From junk springs jewels

Posted on Jul 04 2020 | By

Remix Market: rediscovering, reimagining, repurposing

Mark Harrington is a man of vision. He sees value where most see rubbish. In a world that uses, discards, and moves on, this energetic entrepreneur prides himself on creating an eco-friendly community by giving used household items a second life.

Harrington initially launched Junkluggers two years ago. The service is simplicity tucked into colorful green trucks. The company contracts to haul used household goods and recycles almost 100 percent of the items.

When a truck full of former life stuff leaves a customer’s home or office, its destination is either partner charities or recycling centers. The customer receives a tax-deductible receipt for their donation.

Now there is a third stop for the supposedly worthless items: Remix Market in New Baltimore. “Frankly, the term junk is a misnomer. Often, it’s simply things that have run their course within a home and need to start life anew elsewhere,” Harrington explains.

Junkluggers found that despite their best efforts, the donation centers and charity partners they work with were not always able to accept every item brought to them. Recognizing a need for extending the recycling process, Remix Market was born.

The airy and open feeling of its 5,000 square foot facility, located at 6632 Electric Avenue, is stocked with gently used and affordable items, including antiques, home décor pieces, quality furniture, outdoor equipment, artwork, and more.

Beyond helping the environment, a portion of sales from Remix Market go to the franchise’s two charities of choice: Mikey’s Way Foundation and Inova Children’s Hospital.

There are numerous junk companies, but virtually none offer previously treasured items an opportunity to live again. Many pieces are scratched, missing a knob, discolored, or have other modest imperfections. Harrington and his staff are skilled at waving their repair wand and revealing the original beauty and functionality.

“There are two terms in play here: recycling and upcycling. Recycling is lowering the value of an item. Upcycling is improving its value,” said Harrington. “We upscale and recreate the original piece and sell it at a very affordable price.”

There is no standard profile of customers engaging Junkluggers. It includes people who are moving, empty nesters downsizing, senior citizens transitioning to condo living, and even younger couples moving out furniture to accommodate new purchases. Many of the items find a temporary rest stop at the Remix Market before finding a new home.

The business strategy realizes today’s population lives in a world of abundance and excess. “Once people realize they have too much stuff, but don’t want just to throw it away, they call us.”

One enjoyable aspect of the business for Harrington and his staff is taking worn items and bringing them back to life. “One time we took a broken lamp and a silver-plated tray, painted it and turned it into a stylish birdbath. We also repainted an old dresser draw, cut off five old golf club heads, and made a unique hat rack.

“That’s the fun part of Remix. Looking at an item and asking yourself, ‘what can we turn this into’?” I periodically give my drivers a break from lugging and let them learn new skills by refurbishing.”

Beyond the fun and unique articles for sale, there is a preponderance of serious furniture that would enhance the beauty of any discerning homeowner’s abode.

To peruse Remix’s Facebook is to be impressed with the quality and volume of items for sale. Recently a solid wood rolltop desk in fine condition was going for $150; a similar new desk would sell over $2,000.

An all-metal wrought iron type five-piece patio set was priced at $139, a third less than a new purchase. And with its large showroom, social distancing is comfortable.

Join in
Another unique feature is tilted toward the Do-It-Yourself crowd. Customers who elect to purchase an item that needs some finishing touches can use space in Harrington’s workshop. “If they don’t have space at home or have a cluttered garage, they can do the work at Remix.”

He also offers classes on a variety of restoration projects. Recently, a session was held on how to work with the various paint products sold at the store. “It’s become a very creative community, in addition to the sales.”

“After people visit us, we often hear comments like ‘I didn’t know you were here. This is my new favorite place to shop for home furnishings.’

“We are trying to be a different kind of junk company. With the opening of Remix it has lowered the number of items we are taking to the landfill. The only thing going there now is truly trash,” said Harrington.

Remix Market is opened Monday through Saturday from noon to 5 p.m. To view numerous items for sale, visit its Facebook page at


Published in a July 2020 edition of the Fauquier Times.

Categories : HAGARTY TALES

Shenandoah Summer Escape

Posted on Jun 23 2020 | By

In a time long, long ago—pre-COVID-19—getaways were predicated on finding time to escape. Today, that’s not so much an issue. Here’s a suggested getaway penned in the pre-pandemic era.    

Valley Life Beckons with Beauty, History, Pleasure

Shenandoah. The word falls softly on the ear, possessing a rich aural tone and conveying a sense of peaceful allure. It’s renown comes in identifying the Shenandoah Valley. Native Americans called the region “Daughter of the Stars.”

It’s fitting such a beautiful word bespeaks such a beautiful Valley. Travel the world, and people will knowingly nod at the sound of its name. “Ahh, the Shenandoah Valley. ‘Tis lovely.”

Indeed. And it belongs most closely to the citizens of Virginia. It’s our gift and reward for living in the Old Dominion. Yet how often do we visit this jewel that entrances so many? Not often enough. Summer is the time to deepen the embrace.

The Shenandoah Valley extends southwestward from Harpers Valley, West Virginia, encompassing nine counties in the Commonwealth for 150 miles and terminating at the James River. It is about 25 miles wide and centered by the Shenandoah River.

The main arterial highways are Interstate 81 and U.S. Route 11. The former speeds you through the Valley to destinations elsewhere, the latter gently slows your pace so you can explore more deeply the valley’s culture and history.

The Valley’s human history dates to 9,000 years ago and was later central to the expansion of our Nation from the early 1700s. Known as the breadbasket of the Confederacy during the Civil War, the fertile farmlands of the Shenandoah Valley provided abundant food to Southern soldiers and civilians.

Let’s Get Started
Choices abound on were to engage the Valley for an overnight stay. We are going to start in New Market and drive north to Woodstock, a mere 20 miles.

The cornucopia of things to see and do in this short distance reflects the Valley as a whole.

One could spend weeks exploring the length and breadth of the region.

The first decision is how to reach our starting destination of New Market. Consider avoiding Interstate 81 and rather travel from the eastern and northern parts of the state west through the towns of Warrenton and Luray.

You’ll delight in unmatched scenery and pass through the Shenandoah National Park before arriving at your destination.

From the south, travel U.S. Route 11 north, formerly known as the Valley Pike. The objective is to ease off the pedal and embrace the journey.
Our first stop of the day is the Virginia Museum of the Civil War just west of the town of New Market.

The dramatic-looking museum explores the Battle of New Market fought on May 15, 1864. Students from the Virginia Military Institute, some as young as 15-years- old, fought an intense battle here defeating Union Major General Franz Sigel. The 247 cadets were a pivotal force in the Confederate victory.

Allow at least two hours to view a movie, tour the extensive museum, and walk the grounds. A particularly touching part of the tour is the field of lost shoes. Many of the cadets lost their footwear during the battle in the freshly plowed soil that had turned to mud after heavy rains. Ten cadets were killed in the engagement.

Admission is $10, seniors $9 and youth ages 6-12 $6; wee ones are free.

Next is the Edinburgh Mill Museum, located 15 miles north of New Market as you continue on U.S. Route 11. The museum is the largest in Shenandoah County and is open year-round. It was a large grist mill built in 1848 and one of the few such structures that survived a military action known as “The Burning”.

In July 1864, General Ulysses Grant ordered his Army Chief of Staff Henry Halleck “to eat out Virginia clear and clean…so that crows flying over it for the balance of the season will have to carry their provender with them.”

For 13 days starting on September 26, 1864, General Philip Sheridan’s Union Army burned or destroyed over 2,000 barns and outbuildings and confiscated thousands of horses, cattle, and sheep. For generations, the Valley’s farmers would not forget nor forgive the destruction.

The mill was saved by a brave young woman who implored Union soldiers to spare it. Today it houses a collection of artifacts commemorating the role of Edinburg during the Civil War. Admission is $2.

By now, thoughts of history will begin to fade as your stomach becomes your docent, murmuring quietly, “Feed me.” Several eateries are awaiting five miles north in Woodstock. Two of particular interest are the Spring House Tavern and the Woodstock Brewhouse.

The tavern has been family-owned for 19 years and voted as having the best restaurant, bartender, steak, and burger in Woodstock. It has an impressive lineup of craft beers and is opened daily.

An alternative to lunch at the tavern is the Woodstock Brewhouse located one block off Main Street at 123 E. Court Street. The building is the former Casey Jones work clothes factory dating to the 1920s. It subsequently saw multiple uses over the decades.

A few years ago, it was updated to capture its storied past while serving as an upscale brewery. Painstaking efforts were made to bring the structure back to its original glory, keeping it as authentic to the original structure as possible.

The owners were devoted homebrewers before deciding to go commercial. Using favorite recipes developed over the years, their creative list of beers is among the best in the Valley.

If you are a Hop Head, consider ordering a pint of the Crow’s Provender IPA. Remember the story? It’s a delicious brew named in memory of the harsh Civil War legacy.

