beer in the United States is a remarkable tale. From a handful of breweries in the 1970s, today over 6,300 establishments are pulling tap handles daily.

Even more impressive? The entire industry sprang from whole hops driven by hobbyists.  As talented amateurs realized their beers were getting accolades from friends and neighbors, they turned professional to the lasting gratitude of their local communities.

Here in Virginia there are now over 215 breweries, 20 more than North Carolina; long considered a craft beer destination state.

And while beer is associated with fun and good times, consider that the industry contributes more than $9.4 billion annually to the Commonwealths economy, employs over 28,000 people and annually sends one billion dollars to the state’s treasury.

Always nice to hoist one for a good cause.

Caroline Rodan, spokesperson for the Virginia Tourism Corporation says, “The beer industry is an authentic way to get travelers to come and visit the Commonwealth with their taste buds. Many of the breweries are kid and pet friendly, making it an ideal family destination trip.”

Rodan underscores today’s success story has a direct link to our state’s history. “Beer was produced in Jamestown and Founding Fathers Washington, Jefferson and Madison were brewers,” she said.

Reinforcing Virginia’s accelerating beer reputation, two large West Coast breweries have opened facilities here: Stone Brewing and Ballast Point Brewing Company.

In 2021, Deschutes Brewery will open a $95 million production facility in Roanoke. The brewery is the eighth-largest craft brewery in the United States highlighting the Old Dominion’s reputation as impressing even the big boys.

Moreover, the media buzz has grown to such an extent the Travel Channel named Virginia as one of the Nation’s top seven beer destinations.

In concert with the explosive facility growth, an increasing number of breweries are now farming or contracting to purchase Virginia grown hops and barley creating a collateral ‘Farm to Stein’ industry.

So with all the good news there must be a way to toast its success, right? Indeed, and it’s coming to a brewery near you in August.

Toast Virginia
Virginia’s August Craft Beer Month was launched several years ago and is showcased by the Virginia Tourism Corporation.

The celebratory month spotlights the passion, creativity and local values that make the state’s craft beer scene unique. It’s likely your favorite brewery will be hosting several events throughout the month with the focus on beer, entertainment and community outreach.

A centerpiece of VTC’s promotion is toasting Virginia breweries. It encourages beer lovers to post a video or picture of a “toast” to their favorite Virginia beer or brewery using #ToastVA, then to “pass the microphone” by tagging a friend and inviting them to do the same. Weekly winners with the best Toast to Virginia will be chosen throughout August to win beer related gifts.

What’s a toast? It’s open to interpretation, but salutes, songs, tributes and photos are all options. Follow #ToastVA and #VACraftbeer on Instagram for additional ideas.

One brewery that mirrors the industry’s August creativity splurge is Lost Rhino Brewery Company in Ashburn. Each August Lost Rhino releases it “Rhin O’fest” Märzen Lager which is a German-style lager. The Märzen style originated from Bavaria and is traditionally served at Oktoberfest.

Logan Martin, the brewery’s graphic designer said, “Our Rin O’ fest is an excellent companion to autumn’s first chill with its full body, malty flavors and a clean, dry finish. Additionally we are also planning on releasing one of our barrel-aged sours as a part of our ‘Sour Sundays’ program.”

The purpose is to educate Rhino’s customers about the process of souring beer and the myriad flavor profiles that can be achieved with the process. Its August sour release has yet to be determined but Barrel Master Alex Lynch has a few ideas already foaming in his head.

The number of activities similar to Lost Rhino’s is seemingly limited only by your beermagination. Here’s a recap of a few August opportunities that might lure you away from your smart phone and get you connected with live folks and real beer:

*Statewide music concerts and performances at both breweries and outside venues.

*New and special beer releases at numerous breweries.

*Barbeque & Beer festivals.

*Myriad restaurants featuring local and statewide brews and tap takeovers.

*India Pale Ale Day August 2.

*International Beer Day August 3.

*Virginia Craft Brewers Fest August 18 at Three Notch’d Brewery, Charlottesville.

*Beer centric charity fundraisers.

*Growler giveaway events.

The partial list can be fleshed out by visiting your favorite breweries online or searching of breweries in Virginia for breweries near you.

And if beer seems to be a pedestrian libation for such gustatory celebrations, keep in mind what Plato said 2,300 years ago, “He was a wise man who invented beer.”

