Sheepdog Café offers breakfast, lunch and dinner

The Sheepdog Cafe now takes up 2,000 square feet on the ground floor of the Graduate Charlottesville hotel. Courtesy of Graduate Charlottesville The Sheepdog Cafe now takes up 2,000 square feet on the ground floor of the Graduate Charlottesville hotel. Courtesy of Graduate Charlottesville

The café located on the ground floor of the Graduate Charlottesville hotel on West Main Street has a new name, a new look and a new menu. Formerly Sheepdog Coffee, the 2,000- square-foot indoor/outdoor space is now Sheepdog Café and can seat up to 66 people for breakfast, lunch and dinner service, plus a full bar. Sheepdog’s chef Allen Flint—a former U.S. Army chef and member of the highly competitive Fort Carson Culinary team who’s worked as an executive chef for various major hotel brands—created the new menu with students and travelers in mind. “We wanted to offer dishes that were easy to carry out or eat in,” says Flint. Menu items include salads, pressed sandwiches, mini donuts and, Flint’s favorite, biscuits made fresh daily and paired with eggs and cheese. The café is open every day from 6am to midnight.

Wish granted

In an effort to increase community access to healthy food, the Local Food Hub applied for—and received—a $10,000 grant from The Conservation Fund and CSX Transportation. With the money, the nonprofit organization will purchase an additional cold storage unit for its 3,000-square-foot warehouse off of Morgantown Road in Ivy.

The warehouse currently features a loading dock and a staging area for preparing pick-ups and deliveries, plus two cool-temperature-zone rooms. One of those cool rooms contains a freezer for meat and a walk-in cooler for leafy greens and other vegetables.

The walk-in spaces are great, but they’re narrow, and it’s difficult to get a pallet in and out, says Local Food Hub Chief of Staff Laura Brown. Having more space for pallets means increased efficiency and organization and a greater ability to serve more customers. The organization provides food to more than 250 customers in Virginia and the Maryland/Washington, D.C., area.

Brown says they plan to use the new cold storage unit to store fresh, non-frozen meat and other foods for various Local Food Hub initiatives. “People don’t often think about people in Charlottesville needing access to healthy food,” says Brown, but the reality is that not everyone in town can afford to buy farm-fresh produce, meats and other goods.

Winning whiskey

When people think of whiskey, they don’t necessarily think of Virginia…but maybe they should. The Lovingston-based Virginia Distillery Co.’s Virginia Highland Malt Whisky won Best American Single Malt Whisky at the World Whiskies Awards presented by Whisky magazine.

This is the first time Virginia Distillery Co. has entered the competition, and it beat out three-time Best American Single Malt Whisky champ Balcones Distilling’s Balcones “1” Texas Single Malt, which won the title in 2013, 2014 and 2016.

The Virginia Highland Malt Whisky arrives at the distillery as a malt whiskey from the Scottish Highlands and is finished for nine to 18 months in port-style wine casks from local wineries such as King Family Vineyards and Veritas Vineyards.

“There are a lot of interesting things about being in Virginia that apply to making whiskey here,” says Ian Thomas, Virginia Distillery’s director. The unique climate of hot, hot summers and cold winters “affects that maturation of the whiskey in a really great way,” he says. The casks are kept in a warehouse, and, as temperatures rise, the cask and the whiskey inside expand and are influenced by the wood; as temperatures fall, the spirit and the cask come together more closely.