On the cusp of February, traditionally Rappahannock’s worst tourism month, here’s a nice change of pace: news of a restaurant opening instead of closing.
Sometime this spring, Cliff Miller IV says he plans to open a neighborhood pub and lunch spot in the Sperryville Schoolhouse complex. A joint venture with partners Jen Perrot and Erin Switzer, Miller says the place will be called the Headmaster’s Pub, have about 35 seats in booths and at a central bar, will serve soup and sandwiches during the day, and wine, beer and bar snacks until midnight Thursday through Sunday nights.
“We’ll be open Mondays for lunch, too, when everything’s closed in Sperryville,” said Miller, who, with his sister Laura Meyer of Richmond, recently took over ownership of the landmark Schoolhouse retail-and-office complex from their father, progressive farmer and on-farm luxury inn owner Cliff Miller III.
Coffee bar? Yes, says the younger Miller, hopefully serving Sperryville’s Central Coffee Roasters product. Wifi? Check.
“And we’ll always have some kind of $1 beer,” says Miller, noting that farm interns, hospitality workers and other younger folks in the county have few places to hang out after dark in Sperryville. “It might be PBR in a can, but it will be something,” he added, referring to Pabst Blue Ribbon, a traditional favorite among those with an equal fondness for beer and not going broke.
Miller said he hopes the pub will also help with filling out the retail and office spaces still available at the Schoolhouse, which became home in the last year to Monkey Business Antiques, Knit Wit Yarn Shop, Miller’s own antiques and antique-lighting store and the novel artisans-and-wares world of Coterie. The schoolhouse’s upstairs offices spaces and its large former gymnasium, rented only a few times a year for special events, are proving more difficult to lease full-time, he said.
Elsewhere in Sperryville, Thornton River Grille and Rudy’s Pizza continue to draw steady business, as do High on the Hog barbecue and Rappahannock County’s first and only fast-food carryout, the friendly, family-owned Burgers ’N Things.
Over in the River District, while the neighborhood’s resident artists, galleries, distillers and antiques dealers are working hard for winter crowds, Cafe Indigo closed again indefinitely in December; owner Jerome Niessen and the Thornton River Grille’s management plan to meet again in the spring about the possibility of TRG taking another go at operating the restaurant on weekends, as its resident catering chef Terri Lehman did this fall.