Now we’ll drink to that. In August.


Published in the Summer 2018 edition of Dine, Wine & Stein magazine.


Categories : WINE ARTICLES

Vibrant growth without sprawl and crawl

The year was 1599 when the curtain lifted on the first performance of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar at London’s Globe Theater. It was also the year the first chamber of commerce was created in Marseille, France. The chamber had a tough act to follow.

But in the ensuing centuries the organization has done quite nicely, thank you. Today, there are over 13,000 chambers in the World Chamber Registry and some 4,000 in the U.S. headed by at least one full time staff person; thousands more are operating stateside as volunteer led organizations. All of them representing some three million businesses nationwide.

When the Bard of Avon penned his play’s famous lines, “Friends, Romans, countrymen lend me your ears,” the chamber was listening.

Here in Fauquier County we have the modern equivalent of the first chamber president embodied in Joe Martin. Martin, 60, exemplifies a 21st century executive with his tall, fit and amicable style. His qualifications reflect “to the manor born” but with the accent on downhome. He is clearly a mirror of the community he serves.

Joe Martin

Born and raised in Manassas, Martin has chamber business in his DNA. His father, grandfather and he were all former chairmen of the Prince William Chamber of Commerce where his family operated Dudley Martin Chevrolet for over 60 years. To this day, it’s still the only three-generation chairmen of the Prince William Chamber.

“I was exposed to it very early. I’ve got community involvement in my soul,” said Martin. In addition to working for the family business for 14 years, he also logged time running an audio marketing firm.

“Throughout my different careers I got involved in quite a few different organizations including serving on the boards of the Manassas School Education Foundation, the American Small Business Coalition and the International On Hold Messaging Association. Of course, those were all volunteer positions.”

Over time it occurred to Martin that his volunteer work had provided him a wealth of experience and seeking a career in chamber work made sense. “I started soul searching. I’d had had all these volunteer leadership positions and thought ‘why not work at an association or chamber and actually get paid for it’,” said Martin.

His timing was perfect since the Fauquier Chamber was looking for a new president. “Five people called me and said, ‘Joe, you’ve got to apply for that position.’” Some 44 other people had thrown their hat in the ring so the job was not a lock. “They brought it down to four finalists and in late winter of 2010 they hired me.”

The challenge
Early on Martin encountered a singular issue of importance. Fauquier County had two active chambers in a geographical area more suited to one. As he prepared to take charge in January 2011, a question was frequently posed to him: Are you going out there to mend fences? “I told them, no. I was going out to build bridges.”

It was serendipitous that the new president had been successful in merging two Prince William chambers so he was up to the challenge. But it was not his immediate goal. Even though he lived just one county over he was surprised how separate the two counties were.

“My initial goal was to get to know the community and get to know the leaders within the community and both chambers. I wanted to find out where our synergies were and where we could partner together and find out what strategic partnerships were best for the entire business community,” Martin said. In short, he proceeded slow and thoughtfully.

“There were a lot of bridges to build and nothing happens fast in Fauquier.”

For over five years incremental progress was made on knitting the two chambers relationships. What emerged was a “Unity Plan” that avoided the expense and difficulties of a formal merger since many members of the Greater Warrenton Chamber of Commerce were also members of the Fauquier Chamber.

In the end, the unity of the two chambers accomplished important goals, among them the pragmatic advantage of members not having to pay two dues and attend separate events. “However, we never changed out mutual focus or goals,” Martin said.

When the Unity Plan finally came to fruition, people told him they were pleased with what he had accomplished. “No, no, no. It wasn’t about me. It was about we,” said Martin.

“I’m hired to run the day-to-day operation but it’s really up to our board and our leadership to established the governance of where we want to go. I’m an integral part of that. But without strong leadership in both chambers the Unity Plan would have never come together,” said Martin.

Today, Martin wants the Fauquier Chamber to be a strong and leading voice on economic development within the community. The organization seeks to be a “connector”, bringing all member businesses in contact with one another so the best services can be brought to bear on building a vibrant business environment.

“We also want to be an advocate at the state level and, if needed, at the Federal level for our businesses,” Martin said.

The organization has about 500 members and sees the opportunity to grow to between 600 and 700. The annual dues range in cost from $160 to $250 based on the size of the company.

