Archive for September, 2018


Pickin’ and Grinnin’

Posted on Sep 28 2018 | By

Reaching for apple happiness

What does autumn air and fresh apples have in common? Beauty and crispness. And both are available in abundance in the Piedmont.

It’s commonly acknowledged our region possesses one of the loveliest landscapes in the Nation. Verdant pastures, dense forests, rolling hills, and clear steams are all framed by the Blue Ridge Mountains.

And then there’s the apples.

Virginia is the 6th largest apple producing state with some two dozen varieties of the red orb to choose from. By the time Thomas Jefferson had retired to his beloved Monticello he had planted over one thousand fruit trees on his “little mountain”, many of them apple trees.

Today, there are over 250 commercial growers in the Old Dominion tending 18,000 acres of apple trees. Virginia exports its apples to over two dozen states and 20 countries; much of the crop is made into apple juice, apple butter, apple sauce and apple cider; both sweet and hard.

To the good fortune of local residents, the majority of the apple crop is grown in the northwest section of our state. That’s also called our backyard. Seven counties in the region account for 8 million bushels annually, or 89 percent, of the entire state crop.

Chasing down a couple bags of fresh apples is as easy as backing out of your driveway. And for a fun and tasty family event, it’s difficult to find a better use of a day off.

This spring and summer will go down in the record books as one of the wettest in years. Nonetheless, local orchards have worked diligently to produce a good crop of apples.

The rainy challenges began early in the season. Since bees don’t fly in the rain, pollination was affected to some degree. During the growing portion of an apple’s life too much water affects the cell division of the fruit; a balanced amount of water and sun are ideal.

Mold and fungus are also problematic for fruit bearing trees. Nonetheless, all of these obstacles have been largely met and there is plenty of tasty red fruit available. Now is the time to take advantage of the orchardists’ hard labor.

Apples ripen at different times depending on the variety. Early maturing varieties include Honeycrisp, Paula Red and Jonagold. Deeper into the season you’ll find Gala, Fuji, Granny Smith, Red and Golden Delicious, Rome and many more hanging heavy on the trees.

Local Orchards
While there are numerous opportunities for apple picking throughout Northern Virginia, four nearby orchards are located in the Delaplane and Markham area: Hartland Orchard, Hollin Farms, Stribling Orchard and Valley View Farm.

In Rappahannock County, four more apple farms offer day getaways in the shadow of the Blue Ridge Mountains: High Places Orchard, Jenkins Orchard, Muskrat Farms and Williams Orchard.

Stribling Orchard is one of the oldest farms in the area dating to 1812 with the sixth generation Stribling family tending the fruit. The family recently finished renovation of the 200-year-old farm house and now lives on the property full-time.

“We have an amazing group of family and friends that help us during the season which runs from July to the beginning of November,” said Stacia Stribling, who is an education professor at George Mason University. Her husband Rob works for Northup Grumman.

The 45-acre farm produces peaches and apples but 35 of the acres are devoted to apple growing. There are some 25 different varieties growing on site. “Red and Golden Delicious, Fuji, Crispin, Nittany, Granny Smith and York are the majority of our September and October apples,” said Stacia Stribling.

And what advice would Stribling give folks headed out for a day of picking happiness? “People who are not into farming think apples on the ground are not any good. There’s a lot of tremendous fruit lying on the ground.”

Fruit that reaches its peak of sweetness contains the most sugar and will fall naturally to the ground, signaling it’s time to take a bite. If such apples have recently fallen, they can be among the best fruit.

“I always tell people not to forget to look down.”

Stribling also cautions visitors to take the season’s rains into consideration and wear boots when walking through the orchard. She points out picking in a light rain has its advantages. “It’s actually quite refreshing. If you are properly dressed, it’s a lot better than picking on a hot day.

“Being in the peach and apple business is a lot of hard work but we love it. For us one of the rewards is getting to see and talk with our customers. Many tell us they came here with their children and now they come back and introduce us to their grandchildren,” said Stribling.

