FOOD- THE DISH- Branching out: Tea temple's new priestess

The Twisted Branch Tea Bazaar's new owner Gwendolyn Hall.

In case you hadn't noticed, there was a subtle changing of the guard at The Twisted Branch Tea Bazaar last year when former TBTB employee Gwendolyn Hall bought the funky Mall eatery and music venue from tea visionary Matteus Frankovich last St. Patty's Day.

Indeed, it was news to Dish that the Mall venue had been sold. But during that time, Hall, who majored in hotel and restaurant management at Virginia Tech, says she's taken Frankovich's vision and fine-tuned the practical business end. 

"There were some things left undone, and I've used my business background to help clean things up and solidify the business details," says Hall. While it appears that Frankovich's vision for a tea temple was inspired, the daily grind of running a business may not have been his forte. After opening a second Tea Bazaar in Staunton last year, Frankovich sold that location six months ago, says Hall, and the new owners have renamed it the Darjeeling Café.

Still, while keeping the books in the black, she says she intends to preserve the TBTB's reputation as a "social outlet and creative space" by hiring creative types and keeping the bohemian vibe alive. 

Hall, 40, says she's traveled the world and hopes to bring her international experience to bear on the that vibe, as well as the joy she felt on first moving here.

"I moved here and saw the Mall, hung out at the Mudhouse, and I just loved the vibrancy of the place," she says. "I knew this was a place that would keep me happy and creative for a long, long time."

New Joe's open

A second Shenandoah Joe has finally opened up in the old Ivy Road Java Java space. Back in February, we caught SJ owner Dave Fafara off-guard when we sleuthed out his plans, but he was still forthcoming. He said "things will be a little different" over there, with an emphasis on handcrafted estate coffees from personal farms. After roasting coffee since 1995, Fafara opened his existing café location on Preston Avenue in May 2007.

O'Neils to become...

As Dish noticed recently, some serious renovations are underway on The Corner outside the old O'Neil's Pub space, which has been vacant for more than a year now. New owner Ryan Rooney says he's not quite ready to reveal his new concept for the space, but the workers on the site we spoke to said they're building a balcony on the front of the building. Rooney promises to spill the beans in "week or two," so stay tuned.

The Twisted Branch Tea Bazaar's new owner Gwendolyn Hall

Will shop, click, pick-up click with foodies?

Last week, the new online retail store Retail Relay celebrated its food-relaying relationship with Martha Jefferson Hospital. Basically, they've built a special online grocery store, with the help of online local food site Virginia's Bounty (, for MJH employees, who'll be able to pick up their goodies on Friday afternoons outside the hospital after ordering online.

The service is available for the rest of us, too, on Retail Relay's main site, with pick available at the MJH location or on Route 250 near the Boar's Head Inn. In addition, for those who don't like the pick-up routine, they've just started a door-step delivery service for $8, or $20 for four months; but right now there's just a limited delivery area. 

 "The idea is to get grocery shopping done during the week and have more time on the weekend," says Virginia Bounty's Ted Corcoran.

The stores and farms around town include Reid's, Rebecca's Natural Food, Fisherville Farm, The Cheese Shop, and Hotcakes to name a few. You can also get some stuff from Trader Joe's, even though the closest one is about 50 miles away.

Companies like and already deliver food right to your door, though Peapod is not now available in our area, and in the UK, where home delivery sales have risen 20 percent over the last few years, a price war has broken out as a company called Waitrose has introduced free delivery. 

Closer to home, the Hollymead Town Center Harris Teeter offers an express pick-up service. Order online, they do the shopping for you, and when you drive up, they load your groceries in the car– all for $4.95.

In addition, a website called Locally Grown Nelson ( is another option, where folks can order locally grown produce online and pick it up on Wednesday's at the Rockfish Valley Community Center from 3:30pm to 6:30pm.

So will the new way to shop catch on? For busy moms, or stay-at-home and late-night shopping dads, Retail Relay's Shop-Click-Pick-up slogan would seem to be ideal. But for frisky singles, shop-click-pick-up might have a different meaning, one that might make those passing glances in the cereal isle too tempting to give up.