To accomplish its expansion and business goals, the chamber board consists of 20 members with an executive committee of eight members. The chair of the board is Margie Markham with Summit Community Bank.

“It became it apparent to me after becoming board chair my role would be to move the chamber forward,” said Markham. “There have been a lot changes over the last few years and my vision is to create an organization that’s looking toward the future.

“Joe has been a real asset during this period and a good spokesperson. His contribution has been so important.”

To underscore Markham’s goals, Martin, a member of the board of the Virginia Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives, recently attended its annual conference in Harrisonburg. “Margie had me to go down there and just think out of the box,” said Martin. Markham wanted to know how the chamber could best help the business community and the community at large.”

What dictated new strategies? “Communications for one. We have a very vibrant young professional council. The way the millennials communicate with each other can be very different in how the rest of us communicate,” said Martin.

“So many people today are conducting business online. We have to be focused on how we can best facilitate and assist with that approach to business. It’s really what the chamber is all about. We are here to assist. We are here to advocate. Whether it’s a legal issue, a connector issue or networking issue, we have to be the purveyor of best form of communication possible.”

Beyond serving as a catalyst for the business community, Martin believes there is also a community-wide service obligation. As an example, seven years ago he was surprised to learn there was no event to honor county public safety professionals who had gone above and beyond the call of duty.

In 2012, the chamber established its annual “Valor Awards” program. In April of this year, 55 individuals were recognized for their exceptional work. “We felt that even if it didn’t necessarily fit the chamber’s mission and vision, the awards did fill a community need.”

With his experience at the helm of the Fauquier Chamber, what are Martin’s thoughts on his job today?

“A few months into taking this job I fell in love with Fauquier County,” said Martin. “I fell in love with the business community. I’ve seen the changes that have happened over the last seven years and the wonderful places we can go and the heights we can achieve.

“There are a lot of unique things this business community can achieve without sprawl and crawl. And it excites me every day to drive into the chamber office and know all that is ahead of us.”


Published in the August 15, 2018 edition of the Fauquier Times.

Categories : HAGARTY TALES

Warrenton’s Crown Jewel

Posted on Aug 16 2018 | By

The Warrenton Aquatic and Recreation Facility’s gift of wellness

For visitors and new residents to Warrenton, the first impression of the building might be “Wow.” Sited on a landscaped and verdant property just outside the town, it could easily be mistaken for the headquarters of a high-flying tech company.

Instead, it belongs to all the residents of Fauquier County and beyond and has become beloved by those whose quality of life is enhanced by its existence.

Welcome to the $23 million WARF. Please dock your body and step inside the world of wellness.

Opened in September 2007, the 59,738 square foot facility features an 11 lane, 25 yard-by-25-meter, 364,000-gallon indoor competition pool; a 3,600-gallon therapeutic spa and a 68,000-gallon leisure pool with a water slide, lazy river with a zero-depth entry for easy access by youngsters and seniors.

Oh, then there’s the 3,200 square foot fitness room equipped with cycles, treadmills elliptical trainers, circuit training gear and free weights.

The only thing missing is the discipline to take advantage of this workout wonderland; members and guests provide that.

As it completes its first decade of existence, the WARF is poised to become even more integral to Fauquier County’s healthy lifestyle.

All of this fun is orchestrated by Margaret Rice and her team. Rice, Director of Warrenton’s Department of Parks and Recreation, has been with WARF almost from its beginning nearly 11 years ago. A more qualified director would be hard to conjure up.

With a B.S. degree in music management, Rice worked for the Fairfax Symphony before earning an MBA with a concentration in finance. Not satisfied to rest on her sheepskins, she rounded out her educational resume by scoring a law degree.

During a portion of her career she took time off to raise three daughters, reinforcing the old adage, “If you want something done, give it to a busy person.”

If the WARF is run like a Swiss watch, it’s because its gifted administrator is winding the stem.

“It’s a strange combination of degrees but weirdly all of them have applicability to what I do now. The law degree is especially handy in dealing with the many contracts here at WARF,” said Rice.

And what does she do? She has responsibility for all WARF operations plus the four town parks. Besides a paid staff of six, she manages about 100 part-time employees who run the day-to-day programs. A handful of volunteers staff the childcare room in exchange for free membership.

