The old Coca-Cola bottling plant, currently undergoing a massive art deco renovation, has a new tenant, and the effects are being felt beyond Preston Avenue.
Timbercreek Farm, the local beef, pork, lamb and poultry supplier that services some of the best farm-to-table restaurants in town, will make its first foray into retail at the Coke plant, launching a 2,200-square-foot all-in-one market and eatery with around 20 indoor and 30 outdoor seats.
Where consumers were before restricted to finding Timbercreek’s organic meats, eggs and produce through their buying club, on restaurant menus and at a handful of local retailers, they’ll now be able to grab the goods straight from the source and go.
As for the restaurants that rely on the farm’s products, Timbercreek co-owner Sara Miller said they’ll be better off than ever before. If Lampo runs out of a cured meat mid-service on a Thursday, for example, the guys can run over to the new Timbercreek Market and restock without having to make a trip out to the farm at 2245 Garth Rd.
“This is about us taking control of our product—full quality control,” said Miller, who operates Timbercreek Farm with her husband Zach. “We raise it from the beginning and follow it to the end…This is an opportunity to see our product further through the process and cuts out the middle person.”
Indeed, it would seem to be a win-win for the likes of Brookville Restaurant, Citizen Burger Bar, Michael’s Bistro, tavola, The Local, Will Richey’s restaurant group, which includes The Whiskey Jar, Revolutionary Soup and The Alley Light, and other eateries, several of which reported they’ve experienced no change in their flow of Timbercreek products.
But what about those middle people?
Market Street Market, the Hunt Country Market down the road from the farm, Crozet Great Valu and Relay Foods will reportedly still get their usual allotment of raw meat, produce and eggs. But Feast!, which typically carries a Timbercreek prosciutto, reported it’s not been able to stock the cured meat of late. And JM Stock Provisions, the whole animal butcher shop on West Main Street that made Timbercreek its principal supplier when it opened in late 2013, has had to completely change course since learning in early April the product flow would stop.
“Ultimately as businesses we each decided to move in different directions,” JM Stock co-owner Matt Greene said. “Timbercreek decided they were interested in doing the retail end on their own.” Miller declined to comment on the relationship.
Now the competition is on for JM and others, with Timbercreek promising to roll out the big guns when it joins C’ville’s already long roster of specialty stores in June. Andrew Eaton, formerly of Relay, will join the team as general manager. Adam Lawrence of Whole Foods’ meat department will come over to head up the new Timbercreek butcher counter and deliver dry-aged meats, cooked meats, and sausages and charcuterie prepared in collaboration with the Rock Barn’s Ben Thompson.
In addition to the meat, the market will team up with Flora Artisanal Cheese’s award-winning cheesemonger Nadjeeb Chouaf and bring in former Pippin Hill chef Allie Redshaw to coordinate the dine-in and takeaway food options. The Wine Guild of Charlottesville will lend its expertise, as well, helping the new market select its wines, educating staff and customers on wine pairings and holding pop-up events.
The location of the new market, amid a growing Preston Avenue commercial quarter just a few blocks from the booming West Main strip, also stands to be a boon for Timbercreek. The Millers will open alongside like-minded residents Beer Run, which is planning a European-style beer garden and restaurant, Blue Ridge Cyclery and the University of Virginia in a facility spearheaded by Riverbend Development, music magnate Coran Capshaw’s real estate company.
“This has been something our business has been needing to do for quite some time,” Miller said. “The demand from our customers and our chefs has been growing, and the building was a perfect place for us.”
While some of that growing demand was formerly satisfied by other local retailers, Greene for one thinks JM and Timbercreek should maintain different enough client bases to coexist.
“I wish Timbercreek the best of luck,” he said. “And on the completely other end of things, we are really excited about the producers we’re getting to work with now,” such as Wolf Creek Farm and Deep Rock Farm.
The only thing left for the old Coke plant at this point is for leasing rep Cushman &Wakefield|Thalhimer to find two more tenants (most likely offices), Riverbend to finish the parking lot and the individual tenants to complete their construction projects. Spokesperson John Pritzlaff said the building would be ready for tenants by June, with Blue Ridge Cyclery opening that month, UVA joining the complex August 1 and Beer Run’s Kardinal Beer Hall & Garden coming in August or September.
Miller said the Timbercreek team is looking forward to joining its fellow tenants. “It is coming full circle for us,” she said. “It’s completing the circle with our chefs as well as our household customers.”
Correction: The original version of this post and the print edition misstated the name of leasing agent Cushman &Wakefield|Thalhimer.—ed