The family enjoys that their farm is a place for generations to come and re-visit. “We’re pleased to offer that to the public. There are lot of memories made here. We love being part of that environment,” said Stribling.                                                    

Planning a day of apple picking begins at your keyboard. Let your favorite search engine point the way to operating hours and directions to these apple-happy spots:

Hartland Orchard

Hollin Farms

Stribling Orchard

Valley View Farm

High Places Orchard
Flint Hill-Huntly

Jenkins Orchard

Muskrat Haven

Williams Orchard
Flint Hill


Published in the September 26, 2018 edition of the Fauquier Times.

Categories : HAGARTY TALES

Tenth anniversary gemstone perfect symbol of shop’s success

If success is the accomplishment of an aim or purpose, there’s no doubt a popular jewelry shop in Warrenton defines the meaning of the word. What makes it all the more gratifying, it’s a husband and wife team that made it happen.

And they have no intention of backing off.

“We have no plans on retiring. We love our job. We love our business. We have become friends with many of our customers, even attending weddings and funerals. I couldn’t imagine life without this business,” said Erin Driver, co-owner along with her husband Jim, of Warrenton Jewelers.

Where would you go for jewelry repair, precious gems, fashion jewelry and more if the shop owners had an attitude like that? Of course.

It all started when the couple moved from Virginia Beach in 1984. Jim Driver was a bench jeweler and both newlyweds worked at legendary Bailey, Banks and Biddle, the jewelry shop founded in Philadelphia in 1832.

After moving to Gainesville, they were struck by an entrepreneurial lightning bolt and never looked back. Jim Driver opened a repair shop in the back of a jewelry shop at Fair Oaks Mall. Erin Driver, a mother of three young ones, navigated through every mall in Northern Virginia picking up repair jobs for delivery to her husband’s workbench.

“Jim worked ‘eight’ days a week back then. We had over 21 accounts that we serviced weekly. It was long, hard work but it allowed me to be a stay-at-home mom for my three children,” said Driver.

In 1997, the couple moved to Fauquier County while retaining the Fair Oaks Mall contract. “My kids were growing up and I began wondering what was I going to do when they were out of school,” said Driver. “I started planning for when the kids left.”

A shop is born
In October 2008, a leap of faith was taken when the Drivers opened Warrenton Jewelers during the middle of the Great Recession. They drew strength from a life of hard work and met the challenge of selling jewelry in tough financial times.

“It was the worst recession we’d ever been in. I had hope and faith in our model and believed we’d succeed. There was no option to fail. I never thought we would,” Erin Driver.

Their store was located in the Sears shopping center area until a landlord relocation forced them to consider a new site. Nothing available made sense to the jewelers. In the six years they had operated there, many of the other stores had closed down.

Selling jewelry to a declining customer base did not make sense and Erin Driver began exploring taking the business to the other side of Lee Highway to the Northrock Shopping Center.

“We found two side-by-side stores and enlarged them into one 2,800 square foot shop and moved in July 2014. It was two doors down from Harris Teeter. It was the best thing we ever did. There was a significant increase in business when we opened. We average about 50 customers a day,” said Driver.

It turned out the demographics in the newer shopping center were significantly different than from across the street. Customers drawn to the old store were often focused on repair work. The new location saw a dramatic increase in foot traffic with buyers centered not only on repairs but other products and services the shop offered.

The store is now a one stop jewelry center where repairs are made on any type of jewelry. Additionally, they sell ladies handbags, fashion jewelry, rent tuxedos for proms and weddings and more.

“We also sell custom jewelry. You can come in and design your own ring on our large computer screen,” said Driver.

In discussing how the jewelry business has changed over the years, Driver said gold used to go for $300 an ounce and today trades for as much as $1,300. “People do not dress up and wear expensive jewelry as in years past. My clientele is 75 percent women and they come in and buy fashion jewelry that ranges in price from $20 to $200.”