Fees & programs
The fee structure for the facility is based on where one lives and if you elect to become a member or an occasional walk-in. The membership rates are based on residency location:  in town, in Fauquier County or non-resident and range from $365 up to $575 annually. One day pass fees are based on residency and age and are priced from $4.50 to $8.50. Currently there are 1,700 members who are joined by many daily walk-ins.

Regardless of how one gains admission to the facility once inside the fun begins…seven days a week.

“We have a lot going on, from pre-swim classes, fitness classes, yoga—both water and land—spin classes, Zumba and even something called “Pound” that uses drums. That’s really a workout and you don’t even notice it because you’re having so much fun.

“Hopefully, everyone finds something that works for them,” said Rice.

In fact, everything fitness is available for anyone seeking a better self; even the wee ones get in the act with over 2,000 children a year learning to swim and having fun on the water slide in the leisure pool.

But not all the joy is within the facility’s walls. A popular asset for both kids and parents is the sponge playground located on the right side of the building.

Stocked with numerous kid pleasers such as jungle gyms, seesaws, swings and other self-play equipment, the entire surface is layered with a sponge-like material that protects children from cuts, scratches, and for the rest of us ear shattering screams of a child down on gravel or asphalt.

But the fun jewel was not inexpensive with the playground’s invoice coming to $250,000; worth every penny if parents get a vote.

Another youth initiative was started this summer with the planting of a garden near the building. Youngsters come out and tend the plot and then go in for a swim. “We truly try to develop things that the community wants,” said Rice.

Revenues and the future
When the multi-million-dollar facility was built is was financed in part by bonds; that debt is being paid off over time. However, operating expenses are in line with income making the fitness center a self-paying operation.

Last year, it produced an income of $1.356 million with expenses totaling $1.346 million. “Weirdly, our revenue is divided into thirds; memberships, day passes and program fees,” said Rice.

Not one to rest on past successes, Rice sees opportunities for expansion of the WARF’s community involvement.

“We are looking at some interesting ideas but not quite ready to share yet. We’d like to get into partnerships and like to do something with employee fitness and wellness. We’re kicking around some ideas like that.

“We do have WARF on Wheels where we send our instructors to nursing homes, schools and the community of disabled people and talk to them about fitness and do something with them, depending on the ability of the population we are dealing with,” said Rice.

She also sends instructors into the town parks for free outdoor fitness classes for folks who are unable to travel to the facility. “We are trying to reach out into the community and reach people who may not be able to come into the building but could benefit from having information on a healthy lifestyle and fitness, even showing the chair bound they can do exercise with their arms.”

Linda Wright, a resident of Warrenton, is not a weekly visitor to the WARF but enjoys it when she goes. “I love that it’s a clean facility. I love the lazy river, it’s so unique. To have that in Warrenton is fun.

“It’s a friendly atmosphere. I like it when kids are around; the mix of age groups is great,” said Wright.

For Margaret Rice her job as director has been a joy. “It’s been a wonderful journey over the years finding our place in the community. It’s so much fun.

“I think our staff are the luckiest people in Warrenton. We get to see everybody in the community and they’re all happy when they arrive here. I feel lucky every day when I come to work,” she said.

For a full description of programs, hours, fees, special events and more, tap your keyboard for wellness at:


Published in the August 15, 2018 edition of the Fauquier Times.

Categories : HAGARTY TALES

Brewing up a storm at Old Bust Head

Posted on Aug 09 2018 | By

Vint Hill barley & hop factory centered on tap handles and community

Surfing on an ocean of beer might be an apt description for Old Bust Head Brewing Company. Since opening on August 11, 2014, the popular brewery has produced 20,000 barrels of beer. That’s five million pints; a bit more than the proverbial 99 bottles of beer on the wall.

About 12 percent of that production is brewed for other breweries who lack capacity or for retail accounts who desire an “in-house” brand. Some 25 percent flows out of its taproom kegs with the remaining being distributed to restaurants and grocery stores throughout Virginia and D.C.

The three founders and managing partners, Ike and Julie Broaddus and Charles Kling, view their performance to date as an opening act. The firm will celebrate their fourth anniversary with plans to continue building their juggernaut while deepening ties with Fauquier County.

“We’re grateful for our loyal customers and have confidence that if we keep making great beer and providing a fun, family-oriented environment, we’ll be around for decades to come,” said Ike Broaddus.

