My grandmother was a Southern cook and a great entertainer. Brunch was often served to family and friends. One day, she told me her secret to hosting the perfect party….
”Prepare 60% yourself and purchase the other 40% at your secret- weapon store…everyone needs that secret store to supply the pizazz to the party” That’s also the day that I realized that a store had been providing her famous rosemary chicken salad and four-layer coconut cake for years. A family secret revealed.
Do you have a “secret weapon store”? That go-to store that is sure to add the spark to a gathering of friends?
Enter Locke Store. When you walk into Locke Store, you immediately realize that you have found your own secret weapon store. This is the store that will add the spark to any gathering. You can create a special picnic for two or even request that they cater a gathering of many friends. You can pick up gourmet prepared foods, a crafted dessert and a hand-selected bottle of wine. You can even walk into Locke Store without a menu plan and leave with the tools to present a gourmet meal at home. This edition of DW&S is all about our love of brunch, and I intend to ask the Locke Store Team for some brunch tips.
Virginia food and wine lovers have visited this unique store, tucked into the community of Millwood (in Virginia’s Clarke County), for years. Locke Store was initially founded as a mercantile store in 1836 and has remained a community store. In 2002, one owner decided to focus on gourmet foods and the template for today’s store was created. In 2019, Locke Store will again change and grow.
If you have recently visited Locke Store, no doubt you have already noticed a few changes. Construction outside, the addition of interior dining tables and an expanded gourmet food selection. These changes are just a peek to the future at the iconic store. To learn about this year’s changes and the future of Locke Store, I reached out with a few questions.
Recently, owner Juliet Mackay-Smith welcomed two partners to the business. Brian and Shauna Volmrich have decades of experience in the industry of food and food-based customer experiences. The three partners are building a platform for an exciting new business model.
Kim: Tell us about the construction just outside of the store. What is going on with the old log cabin on the property?
LS: The renovation of the Cabin, which was the original “storehouse” for the Burwell-Morgan Mill across the street, is complete! It is truly a gem, and we now welcome customers to enjoy this incredibly charming space. The addition of a terrace and public restrooms behind the store will connect the two spaces and provide lots of new seating for our visitors. With an on-premise license in the works, we look forward to hosting private events and wine/beer dinners, in addition to extending hours Thursday to Saturday for customers to kick back and relax.
Kim: Now, I can envision sitting on the terrace with a glass of wine this Summer or sitting by the fire in the cabin next Winter. It is going to be a place to relax after work or on a weekend afternoon. In addition to your deli to-go items, will you offer a special on-site dining menu?
LS: Yes! With Shauna and Brian now on board and a seriously talented kitchen staff, we will be serving some additional light fare as well as beer, wine and the occasional seasonal cocktail. The new model will also allow customers to select items for a plated cheese/charcuterie board – we will set up their selections with accompaniments such as house-made bread and chutney, olives, and dried fruit and deliver tableside to enjoy with a glass of wine or a cold beer. And brunch is also on the radar!
Kim: I want to talk about the next generation of Virginia wine drinkers. Locke Store has a curated collection of wine and staff is available to consult with buyers. Tell us about wines in your store that will bridge an introduction to a new era of Virginia wine lovers.
LS: Great question! We work hard to keep the wine selection comprehensive and diverse. To that end, our rotating selection of Virginia wine includes a variety of styles and price points. Some offerings from Granite Heights winery in Warrenton come to mind – they are spectacular for the value, all retailing in the $20 per bottle range.
Our weekend wine features, which often include Virginia wines, are another outstanding opportunity for customers, including younger generations, to expand their wine experience and palate.
Kim: We are excited about your expanded business. Tell us how this plan impacts your collection of not only wine but other craft beverages. DW&S readers not only enjoy wine, but they are fans of local craft beer, cider, and roasted coffee. What brands can customers find at The Locke Store?
LS: We are too! A lot of our regulars may have noticed that over the winter we have reorganized the store. Now we not only offer indoor seating, but are very excited to have an expanded space for our craft beer and cider section. Some of the highlights right now are: beer from Pale Fire in Harrisonburg, VA, meads and cyser from Charm City Meadworks in Baltimore, Potter Cider from Free Union, VA, Castle Hill Cider from Keswick, VA, and ales from Ardent in Richmond. The list is select and always changing!
We have been expanding our cocktail section as well with local shrubs, an extensive bitters selection, and vermouths from all over the world.
We’re big coffee drinkers here at the store – our house brew is from Lone Oak Coffee in Winchester, and we also offer whole fresh-roasted beans, which we can custom grind, from both Lone Oak and Cordial Coffee just up the road in Berryville.
Kim: It was a long, cold Virginia Winter. DW&S readers are excited to enjoy Spring menus. They are ready to entertain. In the gourmet food marketplace, what do you see trending for Spring and Summer 2019?
LS: A founding principle of Locke Store has been to support local and sustainable agriculture, and we are so happy to see this “trend” gain more traction each year. For Spring and Summer 2019 we continue to embrace all things local and regional both in the grocery and the deli. We are fortunate to live in such a bountiful region and look forward to celebrating each season to its fullest potential. You will see lots of seasonal vegetables sneak their way in to our rotation of offerings as the weather warms up.
And with the increasing demand for gluten-free, dairy-free and vegan foods, our kitchen continues to innovate and come up with fresh, new recipes that fall within these categories.
We also seek out and support winemakers who follow sustainable practices and have upgraded our labeling system in the wine section to highlight those vineyards + wineries that follow sustainable, organic, or biodynamic practices.
The theme of the April Edition of Dine Wine & Stein Magazine is, “Let’s Brunch!” We asked our readers to tell us about how they enjoy brunch with friends and family. Readers frequent Virginia restaurants, they follow the many wine trails, attend cider and beer pairings, but they overwhelmingly enjoy serving brunch at home.
I asked Locke Store to provide some tips for creating a tremendous at-home brunch experience. I asked for ways to add some spark. And they did not disappoint. Check them out at Let’s Brunch With Locke Store.