Excellent pub food serves as an accompaniment to the beer. Platters like Burgers—both meat and meatless—bratwurst, fish tacos, jerk chicken, the sexi-mexi pizza, and more grace its menu.

It is opened seven days a week with afternoon hours Monday through Wednesday from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. and Friday through Sunday service from 11:30 a.m. until 11 p.m.

After lunch, enjoy a short but beautiful drive to the banks of the Shenandoah River to sit either inside or out at Muse Vineyards. The winery is located on a former 200-year-old Mennonite farm with an additional 30 acres of vineyards added to the property.

The boutique winery is owned by two overachievers, Robert Muse and Sally Cowal. Muse is an international lawyer and Cowal, a former United States ambassador. The husband and wife team reinforce the point that the Valley attracts successful people from all walks of life who settle in and work side-by-side local residents.

The talent brought to bear at Muse is reflected in its numerous award-winning wines, including a gold medal scored at the 2020 Virginia Governor’s Cup wine competition for its cabernet franc bottling called Thalia.

At the End of the Day
Linger at the winery as long as you want because your next destination is just two miles down the road. The Inn at Narrow Passage is situated on five private acres along the Shenandoah River. For 30 years it provided hospitality and a history that dates to the earliest pioneers of the Valley.

Part of the property includes an original log cabin built in 1740 that offered shelter from Indian attacks for travelers on the Great Wagon Road at a dangerous section known as “narrow passage”. During the Civil War, Confederate General Stonewall Jackson made the cabin his headquarters in the Valley Campaign of 1862.

The Inn offers 12 guestrooms, including the log cottage, which accommodates six guests and has a swimming pool. A full breakfast is served daily between 8:30 and 9:30 a.m.

With the dinner hour looming, the proprietors of the Inn suggest heading back to the Edinburg Mill. The museum that you may have visited earlier in the day also has a restaurant serving American cuisine using seasonally available local ingredients.

The dining room speaks to the mill’s history, with low, wooden beams and old mill machinery decorating the walls and ceiling.

A shorter drive offers the opportunity to dine at one of the previously suggested lunch spots in Woodstock that you might have missed earlier in the day.

Heading home
After being fortified with a full breakfast the next morning, one could consider a leisurely drive home. But there is so much to see that additional recommendations spring to mind.

If you head north out of Woodstock, you may want to drop by the Filibuster Distillery in Maurertown. It opens at noon Thursday through Sunday, so a tight schedule may preclude a visit.

But if you slept in, consider stopping by the women and minority-owned business to sample their bourbon and rye whiskeys and gin. The company was started near Capitol Hill, thus its whimsical name.

If time permits, perhaps the perfect way to end your getaway is to head north for 32 miles to the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley in Winchester.
The museum is dedicated to preserving and enriching the cultural life and heritage of the Valley.

It includes a house dating to the eighteenth century, six acres of impressive gardens, and a 50,000-square-foot museum featuring numerous exhibitions.

A permanent display of miniature houses and an expansive gallery exploring the history and decorative arts of the Shenandoah Valley is also included in the visit. Admission is $10 for adults and $8 for seniors and children. You will not be disappointed.

As you finally head home, bear in mind your brief excursion to the Shenandoah Valley just lightly brushed the seemingly limitless things to see and do here.

Start planning your return today.

Touring from Home
If family or work commitments preclude an overnight stay in the Shenandoah Valley, here are some ideas for enjoying the Valley hearthside:

Shenandoah National Park. A beautifully filmed video sharing the history and activities within the park. Free.

Touring the Shenandoah Valley Backroads. A compilation of 13 driving tours in the Valley with the focus on historic homes. Armchair visitors will encounter numerous small towns and villages that bring the Valley’s past to life with detailed, fascinating auto tours showcasing the richness of the region’s history. $19.35.

Shenandoah Valley-style Barbeque Chicken. The Valley is legendary for its productive farms. Here’s a recipe that will let you “taste” the best the Valley has to offer.

Categories : HAGARTY TALES

Local farmers: now more than ever

Posted on Apr 26 2020 | By

County agriculture showcasing value to community

There are about 1,100 farms in Fauquier County with more than 200,000 acres of farmland. The value of local land stewards to a growing number of back-to-the farm shoppers has been highlighted by COVID-19.

When grocery stores shelves begin to look bare, consumers cast about for alternative sources. In Fauquier County, that’s often just a few miles away.

Jimmy and Ronnie Messick are co-owners of Messick’s Farm Market in Bealeton. They are third-generation farmers and own 1,000 acres of farmland over three separate properties in southern Fauquier County.

In addition to the seven-day-a-week farm market, the brothers have 330 milk cows, 250 of which are daily milkers. In addition, 800 acres are devoted to grain growing: corn, soybean, and wheat. Jimmy Messick manages the farm and market; Ronnie Messick oversees the cattle operation.

The market carries local artisanal goods like handmade pasta, pastured meats, and even skincare products. For those who come hungry, there is a made-to-order deli counter for sandwiches and prepared salads and an ice cream stand.

“Our business is up 300 percent in the last few weeks,” says Jimmy Messick. “When the coronavirus hit, we were able to maintain most of our local suppliers of eggs, milk, bread, and other products. We had items the grocery stores didn’t. That resulted in a big jump in sales. But I wish my success was for a different reason.”

Today, the grocery stores are beginning to do a better job of stocking shelves, but the Messicks continue to benefit from the change in buying habits that were established during the early days of the pandemic.

Jimmy Messick said, “Our curbside sales are now more than half of what we are selling daily.” Like some restaurants, wineries and other businesses, their farm market has switched to an entirely new way to sell groceries. Customers call orders in, make payment and stop by later and pick up the order, either inside or outside the store.

During busy times, like lunch hour when the deli is active, the market staff asks that only one member per family enter the store. “We try to maintain the ‘ten customers at time thing.’ We wear gloves and are regularly sanitizing carts and surface areas throughout the store,” said Messick.

He reflected on what the “new normal” will be like when the governor’s stay-at-home is lifted. “We have lots and lots and lots of new people who are coming in who we’ve never seen before. It’s done more to expand our customer base than anything before this.”

Locust Hill Farm is a 2,200-acre family farm operated by Del. Mike Webert (R-18th) and owned by his grandmother. It’s located in the northern part of the county. The farm tills about 1,000 acres of grain and raises 120 beef cattle.

The farm sells beef both online and increasingly, through home deliveries. “Beef orders have taken off. When local folks see no beef in the grocery stores, they call me and order home delivery,” said Webert.

One downside to his business is the cancellation of some stockyard sales that previously attracted large groups of sellers and buyers. Additionally, his wife is a graphics designer that produced catalogs for livestock sales, generating significant springtime income.

His overall income is down slightly, but will come back when the economy reenergizes, he believes. Weber thinks that fruit and vegetable growers, and cattlemen like himself, will see a permanent change in buying habits.

“I think this is an opportunity for local agriculture to showcase what we do. It’s no longer just a niche agritourism business. People are not going to call the farmer for just weekend sales. They are coming out to purchase food for regular consumption,” Webert said.

Currently, it’s a mixed blessing, but overall Webert sees it as a positive development, both for him and other farmers.

Dennis Pearson is a fellow cattleman who owns Soldier’s Hill Angus Farm located near Fauquier Springs. He runs a 500-acre beef farm with a 160 head of cattle. He echoed Webert’s perception that there are pluses and minuses, but in general, the current stressed economy has been a good thing for cattlemen.

He said, “I have a freezer meat trade on my farm, and those sales have increased. On the other hand, the stockyards have been shut down for a couple of weeks and that has had a short-term negative impact on my sales.

“The Virginia Beef Expo was canceled, and I had cows in that sale. But I’m absolutely seeing an increase in consumer buying. I think people realize they have to have more storage at home. I also think there’s probably been an increase in the sale of freezers too. This year it has been very easy for me to sell all the products that I produce.”

Kenny Smith works the milking side of the cattle business with 17 employees milking 891 cows, the largest herd in the region. Rather than direct sales to consumers, he sells his milk to a large cooperative that services 950 dairy farms in a five-state area.

He notes that the co-op only has so much throughput, and that has been constrained because its packaging lines for half-pint containers destined to schools have been shut down. Those lines cannot be used to fill gallon jugs.

Plants are running 24 hours a day and are 30 percent over-capacity.
Smith said, “The current situation has not harmed Cool Lawn Farm. Our employees are healthy and stay at home when not working. One bright spot is families are reuniting again and enjoying each other’s company.”

He admitted, “One thing I do miss is Friday night date nights with my wife and friends. We miss the interaction.”
Mel and Kevin Powers own Powers Farm & Brewery in Midland. The 21-acre farm has nine acres devoted to growing some 40 different fruits and vegetables.

The products are sold through its community-supported agriculture program whereby customers buy shares and receive various fresh produce throughout the growing season based on specific agreements.

