By Aila Boyd
aboyd@ourvalley.org

After roughly a year in the making, Fincastle Café finally opened its doors late last month.

During it’s first day of business, 130 customers stopped by and checked out what the café was brewing.

We’re here to serve the community. We want to make it the community’s café. It’s not our café— it’s the community’s café,” said Stephanie Payne, director of hospitality for the Woodsdale Group, the Fincastle-based hospitality consortium that owns the café.

Payne noted that over the course of the year that it took for Fincastle Café to open, the company had other ventures that were going on simultaneously.

My main feeling was wanting to thank everyone for their patience because at first we thought it would only take a few months for it to open,” Payne said of the café’s first official day of business. “I couldn’t have asked for a more wonderful, joyful opening experience. It was exceptionally smooth. I wouldn’t have changed a thing.”

The only thing that remains from the previous incarnation of the building, The Fat Cat Diner, is the exhaust system and the counters. Following the closure of The Fat Cat Diner, the building had been sitting vacant.

All of us involved in this absolutely love Fincastle,” Payne said in regard to the café’s location. “It is a project of passion. It was very evident that something was needed to service our awesome community. There was just no where for people to go and meet, so it was an obvious endeavor to have a gathering place for folks to have a change of scenery, comradery, grab a good cup of coffee, a bite to eat. There was just a real need.”

Payne explained that the café offers a wide assortment of mainstream drinks. Prior to the opening, she interviewed other coffee shops, which helped influence the products of Fincastle Café.

Something truly original about the café, Payne said, is its original brewed coffee— the Fincastle Blend. The blend comes from Shenandoah Joe Coffee, a roaster that is based in Charlottesville. Payne noted that when roasters were first being considered for Fincastle Café, it was agreed that having a relatively local provider was very important.

We’ve been trying to support as many other local businesses as possible,” she said. The bars and tables were made locally in Fincastle.

Once Shenandoah Joe Coffee had been selected, the proprietor of the business created three distinct blends for Fincastle Café to select from. The winning blend was unanimously selected to be the exclusively offered Fincastle Blend. Payne describes the blend as being a “good spring/summer blend,” adding that a richer blend will be used later on in the year. “We wanted to have a seasonal focus on our house blend,” she said.

Out of all of the drink options, Payne said she has two go-to drinks. The iced mocha is her favorite dessert drink. “It’s sugary with whipped cream— you can’t go wrong,” Payne said of the iced mocha. A cup of the Fincastle Blend is her preferred everyday option. “I absolutely think it’s fantastic,” she said of the Fincastle Blend. “I look forward to coming in very early in the morning and getting to start my day off with a cup of it. It’s a stellar blend.”

Although the café has been opened for nearly two weeks, it has yet to unveil its entire food options. Starting later this month, a chef, Will Barkett, will be coming on board. Payne described Barkett as being “very talented.” Barkett previously worked at Pomegranate Restaurant and Gathering Place in Troutville and Metro! in Roanoke.

Additionally, the café is considering expanding its hours of operation. Currently, it is open from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday. Payne said that although nothing has been decided yet, the café is looking to see whether or not being open on the weekends is a viable option.

Aside from Payne, one other employee, Emma Claire Wilson, works at Fincastle Café.

Payne noted that the café is still looking to hire two part-time baristas/cashiers. “I’m always looking to find quality people who are looking to join a family type environment,” she said.

The café is located at 18 S. Roanoke Street in Fincastle. Those interested in finding out more information about Fincastle Café should go to its Facebook page.

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