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Center of the Universe announces new production facility, taproom in Ashland

Origin Beer Lab will produce specialty, small production brews, including sour beers.

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Center of the Universe Brewing Company, which recently overhauled its original taproom and production facility on Air Park Road in Ashland, announced this morning it will expand to a second location in historic Downtown Ashland.

The new facility, Origin Beer Lab, will focus on the science of beer brewing and contribute towards the redevelopment of Ashland’s historic Main Street. The brewery broke ground on the new location last month. Located at 106 South Railroad Avenue, the space was formerly home to The Chiffarobe Fine Antiques and Gifts. The brewery expects the spot to open later this fall.

Origin will produce specialty small production brews including sour beers. “One of the reasons we love making beer is experimenting with new flavors and techniques,” said COTU co-founder Philip Ray. “Origin will allow our brewers to explore some innovative and creative brewing without impacting the capacity of our current operation. Our inner nerds are very excited about this project.”

While Origin’s beers will not join COTU’s distribution line up, the approximately 50-seat taproom in a main tourist attraction will add to COTU’s bottom line.

“As an Ashland resident, I have been extremely impressed with The Main Street Association’s progress in revamping downtown Ashland,” said co-founded Chris Ray. “Our goal outside of the practical applications for the brewery, is to assist and build upon Main Street’s progress and bring to light the wonderful area that I call home. My goal is that the residents of Ashland take as much pride in Origin as I do in the town.”

Origin will produce approximately 30 barrels of beer per month. The taproom will include indoor and outdoor seating, merchandise, and availability for packaged beer to go. “We are taking design inspirations from 1950’s mad scientists.”

The new facility follows a line of expansion efforts made by COTU. In February, the brewery increased brewing capacity in order to expand distribution into Northern Virginia. They also added a rotary canning line, the first in Virginia, and went through a complete remodel of their tasting room to increase capacity.

To support all the growth, the Ray brothers tapped Richmond marketing consultant and former restaurateur Sarah Choi as the general manager to oversee taproom operations, private event sales, and marketing. “Sarah’s passion is what drew us to her for this position. Her entrepreneurial spirit she showed while opening Shoryuken Ramen and her generosity and compassion demonstrated through events like RVA Pancake Love make her a perfect addition to our team.”

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Trevor Dickerson is the Editor and Co-Founder of RVAHub.

Business

PHOTOS: Grow @1717 Accelerator honors childcare businesses in Richmond

Capital One Financial Corp (COF) this week recognized seven licensed home base childcare providers for their completion of the [email protected] Accelerator, a 12-week small business program designed to help strengthen the entrepreneurial ecosystem and elevate the Richmond region as a destination for innovation.

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Capital One Financial Corp (COF) this week recognized seven licensed home base childcare providers for their completion of the [email protected] Accelerator, a 12-week small business program designed to help strengthen the entrepreneurial ecosystem and elevate the Richmond region as a destination for innovation.

Cohort members received $5,000 in funding to support business stabilization and growth, along with a business needs assessment, 90-minute learning workshops, skills-based support from COF associates, and a network of peer mentors. The cohort was selected and funded in partnership with ChildSavers, a non-profit that provides children’s mental health services and childcare resources to Richmond residents.

“We know that family day home care is the most common form of childcare in this country, but oftentimes, home-based providers are the most overlooked for support as small business owners,” said Toria Edmonds-Howell, Community Engagement Manager for the Capital One 1717 Innovation Center. “The Grow @1717 program was designed to meet emerging needs within our region, and as Richmond childcare providers continue to experience the impacts of the pandemic, we want to help.”

Capital One Accelerator at 1717.

Capital One Accelerator at 1717.

Capital One Accelerator at 1717.

Capital One Accelerator at 1717.

Capital One Accelerator at 1717.

Capital One Accelerator at 1717.

Capital One Accelerator at 1717.

Capital One Accelerator at 1717.

Capital One Accelerator at 1717.

Capital One Accelerator at 1717.

Capital One Accelerator at 1717.

Capital One Accelerator at 1717.

Capital One Accelerator at 1717.

Capital One Accelerator at 1717.

Capital One Accelerator at 1717.

Capital One Accelerator at 1717.

Capital One Accelerator at 1717.

Photos: Michael Simon Photography

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We need your help. RVAHub is a small, independent publication, and we depend on our readers to help us provide a vital community service. If you enjoy our content, would you consider a donation as small as $5? We would be immensely grateful! Interested in advertising your business, organization, or event? Get the details here.

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Arts & Entertainment

Local rapper launches new creative and co-op work space downtown

A grand opening for the new space, CNTR, will be held 5-10 p.m. Friday, November 4th, coinciding with the Arts District’s First Fridays event.

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A new retail, creative and co-working space named CNTR opens next month in Richmond’s Arts District.

Located at 318 W. Broad St., the 3,408-square-foot space also is home to theMSQshop, which opened earlier this year. It provides brand design, creative content services and a recording and production studio.

Owner and Creative Director Will Keck, who performed for 15 years in Richmond as OG ILLA, aims to provide a resource for creatives and a safe, welcoming space for Richmond’s hip-hop and R&B culture.

“I want to encourage young artists and entrepreneurs in our community,” Keck says. “CNTR is here as a resource, business incubator, and place to elevate their work through business education.”

CNTR is available for bookings as well — for pop-ups, shows, events, workshops, conferences, and video and photo production.

The business venture, powered by theMSQshop, also includes a retail shop featuring Virginia-based streetwear, an art gallery showcasing local artists, and a co-working space that includes Richmond’s first black-owned hemp company.

A grand opening for CNTR will be held 5-10 p.m. Friday, Nov. 4, coinciding with the Richmond Arts District’s First Fridays.

The free event will feature pop-ups from local vendors, an art exhibit with work from ErvEyes, JAE, Paris and Khaos Ky, and music performances by Rudy Walker, Era Hardaway, Machine Mook, OG Souul, illwilliam and Hannah Grace.

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We need your help. RVAHub is a small, independent publication, and we depend on our readers to help us provide a vital community service. If you enjoy our content, would you consider a donation as small as $5? We would be immensely grateful! Interested in advertising your business, organization, or event? Get the details here.

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Business

BigWife’s Mac and Cheese food truck now open while construction continues on brick-and-mortar space

Menu items include a Buffalo Mac, Little Figgy Mac, Greek Wedding Mac, and Mac Lorraine, in addition to a few salads and a giant cookie – aptly named the “Big Ass Cookie.”

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A new food option coming to Scott’s Addition has set up shop in a food truck while construction continues on its brick-and-mortar operation.

BigWife’s Mac & Cheese is now operating a food truck located at 1017 N. Arthur Ashe Boulevard, next to Starbucks. A storefront in the same location is expected to open later this year in the former Growlers To Go.

Menu items include a Buffalo Mac, Little Figgy Mac, Greek Wedding Mac, and Mac Lorraine, in addition to a few salads and a giant cookie – aptly named the “Big Ass Cookie.”

This is a new restaurant concept from John and Jayme Taxin, owners of Bookbinder’s Seafood and Steakhouse. The couple first tested the waters as a pop-up operating during the pandemic and, after its success, decided to expand to this new location.

Online orders for pickup can be placed here. The truck is serving Mondays through Saturdays beginning at 4:00 PM.

Will you help support independent, local journalism?

We need your help. RVAHub is a small, independent publication, and we depend on our readers to help us provide a vital community service. If you enjoy our content, would you consider a donation as small as $5? We would be immensely grateful! Interested in advertising your business, organization, or event? Get the details here.

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