It’s anticipated this business will do well once the growing season begins. “More people are signing up, and I think I’m going to reach my goal soon. I’m always excited when people get excited about vegetables,” Mel Powers said, laughing.

The brewery was opened in 2017 and the venue has shut down due to the law forbidding any on-site consumption. Sales of beer are now made through glass and can growlers; 32-ounce containers that customers pickup outside the brewery after making a prepaid purchase online.

Unfortunately, growler cans are in short supply. “They are like toilet paper, said Mel Powers. “But, we expect a new shipment arriving shortly.” The Powers also have partnered with Whiffletree Farm to distribute their beer using the farm’s distribution system.

The overall business has been somewhat down, but Kevin Powers has not run the numbers yet. “The really important thing is we’ve had to shift from an on-premise to a to-go business.

“The hyper-local support we’ve gotten has been awesome. The people who live within five to 10 miles are helping us keep the lights on. It’s been great,” said Kevin Powers.

Published April 2020 in the Fauquier Times.

Categories : HAGARTY TALES

Doggedly pursuing wellness

Posted on Apr 25 2020 | By

Note: This article was published before COVID-19.

Hungry Like a Woof centered on holistic veterinarian care and pet food

From personal loss sprang commitment. From commitment emerged dedication. From dedication rose the gift of healthy pets bestowed on Fauquier County.

The thread of success was straightforward but it was ultimately compassion driven by passion that led to the opening of a whimsically named veterinary clinic and wholesome pet food shop in November 2015.

Hungry Like the Woof recently celebrated its fourth anniversary and its reputation for providing quality pet care and food is firmly established. The force behind the successful enterprise is Ann Griffith, who in concert veterinarian Dr. Carol Lundquist, created a unique business that responds to today’s consumer interest in authenticity.

The story began over four years ago when one of Griffith’s two collies was diagnosed with lymphoma. In the course of seeking treatment for her beloved pet, Allie, her veterinarian oncologist strongly suggested Griffith seek concurrent medical care from a holistic veterinarian. Enter Dr. Lundquist.

Allie ultimately succumbed to her disease but the gentle care and nutritious diet she received no doubt helped her emotionally during the final months of life. Shortly thereafter the two women began talking about a mutual business opportunity centered on holistic pet care. The relationship morphed into a friendship and then on to a new business.

So, how did it get its name? “I’m a child of the 80s and loved the group Duran Duran,” says Griffith. “Hungry Like the Wolf was one of their big hits. We were trying to think of a clever name for the business that was dog-related.” The British new wave band provided the answer.

Griffith is employed full-time as a consultant in the financial services industry so the daily face of the pet food segment of her business is store manager Kristin Dowell.

Dowell is managing a business with robust growth potential. Consider there are 90 million dogs and 94 million cats in the United States today. Couple those numbers with an estimated $75 billion that will be spent this year within the pet industry and it’s a ticket to success.

Moreover, millennials continue to be the largest pet-owning demographic. The market is substantial and growth will only accelerate in the years ahead.

The business
When you walk through the doors of Hungry Like the Woof, located at 147 Alexandria Pike, #203, you’ll encounter three separate entities.

To the right is the veterinary clinic that is run by Dr. Lundquist. It’s called the Singing Stones Wellness Centre. It is holistic centric providing acupuncture, chiropractic, homeopathy, and physical therapy for small animals and horses.

In the center of the store is the pet food shop. The idea for organic pet food was driven in part by tainted food coming out of China. As far back as 2007, the Food and Drug Administration learned that certain pet foods were sickening and killing cats and dogs. It was found that contaminants in vegetable proteins imported into the U.S. from China and used in pet food were the cause.

The store sells an assortment of holistic food and treats to help pets maintain optimum health. Dr. Lundquist hand-picks all of the products, assuring the shelves and freezers are stocked with the highest quality brands. Herbal supplements and toys are also available.

Are there real benefits to holistic pet food as opposed to what’s widely sold in grocery stores? Store manager Dowell says, “When people eat healthily, they feel better and it’s the same for animals.

“If you feed your pet a healthy diet, it’s also going to help financially in the long run because you’ll have fewer trips to the veterinarian.”

The third segment of the store is devoted to training and conditioning. The sizable training room is covered with special flooring that enables dogs to grip and maneuver without slipping. The training segment of the business works with professional dog trainers and obedience instructors who come on-site to conduct classes. Both private and group classes are offered.

Group classes in puppy training and traditional obedience run 50 minutes per session for six to seven weeks, depending on what’s being taught. Dowell underscores that owners actively participate in training and must use and reinforce what they’ve learned in the class to assure their dog fully benefits. “You don’t train the dog as much as you train the owner,” she emphasizes.

Additionally, there are courses in conformation training for show dogs learning to comport themselves in the ring. And interestingly, there are even courses in “nose work”, or skills employed in tracking.

The training room is also available for lease. “We’ve had wine glass painting lessons, a Halloween party, yoga classes, and more. It’s good to make the room available to the community. It gives them space they might not find elsewhere,” said Griffith.

The spirited entrepreneur is grateful for how Fauquier County has responded to her love of animals and their well-being. “We are thrilled to be in Warrenton. We love our clients. It’s a great group of loyal people who come here. I hope we’ve helped them and their pets.”

For a peek at the comprehensive services and products available from this caring Warrenton “Woof Pack”, drop by

Published in a November 2019 edition the Fauquier Times.

Categories : HAGARTY TALES

For the love of the cut

Posted on Apr 13 2020 | By

Note: This article was published before COVID-19

A dream fulfilled at Salon Lou

Lori Nicholson loves making beautiful. Always has always will. Nonetheless, it took a dozen years and multiple short careers before she locked down on what her heart had been telling her all along.

Today, a legion of fans is thankful—and looking great—that she found her way out of passionless jobs and onto the stage of beauty.

Since the age of 18, she had wanted to pursue a cosmetology career, but her father felt otherwise as parents are often wont to do. His vision was “Nurse Lori” and very reluctantly she went off to nursing school at age 20.

“I became a nurse but never did anything with it and subsequently majored in computer information systems in college,” says Nicholson.

“I then went to flight attendant school, opened my own home inspection business, did real estate appraisals, helped take a company public, and other jobs along the way. None of which I pursued.”

By her late 20s, she came to the realization she could not shake her passion for hairstyling. It was not only the artistry of professional haircare that attracted her but the gift of confidence and pleasure she could bestow on women and men seeking to look their best.

After a dozen years and seemingly a dozen false starts, lightning struck. “I sat down one day and asked myself what did I really want to do? I came back to my original desire to do hair. I said, ‘I’m going to do this.’”

For the next four and a half years, she learned the art and skill of hair care at two Warrenton hairstylist shops. Slowly the idea of opening her own salon began to crystalize. She envisioned what a client would seek in such a venue.

“I wanted a beautiful place with certified and well-trained hairstylists educated in their craft and devoted to ongoing education to maintain and build skills, and having no pretensions in dealing with clients.” She chose the name Salon Lou because her nickname was Lou Lou.

To bankroll her dream, she withdrew savings, sold stock, and bet the farm on her long-held dream. She located an attractive retail space at 147 Alexandria Pike, Suite 102, and began building it out as a high-end salon.

The realization she had invested everything in her vision scared her. The Sunday before her Monday opening four and half years ago, two clients knocked on the door of the salon eager to make appointments.

“They said they had to make their appointments right away even before we opened the business. I said to myself, ‘Yep, we are going to be just fine.’”

Weeks after the opening, the salon was still receiving congratulatory bouquets of flowers from clients thrilled she had opened her own business. There was no marketing of the salon. Word of mouth drove the company forward.

“The response was incredible. People were so happy for us. I would go home at night and cry with joy at the success of the opening.”

Staff & Trends
Today the salon is staffed by 14 stylists with decades of cumulated experience. As she envisioned, her team continually updates their skills by participating in classes and workshops and attending salon shows learning about the latest hair products, tools, and equipment.

Nicholson says women’s hairstyles today are trending back to the 70s and 80s. “Women are going back to dressing their hair by curling or using products to enhance texture.” It’s no longer just letting hair fall naturally and doing nothing with it. In the past, natural curls were straightened but today she sees clients who want their hair treated to create curls
“Big hair is back,” a trend she sees as continuing and accelerating.

Men’s styles are also changing. Facial hair continues to increase in popularity. Formerly there was less grooming of beards and goatees. Now clients are using conditioning products and mustache waxes.

Hairstyles have gone from old school banker to a more relaxed look. Among younger men, there is an emerging interest in modified mullets. The cut is a hairstyle that was popular in the 80s; short on the front and sides and left long at the back. What goes around comes around.

In addition to hairstyling, the salon offers all manner of nails, lashes, tinting, and waxing services. Prices range from $37 to $50 for men’s haircuts and $125 for women’s cut and color treatments. The full monty can go as high as $500 for that seriously special occasion.