But if fine quality gems and diamonds are what a buyer is seeking, the shop delivers. It carries unique gifts that others stores don’t. “We stock hundreds of jewelry items and have free gift wrapping. I tell my customers if they were not here last week they missed something because our products change all the time.”

The store is opened Monday through Friday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and on Saturdays 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. They are opened on Sundays during the month of December.

With such extensive hours, vacations are prized by the owners, right? “We don’t take vacations just a couple of days off here and there because I don’t want to leave my ‘baby’. We get up every morning and love coming into work. Jim and I still feel this way after all these years,” said Driver.

The message is clear. If you’re looking for jewelry and more, feel the love and dedication when you walk through the door of 524 Fletcher Drive or visit online at

Published in the September 26, 2018 edition of the Fauquier Times.

Categories : HAGARTY TALES

Hog Wild

Posted on Sep 19 2018 | By

Divine Swine BBQ grilling tasty fun

It’s unusual for an entrepreneur to go from ashes….to ashes. It also highlights a business trait centric to becoming successful: keep on keepin’.

That’s exactly what Todd Eisenhauer is doing. His latest passion is southern styled barbecue produced in concert with long time grill master Tim Marcus.

Eisenhauer, owner of the successful Black Bear Bistro & Brick Oven, opened an upscale butcher shop in 2017 called Black Bear Mercantile at 19 Culpeper Street. For a number of reasons, it didn’t get traction and when an opportunity arose to convert the shop to a barbeque haven, Eisenhauer jumped.

“The shop didn’t work out because I think it was a little bit too high end. It was hard to get people to come down Culpeper Street for something like that. It was disheartening it didn’t work. I was sad to close it down,” said Eisenhauer.

But out of the ashes of the past have come ashes from Apple and Hickory woods used to slow cook the new eatery’s meats. And why is foot traffic better than the butcher shop days? “For one thing, they call smell those ribs,” said Eisenhauer.

Ahh. The old olfactory marketing ploy. Works every time.

Todd Eisenhauer Tim Marcus

Another key to the restaurant’s early success is the man behind the smoker, Tim Marcus. Marcus is an experienced barbecue man with years of grilling under his apron. Prior to linking up with Eisenhauer he ran a successful catering business called…Divine Swine.

Weekends still see him on the road cooking ribs and more for party crowds throughout the region.

“Tim is a great guy. He’s definitely coming into his own as part of a brick and mortar operation instead of just an outside business. He’s making a big difference here. We work well together. We’re having fun and I think it shows in the food we’re doing,” said Eisenhauer.

While the business is just a few months old, the owners are hitting the numbers they projected. With Marcus’ experience in catering it’s also seeing a surge in that segment of the operation.

“We will be doing a lot more catering. I know there are several barbecue shops in town but we’re not trying to be them. We have barbecue burritos, barbecue tacos. I’ve even done a barbecue ‘sushi’ roll with brisket inside with wasabi sauce. There’s going to be a lot of stuff you’re not going to see elsewhere,” said Eisenhauer.

Catering is not limited to nearby offices. Weddings and special events throughout the area are calling on the restaurant to tend to their guests’ needs. Menus can be designed to match a customer’s desires. “And we can drop the food off, or they can pick it up. The chafing dishes can be returned by them or we’ll pick them up. It’s completely up to the customer,” said Eisenhauer.

The shop is also developing an increasing amount of foot traffic from the town’s office denizens. The restaurant seats 15 people but many hungry workers simply pop in, order a carry out lunch and head back to their offices. “If you’re in our place 10 minutes, you’ve been in too long,” said Eisenhauer.

One example of a unique dish created by the entrepreneurs is a ramen bowl prepared with rib broth and fresh vegetables. Customers select grilled pork or chicken to top it off or some even get it with baby back ribs. “It’s dishes like that that are the fusion aspect of our food preparation,” said Eisenhauer.

