It’s amazing how much of a difference the look and feel of a building can have for a business. . . and a for a town!
We take it for granted all too often, but a well-designed building with an enjoyable atmosphere is a key component of a successful business. The building can be the factor that determines:
A town that has the right spaces available will attract exciting and innovative businesses. On the other hand, a street that looks downtrodden, depressing, and out of date is likely to stay that way! Who wants to begin an exciting new venture on “sad street?”
The Vibe Properties story is the tale of how one property company is creating great business spaces to spark incredible growth in the town of Front Royal. In 2019, Vibe Properties received the Urban Catalyst Award from the American Institute of Architects. This prestigious award is a testimony to the major improvements taking place in downtown Front Royal.
Want to know the fascinating story of a small town, a historic street, and a couple with energy and vision? Read on!
The Story of Vibe Properties and Main Street Front Royal
When Vibe Properties’ co-owners, Kerry and Tim Barnhart retired to Warren County, they quickly fell in love with the town of Front Royal. They soon noticed the unfulfilled potential of the downtown Main Street area. The street was quaint and centrally located. But rent rates in that part of town were low, scaring away possible investors. The atmosphere was decidedly neglected. The Barnharts were ready to take on the challenge. They founded Vibe Properties with a simple but compelling mission: to acquire buildings in downtown Front Royal. To turn these buildings into spaces that would attract new businesses. To breathe new life into a historic part of Front Royal. After only two years, the American Institute of Architects’ Urban Catalyst Award recognized that they had done just that.
Vibe Properties began in 2017, with the acquisition of two of Main Street’s historic buildings, the Weaver Building and the Barnhart Building. Over the next year and a half, the company undertook extensive renovations to the buildings to give them an inviting and interesting look while honoring their rich history.
The Weaver Building was built as a department store in the early 1900s. When Vibe Properties acquired the building, it stood empty. It got a newly designed store front and entryway. In the back of the building, exposed steel and large windows replaced a brick wall. The new design allowed for a more open feel with views onto a dinning terrace in the back, and the Blue Ridge Mountains beyond.
Meanwhile, the Barnhart Building was a nondescript row of shops. Around a hundred years old, the building had seen many different uses over the years. Vibe Properties completely changed the façade, giving each business its own inviting and distinctive look. The company also made extensive changes to the interior of the building. Front Royal residents and visitors stopped walking straight past. It didn’t take long for the Barnhart Building to fill with exciting new businesses.
Vibe Properties: Catalyst for Change in Front Royal
The town of Front Royal is experiencing strong population growth. At the same time, thousands of visitors pass through every year. With its proximity to Shenandoah National Park, the George Washington National Forest, the Appalachian Trail, and the Shenandoah River, Front Royal is ideally situated to attract hundreds of outdoor enthusiasts. But until recently, the historic center of Front Royal had little to offer. Residents routinely turned to neighboring towns for dining and shopping options. Visitors had little reason to stop by Main Street after a long day on the trails or the river.
Now, Main Street hosts the kind of businesses that were drawing Front Royal’s residents and visitors to other towns. The Weaver Building is the home of Try Thai Restaurant, and Inklings gift shop, and Wildfire Yoga.
Inklings is a locally owned business that offers soaps, candles, clothing, art, and other gifts. Try Thai has taken advantage of the newly designed space to offer indoor and outdoor dining in a beautiful setting offering amazing Thai Cuisine. Wildfire Yoga offers private, group, and virtual sessions in a variety of yoga styles, designed to improve body mechanics and daily life.
Cross the street to the Barnhart Building and you’ll find Mountain Trails, Down Home Comfort Bakery, the Front Royal Brewing Company, and ViNoVA Wine and Tapas. Down Home Comfort Bakery was located in the Barnhart building before its acquisition by Vibe Properties. Now, the shop has a completely redesigned exterior and interior. It looks and feels like just the kind of place you’d want to pick up a delicious home-made cake, pie, or treat. Mountain Trails is a new branch of the Winchester-based outdoor equipment company. And the Front Royal Brewing Company extends into the back of the building, which has been redesigned to tastefully exhibit its origins as a turn-of-the-century parking garage. The feel is spacious, modern, and unique. Next door to the brewery, ViNoVA Wine and Tapas caters to wine lovers, and offers fun specials like the Midnight Snack, and Bottomless Paella Brunch.