Averaging 1,500 guests a week in its taproom, some 300,000 people have enjoyed the company’s flavorful beers since opening day. Equally important, a vibrant business community has sprung up around the establishment with no signs of abating.

“Since the brewery opened its doors, more than 20 businesses have moved into one of the renovated buildings surrounding OBG,” said Ike Broaddus. “We didn’t expect that but we’re thrilled to be part of it.”

Being part of it is an understatement. The brewery itself ignited the entrepreneurial spirit that flourishes on the former army base.

When the building that houses the brewery was purchased it included 10 acres of other buildings in the immediate area. A combination of increased traffic flow and savvy marketing saw those acres bloom with a variety of businesses that grew in tandem with Old Bust Head.

“Once the brewery came a lot of people were coming to Vint Hill,” said Julie Broaddus. “The parking lot was full every weekend.” Customers realized other businesses were nearby and they began patronizing them. “We were the catalyst for their growth.”

Recognizing the potential, the Broaddus’ purchased an additional ten acres of buildings in Vint Hill less than two years ago—including some historic barns that date to the original cattle farm. They continue to find viable businesses to lease them.

Working with the Virginia Department of Historic Resources the Broaddus’ will have plaques installed on the barns in September acknowledging their historical importance.

“Ike has expanded his love of Vint Hill and has been renovating and leasing space for even more businesses to come in. We do not flip the buildings. We were worried about what a developer might do to those buildings that would impact the feel of the community,” said Julie Broaddus.

Today, there is a fermented tea shop, café, coffee shop, gymnastic studio, dance studio, catering company, wine distributor, graphic design studio, hair salon, the previously established Cold War Museum and more. The Broaddus’ renovated space for most of them and leased it to the divergent group to create a thriving business environment.

“One of Ike’s talents is helping people start and build a successful business. He enables people to come and make a success of their business. That’s mostly what he is doing now,” said Julie Broaddus who spends her time running the brewery.

All of this activity was unfolding as the craft beer industry was beginning to cool off after years of torrid growth. There are over 6,000 craft breweries in the U.S. today and some 250 in Virginia.

“We were the 40th brewery in Virginia four years ago. We have to keep inventing new recipes and exploring new styles,” said Ike Broaddus.

Be assured OBH will be working hard to maintain market share. The owners have the smarts and work ethic to stay relevant during any shakeout.

Taproom tiger
With Ike Broaddus focused on the Vint Hill business community at large, Julie manages the day-to-day brewery operation. The production team is headed by Charles Kling, their award-winning master brewer, and head brewer Thorne Watkins.

To help celebrate the upcoming fourth anniversary, a special Belgian Quad will be released. It’s a high gravity beer—weighing in at 11 percent alcohol—that exhibits a “bold, dark and rich malty” flavor.

“Everyone here is really excited about it. It will have a special anniversary wax seal. We’ll have it on tap and in 500 milliliter bottles,” said Julie Broaddus. Their ever-popular Octoberfest will be released the same day.

But an anniversary can only be special in certain ways since every week sees a swirl of events unfold in the taproom. There is live music every Saturday, trivia night each Wednesday and “Grab your growler” on Thursdays.

The latter event recognized many customers had accumulated several growlers. On Thursdays they can bring them in and receive discounts based on how many they have.

For what may be a first, once a month a yoga class meets at the brewery. And on Valentine’s Day a crowd favorite is the chocolate truffle and beer pairing event. “We have over 100 events a year,” Julie Broaddus said.

Regardless of the day of the week, one of the biggest challenges facing a thirsty beer hound is what beer to choose. OBH doesn’t make it easy. There are 18 to 20 beers on tap at any given time. Decision making has never been more fun.

The brewery has felt the impact of growing competition since opening. “We definitely noticed other beer options out there. But we’ve always been about Fauquier County. It’s been about our community, the environment and the beer. Every day I get at least one Google five-star review in my mailbox,” said Julie Broaddus.

She believes other breweries can’t compete with the quality of their beer and the attention they dedicate to the local community. “You can’t pretend to be genuine if you are not. We work hard to create a place that makes our guests comfortable. Fauquier has a unique sense of place that we respect,” said Julie Broaddus.