As proof of the success of Nicholson’s dream, the appointment books for her and her experienced male stylist alone are booked into January. But with her depth of staff, walk-ins are accommodated wherever possible.

Further proof of the shop’s success? In 2016, Virginia Living Magazine voted it the #1 Northern Virginia salon.

After years of searching for what she wanted in a career, Nicholson has found it. “I am so proud of what I have created here. But I couldn’t have done it without my team. I’m proud of everyone here”, she says.

“And I’m so grateful for the way the community has supported us.”

For a guided tour of all things Salon Lou, visit

Published December 2019 edition in the Fauquier Times,

Categories : HAGARTY TALES

Getting to Know…Orlean and Hume

Posted on Apr 13 2020 | By

A winning argument could be made that western Fauquier County looks much as it did in the 1800s. Its pastoral landscape still offers a mantel of rolling hills, verdant pastures, and dense forests all backdropped by the distant Blue Ridge Mountains.

Of course, growth has populated the area over the last 200 years, but its rolling, softly curving former wagon roads still showcase inspiring vistas almost identical to those enjoyed by our forefathers. Artists passing through the region today would instinctively reach for their brushes.

One extended stretch of this majestic landscape is Leeds Manor Road, threading the villages of Orlean and Hume like a gold chain and showcasing two perfect pearls. Its name springs from the 18th-century Manor of Leeds, which was part of Lord Fairfax’s Northern Neck Proprietary.

The villages are six miles apart and reached by traveling west from Warrenton on U.S. Route 211 for about five miles and taking a right onto Leeds Manor Road for another five miles before arriving at Orlean.

Orlean is a quintessential small village situated in the heart of Virginia’s Piedmont with mountain views to the west. The town was established in the early 1800s and named in honor of Andrew Jackson’s defeat of the British at the Battle of New Orleans in 1815.

It encompasses 51 buildings, including commercial buildings, churches, a post office, a former school, and multiple residences and their ancillary outbuildings that date from the late 18th century to the mid-20th century.

Notable dwellings include the Orlean Farm House, Smith-Hinkley House, the Anderson-Rector House and Store, the Greek Revival Thorpe-Cornwell House, Jeffries Store, Orlean Methodist Church, Providence Baptist Church, and the post office building. The town was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2009.

The town’s focal point is the Orlean Market & Pub. Originally established in 1870, it provided asylum from harsh winter travel between Warrenton and Marshall and also served as the community meeting place, connecting the local population.

Today, the Market serves restaurant and pub food in addition to catering events. Fresh and local ingredient entrees are available Wednesday through Saturday evenings, delighting the palates of both the locals and visitors.

Its small grocery store, boasting a selection of Virginia wine and craft beers, offers social lubricants to round out the food offerings or for carryout for an evening’s repast.

Special events and live music are offered periodically, and perhaps most importantly, they have the only gas station within miles of the village. A short walk from the Market is The Village Green. The shop sells gifts, antiques, furniture, and in-season plants. The building is almost a century old and was originally a general store.

As you leave the village headed north toward Hume, take note of the town’s latest pride and joy on your left, a new $6.9 million volunteer fire and rescue department completed in 2019.

Hume was incorporated in 1848. In the mid-19th century, it was known as Barbee’s Crossroads—after Joseph Barbee—who leased the land from Denny Fairfax in 1787. The village is six miles north of Orlean and situated at the end of what was then known as the Leeds Manor Turnpike. The village center is at the corner of Leeds Manor Road and Hume Road, formerly known as the “Crossroads.”

In the past, the original town had three stores and four blacksmith shops. Large cattle farms in the surrounding area employed many families. During the American Civil War, wounded from the First and Second Battles of Bull Run were taken to Barbee’s Crossroads.

The Episcopal Church of Leed’s Parish was occupied at different times by both Union and Confederate soldiers. As a result of nearby fighting, the church walls were damaged by a shell that exploded inside the church. In 1873, the church burned and was rebuilt.

The Philip Carter Winery is just north of the village and open year-round, offering a delightful tasting room and beautiful grounds for sipping and picnicking. Driving west for four miles on Hume Road, you will reach the Marriott Ranch Bed & Breakfast.

The ranch manor house is called Fairfield; it was built in 1814 by James Markham Marshall, brother of the fourth Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, John Marshall—the “Babe Ruth of the Supreme Court,” having written or co-written over 1,000 decisions.

The Marshall brothers, along with Raleigh Colston, paid $70,000 for 220,000 acres after the Revolutionary War. They divided the property into three separate ownerships, with James taking possession of 80,000 acres.

Virginia residents are blessed with many historical areas to visit, and Fauquier County offers some of the finest. Next time you’re looking for a day getaway, turn the family chariot into the “Orlean-Hume Express” and take an excursion back in time.

Published in February 2020 in Discover Fauquier.

Categories : HAGARTY TALES

The bulge blows again

Posted on Apr 13 2020 | By

Note: This article was published prior to the lockdown.

March 14 gala celebrates restoration of North American Elk

Over 150 years ago, the last of Cervus elaphus canadensis disappeared in Virginia. As is often the case when man battles wildlife, man won. When the Mayflower landed in 1620, more than 10 million of the magnificent animals roamed the United States. By 1900, less than 100,000 remained in small scattered herds in the lower 48.

But man saw the error of his ways, and today one million elk populate the United States, mostly in the western states.

The resurgence of elk herds in the eastern U.S. has been an even more remarkable story. While paling in numbers to its western brethren, efforts over the last several decades have seen numbers rise from almost zero to herds totaling over 16,000.

Today, Kentucky, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania are reaping the benefits of the elk comeback, with the economic rewards to rural communities among the more notable accomplishments.

How did it unfold?

Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation
The RMEF was founded in 1984 by four outdoorsmen sitting around a western elk hunting camp. They lamented that unless action was taken, both elk habitat and the species itself would disappear. Its success is measured today by the 500 active chapters and thriving herds around the country.

The organization’s template was taken from the pages of Ducks Unlimited, who worked tirelessly since 1937 to successfully preserve wetlands and associated upland habitats for waterfowl, other wildlife, and people.

The RMEF has brought over seven million acres under conservation easement and provided critical survival habitat for the America Elk. While the emphasis has been on western land preservation, a cadre of other dedicated sportsmen have achieved similar success in the eastern U.S.

One of the drivers of the eastern success story is Danny Smedley. Smedley is a retired senior manager for an electronic funds transfer company. He ignited his passion for elk and elk hunting 30 years ago when he picked up a magazine called Bugle, published by the RMEF and headquartered in Missoula, Montana.

“I was out in Yellowstone on a family vacation after my first child was born. I looked through that magazine and was very impressed and joined the foundation,” Smedley said.

“About six months later, a gentleman who had been a former chair of the national organization invited me to a meeting in D.C. He said they were thinking about starting a Warrenton chapter of RMEF.

“I attended that meeting three decades ago have been involved with both the foundation and organizing the local fundraiser that supports our cause ever since.”

In part through his efforts, today there are now 15,000 elk in Kentucky, 200 in North Carolina’s Great Smoky Mountains National Park, 200 near Grundy, Virginia, 1,000 fittingly thriving in Elk County, Pennsylvania, and 100 in the Monongahela National Forest in West Virginia.

By any measure, the success of the establishment of these herds represent diamonds on an elk’s rack. Moreover, the location of some of the herds is on reclaimed strip-mining land in poorer sections of the country.

“Down in Grundy, Virginia they’ve got little cabins, a visitor center and viewing stations throughout the area. Annually over 350 people visit and pay $30 each to see the elk and listen to them bugle,” Smedley said.

Hunting is conversation
This is the slogan of the RMEF and underpins why the hunt is an integral part in saving a threatened species. Smedley says he is often asked about the dichotomy between hunting and recovering threatened wildlife. Actually, the two go hand-in-hand. He cites as an example the tale of two birds: The America Wood Duck and the White-Billed Woodpecker.

The former thrives as both a game duck and a successful survivor because Ducks Unlimited became its “sponsor”, recovering wetlands and building hundreds of thousands of duck boxes. Today it is one of the most numerous ducks in the country for the mutual enjoyment for both birders and hunters.

Conversely, the latter had no sponsor, and today the White-billed Woodpecker is extinct. “A species can lose out if it does not have a purpose and a sponsor,” said Smedley.

This year the RMEF’s local fundraiser will again be hosted at the Fauquier County Fairgrounds on March 14th, from 3:30 p.m. till 9:30 p.m.
In addition to speakers updating attendees on the success of elk restoration nationwide, there will be games, live and silent auctions with prizes as exotic as a premier elk hunt in Montana, an Indiana Whitetail hunt, dinner at Sibby’s in Warrenton, and high-end firearms by Weatherby, Winchester, Kimber, and others.

