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Business Intel: Chris's Coffee & Custard prepares for fall opening

Business Intel: Chris's Coffee & Custard prepares for fall opening


Chris’s Coffee & Custard, which will employ people with special needs, is nearly ready to open.

Beth Woodrum has been working for years toward opening the Roanoke business, which is named for her 25-year-old son, Chris, who has Down syndrome. She wanted to create long-term employment options for individuals with intellectual, developmental and physical disabilities.

The nonprofit Woodrum started, LovABLE SERVICES Inc., is now taking applications for its training program. People who complete it can apply for a job at Chris’s Coffee & Custard and then do training specific to their job at the shop. Woodrum said her goal is to begin serving customers in October.

“I want our community to come in and see how amazing these young adults are,” Woodrum said.

She hopes Chris’s Coffee & Custard will encourage other business owners to find opportunities for individuals with special needs. They have so many gifts and talents, Woodrum said, and all they need is training and a chance.

The shop isn’t offering soft-serve ice cream, Woodrum said, but true custard in the old-fashioned thick, ribbon style in chocolate and vanilla flavors. Woodrum said she’s not aware of anywhere else in the Roanoke Valley that offers something similar. Pints and quarts of custard will be available to take home.

Pastries, cookies, sandwiches, soups and salads will also be on the menu, along with coffees, teas and smoothies. The shop will offer indoor and outdoor seating, in addition to a meeting room that can be reserved.

The coffee and custard shop is located beside Lab Sports Performance in southeast Roanoke, in a redeveloped building that was once part of the American Viscose Corp. plant. Woodrum said numerous grants and donations helped to turn the former industrial space into an eatery. A brick paver fundraising campaign is currently underway. 

Chris’s Coffee & Custard is at 1824 Ninth St. S.E., Suite B. The days and hours of operation are still being set, but Woodrum said the shop would be open in the morning, closed for a portion of the afternoon, and then would reopen in the evening.

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Casey Fabris covers business for The Roanoke Times, where she has been a reporter since 2015. Previously, Casey covered Franklin County. She can be reached at (540) 981-3234 or

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