Archive for April, 2019


At the end of the day

Posted on Apr 26 2019 | By

The storied past of Virginia’s inns, taverns & ordinaries

As he travelled through Williamsburg in 1765, J.F.D. Smyth made this frank assessment, “There is no distinction here between inns, taverns, ordinaries and public houses…they are all in one. They are all very indifferent indeed compared to the inns in England.”

Well…excuse me.

But consider Mr. Smyth was travelling on horseback over 250 years ago through a rough and tumble pre-Virginia landscape. The Commonwealth wouldn’t be founded for another 23 years.

The mere availability of a night’s lodging was much preferred to tossing a cape on the cold ground for a restless—and potentially dangerous—night in the open.

England sought commercial success in its colonies and established court ordered requirements that public houses be established in every community. The cost of such lodging was under the strict guardianship of the government.

Moreover, the British needed to generate revenue and manpower from their colony to fund ongoing military and high seas ventures. But it was difficult to get unpaid citizen volunteers to drop their plows and axes and show up for regular militia training.

The secret to producing fighters? Provide free ale if they agreed to appear at designated public houses for maneuvers. Soon enough well-trained soldiers were at the King’s disposal not to mention a growing cadre of experienced brewers.

Unfortunately, a few decades into the future the Crown’s trained men would become its bitter enemies as the American revolution took hold.

But as either travelers or men under arms, a warm and hospitable place to meet, drink, dine and sleep was pivotal to the economic growth of the nascent Nation.

As a further control on travel and trade, early on only two licenses per town were permitted by the Brits for an establishment providing lodging and food for the general public. Decades later hundreds of such places dotted the colonies’ post roads.

Licenses were typically awarded to the wealthy and influential. Think yesteryear’s Conrad Hilton and friends.

Warm and comfy or…
Taverns in Virginia closely mirrored the ordinaries of mother England. The proximity to the frontier, however, dictated the establishments be used for multiple purposes such as trading posts for families headed over the mountains.

The earliest dwellings were often a story and a half log cabin. The ground floor was for public use and the upper level for bedrooms. It was not uncommon for two or more strangers to be compelled to sleep in the same bed. And fresh sheets? Not often.

As the decades advanced, the quality of the “hotels” improved. Upscale taverns had a lounge area with a large fireplace, a bar, benches and chairs and several dining tables. The very best houses had a separate parlor for ladies, a friendly landlord, good food and soft, roomy beds with fireplaces in all the rooms.

Even warming pans were slipped under the covers as guests prepared for bed.

But the further one ventured from larger towns and villages such amenities quickly faded. On the edge of civilization, the inns were little more than dirty hovels crawling with vermin. Still preferable to spending a cold and frightening night camped in the wilderness.

Since permits were required to open taverns and ordinaries, much like today, the locals did not always support such applications.

In 1751, a clergyman’s thoughts were published in the Virginia Gazette on pending requests from a certain part of town.

In part it read, “…that ordinaries are now, in great measure, perverted from their original intention…and become the common Receptacle and Rendezvous of the very Dreggs of the People.”

Warming to his subject, the man of the cloth went on to claim activities, “…such as without intermission; namely Cards, Dice, Horse-racing, and Cock-fighting…Drunkenness, Swearing, Cursing, Perjury, Blasphemy, Cheating, Lying and Fighting are not only tolerated but permitted with impunity.”

My, my. There must have been some hopppin’ joints in the colonial era. Even unusual capitalization was employed to underscore the sins of our fathers.

As one travelled further north into a bit more civilized country, the positive critiques could still be spotty. In 1789, General George Washington passed the evening at the Perkins Tavern in Connecticut because local custom discouraged travelling on Sunday.

He later recorded his pre-Trip Advisor thoughts on the tavern, “…which by the way is not a good one.” George rarely complained so one can only imagine what the place was like.

Nonetheless, in addition to providing comfort to weary travelers, inns and ordinaries were important to local residents. They were a place to gossip, exchange news with guests, transact business such as land sales, and livestock auctions, pick up mail and talk politics.

One could make a case that some of the most consequential discussions on the revolution and constitution occurred in taverns. John Adams claimed the City Tavern in Philadelphia was “the most genteel tavern in America”. It was a favorite watering hole of the Founding Fathers and the First Continental Congress.

In Alexandria, Gadsby’s Tavern often played host to men like John Adams, Alexandria Hamilton, George Washington and other notables. Thomas Jefferson was honored there with a banquet in 1801, the year he became president.

George Washington’s two favorite dishes at Gadsby’s was grilled duck breast with scalloped potatoes and port wine orange glaze and “Gentleman’s Pye”, a lamb and beef red wine stew in a pastry crust.

Today, Gadsby’s Tavern is opened as both a museum and a restaurant.

Virginia’s four oldest
The vast majority of yesterday’s lodging accommodations have been lost to the exorable march of time. But a few have survived and continued to thrive. Here are four Methuselahs of the Commonwealth’s lodging past:

Hanover Tavern
Located in Hanover, the tavern dates from 1733 and was constructed in five stages. It covers 12,000 square feet over three floors. The almost 300-year-old structure has been graced by luminaries no less important than George Washington, Lord Cornwallis, the Marquis de Lafayette and Marquis de Chastellux.

Several slaves from the tavern participated in the Great Slave Rebellion of 1800. Both Union and confederate soldiers took refuge under its roof. It is still an operating tavern serving soups, salads, sandwiches and full dinners.

Michie Tavern
Corporal William Michie, who served at Valley Forge, started construction of the tavern in 1784. It was a popular and well-kept lodge with the upstairs assembly room hosting dances, church services, and theatrical performances.