Tickets are $85 each, $135 for couples, and support the goal of elk revival throughout the United States. Tickets can be purchased by contacting Danny Smedley at (540) 222-4994. Smedley is also ready to answer questions on the foundation itself or on how to make a donation to the cause. To go the easy route, simply order tickets online at

With tickets in hand, you’ll join some 200 other sportsmen and wildlife enthusiasts and learn more about the valued work of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.

A digital tour of the world of elk recovery can be taken at, consider visiting any of the East Coast elk recovery areas and be entranced by the stately king of the forest and its haunting bugle call.

Published February 2020 in the Fauquier Times.

Categories : HAGARTY TALES

Circling the globe…landing in Fauquier

Posted on Apr 13 2020 | By

Owner of BIZCLEAN squeaky clean after high tech career

Keith Segerson was born in Madrid, Spain, where his father was stationed as an Air Force fighter pilot. From that international start, the entrepreneur roamed the world tending to business. And while he never spent time in a cockpit, along the way, he became a Top Gun in his own right.

At the age of three, his father was transferred to Ohio, and he thought it in his best interest to join him. Good move. Segerson grew up in the Buckeye State and attended Ohio University, majoring in business and marketing.

Upon graduation, he moved to Houston and worked for ten years in the IT industry. “I worked for companies that had a global footprint, so I began my international business career at a relativity young age,” said Segerson.

In 1990, with substantial experience gained in the technology field, he accepted a job at George Mason University as a manager on the IT side of the school. He held the position for eight years before advancing to head IT responsibilities for the entire University. Clearly, the man was on the move.

From there, he shifted to the academic arena at Mason but did not teach. Instead, he worked in public policy and eventually became assistant dean for the School of Public Policy at the University, focusing on economic development and community outreach.

“I handled a lot of international work centered on economic development and was responsible for the nascent enterprise center. The Mason Center focuses the energy, skills, and intellectual capital of the University on creating and expanding businesses. It specializes in small business services, government contracting, international trade, entrepreneurship, technology venture, and telework initiatives.

During his stewardship, it became one of the most extensive business assistance programs in the country, working with some 20,000 firms. “We oversaw the entire small business development center for the Commonwealth of Virginia. Companies he helped launch were known as “incubators” and dotted the Northern Virginia business landscape and well beyond.

Following a pattern, Segerson was then promoted to assistant vice president of economic development and research for the University. A lot of the work was international in scope. “I worked in Russia, Turkey, China, and other nations worldwide,” Segerson explains.

In 2014, he left George Mason after 25 years of leadership positions and founded P3 Innovation Strategies. His expertise led him to help build businesses in information technology, global economic development, entrepreneurship, innovation ecosystems, and public-private partnerships.
Segerson and his team provided client consulting services for companies and governments globally.

In the last few years, however, “…the winds of change shifted and pushed me to consider looking for new business opportunities. I found doing business in Turkey and China very difficult to almost nonexistent. I was growing weary of constantly addressing international bureaucracies. Especially with a small firm like mine that did not have a large staff.”

What to do? While out of sync given his burnished international technology resume, Segerson had always wanted to open a business that was recognizable within a community. “After my father retired, he built a small business, and I saw him work hard to make it a success. I was very proud of what he achieved.”

It’s obvious Segerson wasn’t about to do anything that didn’t involve extensive due diligence. He explored numerous opportunities, including a dog grooming business. Whatever he chose, it had to be viable, provide services within a local community, and, for certain, have clear profit potential. Given his independent streak, franchises were not considered.

After in-depth research and running the numbers on several candidate firms, he elected to focus on office cleaning companies. Thirteen months ago, he assumed ownership of an existing such business and dubbed it BIZCLEAN. It serves Culpeper, Fauquier, Fairfax, Loudoun, and Prince William counties and is based out of Vint Hill.

Today, it has 11 clients at 25 physical locations predominately serving the medical office building industry. It includes office cleaning and floor maintenance services, such as carpet cleaning and floor buffing.

“At the moment, we have 10 hardworking, dedicated employees, all part-time, and my focus is 100 percent on serving our clients. It can be stressful at times, working six, and sometimes seven days a week. Recently I got home at 12:30 a.m.”

In his limited spare time, he still does some consulting work for his company P3 Innovation Strategies.

Segerson, 62, is married to an elementary school teacher and has four adult children and five grandchildren. He chose Fauquier County in which to shift career gears because “I just felt the area was the right place to be in.

“I’m really proud to be here. My son lives in Warrenton, and in previous jobs, I worked closely with the Fauquier Chamber of Commerce and the Fauquier County Department of Economic Development. I love what I’m doing. I’m going to keep on working and building this new business.”

For a full description of the BIZCLEAM services, visit And remember, their reputation is spotless.

Published March 2020 in the Fauquier Times.

Categories : HAGARTY TALES

To sell or not to sell

Posted on Feb 29 2020 | By

Emotions can swirl when seniors consider selling their home

The memories may be decades deep. A litany of holiday and family celebrations, neighborhood friendships, favorite nearby shops and restaurants and a deep connectedness that comes from the bond forged between couples and their home.

But time moves on and often owners are compelled to move with it. Yards that need regular attention, maintenance of living spaces larger than needed, and health issues making navigating stairs, rooms and basements a challenge; all can dictate a move.

For many couples, the decision is delayed as long as possible. Understandably so. The mere idea of tossing away years of accumulated stuff, packing endless boxes of possessions, and relocating to a smaller home or townhouse can force a decision to the backburner.

But there are alternatives.

A growing strategy for maintaining the status quo is aging in place. Some researchers believe that employing relatively modest changes can keep older homeowners nestled next to their hearth for years.

Advanced planning can start with an assessment of major home repairs that are looming. Is the roof over 20 years old? Are the heating and air-conditioning units pass their prime? Are some rooms ready for a new paint job?

The point is to invest in the home with the goal of not having to face large expenditures in the later years. This has the collateral benefit of emotionally reinforcing that the home will continue to be a safe and sound refuge.

Next, consider the balance of selling at the expense of seeking outside help with home maintenance and personal care. It can be difficult shelling out money for yard and landscape work when it’s a task that’s always been the purview of the homeowner.

But eliminating the worry of maintaining an attractive home can be worth the added expense of a seasonal contract for property maintenance.

Employing in-home caregivers and housekeepers may seem like a luxury but if the money is available, it may be worth spending. Commercial maid services cover the gamut of cleaning services ranging from dusting, vacuuming, washing dishes, cleaning bathrooms, and more.

While cleanliness is next to godliness it’s also next to happiness. Employing outside and inside home services strengthen the commitment to age in place.

One example of personal care is Visiting Angels, a private duty network of reasonably priced non-medical home care agencies providing in-home care, respite care, personal care, and companion care. An office of the unique business is located in Culpeper.

Betsy Walker, a northern Culpeper County resident, recently employed Visiting Angels to help her and her husband Fred during her recovery from hip surgery. “My caregiver has been my lifesaver. The moment she enters the house she gets busy working. She has adapted to my routine. It’s a wonderful local service. We are lucky to have such caring people to call upon,” says Walker.

The budget for such expenditures may come from previous expense items. Vacations, auto travel, and dining out tend to lessen as folks age. These monies can shift from the pleasures of the past to the pleasures accrued by having increasingly stronger in-home support systems.

Beyond any additional expenses, there may be opportunities to have family and friends pick up some of the slack. Is there a friend, son or daughter that might swing by occasionally to wash hair, give a permanent, clean gutters, etc.? One should not feel guilty calling on people who they’ve supported in the past.

Finally, online shopping for home-delivered groceries prepared meals and the ubiquitous Amazon one-click world are other strategies making life easier during the golden years.

When it’s time
When declining health increasingly takes a toll on daily living, a move may be inevitable. Work together as a couple to make sure there is agreement on what the next move will be. The goal is to make the shift on your terms and not be forced into a quick or ill-considered decision.

While choices may seem to be limited, there are options:

Moving to a small home, condo or apartment.
Choosing to live in a retirement community.
Selecting a continuing care retirement community.

The third option has the benefit of a move that can accommodate an eventual nursing home environment if the need arises.

Once a decision is made to move, prepping is important. Begin by making a room-by-room assessment of what needs to be moved, what can be sold and what can head to the dump.

There are services that are available to make the process easier. Home junk removers are plentiful and can make the odious task as easy as pointing and saying, “That goes, that goes, and that goes.” Boom. Done.

An effective way to brace for the ultimate day is to start pitching stuff today. Start small. Regularly look for opportunities to toss out what’s not needed. If you have not worn a garment in over year, there’s a good chance you will never don it again. Donate it.

Begin with cleaning out the garage, closets and the basement. These can be difficult areas of the house to tackle since often they contained years of accumulated detritus. Momentum builds when discarding; the more you do, the easier it gets.

Regularly donating clothing items to charitable organizations along with serviceable home furnishings creates a mindset that if it’s not being used, it needs to be moved out. It also makes the ultimate move easier since there are fewer things to deal with.

