When this vintage building on the intersection of Three-Notch’d Road and Crozet Avenue whose storied history includes, among other things, being a railroad hotel and the town grocery with a real soda fountain, opened up they knew they’d found the right location for their longtime interest in expanding to Crozet and making a coffeehouse/community meeting space for “fluid social interaction,” says Lawrence.
Jim Duncan: It’s a beautiful Wednesday afternoon in Crozet Virginia. I’m watching the cars drive by and all the necks are craning in anticipation of Trailside Coffee opening up. I’m sitting here with Marcia McGee, owner operator of Trailside Coffee. Hey Marcia!
Marcia McGee: Hi. Thanks for coming out.
Jim Duncan: Tell us why you started it.
Marcia McGee: Why I started it was because at the time there were no coffee shops out here and I live and grew up out here and wanted coffee. That’s why I started to deliver coffee to Crozet! It’s just taken me a little bit longer than anticipated.
Jim Duncan: What do you expect the shop to look like? What do you hope the vibe is of the shop and what are your goals?
Marcia McGee: The vibe of the shop, Trailside Coffee, I like hiking and I want to take this and bring it inside or make it a seamless transition. I want it to be very comfortable. There is going to be a fireplace and wood and natural colors and just a place for people to hang out and talk and drink coffee, tea, smoothies, whatever brings them here just to hang out.
Jim Duncan: Are you going to have a full menu?
Marcia McGee: I say that yes we are. We’ll have Pannini’s made to order bring it out to your table kind of deal, but we’ll have sandwiches and different stuff made up for you and can heat them up â€“ Pannini’s and soups and salads and stuff like that, muffins, and croissants and bakery items and cookies.
Jim Duncan: Are you excited?
Marcia McGee: Yes! Very excited! I’m a little reserved because I’ve been excited for so long. We’re close, we’re very close. It’s just that we’ve been close for a long time.
Jim Duncan: What are you looking forward to the most?
Marcia McGee: To coming to work everyday. It’s kind of what I want to do. It’s a social environment hopefully delivering people a cup of liquid sunshine everyday, getting to talk to them, and live, work and play all in one space. You know? I get to bike to work. I get to work out right down there. I get to see my friends and family and have it all happen in one spot.
Jim Duncan: I’m still hanging on that liquid sunshine.
Marcia McGee: [laughs]
Jim Duncan: How are you going to achieve that? Tell us about the process of the coffee and what you’ve learned about how to make a good cup of coffee.
Marcia McGee: Well you know it starts with the beans. Some of the beans we’re bringing in are of the highest quality so that process is a painstaking one that they all go through and then it’s delivered to us. It’s going to be about training people. I achieved my level one Barista certification; there are three. Colleen is ready to take the test and hopefully all of our Barista’s will be certified, if not a large percentage of them. Training will be a major focus and then it’s just teaching people about coffee and finding out what they like, having cuppings, showing the different types of coffee’s and everything that it has to offer. We’re going to broaden everything they thought the knew about coffee and just blow them away.
Jim Duncan: What’s the feedback from people then as you talk to them about Trailside Coffee opening up, besides the anticipation and the excitement, what are they looking forward to?
Marcia McGee: I think they’re looking for a community place. I think they’re looking forward to learning about coffee. That’s actually one of the things that’s been surprising is teaching people or just talking about that. People didn’t know how many hand-picked beans are in one cup of coffee or their latte’. I’ve had a major response to that. I already have people who want to come to the monthly cuppings. They’re just looking forward to having a place close. Right now they have to drive into town. They want to sit here because a lot of people live around here. I’m kind of blessed because we’re in Old Trail neighborhood. I think they want to walk and get the newspaper and enjoy a cup of coffee in the mornings and not have to drive somewhere else to achieve that.
Jim Duncan: I can’t imagine why anyone would want to sit out here on this patio!
Marcia McGee: [laughs] Yeah, and have a nice beverage.
Jim Duncan: It’s just so hideous out here with all these mountains and greenery.
Marcia McGee: It is, yeah!
Jim Duncan: It’s just beautiful. Absolutely beautiful.
Marcia McGee: Soon we’ll have ice cream, ice coffee, hot coffee, smoothies, tea, homemade lemonades and gingerales and all sorts of stuff.
Jim Duncan: Are you going to have alcohol or music?
Marcia McGee: Music, yes, especially we’re going to do things outside. We have the fields to kind of cross around. So definitely music. I’m set up for it. Wine. I have a place for wine and beer. The thought was to do that and I still may, but I’m kind of just taking it one step at a time right now.
Jim Duncan: Do you want to actually open first?
Marcia McGee: Yes. I want to open first and be good at a couple things and be really good at a couple things rather than just OK at a lot of different things, so that is something that I’m prepared to add onto the menu, right now we’re not. But now we have with the wine bar coming behind us I’m not sure that we’ll need to.
Jim Duncan: Right.
Marcia McGee: Again, it’s kind of focused on a few things. I didn’t think there was going to be anyone serving wine or beer here before so that’s why I was prepared and I am prepared. I have the space to do it so we’ll see. We’ll see.
Jim Duncan: Cool. Anything else you want to add to the future customers of Trailside Coffee?
Marcia McGee: Just come out, give us a try, come hang out, experience the place and let us know. We want to be the community coffee shop, so I don’t have a model of something we’ve been before. We’re certainly not a franchise, so all I can say is let us know what you think and what you want and honest feedback so we can be that. That would be it.
Jim Duncan: Cool. Marcia thanks so much for your time.
Candidly, my feelings are mixed – Crozet needs a good bar, but a good coffee shop as well. (Trailside Coffee is coming soon to Old Trail) Hopefully, this will lead to a continued resurgence of Downtown Crozet.
The kiosk and location are temporary (in the Old Trail golf shop) but the coffee’s good. I think that coffee shops are becoming, if they have not already become, the new community hubs. I’m grateful to finally have one in Crozet.
Marcia, the owner and operator told me a few weeks ago that she “wants people to drive from Charlottesville to Crozset” just for the coffee.
“Beights Corporation proudly announces the addition of Trailside Coffee to the Village Center at Old Trail in Crozet, Virginia. Albemarle native and Crozet-area resident Marcia McGee, proprietor, will be serving fresh brewed coffee and espresso beverages to passersby and residents of Old Trail Village, beginning in January 2009 once construction is complete on the new Village Center.
â€œI am so excited about this opportunity,â€ stated McGee at the lease signing, â€œI have been working hard for months to ensure that I have what I need to do this right. Now weâ€™re ready to go!â€ McGee began creating her new shop months ago, developing her logo, website, and planned list of offerings in anticipation of her lease-signing this past Friday. She also has secured custom roasting agreements with Williamsburg Coffee & Tea Co. and other, boutique roasters. Of these relationships, McGee said, â€œI want to provide beans and espresso roasts that are special to our area. As the palate of my customers develops, I can change our custom roasts to best suit their tastes.â€
Even though construction on the Old Trail Village Center is a full four weeks ahead of schedule, McGee doesnâ€™t want to keep Crozet-area residents waiting any longer for their espresso fix. Opening in early August, possibly sooner, Trailside Coffee will be operating an espresso and coffee cart in the Old Trail Golf Clubhouse.”