Vibe Properties’ tenants have gone above and beyond to attract Front Royal’s “outdoorsy” visitors. Imagine arriving in Front Royal after several strenuous days (or weeks!) on the Appalachian Trail. Feel like cleaning up? The Barnhart building includes Basecamp Front Royal, a free service sponsored by Mountain Trails, the Front Royal Brewing Company, ViNoVA Wine and Tapas, and Down Home Comfort Bakery. Here, hikers can store gear in a secure locker, do laundry, and take a shower. After cleaning up, they can enjoy a craft beer and burger at the brewery. For those who prefer wine and tapas, ViNoVA is right next door. Desserts (or some treats to take on the trail) are at the Down Home Comfort Bakery. Any needed hiking gear can be found at Mountain Trails. Front Royal is no longer a neglected town to rush quickly past. It’s become the perfect haven for weary hikers.
A New Chapter for Front Royal
If you’ve been noticing that Front Royal has recently undergone significant improvement, it hasn’t just been your imagination. The achievements of Vibe Properties show what a creative vision and the courage to pursue it can accomplish in just a few short years. A new chapter has begun in Front Royal. And it couldn’t be more exciting.
With the COVID-19 crisis throwing travel plans into chaos, it may be tempting to give up on the idea of a vacation this year. But the benefits of some time off are well-documented. Taking advantage of paid vacation time improves your health, your happiness, your family relationships, and even your productivity at work. If you want to take a break, but aren’t able to make travel plans we have a solution: a Front Royal staycation! Block out some time to rest, rejuvenate, and explore your hometown!
If you’re lucky enough to live in the Front Royal area, there are plenty of opportunities for fun and relaxation right on your doorstep. Not sure where to start? Read on! We’ve rounded up some of our best ideas to make your Front Royal staycation feel like a vacation. You should find something below to suit everyone in the family. And don’t forget: your Front Royal staycation will help the small local businesses that have taken a hard hit during the COVID-19 crisis.
(COVID-19 policies change frequently. Avoid disappointment! Be sure to double check directly with the company for any policy updates before you finalize plans.)
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Front Royal Staycation Dining
One major perk of vacation is taking a break from the never ending tasks of meal-planning, grocery shopping, and cooking. On your Front Royal staycation, you should make sure you still give yourself a break. In fact, since you’ll be saving money on travel and lodging, consider enjoying an extra fancy dinner or two. You might be dying to get out of your house and enjoy a meal in a restaurant. The good news is that many restaurants are now reopening with limited and outdoor seating.
COVID-19 has a lot to answer for, but it may also give you a chance to enjoy an old favorite restaurant in a whole new way. In an effort to follow COVID-19 guidelines, several local restaurants have added outdoor dining, and even carry out or delivery services. Outdoor dining definitely has a vacation feel to it. If you don’t feel like going out, you have the chance to enjoy your favorite restaurant in the comfort of your home.
Some Front Royal favorites that have added a COVID-19 carry out service include The Element, the Front Royal Brewing Company (also offering delivery), and Pavemint Taphouse,. Or bring home an old favorite such as Spelunkers Burgers or Melting Pot Pizza.
See here for a more extensive list of Front Royal dining options.
Front Royal Outdoor Adventure Staycation
Enjoying the great outdoors is a great way to have some summer fun while observing COVID-19 guidelines. Front Royal is the perfect place for a range of outdoor staycation activities (to suit varying levels of adventurousness!).
Nothing says “summer” like relaxing on the river. Many people happily travel for hours to spend some time on a scenic river in the summer. If you live in Front Royal, you don’t have to. A Shenandoah River staycation is at your fingertips! Front Royal’s river outfitters have reduced services due to COVID-19, but if you’re interested in boating or tubing, Front Royal Outdoors has limited river trip offerings. And if you have your own boat, Skyline Canoe is offering a shuttle service so you can enjoy a trip down the river without having to worry about getting back to where you left your car. Fishing and swimming at public river access points are great options for enjoying the river while complying with social distancing guidelines. Water enthusiasts can easily plan a whole week of different river activities in and around Front Royal.
For another day of outdoor summer fun, consider hiking or biking one of Front Royal’s popular trails. Pack your own picnic, or stop at Blue Wing Frog and have them pack one for you.
Other options for outdoor fun in and around Front Royal include rock climbing, golfing, and horseback riding stables. You can even enjoy a horseback ride through the Shenandoah National Park.
