January 6, 2020
Furniture store owners purchase downtown eatery
Photo/Don Del Rosso
Stopping by Renee’s Gourmet to pick up lunch Friday, Crystal Charnock talks with new owner Bob Moore.
The business operates in a small building on South Third St.
Photo/Don Del Rosso
Renee Yount (right) will work with Mr. Moore through the transition in January.
I’ve always wanted to get into the restaurant business. I really enjoy people, working with people — the hospitality part, making sure people have a good time.
— New owner Bob Moore
Café serving soups, salads, sandwiches and desserts to go or eat in.
15 S. Third St., Warrenton
Bob and Lois Moore.
Seven inside, 14 outside
11 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays.
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• Website: reneestogo.com
The Warrenton furniture store owner knew he wanted a restaurant of his own someday.
“I have always kept my eyes open for that possibility,” said Bob Moore, who with his wife Lois own Shelf Life, a furniture and home décor store at 52 Main St. “I’ve always wanted to get into the business. I really enjoy people, working with people — the hospitality part, making sure people have a good time.”
So when Mr. Moore, 60, learned of Renee Yount’s plans to retire and sell Renee’s Gourmet at 15 S. Third St. that possibility became a reality last month.
Mr. Moore and Ms. Yount declined to discuss the financial details related to the sale of the business.
Establishing Localicious Properties LLC, the Moores bought the café’s one-story, 667-square-foot building, shed and parcel for $300,000. The couple closed on the property Dec. 10.
During the lunch hour one day last June, Ms. Yount in passing mentioned to him her plans to sell business.
“It just kind of came up in conversation, because I eat there a lot,” Mr. Moore recalled. “She said, ‘I’m thinking about retiring.’ And I said, ‘Oh, really’.”
In 2004, Ms. Yount bought the former Claire’s Café Too from Claire’s at the Depot owner, Claire Lamborne.
The idea of acquiring Renee’s almost immediately appealed to Mr. Moore.
“I had the impression it was a good opportunity for me,” said the self-trained cook whose early culinary skills came from watching Food Network shows. “The place is usually rocking. The people are great. The service is great. I saw an opportunity.”
His restaurant and cooking experience include helping to establish The Brick — a wood-fired pizzeria in the basement of Black Bear Bistro at 32 Main St. several years ago, “guest-chef gigs” at area eateries and various catering jobs.
Mr. Moore took over Renee’s in November. He cooks and manages a three-person part-time staff and day-to-day operations.
Ms. Yount will continue to help with the transition through January. Under her ownership, Renee’s provided an array of soups, sandwiches, salads and quiches to-go or eat there.
While most customers take lunch back to their offices, Renee’s can seat seven people inside and 14 on a small patio.
“I call it fast and fine,” Ms. Yount said of the service and menu. “I tried to create a warm, friendly atmosphere — good food, music, good friends.”
He will continue that “tradition,” Mr. Moore said.
“My commitment to this business is to continue what Renee was doing — making excellent soups, salads and sandwiches.”
But he already plans to make changes to include a new name for the business.
“I would say in the next month or so we’ll transition into the new name,” Mr. Moore said. “I’m still toying around with it. I don’t want to throw it out there, because I think it might be a name I’ll use. But, I’m not sure.”
He already has made “tweaks,” with the promise of others on the way.
For example, the eatery provides Renee’s soups, including “signature” ones such as “She Crab,” that “you can pick up any time,” the Warrenton resident said. Previously, customers only could get such soups when they appeared on the daily menu.
Mr. Moore also intends to offer to-go dinners, a daily lunch special and possibly grab-and-go breakfast items.
And, “there will be a few new additions” to the menu, “but I haven’t really determined what they’ll be.”
Menu changes will be incremental, Mr. Moore assured.
“I’m doing it in moderation, so that I can learn the tempo of the business,” he said.
He also expects to step up the business’s catering work.
Ms. Yount’s sale of the business surprised some of Friday’s customers, who congratulated her and welcomed the new owner.
“I think it’s great,” said Warrenton hair stylist Crystal Charnock, 42. “I think it will be really great for Bob and the eatery. I really liked it when he made pizzas at Black Bear. That was the big draw for me” to go to the restaurant.
Expanding Renee’s offerings could be a boon to the business and Warrenton, Ms. Charnock suggested.
“If the menu changes, I think it would be for the better — adding options to have more variety,” she said.
Another long-time customer, Rob Flikeid, 53, has no doubt the new owner will provide the same quality food.
“I have known Bob for many, many years,” said Dr. Flikeid, a Warrenton dentist. “So my concerns that things will go downhill are very low. When you’ve got something good, you hate to see it change.
“I’m very hopeful Bob will be very successful.”
Regular customer Maria Hyson of Warrenton joked about the former owner’s decision to sell the business.
“So you’re retiring?” Mrs. Hyson said with a laugh.
“I am,” replied Ms. Yount, 66.
“You’re not supposed to do that,” said Mrs. Hyson, a retired mediator. “It happens to the best of us. There comes a time when it’s appropriate.”
“Everyone has an expiration date,” said Ms. Yount, smiling.
“Take care and have a wonderful retirement,” Mrs. Hyson told her.
Ms. Yount first considered retirement about a year ago.
“I wanted to spend more time with my family and friends and probably do a little more volunteering with different groups,” she said of the decision. “The next chapter of my life is a blank slate, and that is what’s exciting.”
Expressing “gratitude” for her staff and customers, Ms. Yount added: “Fifteen years goes by very fast. You just kind of think back on the first day and see how it progressed. It was so enjoyable.”
Contact Don Del Rosso at Don@FauquierNow.com or 540-270-0300.
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warfname · January 7, 2020 at 10:48 pm
hope he serves me a big helping of wooden chair
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