It also helps that the beer taps are constantly rotating with new brews. One of the most popular is their Irish Style Red Ale and has been served since day one.

In addition to the taproom, there is a beer garden out front and seating out back. Food is available from food trucks Thursday through Sunday. On Wednesdays, the Covert Cafe delivers anything on its menu directly to guests’ tables.

“We have Moo Thru ice cream and Monkey Popcorn every day and customers are always welcome to bring their own picnic,” said Julie Broaddus.

On busy days the entire brewery can seat up to 600 people.

In reflecting on the exciting past four years, Julie Broaddus said, “It was a big decision to open the brewery. For me it was like having a baby. If you do it, you have to be committed. I knew the brewery would be like that to me. And it’s become completely true.

“If you put your heart into it, it gives you great returns. It becomes ingrained in who you are.”

For more information on Old Bust Head Brewing Company’s hours, events, beers and more drop by


Published in the August 15, 2018 edition of Fauquier Times. 


Categories : HAGARTY TALES

Is there a doctor in the house?

Posted on Aug 03 2018 | By

Doc At Your Door launches in-home medical practice 

On August 15, residents throughout the Fauquier County region will be able to receive modern medical care in a yesteryear environment: their home.

And if it’s a bit difficult to conjure up a doctor ringing your door bell, just go with it. It’s a leading-edge trend that may well gain momentum in the coming years.

The traditional insurance-based model of health care began changing in the 1990s and was largely centered on wealthier patients who could afford what was termed “concierge care”. The service cost thousands of dollars a year and offered patients a personal physician available whenever they needed one.

While the model still exists, a growing number of physicians are blending conventional patient care with the concierge model. Some even sign on with concierge practice firms who managed the program for the physician.

The advantages for participating patients are the ease in scheduling appointments and personal care in an era of overburdened medical practices that increasingly are unable to provide quality health care due to patient overload.

Concierge plans can range from $100 a month up to $20,00 or more annually. But typically, they run from $1,500 to $2,000 a year and the costs are not covered by insurance. A significant out-of-pocket expense for the average patient.

Physicians are attracted to fee-based services because it enables them to reduce their panel of patients while providing better care with less administrative insurance work.

But there is another approach to fee based medical care that does not require monthly or annual membership fees. And it’s coming to the Fauquier area in mid-August.

Dr. William L. Simpson

Dr. William Simpson

Dr. Simpson, 58, is a familiar face to thousands of local patients. He was founder and medical director of Piedmont Internal Medicine and practiced there until earlier this year when he left to create Doc At Your Door.

What drives an experienced physician to abandoned a successful practice and strike out on his own?

“After 25 years of playing the insurance game, I’ve witnessed first-hand how our nation’s health care industry impedes the delivery of high quality health care,” said Simpson. “It focuses more on treatment than prevention, more on specialty care than primary care, and more on volume of care than quality. And frankly, more on saving money than saving lives.”

Like a growing number of private pay doctors, Simpson elected to focus his energy and skills on patients rather than insurance guidelines, pre-authorizations, denials, appeals and other obstacles to quality care imposed by insurance plans today.

However, unlike most private pay physicians Simpson’s practice has no monthly or annual fees. In fact, no fees at all other than what he specifically charges patients for each home visit.

It’s a business model that might be perceived as radical except for its simplicity.

Perhaps the best way to envision how it works in real time is to think of the conventional billing practices of attorneys, accountants, tax advisers, lawyers, consultants and a host of other professionals. In fact, plumbers, electricians, carpenters, auto glass installers and more bill the same way.

Under any of these scenarios an on-site service is provided, a bill rendered and a payment made. Doc At Your Door will use the same model.

And what services will be offered?

All of the services provided in his previous practice will be available from his new business. Physicals, labs, EKGs, nursing home and assisted living admissions, screenings for diabetes, high cholesterol, hypertension, heart disease and cancer. Whatever ails a patient will fall under Simpson’s skillful eyes and stethoscope.

Insurance will still be employed for screenings and medications but the patient will file those claims directly with their carrier. The practice will not act on their behalf, reducing its overhead costs.

The service model has two components: traditional and premier.

Traditional covers all health care issues. The premier category expands on those basic services to include, among other services, the TELEHEALTH system that allows patients to communicate with their physician by phone, text, email, fax or video.