Life might be like a car transitioning through its gears. As one accelerates through the early years the shifts are fast and furious. But when a couple finally hits the interstate of retirement, they should consider dropping into easy-riding overdrive and ease off the pedal.

Enjoying the hard-earned expansive views is their ultimate reward.

Published in the January,23 2020 edition of the Fauquier Times.


The success behind Claire’s is…Claire

Posted on Feb 29 2020 | By

Warrenton restaurant maven celebrates 15th anniversary at the Depot

One of Claire Lamborne’s first culinary achievements occurred at the age of 16. Her father had passed away, and her mother was a career woman. Someone had to handle the kitchen duties and feed the large family of 10.

“The first fancy meal I made was baked Spam. I scored the meat like you would a ham, placed cloves in the cuts and made a mustard and vinegar sauce,” says Lamborne. Given the size of a can of Spam, it must have disappeared in a blink.

Lamborne, the owner of Claire’s at the Depot, moved from that humble beginning to an eventual restaurant career spanning decades, both in years and the legion of restaurants she helped make successful. A rolling chef gathers no moss.

From her modest experience with home cooking, she went onto college, marriage, and the birth of two children. For 14 years, she taught school and gave little thought to cooking professionally. But a unique opportunity arose in her early 30s when she was offered a job to cook at a restaurant in Saint Thomas in the Virgin Islands.

During the stint, she purchased and lived on a sailboat and cooked at a well-known restaurant on the Caribbean island. “That was the beginning of my culinary career. I knew then that’s what I wanted to do for a living,” explains Lamborne. “I later moved back to Fairfax and attended culinary school and began working for several restaurants in the region.”

Not only had her desire for kitchen creativity been ignited, but an emerging entrepreneurial streak blossomed. She soon moved to Charlottesville and purchased a restaurant. “I made all the classic mistakes of someone getting into the restaurant business for the first time.” Lessons she pocketed for future use.

Next, she moved to San Francisco. “It was the food capital of the United States at the time. It’s where food was happening, and I helped open a restaurant there too.” Each year she was learning more each about running commercial eateries.

As her restaurant knowledge grew, she returned to Northern Virginia and began working at various upscale restaurants in Fairfax and Alexandria.

Then, a business acquaintance asked her to return to Charlottesville and bring her skills to bear in establishing The Ivy Inn, once part of a more significant estate known as the “Faulkner House”, named after William Faulkner, a southern aristocrat and distinguished writer in residence at the nearby University of Virginia. Today, the Inn is still a vibrant part of the city’s hospitality scene.

By now, a pattern was established. If a chef positioned offered a challenge and opportunity, Lamborne sprung. The next career catalyst was an ad seeking a chef in Warrenton. “I responded and ended up helping Angela Smith open the Legends restaurant.”

Soon after that, she was off to Marshall working at Marshall Manor, a high-end retirement facility. The owners agreed to let her cater on the side, which eventually led to a new business.

“My first big event was a benefit for the American Cancer Society held at the large estate known at North Wales, west of Warrenton. As a result, my catering career took off. I moved back to Warrenton and built a place with a commercial kitchen called Claire’s Too devoted to catering,” remembers Lamborne.

She labored for 11 years and became known as the region’s quality caterer, including a stint as the exclusive caterer for the Virginia Gold Cup races. Today, there are many similar firms in the area whose growth was driven by her early success.

After over a decade, it became apparent to grow to the next level she needed to significantly ramp up the business and purchase more extensive and pricy catering equipment. “I did not want to go in that direction,” says Lamborne.

Incredibly, about that time, another offer to return to the Virgin Islands surfaced, and the lady and her spatula found herself at a restaurant in Tortola, the largest and most popular island in the Virgin Islands.

After a brief two months near sand and sea, she returned to Warrenton at the age of 62, reflecting, “I think I have another venture left in me.” Gathering some local investors, she purchased the depot train station. She undertook a significant renovation of the aging building selling her catering business to help fund the purchase and its $400,000 update.

Claire’s at The Depot opened on February 3, 2005, and met with success until the recession of 2008 hit. With the restaurant faltering, Lamborne’s “guardian angel” Paul Rice, a successful tech entrepreneur, agreed to purchase the building for $1.2 million and pursue further renovations, if she continued to operate the business.

“After Paul bought the building in 2009 and completed the second renovation, it turned the business around,” says Lamborne. “We put in beautiful wood floors and created the tavern section with a bar while keeping the white tablecloth section in the back. The white table cloth scene is fading today, but we have the best of both worlds with formal and casual dining.”

The restaurant seats 80 with 40 additional seats on the patio for seasonal dining.

Then in March 2018, another financial curveball came hurling toward Lamborne’s home plate. Paul Rice had retired to Florida and wanted to sell the building. Not having the money to purchase the structure, it looked like Claire’s was again on the butcher’s block.

But a second “guardian angel” appeared in the person of Bobbie Crafts who operated a horse rescue sanctuary in Marshall. Knowing the value of the town icon to the community, Crafts purchased the building from Rice and lifted the pressure off Lamborne, who doubled down on continuing to operate the popular restaurant.

Today the restaurant is busier than ever. Drop by any evening without reservations, and you’re taking a risk on seat availability. From the She Crab soup, fried oysters, daily fresh fish, the tenderest of steaks, and more, the menu never fails to satisfy.

What does the future hold for Warrenton’s premier restaurateur? “I’m 77 years old, and I’m certainly not going to be at the restaurant when I’m 80,” says Lamborne smiling.” But I’m going to make sure when I retire that Claire’s will continue as a quality restaurant.”

So, rest easy northern Piedmont. Both casual and elegant dining will continue at 65 South 3rd Street into the foreseeable future. Thank you, Claire.

Published in the January 29, 2020 edition of the Fauquier Times.


Double your pleasure, double your fun

Posted on Jan 27 2020 | By

Marshall double-decker bus becomes region’s only “bustaurant”
A great way to build an appetite is to climb a set of stairs. It’s also the quickest way to enter into a unique world of dining if it happens to be a 1962 British double-decker bus. And no worries about food sliding off your plate. This bus does not fire up its engine, only the appetites of its lucky diners.

Two Fauquier County entrepreneurs are the “drivers” behind a successful and unique dining experience located in the increasingly foodie village of Marshall. With over a year of experience under their kitchen aprons, Brian Lichorowic and Lorrie Addison will soon launch Saturday evenings of music accompanied by its eclectic menu from the second floor of their “London on wheels” called Johnny Monarch’s.

Lichorowic is a former technology geek who originally hailed from upstate New York. He has six generations of dining history coursing through his veins. Scratch the man’s hands, and the aroma of a well-tended kitchen is likely to fill the air. He’s called Virginia home since 1989.

Addison is a Virginia belle born and raised. She grew up in Woodbridge and raised her children in Stafford County. As life moved on and she and Brian met each other on eight years ago. A befitting move for a techie in search of the right woman. It was a relationship destined to be centered on quality food.

So, how did the bus come into play? “I always wanted to get into the restaurant business. It was in my blood, and I was always thinking about it,” says Lichorowic. “But I wanted to do something unique other than a brick and mortar business.”

The idea—supported and pushed by Addison—sent the couple off in the search for an iconic double-decker bus. They found one for sale in Krakow Poland and had it shipped stateside, renovated it into a kitchen and dining room, and named the new business Johnny Monarch’s.

“My family hails from Krakow. That’s where my grandfather ran his first restaurant and where his grandfather ran his first restaurant. It was kind of a sign from heaven,” says Lichorowic.

The first level of the bus is home to a well-appointed kitchen, and eight steps leading to the upper level offers seating for up to 20 diners with a view of Main Street. An additional 1,000 square foot kitchen is located in a building behind the bus enabling the restaurant to double team their guests with a wide range of menu items.

One marketing hurdle the couple had to overcome was to shed the perception that the bus was a food truck. It is food served in a large vehicle, but it is not a food truck traveling from site to site.

Menu, wine & entertainment
Soon after selecting their site in Marshall, the couple began growing relationships with many of the town’s businesses. Domestic Aspirations, The Whole Ox, Joe’s Pizza, Field and Main, and many more, “are all friends of ours. We work together and buy products from them for use in the restaurant. We could not have picked a better place to plant ourselves,” says Lichorowic.

The menu ranges from rich comfort foods to vegetarian dishes. One impressive belly buster is the American Pie. It’s made from scratch using a thick layer of ground beef, herbs, spices, and topped with a heaping serving of Mac-N-Cheese, all baked to a toasty brown. Weighing in at 3,100 calories, the dish might be worth sharing with your fellow diner if you’re not up to tucking it away on your own.

For those who don’t want to punch another hole in their belt, a variety of vegan selections are available, including a Veetball Sub. Entries range in price from $12 to $18, but family size portions are available, making for a great family dining out experience.