In the near future, the restaurant will receive its ABC license to sell beer and wine. In addition to featuring Virginia wines, a selection of craft beers will also grace the menu. Pricing will be below what is typically charged for alcohol.

“We want to serve craft beer for $3 or $4. Anywhere else it’s going to be $5 or more. We want to be a relaxed, funky little place where you can grab a couple of beers, get a good sandwich or some ribs, leave happy and you’re not broke,” said Eisenhauer.

Since sauce is the heart of any barbecue operation, a selection is available to slather on the meats to your heart’s delight, including a South Carolina mustard sauce and a jerk sauce. They’ve even got a wasabi sauce. “Eventually will have those items for sale so you can take a bottle with you,” said Eisenhauer.

On Labor Day a new fan was pushing away from the counter with a satisfied look of his face and said, “It’s my first time here and that pulled pork was delicious.” It’s a common refrain heard by the barbecue mavens.

For now the hours of the restaurant will remain Monday through Friday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. but may expand to evening service in the future.

For a full menu and fun facts on how the latest barbecue in town is prepared, drop by

Published in the September 19, 2018 edition of the Fauquier Times.

Categories : HAGARTY TALES

Building a sound Foundation

Posted on Sep 17 2018 | By

Note: This article is about my daughter Colleen who has never encountered a problem she didn’t view as an opportunity.

Haymarket mom creates national organization for children with rare hip disease

It was Halloween 2016, Colleen & Drew Rathgeber were taking their three children on a neighborhood candy walk. After ‘tricking’ out five houses their middle child, Kaelan, complained of an aching left leg and had to return home.

What should have been a fun evening for the young lass turned into an alarming ordeal for their parents. Within a few months the girl would be diagnosed with a rare hip disorder known as Legg Calve Perthes.

Named after three surgeons who discovered the disorder, it is commonly known as Perthes and primarily strikes children. When it affects adults, it’s vascular necrosis.

To envision its impact on a youngster’s life, think of any adult who suffers from a degenerative hip disease.

Debilitating. Painful. And a loss of lifestyle for those afflicted. But snatching joy from a youngster’s life is particularly difficult to deal with. Especially if they become wheelchair bound.

“It was rare for a three-year-old not be able to go further than a few nearby houses on Halloween. We took her to the doctor who diagnosed the problem as a virus affecting her joints,” said Colleen Rathgeber. “They said it would clear up in two weeks.”

Indeed, the problem faded until the Christmas holidays a few months later. Kaelan began limping again and displaying considerable pain with everyday movements.

While attending a neighborhood Super Bowl party in February 2017, one of their friends pointed out the child’s limp appeared to be more pronounced than ever.

After extensive blood tests by their pediatrician and x-rays from an orthopedic surgeon, the parents were assured their daughter was fine and would shake the limp over time.

Yet one month later, Kaelan was sent home by her gymnastics teacher because of the painful leg. “When she walked into the house her leg looked like it was detached from her body. She was dragging it behind her. It was scary and traumatizing and we immediately took her to pediatrician again.”

“After a full examination the doctor said it was either cancer or a rare bone disease that he had not seen in his 24 years of practice. He tended to rule out cancer since her white blood count was normal,” said Rathgeber.

The parents scheduled an appointment with a specialist at Children’s Hospital in Fairfax. “The doctor walked in with the original film in his hand and said, ‘It’s right there on the x-ray’”. She had Perthes.

Birth of Foundation
Roughly five in 100,000 have Perthes, most often striking children between the ages of 4 and 8. It is more common in boys. It evolves slowly as the blood supply to the affected hip is interrupted causing the femoral head, or hip ball, to ultimately fragment away.

If the hip receives constant high impact during the youthful stage it can alter its shape and lead to ongoing pain in adults.

Rathgeber began to research the disease in an effort to have Kaelan enrolled in a study group. Her singular most important contact was Dr. Harry Kim with the Scottish Rite Hospital for Children in Dallas, TX. Kim specialized in the disease and had formed a study group targeted at six to eight-year- old’s.