The premier service is only available for patients who have been seen at least once in the previous 12 months. But consider: what would it be like to have direct electronic contact with your doctor and receive prompt feedback? Ahhh…you get the picture.

The pricing structure for the new medical practice is straight forward:

$5/minute (6 a.m.- 6 p.m.)
$7/minute (after hours, weekend, holidays)

(Out and back from Main Street, Warrenton)

As incurred (meds, vaccines, bandages, etc.)

A possible 15-minute daytime home visit for a patient who wants a flu shot and a cholesterol test and lives eight miles from Simpson’s start point would cost $75 for the visit and a $32 travel fee, or $107. The blood test, if covered by insurance, would be filed by the patient.

Anyone considering the service would weigh that bill against the time and effort to make a conventional office visit, take time out of their schedule to go, and incur any associated costs such as gas.

For busy career professionals the cost/benefit trade-off may make sense considering no other fees and retainer charges would be involved.

In addition to harried workers, Simpson sees homebound or limited mobility patients especially benefiting from his services since there is an estimated five million such individuals nationwide.

“My wife is a geriatric care manager and I’ve heard for years how it’s such an ordeal for these patients to get out of their house. Often a family member has to take a day off from work and hire transportation. It can cost hundreds of dollars just to get these folks to a doctor’s office.”

Simpson can solve those problems, reduce costs, and more importantly, improve the level of care by coming directly to a shut-in’s home.

Mobile doctor’s office
Once Simpson launches his service he will have no brick and mortar office. “I will be completely mobile,” said Simpson. His initial intent is to service all counties bordering Fauquier County but will evaluate his geographical reach based on case load.

The intent is to provide prompt service so reframing his service area would be driven by the number of patients he sees daily.

“I can’t tell you how many of my previous patients would come in with a list of eight or 10 items they wanted answers to. In reality, we often only had time to cover two or three. Now I will have adequate time to spend with all my patients.

“I will be able to expand my scope of care. I can sit down with patients right after their hospital discharges and help them figure out their doctor’s instructions, how to dovetail new meds with existing ones, figure out follow appointments and doing all this outside the restrictions of insurance companies,” Simpson emphasized.

“This is how health care was provided decades ago. Over time is got consolidated back to office visits. Now there is a trend to going back to the home. I’m excited to be embarking on this in our community. I don’t think its offered here at all.”

For a comprehensive description of the services and fees of this innovative health care practice visit


Published in the August 2, 2018 edition of the Fauquier Times.

Categories : HAGARTY TALES

PAs take aim at tomorrow’s health care

If you haven’t already encountered the moment of truth, you will. You call your doctor—primary or specialist—and ask for an appointment for that nagging lower back pain: “We can’t get you in for two weeks. Would you like to see a physician’s assistant?

What? Of course not, I want to see a doctor, my doctor.

But then again, two weeks?

So you book the appointment with a PA but are left feeling disappointed a doctor of medicine will not be evaluating your painful lumbar discs.

But not so fast. The pending appointment could well be one of the more rewarding medical visits you’ve encountered. Physician assistants are gaining both in numbers and popularity for many well-earned reasons.

Dr. Eugene A. Stead with Duke University launched the first formal educational program for physician assistants in 1965. He saw a growing need for help with his office practice and was impressed with the level of skill and intelligence nurses returning from Vietnam exhibited. Here were veterans ready to serve in the private sector.

From a mere handful of practitioners in 1967 when the program was formally established, today over 123,000 physician assistants are meeting the medical needs of tens of thousands of patients in the United States. There are 3,200 PAs in Virginia and an estimated 40 serving the Fauquier County area.

By comparison, in 2013 there were over one million doctors in the U.S. but last year the number dropped to around 953,000; a figure that may be headed even further south.

Declining M.D. prestige?
Scores of doctors today are being forced to adapt to transformational changes; changes that often eviscerate the pride and satisfaction of a career in healing. Expansion of health insurance coverage through the Affordable Care Act to include 20 million people coupled with changes in Medicare are revamping how physicians are paid.

Added to the compensation issue is a pronounced increase in hours spent in administering patient computer files and insurance company claims. As an example, the implementation of a system called ICD-10 raised the number of disease classification codes physicians use from 14,000 to 68,000. Ponder the impact on record keeping with just that change.