In 1927, a local businesswoman purchased the building, which had been turned into a private residence. She had the structure carefully disassembled and moved 17 miles down the road to its current location and reopened again as a tavern. Today, it serves traditional American cuisine by period dressed servers. Specially items include Southern fried chicken, pulled park barbecue, mashed potatoes, cornbread and biscuits.

The Red Fox Inn & Tavern
This is the oldest tavern in Virginia and the oldest inn in the United States. It opened its doors in 1728 and has a storied history, including its bar that was used as a surgeon’s operating table during the Civil war.

It is currently owned by the Reuter family who still serve its famed peanut soup, a recipe dating to the early days of the inn’s existence. Specialties include their crab cakes, surf & turf, fried chicken and crispy half duck.

The Tavern
The Tavern is the oldest building in Abingdon and one of the oldest taverns in the state. Built in 1799, it has operated as a tavern from its earliest days. It has housed such historical rock stars such as Henry Clay, King Louis Phillippe of France, President Andrew Jackson and Washington D.C. designer Pierre Charles L’Enfant.

The inn once served dual duty as the local post office and the mail slot still exists in its original location. Tavern favorites are the black & bleu medallions, New York strip, New Zealand rack of lamb and scallops au Gratin.

Today, the story of the inns and taverns of the past is told in the numerous bed & breakfasts scattered across the Virginia landscape. While many of these establishments share a link to our state’s past, many others are simply wonderful places to slip away to for a day or two of stress relieve and sightseeing.

To replicate the experiences of our forefather travelers—without the downside of questionable lodging—unlock the door to your next getaway here:


Published in the February 2019 edition of Dine, Wine & Stein magazine.

Categories : HAGARTY TALES

Over a million golfers can’t be wrong

Posted on Apr 26 2019 | By

For almost six decades storied South Wales Golf Course has shot par

Golf course designer Ed Ault was a native Washingtonian who combined a love of the game with a champion’s skill to rise to the top of golf course design in the 20th Century.

By the end of his career, he had designed 98 memorable venues. Among the first of his jewels was the South Wales Golf Course in Jeffersonton.

Arnold Palmer played an exhibition round there the year the course opened and almost reached the 640-yard par 5 18th in two shots. Whoa.

To play here is to walk on hallowed ground.

Ault and his partner Al Jamison were hired by the officers of Bolling Air Force Base in 1958 to build the course. It opened in 1960. History doesn’t record if a colonel’s first tee shot was a slice, hook or line drive but to the ensuing legion of golfers an often-heard refrain is, “One of the best layouts anywhere.”

Pedigree always shines through. Even sixty years later.

In 1965 the course passed into private ownership and in 1988 sold to a group of businessmen that included Ken Thompson. The Thompson family eventually became sole owners.

The Family
Tommy Thompson is a third-generation builder. His grandfather was a carpenter and his father Ken a professional builder. Upon graduating from high school Tommy Thompson picked up a hammer and never looked back.

Today, he owns Benchmark Homes headquartered in Richmond where he and his wife, Maria, live. The couple has four adult sons, ages 32 to 21.

In the late 1980s, the Thompson’s purchased the South Wales golf course and land west of Route 229 subdividing it to create one of Culpeper County’s largest subdivisions; 340 homes grace the community where all the street names reflect towns and villages in England.

In 2008 the golf industry nationwide encountered a perfect storm when the recession reduced disposable income.

Couple that blow with an oversupply of courses nationwide, an aging population no longer capable or interested in the game, and perhaps most importantly, a declining interest of the younger generation in chasing the white ball.

What resulted was a trifecta one might call the “golf course blues”.

Ken Thompson, frustrated with a marginally profitable business, closed the course in the fall of 2014 and died a year later at the age of 88. His son Tommy Thompson understood both the legacy of South Wales and its potential for revitalization and had his longtime greenskeeper Johnny Smith simply cut grass and keep the layout viable.

In April 2016 he reopened the course and invested in improving the turf, sand traps, and irrigation. “We’ve done a lot of reseeding and planting of Bermuda grass which thrives well in hot, dry weather.” Of course, 2018 was anything but dry with over five and a half feet of rain.

“Last year we lost 90 days of golf due to the weather,” said Thompson. One might posit that to make a small fortune in golf today you have to start with a large one.

In fact, Thompson can be viewed as a golfer’s best friend by embracing an industry buffeted by challenges on all fronts. Yet he’s willing to keep the course open. “I’m looking at a goal of 12,000 to 15,000 rounds annually and growing from there. In the years ahead this region will see continuing development so play will naturally pick up.”

In the golden age of golf, South Wales could post 30,000 plays a year.

The challenge
The good word in golfing today are the seniors who are still the most avid players and integral to the game’s success. But as that cohort ages, as in the past, it will impact the viability of the industry. The biggest challenge is attracting younger players.

“The millennials, between 21 and 35, are simply not playing golf at the pace they used to. This year we are offering an all-day golf package of unlimited play. Players can golf the entire day for $55 on weekdays and $65 on weekends,” said Thompson.

Travel to courses east of Warrenton and a single round could cost upwards of $90 on weekdays and $120 on weekends. And chances are you’ll be surrounded by homes.

South Wales is the ultimate country layout where deer, turkey, and even an occasional black bear can be seen ambling about. Oh, and never is heard a discouraging word.

Another new offering is Annual Unlimited Play. At the beginning of the season, the price was $1,300 for the entire year. Each week into the season the fee drops on a prorated basis. Under the program, a round of golf would cost $14 for a single player. Bring a buddy and the fee drops to $10.

