The Washington Town Council heard several presentations at its regular monthly meeting this week, including plans to repave the town’s streets in the coming months and former Inn at Little Washington executive sous chef Bonnie Moore discussing a proposed celebration for the Inn’s 40th anniversary.
The Inn’s fête is scheduled for Sunday, Sept. 2, during Labor Day weekend, and will feature booths, chefs stations, beverages, music and fireworks.
“We have plans to bring back all of the alumni who worked at the Inn and the chefs who are now scattered all across the country to come back home and cook at the culinary festival,” Moore said. “We are calling this ‘Innstock,’ and we are channeling Woodstock.”
“Patrick [O’Connell, the Inn’s proprietor, chef and a member of the town council] very much wants to celebrate the relationships of the 40 years, particularly the relationships in the town, the county and Virginia,” Moore continued. “We would like to work with the town to promote this; it’s a great opportunity to show off this fabulous town and surrounding county as a tourist destination to a much broader audience than we typically reach at the Inn on a regular basis.”
The festival is expected to sell out approximately 500 presale tickets at $250 each, Moore said. In keeping with O’Connell celebrating relationships with the town, each of the town’s 133 residents would be granted free access, food and beverage included.
“In exchange for the admissions for town residents [worth $33,250] and the promotion of of the town,” Moore said the Inn was asking the town for $5,000 to help with promotion of this event.
With a Sunday event, Mayor John Fox Sullivan said, the town and county may see an influx of activity for the three days.
“Maybe, 500 to 700 people that show up to this county for three days . . . and the Inn is only doing something one day, those people have to do something Saturday and Monday, it’s Labor Day weekend. So the impact on businesses throughout the county is potentially huge,” the mayor said.
Moore said the event “is something that could happen on an annual basis.”
The response from the council seemed positive. Newly appointed council member Fred Catlin said: “I think it’s a wonderful idea . . . I have complete faith that the money will be used wisely, but it would be nice to have some kind of idea . . . of some kind of accounting of the funds. I think we have a responsibility to the people, the townsfolk.”
No action was taken at the meeting, but the funding will be discussed at a future meeting, Sullivan said.
“Why don’t you let us talk about that, about the various issues, and see whether there is support. Right now people have questions, we’ve had some issues with this in the past,” he said.
Mark Nesbit, VDOT’s Warrenton Residency engineer, said the streets included in the 2018 repaving, the first since the town’s wastewater system was installed nearly a decade ago, include Mount Salem Avenue, Harris Hollow Road. and Main Street east of the post office.
“As far as specifically what day they are going to be done, I have no idea at this time, but sometime before the end of November. I don’t see this taking very long,” Nesbit said. “It’s not a lot of miles, I don’t see it taking more than a few days at most.”
The council also had a 40-minute discussion on definitions for a draft ordinance definitions on P to P (aka. Airbnbs), with talking points on owner operator residency, emergency procedures and health standards. County Attorney John Bennett and Catlin are to revise document for next month’s meeting for further discussion; a public hearing on the ordinance is not yet scheduled.
The evening concluded with a unanimous roll call vote to authorize a public hearing for Foster Harris House proprietor Klaus Peters’ application to modify the existing special use permit to allow up to two seatings of 10 persons, five days a week each, and to change the serving hours from 6:30 to 11 p.m. to 6:00 to 11:00 p.m.; and change the name of the owner to Peters Hospitality Management, LLC.
“I have been here for one year and have intentionally made no changes, because I just wanted to continue providing quality dinners and quality service,” said Peters. “Presently, we are a truly a special event venue, local people come to our little restaurant on their anniversary and their birthday. And I feel we could do much, much better to become truly a part of this community and to become another place for local people to enjoy to come there several times a year.”
Town attorney Bennett said the application was in order: “The way the council worded the statute, or the ordinance rather, it’s limited to ten guests per seating, but the number of seatings were not limited by the ordinance, so this application is in keeping with the ordinance . . . I have not been to many restaurants with only five tables, so it seems to me like very minimal use, minimal impact.”
A public hearing is scheduled for the March 12 meeting; town resident Ray Gooch’s comments at Monday night’s session could presage some lively discussion: “In the old days when B&Bs first came to Little Washington,” said Gooch, who once served on the town council, “there was a lot of discussion about disrupting a residential neighborhood with a B&B, and we all talked about it and came to a reasonable resolution. Now we have B&Bs that are going to become restaurants, and you can’t have a restaurant in the zone that any of the B&Bs are in.”