“The doctor said he had been working with Perthes for 25 years and couldn’t understand why there was no foundation to support research and awareness of the condition.

“The more I thought about that the more I could not shake the idea there was no single point of reference for parents seeking to better understand the disease and help treat their children,” said Rathgeber.

The working mom and mother of three–sons Kade, 8 and Bode, 3, round out the family—seemingly had little time to build and launch such a foundation.

But never underestimate the power of a mother’s love.

With the decision to move forward, Rathgeber applied for a 5013(c)-non-profit status. She was required to form a board of directors and asked a friend, Shelley Crawford, who was studying for her physician assistant’s degree and Dr. Kim to serve on the board with her. They agreed.

The Legg Calve Perthes Foundation was born.

Her motivation to act accelerated further when Kaelan was subsequently diagnosed as suffering from Perthes in both hips. The child is not wheelchair bound but does require the use of one on long day trips or whenever her hip pain dictates.

Dr. Kim also pointed out there was no event that enabled parents to meet annually and discuss their children’s conditions and receive updates on the disease’s research.

So Rathgeber planned and hosted, in concert with Dr. Kim, the first annual Perthes conference that was held in Dallas in October 2017. The day event was attended by 25 parents from across the country with 15 surgeons and 10 hospital employees presenting insights into the disease and its research.

“The parents felt they got more out of attending that conference than they had ever learned from their doctor or online. The disease affects the entire family and it was amazing to see these parents sharing their stories and crying together.

“They were all feeling similar pain, isolation and sadness because Perthes robs their child of their childhood. Restrictions include no running or jumping and it’s really hard to stop young kids from such activities,” said Rathgeber.

The positive news is 70 percent of cases resolve themselves by the age of 10 when the Femoral cap recovers its blood supply and regrows the hip ball.

“But that requires parents to restrict their children’s activities. If the hip ball is constantly pounded, it will flatten the head and require surgery which is very painful.”

Awareness & fundraising
Bringing her extensive business experience to bear on building the foundation, Rathgeber, who holds an MBA, sponsored a Perthes awareness event at a Washington Nationals ballgame in June. She, board members Crawford, and Dr. Benjamin Martin, were recognized on the ball field for their work.

Locally, the City of Haymarket issued a town proclamation in support of her foundation in June of this year and lit the town hall in blue lights in recognition of all those who suffer from the disease.

The foundation has also been accepted into the National Organization of Rare Disorders. Acceptance resulted in two additional members joining the board, doctors Wudbhav “Woody” N. Sankar and Jennifer Lane.

Additionally, an honorary member of the board is actor and TV host Cameron Mathison who had Perthes as a child.

Board member Dr. Woody Sankar believes the foundation provides a valued role because of the limited information available on the disease.

“The Perthes Foundation helps plug these gaps by providing invaluable support and networking opportunities. It has been amazing what Colleen has accomplished. She and the foundation have made a real difference in the lives of patients,” said Sankar.

On October 20, the Second Annual Perthes Family Conference will be held in Dallas, TX. The full-day event will showcase topics that matter most to families as they navigate through the Perthes lifecycle. As with the first conference, nationally known Perthes physicians will be in attendance to answer questions posed directly to the experts.

All of these activities require a budget and Rathgeber encourages anyone interested in her efforts to visit the foundation’s website and donate.

“There’s a lot of components to Perthes including the impact on the family. We’re really excited to continue to grow. Our efforts to address these issues have been personally rewarding for all of us involved in the effort.”

For more information on Legg Calve Perthes disease, its mission, educational efforts, research and donations visit


Published in the September 12, 2018 edition of the Fauquier Times.

Categories : HAGARTY TALES

Blossman Gas lights the flame

Posted on Sep 17 2018 | By

Office opening is homecoming for regional vice president

For 12 years Steve McCoy was the office manager for a propane company in Bealeton. He loved the job and the people of Fauquier County. But cream always rises to the top and when the company was sold in 1996, McCoy moved on to greener pastures and greater responsibilities.