The overall effect has been to send a chill throughout the medical industry centered on physician burnout. It’s simply not as gratifying to make people well as it used to be.

Further on, the “corporatization” of healthcare including ongoing mergers of hospitals places more focus of the bottom line to the detriment of patient welfare.

Under this broad scenario it’s projected by 2025 there will be a nationwide deficit of 90,400 doctors. Underscoring the bleak picture is the alarming trend of doctor suicide. One doctor commits suicide in the U.S. every day, the highest rate of any profession and twice the suicide rate of the general population.

Stress and depression are the leading causes and physicians need relief on multiple fronts. PAs seek to ease the workload for many of these overburdened doctors while delivering quality care.

Physician Assistant ascendency
To underscore the expansion of this unique specialty, the profession has grown over 54% in just the last eight years. Annually more than 400 million patient interactions unfold under the experienced care of PAs.

And less you think the educational requirements to practice as a PA are relatively undemanding, consider the cohort must earn a four-year college degree followed by three years earning a master’s in physician assistant medicine. Moreover, many doctors seek PAs who have additional experience as an EMT, paramedic or nurse.

Suffice it to say, you’re in good hands with a rigorously trained PA.

Once ensconced in a white coat environment, PAs can perform most of the functions of a regular doctor, including conducting physical exams, diagnosing and treating illnesses, ordering and interpreting tests such as x-rays, MRIs, blood work, and prescribing medications.

“I feel PAs are an integral part of a health care team. With the population aging and expansion of Medicaid, there is a growing need for health care. The PA profession is rising to meet that need,” said Rose Rutherford, president of the Virginia Academy of Physician Assistants.

She goes on to opine, “People who enjoy people gravitate toward the medical practice. They are happy with their careers” and it shows in how they interact with patients. It’s not unusual for someone seen by a PA to have a positive reaction with the encounter.

In 1980, 36 percent of PAs were female. Today that number is 68 percent, underscoring the advancement of women in the workforce and the nature of caregiving by women.  PAs typically spend more time with a patient listening and providing care and health advice than a physician can and does.

But whether a PA is male or female, the perception of many patients is that a more positive medical interface can be achieved when being seen by a PA.

Michele Glowicki

One of the most experienced PAs in Virginia works in Warrenton. Michele Glowicki is the senior PA at Blue Ridge Orthopaedic & Spine Center and supervises the work of four other PAs.

Raised in Alexandria she obtained her degree to practice in 1984 and has spent 34 years treating patients.

“There are generally two reactions when patients encounter PAs,” said Glowicki. “The first group doesn’t want to see one. They want to see a doctor. But other patients like to see us versus a physician because we do spend on average more time with them than a doctor does.”

However, she underscores a theme heard whenever the subject of PAs arises in a clinical setting. “The second group realizes we are a team and do have the resources of a physician available. They feel comfortable with us treating them.”

The team concept of medical practice is embedded in today’s medical world. For previously mentioned reasons physicians are increasingly relying on PAs to help provide comprehensive care for their patient panel.

“In my years of experience, I do have patients that I follow but when I feel the need for them to see a surgeon we go back and forth as needed acting as a team to treat each individual.”

Echoing the pressures placed on doctors today, Glowicki says, “I think that’s the way medicine is working today. Physicians are under pressure, not being fairly reimbursed and if a doctor can use a PA I think the patients are better served.”

On the subject of compensation, it might appear doctors are in fact well compensated for their skills. On average, physician incomes range from $200,000 to over $300,000 annually based on the type of medicine they practice. Surgeons fall into the higher income ranges.

But stagnating compensation appears to be a real problem with many physicians seeing their incomes fail to keep place with the cost of living. Many have worked decades and invested heavily to achieve their high earning years only to see their compensation flatline.

PAs salaries reflect the importance of their growing contribution to medicine and range from $100,000 to $120,000; again, depending on the discipline they’ve chosen to pursue. Working alongside surgeons reaps higher rewards.

With industry estimates of up to a 43 percent of doctors considering cutting back, retiring or switching to non-clinical work, the future of physician assistants appears bright. So if faced with a decision to see a doctor or PA in the future, consider embracing the future of medicine and give a PA an opportunity to heal.


 Published in the August 1, 2018 edition of the Fauquier Times.

Categories : HAGARTY TALES