Business SPOT LIGHT: “A Vacation for the Day That is Less Than an Hour Away”
By: Leslie Tharp (Stone Gables B&B) and Robin Cunningham (Reston Limo)
David O Weinschel and Douglas Armstrong’s friendship has lasted longer than some marriages…39 years and the planets certainly aligned for these two to have met at all.
David was born in New York, grew up in Reston, VA, and went to school in Florida where he studied Hotel & Restaurant Management, Travel & Tourism and Club Management.
Doug was born in Pennsylvania, lived in Africa, and traveled through Europe for 9 years (his father worked for the State Dept.). When Doug returned to the U.S., he began working in restaurants and hotels where he developed an appreciation for, and interest in, the hospitality industry. Doug worked his way through night school and studied Accounting and Management.
In 1983 both Douglas and David were working at TGI Fridays Restaurant in Tyson’s Corner when they struck up a conversation and discovered that they each had a strong desire to work for themselves. A friendship quickly formed, and they spent most weekends for the next four years working on a plan to open their own catering business.
In 1985, they created Country Gourmet, a deli storefront, and within two years they opened their first dining establishment in Sterling. The Country Gourmet quickly morphed into providing catering to executive jets at the Dulles Airport and by 1990 their corporate lunch and wedding catering business were thriving. They changed their name to Celebrations Catering and their company quickly became the most popular corporate catering company in the new frontier, known as the Dulles Corridor, for office lunches as well as holiday parties and team building events.
As the area grew in population and diversity, couples were discovering alternative locations for weddings other than hotels and social halls – couples and wedding planners were realizing the possibilities at wineries, barns, B & B’s, as well as spacious tents set up at parks and private estates. Celebrations Catering was the first in the area to step up and meet these opportunities by providing catering at Selma, Oatlands and Morven Park, on a weekly basis. With Celebrations Catering growing, David and Douglas charted their course to have their own wedding venue where they could continue to prefect their craft and provide their own catering to their clients.
One of their co-workers, who grew up in Round Hill, told them about an article in the Loudoun Times Mirror that mentioned a property for sale called Whitehall Farm. David and Douglas took a ride to Bluemont to see Whitehall Farm, and the rest, as they say, is history.
They liked what they saw so they used their brick size cell phones to call the owners and asked permission to drive through the property. They were greeted with open arms and developed a fruitful relationship with Mac (Zora) and Jim Brownell. Once David and Douglas got the necessary county approvals, they bought the farm – so to speak.
It wasn’t long before Whitehall Farm became known for their high-quality events, and it also became clear they’d need more space to continue to grow so David and Douglas purchased the adjacent acreage. In addition, they also expanded the Manor House so that as our area grows, they can continue to provide a superior event experience for both social and corporate events.
During COVID, it became increasingly evident that the enjoyment of open space and family fun was moving outside – beyond the flat screen. Prior to Covid, Whitehall Farm had been used for private, corporate, and social events; but truth be told, it is much too beautiful and scenic to not share it with the community. And with that realization, a working Virginia Farm Winery and Brewery on the 50 fabulous acres named the Bluemont Station* was born. The brewery and farm winery are named after the old Southern Railway line that used to run between Alexandria and Bluemont right through their property.
Bluemont Station is celebrating their 10th year anniversary of growing wine grapes on the farm and their much anticipated, heirloom Wine Berries, will be a welcome addition to their seasonal craft beers. Bluemont Station will continue to expand with more crops that are used in the production of their beers and wines; and Celebrations Catering continues to provide Bluemont Station a wide variety of flavorful food including Smashburgers, Bruschetta Trio, the Railroad Reuben Sandwich, Bavarian pretzels, and pizza.
A great source of pride for David and Douglas is that Bluemont Station team members include great planners, creative chefs, as well as dedicated bartenders and servers that will make any event a special and stress-free one. Bluemont Station hires exceptional staff that provides top-notch customer service so guests can enjoy a sense of renewal while having fun with friends and family.
Bluemont Station is open all year and their Facebook and Instagram followers are always up to date on activities and events, entertainment, hours of operation, and new seasonal menu selections.
David and Douglas’ vision for the future is to continue with the same values they created 37 years ago and that is to provide delicious cuisine, one-of-a-kind craft beverages and quality events so that their guests realize that their “happy place” is still a “Vacation for the Day that is Less Than an Hour Away”.
*As homage to the history of Bluemont, we are telling the story of the past and making it relevant for the future. Bluemont, previously called Snickersville, was a resort community in the early 1900’s with a hotel, boarding houses, ice cream parlor, dance hall, general store and movie theatre. The Name “Bluemont Station” allows us to tell the story of the entire community that has grown up around the Station. As an example, 100 years ago, Washingtonians would come out by railroad from DC and Northern Virginia and the trains would bring milk and produce into “the city”. Now, a newer generation is coming out by car and bicycle, dining and relaxing at our farm and those of our hospitality industry neighbors, lodging in the area, enjoying farm fresh foods, brews and wines from the region and bringing it back home to enjoy with other friends and family members; all the time planning their next visit to Bluemont Station.