Today, he’s pleased to call Fauquier home again. No, he’s not living here but he’s the regional vice president of Blossman Gas & Appliance with an office west of Fredericksburg.

McCoy knew Warrenton and the surrounding area well and the company was looking for an area to expand to so he pitched the idea to his company’s CEO. “He was in full agreement with my recommendation and today we’re located at 259 Broadview Avenue.”

Opened in March of this year, the newest entrant in the local propane market is off to a solid start. Paul Perkins manages the office with a staff of administrative, technical, sales and delivery personnel.

“Our Warrenton office is representative of all our offices. It’s located on the main street of town and staffed by local people who are serving the local community,” said McCoy. “We’ve generated 200 new accounts since opening. Our goal is to have 4,000 customers within five years.”

That’s a formidable challenge but 67 years of business experience will be brought to bear in achieving the goal.

Blossman Gas is the largest family-owned propane company in the United States. Founded in 1951, it’s headquartered in Ocean Springs, Miss., employs 800 people at 76 branches throughout Southeast and Mid-Atlantic states and serves 150,000 customers.

Annually it produces 100 million gallons of propane sourced from the gulf coast, W.Va. and Pa. Its CEO, Stewart Weidie, is the third-generation leader of the firm and reinforces its commitment to the Fauquier region.

“We are heavily invested in the service side of our business from the person answering the phone to the technician serving your appliances. We’re here for you,” said Weidie.

McCoy underscores that commitment. “We make it easy to do business with us. We have a ‘service pak’ program that protects our customers from market volatility.”

The program stabilizes the cost per gallon of propane so customers can budget their energy costs and not be hit with unexpected rate increases.

One thorny issue that can arise when considering a different propane company, is the is the above-and-below ground storage tanks. “Some customers feel they are trapped because they have a tank owned by the company they’re doing business with.

“We make easy for customers to switch. With one call to our office we’ll take care of the issue. Customers do not need to get in the middle of the negotiations,” said McCoy.

When asked how soon a customer could begin service, McCoy’s quick response was, “I can make that happen this afternoon. And that would be with competitive prices and a payment plan with a price per gallon based on an entire season.”

The company also services commercial accounts. They currently have promotional programs for home builders, HVAC contractors, plumbing contractors and realtors that include seamless service changes from electric to propane.

Service to the construction industry includes leasing temporary heating equipment and selling fuel for uninterrupted service during cold weather construction. The firm sells and installs a host of gas appliances for new home construction.

Blossman markets a line of home interior and exterior products such as gas fireplaces, grills, water heaters, cooktops and clothes dryers. Interestingly, the firm will even convert small and large gasoline engines to propane, including lawnmowers.

McCoy points out today the United States is a net exporter of propane making it a competitive domestic energy source. It’s also a cleaner fuel than gasoline and diesel.

To underscore the service commitment offered by Blossman, if an emergency arises with either residential or commercial customers after normal business hours, the incoming call to the Warrenton office is routed to the firm’s call center in Ocean Springs, Miss. A local technician is then dispatched to the customer’s site.

In making a case for propane, Blossman points out gas is affordable, reliable, made in America, warmer than electric heat pumps, more efficient, widely available and environmentally friendly. What’s not to like?

As Steve McCoy oversees his latest pride and joy in Warrenton he says, “I’m ecstatic to be back in Fauquier County serving great people with a great energy source. I welcome everyone in the community to stop by our office. We want to get know everyone in our community.”

The Broadview office is opened Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; (540) 905-7758.

For information on service offerings, appliances and more drop by


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

Categories : HAGARTY TALES

Jacked-Up Foods tones down the heat

Posted on Sep 17 2018 | By

Sauces, jams and rubs focus on flavor while supporting Autism research

The bottled magic all started in the kitchen by a ten-year-old. The young chef triggered what today is a successful spice and sauce gig that’s headed for a bigger and more flavorful future.