Social media is an avenue to scoring an even better deal: free golf. Each week the South Wales Facebook page announces the names of two players who have liked its page as winners of a free round.

“Our Facebook messaging goes out weekly to up to 6,000 people. Those who have liked us are eligible for the free offer,” explained Thompson.

Each Thursday a group of golfers gathers to play a round that emphasizes fun over competitiveness. They are always looking for new players to join them. The highlight of the day is the 19th hole get together on the club’s deck overlooking the 18th fairway.

Jimmy Mauro is general manager of the club and doing repeat duty as he was the head pro back in the 1990s and a member of the PGA. He is a retired federal police officer.

“I use to try and qualify for the U.S. Open, the Kemper and other tournaments,” said Mauro. If it’s a lesson you are in search of, Mauro is the man to see.

Mauro also emphasizes that golfers over 55 receive a senior discount—$33 on weekdays and $38 on weekends. That same discount is offered to ladies and members of the military, law enforcement, and firefighter community.

Today he is the face of South Wales. Walk through the door of the pro shop and chances are he’ll be smiling and greeting you with a, “Hey, how are you doing!” Play a few rounds and he’ll know you by name.

Tommy Thompson’s message to both skilled players and duffers is, “We’ve tried to bring comfort and quality to South Wales.

“We are a public course and welcome all level of players. We are looking to keep South Wales alive and operating and hopefully getting the number of players that will make that happen.”

And the challenge for the players? Simply come out, have fun and support a legendary club who has its eye on the next sixty years.

For information on rates, course layout and more visit Or line up for some free golf by liking its Facebook page at

Published in the April 24,2019 edition of the Fauquier Times.       



Categories : HAGARTY TALES

What goes around comes around

Posted on Apr 22 2019 | By

Fauquier County focused on clean recycling

Recycling embodies the best of what we want for the environment. Disposing of trash so it lives to see another day. Either as a similar product or reborn as an entirely new one.

No matter the outcome, Earth wins.

But to achieve such lofty goals, we all need to tighten up our recycling focus. “Toss and run” doesn’t work nearly as well as “separate and score”. To be a bit more technical, it’s single-stream versus multi-stream recycling.

Even trash is complicated in the 21st century. Sort of. With the emphasis on “sort”.

To make it a bit easier to understand, let’s turn to China.

What would be your reaction if you learned China told us to take our recyclable stuff and stick it where the landfill doesn’t shine?

Disbelief? The temerity of our Asian brothers? Maybe. But their rejection was a learning lesson for American recyclers back in 2013 when China implemented its Green Fence policy.

It seems the People’s Republic had grown a bit weary of accepting America’s dirty recyclables and implemented a ban on their import. The touchy, or trashy, issue has been in play between both countries ever since.

The backstory is one of initial success. China accepted much of our country’s recyclable materials as a source for serving its own high demand container and packaging industry and, more importantly, selling product back to us. Clearly a win-win for both counties.

Then things got creepy. Let’s have Trish Ethier, Fauquier County recycling information program coordinator, explain the problem:

“Essentially, the Chinese considered our recycled materials trash. For example, say a 1,650-pound bail of old pizza boxes were shipped to China for recycling. Upon arrival at their papermills the goal was to recycle them into new pizza boxes and sell them back to us,” she said.

“But when they opened the bales, they were filled with maggots feeding on residual grease and cheese and were unusable. We couldn’t blame China for not wanting our trash.”

Today, Ethier and her counterparts nationwide are trying to get people to clean up their act so we don’t have to deal with similar problems stateside. And deal with it we have to since recyclable shipments to China have essentially evaporated.

Ethier’s passion for recycling has served Fauquier County for 14 years. “I love my job because not only do I get to preach what I’ve always practiced, but I get paid to do it,” she said.

And what is her job? Think of an old-time circuit preacher’s craft and his oft-told opening line: “This is what I’m about to tell you. Then I will tell you. Then I will tell you what I told you.”

In Ethier’s case, it’s all about real-time communication in settings as diverse as grade schools, high schools, colleges, church groups, civic organizations, garden clubs, boy and girl scout troops and on and on. The message is always the same, “Recycling matters. And here’s how to do it right.”

Single versus multi
First, let’s underscore that any recycling is better than no recycling. But like Sears’ legendary merchandise categories, Good, Better, Best, similar delineations apply to recycled materials.

Here is Fauquier County many residents use commercial trash companies to collect and dispose of their garbage, including recyclables. This is accomplished by providing their customers with a separate container for all materials that can lead second lives: plastic, glass, paper, etc.

Such items are heaved into the single rolling container and faithfully positioned curbside once or twice a week. Upon collection of the single-stream materials, the trash companies head to Manassas to enter the refuge into a materials recovery facility where they are sorted into separate recycling categories.

One study—The MRF Material Flow Study—reported a loss of up to 12 percent of plastics to the paper stream during single-stream sorting. Moreover, there is a higher chance of cross-contamination of materials treated in the single-stream process.

Susan Collins, director of the Container Cycling Institute said, “Mixing everything together is convenient but leads to waste when wet paper and bits of broken glass can’t be sorted.”

Conversely, multi-stream recycling demands more work on the part of residents but is the gold standard for producing clean, highly reusable materials. It’s also the challenge Either faces in convincing residents to shift to multi-stream cycling.

But the lady refuse expert walks the talk, acting as a perfect role model. “At home on our ten-acre farm, I divide my trash into multiple categories. Residents should focus on separating, glass; plastic bottles, aluminum, and steel cans; mixed paper; newspapers; corrugated cardboard; and plastic bags.”

