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Business Intel: Wine-focused restaurant to open in downtown Roanoke

Business Intel: Wine-focused restaurant to open in downtown Roanoke

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Wine-focused restaurant to open in Roanoke

A new restaurant with a focus on wine is coming to downtown Roanoke.

Well Hung Vineyard, which is based outside Charlottesville, plans to open early next year across the street from Mast General Store.

Anthony Herring, president of the company, said he was interested in opening a restaurant in Roanoke because it’s a business-friendly city and its demographics are a good fit for the brand.

“Downtown the market area is beautiful, but there’s really not a huge wine scene yet, and I thought maybe it would be a complement to the beer scene,” Herring said.

Well Hung Vineyard doesn’t grow its own grapes. Its winemaker uses grapes from various vineyards; about 50% are purchased from Virginia and the rest come from California, Washington and Oregon, Herring said.

He can’t claim responsibility for the Well Hung Vineyard name. Herring purchased the business from three women in 2016 and opened a restaurant in Gordonsville last year. He kept the name because the brand already has a following and people find it amusing.

“Everyone laughs at the name, for obvious reasons. But the wine is very important to me,” Herring said. “Thankfully everyone says they’re surprised at the quality of the wine with the name on the bottle.”

The full-service restaurant will serve brunch, lunch and dinner. Herring said the menu changes quarterly, but one of Well Hung Vineyard’s specialties is flatbread pizzas.

The restaurant is committed to providing good wine and a good meal at a fair price. Two people will be able to have a bottle of wine and a good meal for under $60, he said.

Renovations to the building, located at 402 S. Jefferson St., are in progress. Herring said the space has 4,500 finished square feet and should be able to seat about 70 people with social distancing and more when restrictions are lifted. He hopes to open at the end of January.

Business Intel: Little Green Hive opens Daleville location

Little Green Hive has opened a third location, this one at Daleville Town Center.

The coffee and smoothie bar has taken over the space previously occupied by Land of a Thousand Hills Coffee Co. It officially opened as Little Green Hive on Nov. 1.

Sharon Ponce, who owns Little Green Hive along with her family, said she and her husband had been wanting to come to Daleville for a while, but they don’t typically open locations where they’ll be in competition with other small businesses.

They approached the owners of Land of a Thousand Hills and asked them to get in touch if they ever wanted to retire or leave the business. About a year later, Ponce said, she got the call.

Ponce said they were drawn to Daleville because of its beauty and the number of houses being built nearby. Plus, a lot of customers at the Little Green Hive locations in downtown Roanoke and Grandin Village live in Botetourt County and urged the owners to open there.

“We do offer a little bit different things than the previous owners had as far as our smoothies and bowls and things like that, so I think they’re really excited about those things,” Ponce said.

In an effort to make a smooth transition, Ponce said the Daleville location won’t be offering fresh juice right away. But otherwise, it should have all the same menu items as the Roanoke stores.

Ponce said she’s keeping popular food items from the previous owners’ menu, such as the harvest turkey sandwich, chicken salad, gluten-free quiche and scratch-made scones. They will be adopted by the other locations as well.

“When we purchased this place, we didn’t want to just kind of steamroll everything,” she said. “We wanted to see what was working good for them and adopt that, because we don’t know it all.”

Online ordering is available at the Daleville location. It’s something Little Green Hive began offering because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but Ponce said she likes the convenience of it.

The Daleville Little Green Hive is at 90 Town Center Stt=. #106. It’s open 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. Ponce said they eventually plan to add Sunday hours.

Innovation Mill looks to assist high-growth businesses

The Advancement Foundation is seeking applicants for its Innovation Mill program to assist new or early stage businesses with high growth potential.

Simone Knowles, director of innovation and community expansion for the Innovation Mill, said the program can serve businesses in various sectors, from technology to manufacturing to food and beverage.

For the second year in a row, the Innovation Mill received funding from GO Virginia, a statewide economic development initiative with the goal of creating high-wage jobs. It provides support for around 25 businesses, Knowles said.

While The Gauntlet, another Advancement Foundation initiative, is a business development program that helps budding entrepreneurs determine if their idea is viable, Knowles said, the Innovation Mill is geared toward a slightly more established business.

“We’re looking for someone that has some knowledge about where their business is going and how they plan to scale,” she said.

These businesses might already have a proof of concept, prototype, marketing plan or even funding, Knowles said. But if any of those pieces are missing, they can expect assistance through the Innovation Mill.

Helping participating businesses rise to the next level often involves applying for grants or accelerator programs like RAMP, she said.

One of the success stories from last year was an entrepreneur with a robotics and drone company. Knowles said the Innovation Mill helped him land a $70,000 grant to build a prototype.

With the COVID-19 pandemic, Knowles said she expects many people who wanted to start or scale their business reined their plans in. But, she said, resources are available and it’s a great time to plan and work on the business.

Applications for the program, which runs for about three months, are open now. To apply, entrepreneurs can fill out a needs assessment at https://theadvancementfoundation.org/innovation-mill/.

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