The young man behind the idea is Jack Zalewski, now a maturing fourteen-year-old whose parents Jon and Kat own and operate the Fredericksburg condiment business. Their product line is available at a number of establishments in the Piedmont region including Fauquier County. Their daughter Aubrie also plays a creative role in designing product labels.

And if creating a thriving small business with the core family wasn’t enough, Kat Zalewski’s two brothers Andy and Chris Morgan are also driving the business forward. Clearly this company is a family-first organization.

So what was Jack Zalewski’s creative flash point that started it all? “One morning we came down to the kitchen and Jack was standing on a chair making up his own spice rub. He wanted to learn how to cook,” said Kat Zalewski.

The lad’s interest in spices occurred the same summer the family had been growing hot peppers and making sauces and jams. Friends and family loved the taste and encouraged the couple to go commercial.

“We came up with the idea of starting a business where we would also donate part of our proceeds to various autism charities. Jack has Autism spectrum disorder and at some point we’ll have him working in the business. We also want to hire people with special needs in the future. Everyone deserves something they can do,” said Zalewski.

Contributions to autism organizations range from 1 percent to 5 percent of all sales.

Because of Jack’s autism he cannot have anything artificial in his diet. It was the goal of the family to create products that contained all-natural ingredients that were highly flavored.

If they do not use their own grown vegetables, they purchase them from Piedmont Farms in Fauquier County.

Kitchen magic
As the embryonic business began to gain traction, the jams, jellies and rubs caught spice aficionado’s attention. Meanwhile Zalewski’s brother Andy Morgan was making barbeque sauces for home use and also entering them in competitions. She and her brothers grew up in Warrenton.

“Andy made this incredible sauce. I tried to out-sauce him and could not do it. ‘I said, hey, we could work together,’” said Zalewski. Today, Andy and his brother Chris Morgan contribute five barbeque sauces to the company’s Jacked-Up Foods product line called Uncle Andy’s sauces.

Two of the sauces are sold on Amazon Prime—the Awesome and Blackberry Habanero—and sport five-star ratings from enthusiastic buyers.

All of the products are currently made in the home kitchen for now. From purchasing the ingredients, to preparation, bottling and labeling it is a five-day a week operation. A passion for the business is evidenced by the fact that Kat Zalewski works part-time as a registered nurse and prepares all the recipes.

Her husband Jon is the business development manager for a commercial landscaping firm in Lorton. Jon Zalewski holds a master of science degree in turfgrass management & agronomy.

The major outlet for their 30 some products is the Spotsylvania Farmer’s Market in Fredericksburg. Every Saturday—from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. April through December—the family sells up to 40 bottles of barbeque sauce and 25 bottles of hot sauce, jellies and a number of dry-rub spice packages.

A nice take for five hours of retail sales, reinforcing how popular the company’s products are.

Additionally, their products are retailed at several stores throughout the Piedmont region. The VanCanon General Store on Main Street in Warrenton, the Red Truck Rural Bakery in Marshall and the Apple House in Linden carry their sauces and jellies. The locally available products range in price from $5 to $8 a bottle; the two-pack Amazon sauces of 32.7 ounces go for $18.

The new barbeque establishment Divine Swine on Culpeper Street in Warrenton also has the sauces for customer use; a great way to test drive the slather fun.

What’s intriguing about the company’s success to date is its moderate but steady growth. Each year has seen an increase in business and reputation. Plans are now being laid to create a brick and mortar company some three years down the road.

“Our ultimate goal is to have our own production facility and maybe a retail shop with a café. We want to be able to provide employment opportunities for people with special needs and disabilities,” said Zalewski. “In the future both Jack and I would work there.

“The longer we do this as a family the more we love it. In the beginning we just had a good time but now we are taking it more seriously.”

For information on the company’s full product line and ordering by mail visit their tasty website at


Published in the September 12, 2018 edition of the Fauquier Times.

Categories : HAGARTY TALES