She even uses kitchen waste to make compost for the farm. “I just have a tiny bag each week that is considered trash. And it’s important that all the recyclables be rinsed or cleaned before disposing of them,” she emphasizes.

Clearly, if there was an academy award for recycling, Ethier would have a mantel full of bronze buddies. But one needs to think in terms of creating a new habit when establishing an at-home multi-stream recycling program. Once established, it becomes second nature.

When a sufficient volume of recyclables is accrued at home, residents take them to one of six collection sites located in the county: Warrenton, Catlett, New Baltimore, Marshall, Markham or Morrisville. Last year the county faithful generated 11,000 tons of clean recyclable materials.

“We have hundreds and hundreds of people recycling on a daily basis,” said Ethier

Hours of operation vary by day and season but the collection sites are typically opened at least between the hours of 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily. For addresses and specific hours of operation visit

Ethier underscores when transporting recyclables in plastic bags, the bags should be emptied at the collection site in the assigned container and then disposed of in a container designated for plastic bags only. “Those bags are sold to the company that makes Trex decking material,” she said proudly.

And therein lies a comforting thought: Sitting on a deck made from recycled plastic bags and firing up the grill in celebration.

Let the recycling begin.

Published in the April 17, 2019 edition of the Fauquier Times.

Categories : HAGARTY TALES

Green grows the land

Posted on Apr 20 2019 | By

Valley View Farm poised for second century of success

It’s a story we are all familiar with: the disappearing family farm. In 1920 there were over six million farms scattered from sea to shining sea. Today two million are left.

And while that number is stabilizing, it’s the big boys that are increasingly plowing the earth not mom and dad.

So, it’s refreshing to hear a story that began at the height of family farming a century ago and is still going strong. Swing open the garden gate and let’s learn about Fauquier County’s Valley View Farm.

“My great grandfather purchased the land for my grandfather back in the 1920s. He operated a beef and horse farm and rode in the Cobbler Hunt with George Patton of World War II fame,” said Philip Carter Strother.

Strother, 49, is the current owner of both the farm and Philip Carter Winery in Hume. The farm itself encompasses 500 acres in the scenic Delaplane Valley off Route 17. “Twenty-six years ago, my grandfather planted the first peach orchard and started a pick your own operation. We have been welcoming people to farm the ever since.”

Strother is quick to point out he does not call himself the owner of the farm. Rather he’s the steward. Why?

“This is a generational farm. We believe as a family we are here for a short time and during that time the person who has management authority over the farm is the steward.

“It’s that person’s responsibility to leave the farm a little bit better than it came to them. To carry it forward, to preserve it, to maintain it and to enhance it for the next generation,” Strother said.

Today that modest peach orchard beginning has been dramatically expanded to include all manner agricultural related products including fruit, vegetables, social lubricants, family activities and more.

To visit the farm is to take a three-hour graduate course in farming. “When guests come out to Valley View, they’re going to get a hands-on farming experience,” explains Strother. The operation embodies the best of what is known as agritourism.

With the ongoing disappearance of family farming, today’s generation of both adults and children have minimal knowledge of how grocery store products are actually produced. Just grab some corn, green beans, a couple of steaks and head to the checkout counter. This stuff came from the land? Interesting.

Nature’s bounty
Depending upon harvest timing the farm acts as an open-air grocery store or a farmer’s market on steroids.

Consider what you can buy from their bountiful “aisles”: Fruit butters, honey, jellies, jams, preserves, syrups, salsas, salad dressings, cheeses, fudge, peanuts, strawberries, squash, beans, peas, radishes, corn, tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplant, zucchini, potatoes, beets, carrots, onions, broccoli and even sunflowers.

Then the real fun begins. Before or after heading out to the fields to pick their own grocery basket, guests can stop by the farm’s tasting room and enjoy a glass of hard cider, mead, peach wine, or white or red table wine. A 45-acre on-site vineyard supports both the farm’s wine production and its winery in Hume.

If guests elect to enjoy a delicious glass of cold cider, they can then go to the orchard and pick the fruit that produced the classic farm beverage.

Honey Bee initiative
In keeping with Strother’s stewardship philosophy, this spring a partnership initiative with George Mason University will commence with the release of up to a half a million honey bees that will support 10 hives.

The high annual loss of honey bees, as well as range reduction and local extinctions of both wild and native pollinators, are of great concern within the farming community.

Approximately one-third of the typical Western diet requires bee pollination and honey bees are the primary pollinators of numerous food crops, including fruits, nuts, vegetables, and oilseeds. Annually, insect-pollinated crops are valued at approximately $175 billion in the United States.

The effort will focus on developing resistance to a virus attacking queen bees that has been decimating the honey bee population. The university will manage the hives and retain the ensuing research for the study.

In exchange, the farm will be given the honey for use in tastings, sales and mead production. It’s always fun to support an effort that benefits both man and nature. Especially when a tasty adult beverage is involved.

Not content to lean on its pitchfork, this season the farm will open a viewing zoo to showcase the numerous delights of farm world inhabitants. “We will have some Highland cattle, emus, llamas, pigs, and many more farm animals, some unique more than others, Strother said.

“It will give suburbanites who are not used to seeing farm animals in their daily life the opportunity” to see them up close and personal.

Another initiative is a collaborative effort with Sky Meadows State Park to restore an old farm road that backdrops both properties. When completed it will allow guests from both the farm and the park to hike, jog and even ride horses between the two venues.