The couple also offers a diverse catering menu for small and mid-size events.

The ultimate twofer is right next to the bus. It’s another double-decker bus devoted to wine. It’s owned by Randy Phillips, owner, and winemaker at Cave Ridge Winery in Mt. Jackson. The winery specializes in sparkling wines, so the bus is dubbed the “Bubble Decker.”

Phillips told them, “You do the food, and I’ll do the wine,” making for a gastronomic partnership that has worked well for guests of both buses. Glass and bottle sales are available on the second bus but can also be brought to dinner at Johnny Monarch’s.

Starting on January 11, a unique series of entertainment dinners called the Saturday Night Winter Music Series will commence with the appearance of Maddie Mae, a solo vocal act featuring the guitar playing Mae. She will perform acoustically in the dining section of the bus interacting with guests for an intimate, in-home like experience.

“The crowd kind of becomes part of the whole scene. They ask questions of the performer and even become background and rhythm singers. There will be two settings each Saturday; one at 4:30 p.m. and the second at 6:30 p.m.,” said Lichorowic.

For the full story on this unusual and successful marriage of buses, food, and wine visit Johnny Monarch’s at and the Bubble Decker at

Published in December 27, 2019 edition of the Fauquier Times.

Categories : HAGARTY TALES

Clickety-Clack is where it’s at

Posted on Jan 13 2020 | By

Model railroading relives yesteryear’s Christmases

Railroads built America. The embryonic beginning occurred with the first passenger and freight line established by the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad in 1827.

Networks expanded like kudzu smothering a southern forest, inexorably expanding west and fulfilling the doctrine of Manifest Destiny, the belief American expansion was both justified and inevitable.

Over the ensuing two centuries, a series of bankruptcies, consolidations and a decline in rail traffic due to auto, truck and air travel have seen railroads fade as a major transportation cog. Route mileage peaked at 254,251 miles in 1916 falling to 140,000 by 2018.

But who hasn’t heard that “lonesome whistle blow” and been reminded of the legacy of the train and its contribution to the Nation? The decline in rail traffic parallels the decline in model trains popular during the middle of the last century and a former centerpiece of Christmas in millions of homes.

But toy trains lovers still exist and may well be more passionate than their compatriots of over a half-century ago. If you pursue the hobby today in the face of public disinterest, you might be on the leading edge of a revival. And if you’re not, who cares. Passion is always in fashion.

Today’s model train industry is truncated but thriving in places like Fauquier and Prince William Counties. One simply has to know where to look.

Virginia Hobbies Etc.
Located at 46 Main Street across from the Warrenton post office, Virginia Hobbies, Etc. is owned and operated by Burrell Stindel who has been the conductor behind his radio-controlled trains, planes, and automobiles for 35 years.

He moved to Warrenton in 2002 with the intent of selling only model trains but, “found out what the town needed was a more expansive hobby shop. Today, we sell about 800 major items and some 10,000 products supporting those toys.”

If you need a wheel bearing for a truck, a track pin for your choo choo, a doll baby, or a model airplane kit, it’s in stock. The toy maven explains that the popularity of model railroading has faded over the decades because “we’ve now raised three generations of people who have never ridden on a train. There’s no connection today between the miniature and the real deal.”

He acknowledges that movies have helped drive sales to the younger set for trains like the Hogwarts Express and Polar Express. But most of his sales are to folks in their 40s.

Trains can range from $90 to $1,700 for a locomotive car depending on the quality and features a buyer is seeking. A complete set from a trusted manufacturer like Lionel sporting four cars, track, and the controller will run from $350 to $450.

Stindel underscores he typically matches prices on websites; an important feature for parents purchasing a train set for the kids only to later realize they have questions about its operation and maintenance. His service doesn’t stop once the train is rolling down the tracks.

Toy Trains and Collectibles
Dan and Hope Danielson and their children and grandchildren run their shop dedicated to the world of model trains. Located at 7216 New Market Court in Manassas, Dan Danielson has been a model train buff for 65 years. You can try and stump him with a train question but why waste your time? He has a firm grip on the locomotive throttle.

He and his wife are collectors with different interests; Hope focuses on trains from the 1900s to the early 1940s. Dan’s passion is collecting trains sold from the late 40s to the late 60s. The modern era of model railroading began in 1970. “You can pay upwards of $8,000 for a mint condition pre-war locomotive.”

In addition to antique trains for sale, the couple carries a wide variety of modern trains, tracks, and accessories available in Standard, O, O-27, S, HO and N gauges. Their selections include respected manufacturers such as Lionel, MTH, Bachmann, Williams, Atlas, Athearn and Kato.

Dan explains that track gauge is important when purchasing a train for a youngster. “You don’t want to buy an HO gauge train for a seven-year-old. It’s too fragile and they’ll get frustrated in assembling and running it.

“Rather, buy an O gauge set that they are not going to easily break. Our passion here is to make sure we get the right train for the right aged child so he or she can get the most fun and enjoyment out of it. Not just for Christmas but year-round.”

From December 18th to the 22nd Dan recommends that anyone interested in model trains drop by the Manassas Center for the Arts at 9419 Battle St. and check out its Winter Wonderland Model Train Show. On weekdays it’s open from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.; weekend hours are from is 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. “It’s a stunning layout and it’s all Christmas themed. It’s one dynamite train display.” Even better? It’s free.

One cautionary tale if you are considering a leap into model trains. Rod Stewart, the British singer, and songwriter spent 23 years building a massive model train and cityscape in the attic of his Los Angeles home.
Often while on tour he requested a separate room and had the bed cleared so he could work on the project while on the road. Might that have inspired his 1989 hit Downtown Train?

For those who want to leap from the miniature to full-blown, consider an overnight jaunt to Elkins West Virginia to hop aboard the seriously real Polar Express. The fun run unfolds each November and December and recreates the iconic movie in real-time. For information and tickets visit

If model railroading catches your imagination, no need to wander alone onto the tracks. In addition to the two valued shops in our area, stop by the National Model Railroad Association at Learn all there is to know about choo-chooing before donning your striped engineer’s cap. All aboard!

Published in the November 27, 2019 edition of the Fauquier Times.

Categories : HAGARTY TALES

Evergreen Season

Posted on Dec 20 2019 | By

The joy and beauty of a fresh-cut Christmas tree

Artificial Christmas trees are steadily growing in popularity. The first fakes were created some 90 years ago by the Addis Brush Company but did not gain wide acceptance.

But since 2004, sales of the imitations in the United States have doubled from nine to 18 million trees. Real trees have held their own during the same period selling about 27 million each holiday season.
If you consider there are 36 million more Christmas revelers today than 15 years ago, the artificials are making headway. It’s understandable.

Artificial trees are now more realistic looking than ever and can “live” for years. The branches are typically made of polyvinyl chloride; think PVC plumbing pipe. And while they cost more initially, amortized over a long-life expectancy they are a good investment.

Still, they aren’t the real deal. Folks who walk into a home with a beautifully decorated artificial tree will often know it’s not from Mother Nature’s cupboard. Too perfect.

There is also the question of which tree is more environmentally friendly. The pros and cons tend to balance each other out. Many believe cutting a live tree is ecologically harmful but artificial trees made of petroleum-derived plastic will sit in landfills for centuries. Real trees decay in about seven years.

Sound arguments prevail on both sides of the issue. There is no right or wrong when Christmas celebrations are in play. Nonetheless, real seems more fun; especially if you can make a family event out of scoring a “needle factory” for the holidays.

During the Roman era, the mid-winter festival Saturnalia saw houses decorated with wreaths, evergreens and other items now associated with modern-day Christmas celebrations.

The first actual Christmas trees date to medieval times in early modern-day Germany where the populace brought trees into their homes to help celebrate Christmas. Decorations consisted of colored paper, apples, wafers, tinsel, and sweetmeats.

At the close of the Middle-Ages, the Catholic religious order of monks and nuns called the Cistercians wrote what many consider the oldest reference to the Christmas tree: “On Christmas eve, you will look for a large branch of green laurel, and you shall reap many red oranges, and place them in the branches that come of the laurel and in every orange you shall put a candle…”.

The first mention of the Christmas tree in the United States was in 1836 when an article was published describing a German maid decorating her mistress’s tree.

Since 1923, a national Christmas tree has been placed on the Ellipse near the White House. The towering evergreen is decorated with 2,500 lights and is lit by the President in early December.

Go local
Given the popularity of the tradition, it’s not surprising Christmas tree farms have sprung up in most rural areas of the country. Typically, these are small businesses that cater to families in search of the holiday icon. It often becomes a ritual to pack up the kids and spend a day in search of the perfect tree.

The farms usually offer both pre-cut and cut your own trees. However, the joy of visiting these farms is the time spent roaming the properties looking for a live tree that matches a family’s needs.

