Kerry Sutten and his niece Jess are jumping aboard the Sperryville renaissance train, having just opened a business this week at 31 Main St. called Before & After — now a gourmet espresso bar, soon to offer much more. Kerry has lived in Sperryville for a number of years, and loves all things Rappahannock, especially anything related to hiking, his personal passion. Part of his building will be devoted to a market that will include an area for hikers, currently in the planning stages, which will provide carryout lunches specially designed for hikers, and a wine bar for savoring after a hike (hence the name Before & After).
This lovely property, a 158-year-old house, is also celebrating a renaissance, namely the Sutten’s thoughtful remodeling and restoration. It is, as he says, a work in progress. The building is filled with old-world ambiance, original hardwood flooring, nooks and crannies, spacious high-ceilinged rooms and large sunlit windows that offer, from every vantage point, beautiful views of Sperryville’s Main Street.
The property sits just feet from the rushing Thornton River and the entrance area, reminiscent of a comfortable parlor, is appointed with tables and chairs, and a communal farm table. It is a bistro, a place where, as in so many European countries, people can sit and sip a beverage, perhaps a gourmet coffee, nibble cake and a delicious biscuit, and enjoy the company of good friends and working Wi-Fi.
As a world traveller, Jess says she is “inspired by the Italian art of wine and espresso and we wish to bring the flavors of the world here.” Kerry tells me that Jess is “an expresso artist.” Indeed, her cream swirled latte, accented with a caramel design atop micro foam, was almost too pretty to drink.
Brand new dark granite countertops and a glistening Rancilio espresso machine greet visitors upon entry. While a small kitchen area currently provides for assorted delectables, the commercial kitchen is in the planning stages; it will not only allow Kerry to provide additional foods but will be a certified commercial kitchen, enabling folks who wish to make fine jams and jellies, chutney, too, to lease the facilities.
The upstairs is renovated to contain office space for rent — two are still available — and a conference room where folks can hold private meetings. An outdoorsman with a keen sense of family, a sibling of six with 17 nieces and nephews, Kerry bought the building not only with visions of building a thriving business but also of attracting his dispersed family to the county.
Jess, his niece, the daughter of his twin brother, is his first “victim,” he jokes. He lured her from an extended jaunt in Europe and Asia (her husband still carrying out the last leg of their trip) and asked her to run the operations. The building houses a delightful garden, situated on the Thornton, to be revamped and dotted with tables and chairs and a pergola, where families and children can sit and, Jess tells me, she sees “children laughing and running with dogs through the soft grass, savoring the sunshine along the banks of the Thornton . . .” And maybe a romantic place for weddings and other events, she says.
Before & After is open 8 to 3 Tuesday-Wednesday and Friday-Sunday, but as the business grows with Rappahannock County, hours will adjust to accommodate. For more information, call Jess or Kerry at 540-987-8392 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.