“The stables would be in Sky Meadows and people could ride over to Valley View. We will have a hitching post and guests could have a pint of cider or glass of wine and then head back to Sky Meadows on horseback,” said Strother.

This spring the farm will also partner with Hidden Creek Farm who will provide organically grown vegetables in addition to what is grown on the farm. A pumpkin patch and new corn maze will round out the end of harvest fun.

In summarizing what he seeks to achieve Strother says, “My commitment is to do the best I can to contribute to our long traditions of agriculture in the Commonwealth and to make the past pastoral ideal accessible to as many people as possible. Guests can come and appreciate quality products that are grown here in Virginia,” he said.

It’s gratifying that a unique place like Valley View Farm is managed by a steward whose vision for next the century is to be even more productive than in its storied past.

For a full digital tour of the farm and its 2019 seasonal delights visit


Published in the April 17, 2019 edition of the Fauquier Times.

Categories : HAGARTY TALES

Fostering a tasty meal

Posted on Apr 17 2019 | By

A fresh makeover for Foster’s Grille

There’s a whole lot of new happening at Foster’s Grille in Warrenton. Fortunately, it won’t include tinkering with its popular menu. It’s hard to amplify on a winner.

That’s especially true considering several hundred thousand burgers have been enjoyed by customers since the restaurant opened twenty years ago.

But after April 5 customers walking through the doors of the town’s burger icon, located on Broadview Avenue near the Route 211 intersection, will be treated to an entirely new décor.

After two decades of serving lunch and dinners to the hungry of Fauquier County and beyond, the restaurant has whole a new look.

“We had a need to refresh. We’ve done a complete gutting of the entire restaurant so everything visible to the public has been changed. New walls, floors, order bar and restrooms. New signage will be on the outside of the building by mid-April,” said Mike Cerny, President of Foster’s.

The building was built 60 years ago and was originally a Howard Johnson’s. That chain was established in 1954 and at its height in the 1970s had more than 1,000 company-owned and franchise outlets in the Nation. Fosters is located on hallowed ground.

Cerny has guided the success of the company for the last 16 of its 20 years from his offices in Haymarket. Today there are 12 restaurants scattered across Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina and one in Florida, which is good to know if you need a “Foster’s Fix” while on vacation.

Seven of the eateries are corporate-owned and five owned by franchisees. Cerny has been in the food distribution and hotel business in the mid-Atlantic region for over three decades. The Warrenton restaurant was the first to be established. Customers dining there are breaking bread where its success began.

The purpose of the interior sprucing up was to create a, “very comfortable ambiance for family and friends,” explained Cerny.

Included in the renovation is a private dining room with an 80-inch television screen that can be reserved for business or family functions. Guests can order food and then relax in the privacy of their own dining area.

The restaurant seats 110 inside with a front patio seating for 40, which is the largest outside dining area of all its restaurants. It will be increasingly popular with the coming balmy spring days.

The menu
To scan the menu at Foster’s is to understand why its lineup was not toyed with. From its ever-popular charburger to veggie burgers, chicken sandwiches, all beef hot dogs, fish and chips, turkey burgers, chicken wings, fries, onion rings, and salads, the menu has depth.

Deciding what to order will be your biggest in-house challenge.

In addition to assorted fountain drinks, another house specialty is hand-scooped milkshakes. “We hand scoop and blend the shakes ourselves,” said Cerny.

In a nod to Virginia’s artisan libation industry, local craft beer and wines are available.

Cerny underscores, “Everything is fresh and made to order. “There are no microwaves and no heat lamps. Nothing is pre-cooked. We do not start preparing the order until it is placed by the customer.

“It’s not a fast food restaurant. It might take a few minutes longer to reach your table but you’ll get a freshly cooked meal.”

When guests enter the restaurant, they place their food order at the counter, secure drinks and take their seats. The food arrives at their table straight from the kitchen within 12 minutes or less.

If time is of the essence, download load its app on your smartphone and order online. “It’s a great feature for families at ball games or soccer practice. They can order their dinner as the leave the park and we’ll have it ready when they arrive,” he said. “It’s available at all our restaurants.”

If you want Foster’s to cover a family or business event, catering is integral to the business too. “We can bring our mobile 10-foot grill, tents, and everything that goes with an offsite event. We’ve prepared food for schools, businesses and more.”

Community citizenship
Over the years it’s more than good food Foster’s as provided Fauquier County. Cerny is a strong believer in contributing to the community. “We do a lot of sponsorships and support school teams in a variety of ways.

“We’ve also been involved in Dining for Dollars fundraisers for worthy causes.”  When customers attend a Dining for Dollars event and mention or present a fundraiser flyer, up to 25 percent of their dine-in, or carry out net sales check is donated back to the participating non-profit organization.

Cerny is also proud of the support his company gives local contractors. The extensive renovations made to the restaurant have been completely done by Warrenton based firms.

“My architect, electrician, plumber, security company and signage company are all local businesses. I don’t know how many people can say that. And all of the work has been done on schedule too.”

If all this sounds like a successful, well-run company it explains the franchise side of the business. “If anyone is interested in belonging to a successful restaurant business, we are the one to see. We are looking to grow our franchisees.”

He also urges those who may not have been to the restaurant lately to come back. “It’s the same great food but with a totally different look. Our regular customers are going to be in for a special treat. It is far and away a beautiful new restaurant.”

To flip through Foster’s Grille digital menu and prepare yourself for checking out its new digs, visit


Published in the April 10, 2019, edition of the Fauquier Times.

