Sperryville column for Feb. 23

Sperryville Trading Cafe and Market exudes ambiance

While Janet and Eric Tollefson aren’t new to Sperryville (they’ve lived in Old Hollow for over four years) their enterprise is — namely the Sperryville Trading Cafe and Market, located in what used to be the Emporium.

It now houses not only the Trading Cafe and Market but also The Briar Patch, a quaint and welcoming bookstore owned by Alma Viator and Ben Jones. It’s decorated with oversized, stuffed arm chairs reminiscent of Edith Ann’s (Lily Tomlin’s character of “Rowan and Martin’s Laugh In” fame) gigantic chair. The complex also offers Rapp U, founded by Doug Schiffman, a rapidly growing operation offering not only lifelong learning courses but also workforce training programs currently in the making.

By Chris Green
Janet and Eric Tollefson relax while they can on the front steps of their new Sperryville Trading Cafe and Market.

As you pull up to the old Emporium complex, passing myriad Sperryville businesses en route — Headmasters Pub, the Thornton River Grille, Corner Store, Rudy’s Pizza (the best pizza in Sperryville now under renovation), Hopkins Ordinary, Haley’s Fine Art, Before & After, Stonewall Abbey, Creekside Bakery, the Sperryville Barber Shop, Antique Tables Made Daily, Triple Oak Bakery and Central Coffee Roasters, to name a few — it rises like a new found apparition.

The building, once the Emporium where one could purchase sorghum, penny candy, honey and nuts to deli lunches celebrating Boar’s Head premium meats, and all manner of gifts and furniture, has undergone quite a renovation.

The expansive outside wooden deck stretches almost the entire length of the complex. The knotty pine wooden interior is carefully chosen, so bright and fresh looking and upon entering, the ambrosial scent overwhelms the senses, like walking into a forest of freshly hewn lumber. The dining area of the cafe is dotted with rich cherry wood  tables and chairs, christened with a quiet waiting area for to go orders.

In German, the word Gemuetlich, while lacking a direct English translation, means cozy, quaint, inviting, charming, pleasing and more, and this cafe/market is definitely Gemuetlich, in other words it reeks of ambiance. One can easily see oneself on a quiet afternoon or evening, on a seductive spring, summer, winter or autumn day, ordering a meal and sitting inside or on the outside deck, enjoying nature’s gifts, like the sounds of the nearby rushing Thornton River,  perhaps reading a book from the Briar Patch book store, or deliberating which courses you wish to register for with Rapp U.

The menu offers a wide variety of fare, reasonably priced — in fact beyond reasonably priced, from breakfasts to lunches and perhaps soon to offer dinners. The choices range from breakfast sandwiches lovingly stuffed into thick wedges of honey wheat bread, biscuits or english muffins laced with farm fresh eggs, country ham and bacon, scrapple and variety of cheeses to french toast and steak and eggs. Lunch includes big fat burgers with local grass fed beef, fresh salads and all manner of sandwiches including grilled chicken ciabatta, grilled pastrami with swiss, decked with sweet onion marmalade to simple and popular grilled cheese sandwiches. While they currently offer an abundance of libations from water to lemonade, iced tea and coffee, they also will soon enjoy an ABC license.

The kitchen sparkles and gleams — it’s large and roomy, and stacked on shelves are thick white serving plates and all manner of ware. The refrigerators are huge and a large soup stock pot, shiny and polished, sits lonely and idles on the center aisle awaiting its imminent use.

Eric and Janet are all about harvesting local products and services. Suppliers include eggs provided by Second Wind Farm, beef from Belle Ridge Farm, coffee provided by Orange County Roasters, and the thickly sliced fresh breads from Moving Meadows. The Cafe also offers gifts, from local Rappahannock potter treasures, to Paw Paw’s Honey, Marian Bragg’s llama rugs, and Old Rag Gallery is soon to adorn the walls with their trademark photography. Janet and Eric tell me they will be offering myriad additional products soon. The glass encased pastry shelf is already in place and grab-and-go menus, not only for Highway 211 commuters but also for those Shenandoah hikers  seeking backpack stuffers.

I’m from a family of wine and food connoisseurs, my father a wine aficionado, possessing a discerning palate celebrating Pommards and Chateauneuf du Pape’s to California whites, and my mom a gourmet chef who could whip up a beef wellington like nobody’s’ business. In recent years I’ve married a man who is also a connoisseur but of a different sort. Yes, my husband is a chip aficionado and is wild about Route 11 Potato Chips (as am I), which Eric and Janet have wisely chosen to devote to a tall, multi level shelf. Rest assured, the big guy with the white hair and engaging smile by the name of Larry will be a devoted customer.

Eric and Janet share: “This has been a community effort. We sincerely appreciate all the assistance we received from The Rappahannock Building Office, Union Bank, and all the contractors. We are so blessed to have so much support from everyone who contributed to completing this huge project. Thank you”.

Hours will be 6 a.m to 6 p.m. daily. Information can be accessed via their FaceBook page and a website is currently under construction. Good luck to both of you, your establishment I’m sure will be enormously successful.

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Chris Green
About Chris Green 126 Articles
Chris Green (formerly Chris Doxzen) is an an executive recruiter by profession who enjoys exploring and writing about all things Rappahannock. Friends and neighbors with potential stories for her Sperryville column should email her at chrisdoxzen@gmail.com.