Here in Fauquier County there are four cut your own farms: Aboria in Marshall, Hank’s Christmas trees at the Hartland Farm in Markham, KK Christmas Trees in Marshall, and Stribling Trees at Oldacres Farm in Markham.

Jim Stribling is the tree farmer at his Oldacres Farm and knows from holiday trees as his parents farmed both the orchard and tree emporium before he accepted the baton as “tree maven” upon their retirement.

“This year we’ll be open the day after Thanksgiving until Christmas each weekend from 9 am to 5 p.m.,” says Stribling. “We have hundreds of Fraser pine and White pine trees that families can choose and cut. Customers can bring their saw or we’ll provide them one.”

Stribling underscores he has a variety of trees from four feet to over eight feet high. The taller trees are typically harder to find. His farm grows several thousand trees with hundreds primed each year for gracing living rooms throughout the Piedmont.

The farm offers hot cider and other refreshments while which customers have their trees netted and tied to their vehicles. Payment can be made by cash, check or credit cards.

For a complete list of Christmas tree farms in Fauquier, Culpeper, and Prince William counties, and throughout Northern Virginia visit

Published in the November 2019 Fauquier Times Holiday Gift Guide.

Categories : HAGARTY TALES

Hoisting a pint not a pack

Posted on Dec 20 2019 | By

“Hiking” the Shenandoah Beerwerks Trail

The Appalachian Trail is the most iconic of long-distance mountain footpaths. Stretching from Springer Mountain in Georgia to Mount Katahdin in Maine it rises and falls along the spine of the Appalachian Mountains for 2,192 miles.

Three million hikers each year spend some time on the trail. And 4,000 committed outdoor enthusiasts attempt to complete the entire hike in one season. It typically takes five to six months.

Only one in four succeed.

The AT speed record stands at 41 days. Karel Sabbe reached the trail’s at Mt. Katahdin last August completing the AT faster than anyone before him.

Forget your calculator. That’s an average of 53 miles a day. The man must have needed a beer on day 41.

Another AT giant is Warren Doyle who completed the entire AT hike 18 times. That’s 39,000 miles. After graduating from college and earning his master’s degree he realized, “I had to do something no one was telling me to do—no rewards, no cheerleaders, no scholarships, something I was not going to get paid for,” Doyle said.

As Sabbe, Doyle and their fellow thru-hikers cruised through Virginia they would have passed high above one of the largest and most scenic beer trails in the Old Dominion. A few may have even taken time to drop by one of the 15 breweries on the Shenandoah Beerwerks Trail.

The Trail
The Shenandoah Beerwerks Trail is a collaborative effort of Greater Augusta Regional Tourism and its participating breweries; all are located in the heart of the Shenandoah Valley.

Created in mid-2016, today the individual but linked brew houses are pulling over a hundred individual craft tap handles while slaking the thirst of tens of thousands of natives and tourists alike.

“At the beginning of developing the trail we realized we did not have enough breweries to actually create one so we asked Lexington to the south and Harrisonburg to the north to join our efforts,” said Sheryl Wagner, director of tourism for the city of Staunton.

As with all things new learning to toggle and pull the right brewery “strings” loomed important in the early days of trail. It’s one thing to build a trail and create a website but driving beer lovers to actually “hike” it required some professional advice.

“The first year we were just doing promotions and trying to get the trail name out to the public.” Then the Waynesboro, Augusta marketing managers joined Wagner in attending a beer conference in Ashville, N.C.

One of the first questions posed to the new beer barons was, “Do you have a passport program?” They did not. They returned home and quickly established one.

“Our Passport Program has just blown-up the trail. Created in mid-2017 as of July of this year, we’ve had 3,559 passports redeemed resulting in 21,025 brewery visits. Folks from 47 states, Australia, Columbia, Canada, and Germany have enjoyed Virginia craft beer as a result.”

The passports are produced and distributed to the participating wineries who in turn hand them out to their guests at no cost. At each guest visit, a brewery provides an adhesive stamp to be placed in the passport.

After eight or more stamps have been scored by a satisfied beer lover the passport can be redeemed for a bright orange “Drink in Shenandoah Valley” tee-shirt.

The colorful and catchy-titled shirt is a prized possession and obviously gets a lot of wear given the success of the program.

As an added bonus, the Trail recently extended the benefits of the passport by providing free stainless-steel growlers for anyone who posts a photo of themselves wearing the tee-shirt on a social media site.

Another collaborative effort is in the works with the popular beer app Untapped. The free app allows users to keep track of what they’ve tasted and what they thought of the brews they’ve enjoyed. A partnership is being created with the app designers and should be announced soon.

But beer is not the sole draw while pursuing the suds journey. There are numerous natural attractions to take in when circuit-riding the trail. Bordered by the Blue Ridge and Allegheny Mountains the Shenandoah Valley is a natural paradise featuring dramatic scenery wherever the eye falls.

Regardless of skill level activities include hiking, backpacking, cycling, canoeing, whitewater rafting, fishing, golfing, horseback riding and more.

For a more relaxed experience take in the beautiful and historic towns and museums along the trail’s line of travel while visiting geologic wonders like Natural Bridge and the Shenandoah Valley caverns.

Cruising Skyline Drive and the Blue Ridge Parkway is an especially effective way to let go of any stress and refresh body and soul.

Go slow and also consider stopping by music festivals, farmer’s markets, “pick your own” fields and, of course, dropping by wineries during your beer breaks.

The impact of the Shenandoah Beerwerks Trail is obvious to beer lovers. But behind the scene, it’s also playing an important role for central Virginia communities.

Promoting the enjoyment of craft beer is a “perfect pairing” for the Valley’s outdoor recreation assets and is driving increased tourism to the region by linking the craft beer experience with compelling lifestyle and outdoor recreational opportunities.

“The program has really put a spotlight on the rural places in which some of these breweries are located. These areas may not have many tourist attractions so it’s been great for us to partnered with them and our other county neighbors to showcase the region,” said Wagner.

If ever there was a time to enjoy a mini-staycation in the Old Dominion, sliding behind the wheel of the chariot and enjoying the delights of artisanal beer in a world-renown setting is now.

Start your engines.

Drop by for the full story and list of trail breweries.

Published in the Summer 2019 edition of Dine, Wine and Stein magazine.

Categories : HAGARTY TALES

On November 30, the pastor of First Baptist Church of Warrenton will step down from the pulpit and for the first time take a seat in the pews. His life has been one dedicated to the Word of God. The Reverend Matthew Zimmerman will move from in front of his congregation to a seat among the faithful whom he has guided for the past 21 years.

But the short journey reflects a lifetime spanning the globe and acting as the embodiment of the Golden Rule. It also closes the circle on a life of service that began in a small town in South Carolina almost 78 years ago.

“My father was the principal of my school and the pastor of our church,” the pastor recalls, smiling. “My mother was my first-grade teacher. When I stepped out of line, I was corrected three times because my grandfather was also a pastor.” While his intention as a young college student was to pursue a medical degree, his DNA directed him to the clergy. When he sets aside his pulpit robe this month, it will be his third retirement.

His first position culminated in achieving the rank of major general in the U.S. Army as chief of chaplains. That position led to his second career as chief of chaplains with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs for four years. The Chiefs of Chaplains of the United States are the senior service chaplains who lead and represent the Chaplains Corps of the United States Army, Navy, and Air Force. In this capacity, he oversaw and directed the activities of all the clergy serving in the U.S. Army, regardless of denomination.

As his term of office ended at the Department of Veterans Affairs, the secretary of the department persuaded him to accept the pastorship at First Baptist Warrenton…because if you want something done, ask a busy man.

Among the notable people he became friends with over the course of his first two careers were men of achievement such as the Reverend Billy Graham, General Colin Powell, Walter Cronkite, and many more.

But his self-effacing and modest demeanor belies the world of important men and women in which he traveled. It’s also why so many are drawn to his personality and leadership, making him the embodiment of an earthly spokesman for Christ.

One of the most gratifying aspects of his current position has been reliving as an adult the life he had as a young lad in a small southern town church. “When my father was the pastor of our church in South Carolina, you got to know all of the members on a personal basis,” says Reverend Zimmerman. “It’s the same today at First Baptist Warrenton.”

The church has 150 members, making it large enough to be a job and small enough to be a personal, heartfelt endeavor. In his previous two careers, reassignments and travel dictated meeting new faces and issues every few years. Today, the stability among his flock is a valued part of his work.

Reverend Zimmerman has no plans during his retirement other than enjoying the fruits of his labors and relationships. He and his wife Barbara are looking forward to leading a well-deserved quiet life of relaxation and reading. The days of endless responsibilities are over.

One thing that will not change is his attendance at First Baptist of Warrenton services. And he quickly adds, “We welcome everyone and ask that you join us for youth and adult Bible study and other church activities.” Once a pastor, always a pastor.

Published in the November 2019 edition of Discover Fauquier.

Categories : HAGARTY TALES