Categories : HAGARTY TALES

From avant-garde to historic

Posted on Apr 14 2019 | By

Ultimate overnighter showcases premier Virginia winery and storied hotel

Anniversaries and birthdays are quintessential times to take the chariot on a quick tour of the Old Dominion. With endless job and family responsibilities, most of us are tied to the whipping post except for annual vacations.

Yet a special occasion getaway need not involve an extended trip. Like a brief afternoon nap, an overnighter is restorative. The Commonwealth is chockablock full of opportunities to refresh and recharge.

So, my wife Jean and I plotted with our good friends Fred and Betsy to make a deposit into our memory banks. The excuse? Our anniversary and Fred’s birthday. The purpose entitled us to bump up the caliber our destinations without the associated guilt of spending more money than we normally would.

It comes under the heading of, “Hey we’re entitled.”

And where to go? It was a joint decision. We had visited Upper Shirley Vineyards in rural Charles City once before and wanted to share its delights with our friends. Betsy wanted to spend a night at the historic Jefferson Hotel in Richmond.

With such attractive options, we sealed the deal and made our hotel reservations. Pull your vehicle in behind us and let’s experience this adventure together.

Upper Shirley Vineyards
We departed Warrenton around 10:30 a.m. on a spring-like Wednesday with temps in the 60s. The trip south took us down Route 17 and then south on I-95 for about 40 miles to I-295 which bypasses Richmond on the east. We exited at Route 5 and traveled south for 15 miles to the winery on the right.

There are over 300 wineries in the Old Dominion today. An impressive leap in numbers since the first one opened in 1978. Moreover, the quality of the wine has garnered Virginia vinous respect and catapulted it into the fifth largest wine producing state in the Nation.

But try locating a winery in the Commonwealth that has a restaurant. Much less one offering an exceptional dining experience.

The reason? Wineries and restaurants are two completely different businesses. Creating such a twofer takes smarts, skill and the rare trait of embracing risk. The owners of Upper Shirley Vineyards qualify on all three counts.

We arrived at the winery around 12:30 p.m. and were promptly seated in the dining room. For guests simply interested in sampling wines the tasting bar is located at the back of the dining area.

The interior of the large winery is beautiful all white themed rooms with rich dark wood flooring that coordinates with the tables. Spacious windows looked out onto a plantation-style setting of broad lawns.

The James River flows past the back of the winery a few hundred yards from its large, covered deck.

Our wine order was promptly taken. A quick perusal of a late winter menu included truffle frites, crispy fried oysters, warm brie, caramelized mushroom flatbread, San Marzanto tomato bisque, house-cured salmon, eastern shore crab bisque, and a host of salads with or without protein.

Focusing on a bit heavier fare revealed specialties such as chargrilled chicken wraps, high- end burgers, cast iron quiche, southern fried chicken and more.

Since a large dinner awaited us that evening, Jean and I selected salads and our companions’ lunch size portions of fried chicken and shrimp and grits.

Susy and Tayloe Dameron are the proprietors. They built the winery in 2013 on their 100-acre property that also showcases their historic private home and equestrian operation. It is located on rural Shirley Plantation Road, or Route 5, situated between Richmond and Williamsburg.

After our order was taken, Tayloe Dameron stopped by our table and explained the food is prepared by two chefs with burnished reputations: Partner & Executive Chef Carlisle Bannister and Chef de Cuisine, Ernie LaBrecque.

“We are all about sourcing food locally, rooted in a Southern-style using fresh ingredients”, he said. “Carlisle has a great twist on our menu items and he’s not going to let anybody go hungry. His burger is the best on the East Coast and his shrimp and grits are to die for,” he said.

Our meals and a glass of wine ran about $50 per couple with tip and tax.

Learning of our interest in Virginia wine Dameron offered to pour his selection of wines at the tasting bar; all the bottlings are made by Michael Shaps, one of the most respected vintners in Virginia. An intriguing discussion ensued on the Virginia wine industry led by a man well-versed on the subject.

As we left the winery, we slowly drove down a gravel road to Shirley Plantation literally the next home to the south. Its construction began in 1723. Tours are available year-round and if your visit to the winery is a first-time experience, be sure to carve out time to see the mansion, or “Great House”.

Jefferson Hotel
Pulling back out onto Route 5 we headed north for the forty-five-minute drive to the Jefferson Hotel located at 101 West Franklin Street in the heart of historic Richmond. In driving into the expansive front plaza, I inquired if I could park there while we unloaded and registered. The immediate response was, “Absolutely!”

By the time we checked out in the morning virtually all of the staff had laced their conversations with, “Absolutely!” If the word is embedded in staff training classes, it was executed flawlessly coming off as sincere and original each time we heard it.

The service from check-in to check-out was understated and friendly. “Pampered” came to mind.

The Jefferson was built in 1895. It’s estimated up to $10 million was spent on its planning, building, and furnishing; that’s $299 million in today’s dollars. When it opened it was proclaimed to be the finest hotel in the country.

The hotel’s history encompasses a major fire and a series of restorations over the last century. In 2013 the latest multi-million reconstruction project was undertaken. The 262 guest rooms were transformed into 181 spacious rooms featuring entry foyers, dressing areas, and luxurious marble baths.

No less than thirteen presidents and an endless number of famous guests have rested easy at the hotel, including Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, Charlie Chaplin, Ray Charles, Frank Sinatra, and Elvis Presley just to mention a few of the dozens of American and international notables who have slept there.

It was certainly one of the finest hotel rooms we had stayed in. While not cheap at $300 a night, we struck a deal at and stayed for $245.