It wouldn’t be a summer vacation without some ice cream. Don’t forget to cool down at the end of the day at one of Front Royal’s favorite ice cream spots. Try The Apple House Ice Cream Stand, the ever popular Spelunker’s, or C&C’s Frozen Treats on Main Street.
The Indoor Front Royal Staycation
If being outdoors and active in the heat of summer doesn’t sound relaxing, don’t worry. There’s still plenty to do in Front Royal. And many indoor-based businesses have established COVID-19 policies that allow them to remain open. Here are some slower-paced ideas for your Front Royal staycation fun in Front Royal.
If you’re looking for a relaxing afternoon in town, Front Royal’s quaint Downtown area is an excellent choice. Happy Creek Coffee, and Main Street’s Daily Grind are two of the town’s most popular coffee shops. If you’re not a coffee lover, The Vine and Leaf offers teas and fine wines. Peruse the shop or enjoy a beverage in the “sipping room.”
It’s also fun to take your time exploring Front Royal’s selection of unique shops. Royal Bookshop is a charming used bookstore that’s a walkable distance from Main Street. Arts and crafts lovers will have fun painting their own pottery at The Kiln Doctor. Or for an activity that has you in nature, but out of the sun, take a tour of Skyline Caverns.
For beer and wine lovers, Front Royal has plenty of opportunities for a relaxing afternoon or evening. On Main Street, try ViNoVa Tapas and Wine Bar or the Front Royal Brewing Company. Or take a drive into the country for an afternoon at one of several scenic wineries and breweries in the Front Royal area.
COVID-19 has led to many disappointments. It’s not easy to deal with the cancellation of a summer vacation. But a week of Front Royal staycation fun may be just what you need to lift your spirits.
Eat Local - Shop Local - Support Local
We have had three successful weekends of closing the Main Street shopping corridor to allow restaurants and other places of commerce to conduct business outdoors. The Town of Front Royal is delighted to announce the continuation of ‘Downtown Rebound’ each weekend until further notice, as part of the Governor’s “Virginia Forward” reopening plan.
Giving rave reviews and breathing a collective sigh of relief, our town’s residents and visitors have embraced this event as a hint of better days and times ahead. These past few months have not been fun for any of us. We have been coping with interruptions in our daily life and the life-altering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. We deserve this break from the lockdowns that have become routine . . . and what better way to do so than supporting our local businesses!
Here’s what Downtown Rebound offers each weekend:
Though the atmosphere is festive, and everyone enjoys freely strolling around Main Street, it is also a great time to look over the town’s other business establishments. You are certain to find a special item or service that you did not know was right here in town!
Want more info?:
Outdoor Movies - Royal Cinema’s “Main Street Movie” with its outdoor movie screen is a special treat for everyone. Reminiscent of a drive-in theater, without the car, lounging in a lawn chair or sprawled out on a blanket with the kids, creates a cherished memory. Don’t miss this opportunity to spend additional time enjoying the evening’s entertainment after the sun goes down. Check Royal Cinema’s Facebook page for upcoming movie selections, weather permitting.
Road closures - The temporary road closures of Main Street, Kidd Lane, and part of Chester Street to vehicles and bicycles will continue beginning Friday at 4:30 P.M. and ending on Monday at 7:00 A.M. each weekend until further notice. Parking remains available at the Gazebo entering from Laura Virginia Hale Place only.
Restaurants - Restaurants will be prepared to start seating customers around 5:30 P.M. on Friday, as it takes about an hour to set up tables and seating after the road closure.
Looking to get your business to participate? Businesses that operate outside of the perimeter of Main Street, Kidd Land, and a portion of Chester Street and who wish to participate in Downtown Rebound events may contact William Huck at 540-450-7939 to coordinate a location to set up to sell merchandise or promote your services.
As Virginia entered Phase Two on June 5, 2020 (excluding the City of Richmond and the Northern Virginia Region), all citizens are expected to maintain social distancing of 6 feet and follow other guidelines as noted in EXECUTIVE ORDER 65 (2020) AND ORDER OF PUBLIC HEALTH EMERGENCY SIX PHASE TWO EASING OF CERTAIN TEMPORARY RESTRICTIONS DUE TO NOVEL CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19). At their discretion, restaurants may have additional restrictions.
Should you have questions, please contact the Town of Front Royal’s Public Information Office at 540-631-3600.
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