Culi­nary, phys­i­cal al­ter­ations com­ing to Sper­ryville Corner Store com­plex

‘We’re very ex­cited where RPK is go­ing, and we want to give it the run­way to take off ’

Rappahannock News - - FRONT PAGE - By JoHn Mc­caslin Rap­pa­han­nock News staff

Pal­pa­ble change is in the air and on the draw­ing board for the Sper­ryville Corner Store com­plex, and an up­beat coowner/gen­eral man­ager Craig Batch­e­lor is con­fi­dent the com­mu­nity will be as ex­cited as he is in bring­ing it to fruition.

“The restau­rant in­dus­try is one that has to con­tin­u­ally evolve and change to keep up with the times,” Batch­e­lor says in an in­ter­view. “And I feel strongly that now is the time for us to make that change.”

In his words, the plan is “to ex­pand our very popular and suc­cess­ful Rap­pa­han­nock Pizza Kitchen into what is cur­rently the Thorn­ton River Grille space. This will al­low us to have an ex­panded Rap­pa­han­nock Pizza Kitchen menu that will in­clude

things that our cus­tomers have asked for, such as sal­ads and a lim­ited num­ber of pasta dishes, as well as ta­ble ser­vice seat­ing.

“As any of our cus­tomers who have been to RPK on a Fri­day or a Satur­day or some­times on a Thurs­day night know, our seat­ing in our cur­rent ar­range­ment is very, very lim­ited,” adds Batch­e­lor. “We are look­ing for­ward to hav­ing ex­panded seat­ing ca­pa­bil­ity.”

To ac­com­plish this ma­jor shift in floor plans, a com­plete ren­o­va­tion will be­gin soon that steers away from the dated wood pan­el­ing and lim­ited win­dow scheme of the Grille.

“Open and light-filled!” Batch­e­lor de­scribes the com­ing space. “Which is not what the cur­rent Thorn­ton River Grille din­ing room is, for any­body who’s not been in it. And our ren­o­va­tion is de­signed to change that. We want it to feel like a bright and airy pizze­ria.

“Our plan is to be open through the Artist Tour week­end, which is Novem­ber 3rd and 4th, and close the Grille af­ter din­ner ser­vice on that Sun­day the 4th,” he con­tin­ues, “ac­knowl­edg­ing that the space has needed a ren­o­va­tion for quite some time. We will do a com­plete ren­o­va­tion of the din­ing room and kitchen over the course of the win­ter and into the first quar­ter of ‘19.

“In the mean­time the cur­rent lo­ca­tion of the Rap­pa­han­nock Pizza Kitchen will be open for ser­vice, as will the Sper­ryville Corner Store and Bar Fran­cis.”

Batch­e­lor stresses that the de­ci­sion by his fam­ily — fel­low own­ers who in­clude his wife Caitlin and brother Clay, who were passed the ba­ton by the Ken Thomp­son fam­ily in Au­gust 2016 — to close and ex­pand the Grille didn’t come with­out con­sid­er­able thought, most par­tic­u­larly tak­ing into con­sid­er­a­tion the restau­rant’s loyal pa­trons over the years.

“First of all, to our de­voted cus­tomers, thank you!” Batch­e­lor says. “Thorn­ton River Grille has had an amaz­ing run for the last 15 years. There’ve been changes, but we’ve had some won­der­ful cus­tomers and won­der­ful em­ploy­ees through­out all of that. And I’d just like to thank all of our customer base for all of those won­der­ful years.”

He is hope­ful, at the same time, that the Grille’s pa­trons will now dis­cover fa­vorite new dishes among RPK’s cre­ative piz­zas, pas­tas and sal­ads.

The up­dated din­ing ex­pe­ri­ence will also fea­ture cock­tail ser­vice from Bar Fran­cis, as well as beer and wine pair­ings that com­ple­ment each menu item.

“The RPK ex­panded menu will al­low us to fo­cus on spe­cific lo­cal draft beers, and also what I like to call food-friendly and cheer­ful wines by the glass,” Batch­e­lor fore­sees.

“We’re very ex­cited where RPK is go­ing, and we want to give it the run­way to take off.”

BY JOHN MC­CASLIN

Craig Batch­e­lor is ex­cited about the evo­lu­tion of the the Sper­ryville Corner Store com­plex.

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