Drinks and dinner were in the Lemaire bar and dining room. It is named after Thomas Jefferson’s French chef. It is one of the city’s premier white-tablecloth dining rooms. The menu is American focused with entrees of Angus beef tenderloin, grilled pork chops, lamb shank gremolata crusted salmon, jumbo sea scallops and more.

Our tab came to $180 including wine, tax, and tip. An exceptionally fair price given the setting.

Our entrees were a nice cross-section of the menu. We were attended by Sean, our humorous and personal waiter who enhanced the dinner with his winning personality.

In the morning we breakfasted at TJ’s, named affectionately after the hotel’s namesake. It’s a lower level bistro that features both breakfast and lunch. We were struck that several tables were occupied by men in dark suits obviously starting their business day off with a morning meeting.

Our waitress broke the staff record during her service, telling us no less than six times we “Absolutely!” could have a second cup of coffee, more cream or Tabasco sauce.

We departed the hotel at 10:30 a.m. and headed north up I-95. We were home by noon. It was a twenty-six-hour escape so packed with good wines, food, conversation, and beautiful sights we all felt like we’d been on an extended getaway.

Consider creating your own personally crafted one day escape. Virginia awaits to make it happen.

For the full story with accompanying photography on the two featured venues visit and


Published in the April 10, 2019 edition of the Fauquier Times.

Categories : HAGARTY TALES

Life is Brewtiful!

Posted on Apr 10 2019 | By

Broad Run Farm Brewery soil-based success

For 20 years Bill and Michelle DeWitt toiled the land. The crop they’ve harvested includes a successful commercial landscaping business and a thriving brewery. Today, countless landscaped homes and businesses coupled with a legion of satisfied suds fans are testament to their labors.

Pull up a bar stool, grab an artisanal beer and listen to how they pulled it off.

“Back in 1998, we purchased 40 acres just outside of Haymarket. We grew perennials and annuals and more that supplied our landscaping business. But over the past two decades landscaping became an entirely different business. Contract growers now supply the industry,” said Michelle DeWitt.

The evolutionary change provided time for the DeWitt’s to retool their valuable land into a more productive moneymaker. What made it easier is they both were homebrewers. Going commercial was just a sip away.

But the go-go couple is too busy today to make the beer needed to slack customer thirsts. “I have a professional brewer on my team, Wes Nick, who is our head brewer,” explained DeWitt.

Under brewmaster Nick’s guidance some 800 barrels of beer a year take the short journey from the brewing area to the taproom a few yards away. There are no wholesale sales. What happens in the Farm Brewery stays in the Farm Brewery.

Nick worked in New York State as a brewer for 12 years. After moving south, he toiled for some other Virginia breweries before finding a permanent home as DeWitt’s in-house hop artist.

Dispensing tens of thousands of pints annually of Nick’s production is a testimony to the quality of his beer and the thirst level of his customers. “Bottoms up” might be the brewery’s unofficial slogan.

The beer menu is an impressive lineup of standards combined with unusual brews to keep everyone entertained: Oatmeal Stout, Belgian Tripel, two dark German beers, blonde ale, American and double IPAs, herbed beer, Jalapeno milk stout, and a red lager are currently on tap.

“Our most popular beer is the Blonde Ale but we’ve also brewed some fun things like a green coconut curry beer, a chicken wing beer, and a Bloody Mary beer. We like to play and experiment!” said a laughing DeWitt.

On May 11, brewer Nick, in concert with nine other Virginia brewers, will release a series of collaboratively brewed beers. The effort is a healthy reflection of the camaraderie that exists among Old Dominion’s craft brewers.

All this “beerjoyment” unfolds in the brewery’s spacious taproom that seats 250 guests. But the DeWitts have learned a thing or two from other breweries and wineries: how to resolve the conflict between families with kids and folks who are seeking a quieter atmosphere in which to sip.

“We now have a separate facility that seats 70 to 100 adults only, said DeWitt.

A staff of 20 mostly part-time employees makes certain there is no wait for your beer or food. And they are ever-ready to refill your growler if you’ve made the smart move to buy one.

During warmer months a six-acre beer garden beckons guests to wander outside and enjoy the balmy breezes in a country-like setting.

Evidence of the DeWitts success is the annual visitor count. “We had about 25,000 people come through the brewery last year. As expected, the winter months are the slowest time of the year. Even Anheuser-Busch says there is a slowdown in sales” when the cold winds blow.

As a result, the brewery is closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays until spring arrives.

Music and victuals
Every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday live entertainment is on the playbill. During March look for talented entertainers including The Bottle Shop, Lenny Burridge, Time Warp Rock, Fran Scuderi, Jim Steele, Katie & Kelly, Andrew O’Day, James Britton, Chris Bowen, and MoSafen all making the taproom jump.

Currently, appetites can be appeased with popcorn, soft pretzels, and corn dogs. Food trucks offer heavier fare. However, soon the in-house menu will be expanded to include pizza, chicken wings and more. A new brick oven will be the “pie factory” producing the tasty beer companions.

“People need to eat when they drink. A lot of our pizza ingredients are grown on the property,” said DeWitt.

With their agricultural backgrounds, an acre of hops is growing on “bines” on the farm and used in their craft beers. In April a two-acre vineyard will be established on site. That’s good news for the Virginia wine industry that is currently experiencing a shortage of grapes statewide.

Bill DeWitt will continue to grow his landscaping business, Community Landscape Services, based in Sterling, while Michelle DeWitt manages the brewery.

In keeping with their, “Let’s share our good fortune,” philosophy the brewery sponsors four major fundraisers annually. One in May will support the Sweet Julia Grace Foundation. The organization supports families who are dealing with the heartache of caring for a terminally ill child.

On June 8 there will be a series of bike rides emanating from the brewery to raise money for Willing Warriors. The organization operates the Warrior Retreat at Bull Run that offers a beautiful home to qualified veterans and their families in need of a much-earned convalescing and pampering vacation.

To further add to the excitement, the blended DeWitt family of six are soon to embark on another life experience; empty nesters. “Our youngest is about to finish high school and we are excited, said DeWitt.” Probably because it will open up even more time to building their adult Disney World.

In reflecting on the success of their plant-based kingdom, Michelle DeWitt says, “I love agriculture and the brewery was a natural transition for us. It’s a fun business. It’s new and exciting every day. I’m blessed to make beer for a living.”


To catch the fever, drop by to learn the full story of the green garden that could.


Published in the April 3, 2019 edition of the Fauquier Times.

Categories : HAGARTY TALES

For the love of music

Posted on Apr 07 2019 | By

Fauquier-based band set to release first album

Two Piedmont men who thrive as rock and rhythm & blues artists could also be viewed as musical philosophers. The intensity of their onstage sound is equaled only by their passion for the role of music and its impact on humankind.

Seeking musical perfection underpins their performances.

On April 20th they will release their first album, titled Kingdom From. It will be available from Spotify and iTunes.

The exceptional talent these men possess seems secondary to how they see their craft and commitment to being the best. They know full-well such intensity is critical in achieving artistic and financial acclaim.

But ultimately their philosophical insights on music stand above success. Music reflects their emotional and artistic core.

“I believe that artists serve a vital and nearly biological function for humanity. Musicians stand on the border of nature and culture and look into it, tell the truth of those stories and enrich the lives of people,” John Schreiner said.

John Schreiner

Schreiner, 31, married with a newborn son, is the leader and multi-instrument virtuoso of the group simply called, Schreiner, as in “Schreiner is finer”. His onstage reflection is bass player Jay Glasby.

“I met John at the New Life Church in Gainesville shortly after moving here 2014. My wife and I attended our first service there during the Christmas season to meet people since we were new to the area. John was the worship leader at the time and he played in the church group,” said Glasby.

“After seeing the band play, I wondered if they needed a bass player. They did. And after a couple of years of playing together, we formed Schreiner. Attending that church service was probably the most important thing that happened in my life.”

That’s not an idle sentiment since Glasby, 41, was a recently retired Green Beret having served five combat tours in Afghanistan in the Special Forces and earning a Bronze Star for valor at the time he met Schreiner.

He was working in cybersecurity for a year after his military service but realized after joining forces with Schreiner he wanted to pursue music full-time.

Today, their three-piece band is a tight unit with one of four skilled drummers performing with them based on their availability.

John Schreiner
Schreiner grew up in Warrenton when his family moved here when he was 12 and concurrently began writing and playing Christian contemporary music. “I knew I was going to be a professional musician when I was nine years old. Music has been the defining feature of my life,” he said.

He started college in Minnesota but later transferred to Lee University in Tennessee graduating with a degree in vocal music performance. For most of his college years, he studied opera and performed in numerous operatic roles. “I thought for a time I would pursue opera professionally. I knew I had the chops for it,” he said.

He also played in a Christian band called Myrrh, releasing two albums before deciding to shift to country music with the release of his third album.

His eventual evolution to blended rock and rhythm & blues came when he realized, “You kind of pursue rock at your own peril because of the demands it places on your voice. That’s why I wound up between rock and R&B. Those are the juicy genres for me and the most challenging,” he emphasized.

His musical education instilled in him the goal, “to become the best singer in the world”. He practiced tirelessly during his college years to hone the quality of his voice and his musical instrument.

Today he lives in Paris, Virginia and performs 300 shows a year as both a solo artist and increasingly with his own band. His solo gigs include weekly performances at Mastro’s, a high-end steakhouse in the heart of D.C. He also is well-known for his private party and corporate Fortune 500 performances, including shows at the MGM National Harbor Hotel.

Jay Glasby
Glasby grew up in Los Angles and is a lifelong music fan. He was a high school athlete and joined the Army at age 18. Within three years he was accepted into the Special Forces after meeting its demanding requirements.

As fate would have it, he joined the elite command just before 9/11 and was deployed shortly thereafter with multiple combat tours in Afghanistan.

Glasby makes an insightful comparison between a high-caliber musician and a warrior. “Working with an elite musician like John I saw the same traits as being a member of the Special Forces. What makes both successful are a strong work ethic and a relentless pursuit in mastering their craft.

“And it never ends. Always seeking to improve and get better is the goal in both disciplines,” he said. “I took those principles and applied them to my music. Like the military, you find a good teacher and put in the hours to become successful.

One of his go-to books embodying that principle is titled: “The Talent Code: Greatness Isn’t Born. It’s Grown.”

The book emphasizes, “We tend to only see the end result when we watch masters in action. What we do not see are the 10,000 hours of hard work that went into that one moment. We become masters of our life through the same long-term step by step process.”

Schreiner and Glasby embody those principles each time they step on stage.

“It is constant work to make a dent in the music industry. John and I work really hard on what we do,” said Glasby.

Schreiner will perform live on April 20 at 8:30 p.m. at the Uptown Alley in Manassas concurrent with their release of the of their first album, Kingdom From.

Cuts from two of the album’s songs along with their performance schedule can be found at

Or catch them in a driving YouTube performance of Kingdom From at

Ideally, you’ll be present on April 20th to see in person what may well be the launch of the next big story in today’s music.

Published in the April 3, 2019 edition of the Fauquier Times.

Categories : HAGARTY TALES