The Dinner Belles: Longtime Friends to Open Grocery, Catering Biz in Lovettsville

A 20-year friendship and a brand new partnership are promising to make things in one small Loudoun town a whole lot tastier.

Longtime friends and fellow foodies Michelle McIntyreand Jill Evans-Kavaldjian will open Dinner Belles Kitchen Cupboard next month in downtown Lovettsville.

McIntyre, a caterer and homeschooling mom of seven, and Evans-Kavaldjian, a noted local artist and vegetable guru, are teaming up to tackle an unmet need for specialty groceries in northwest Loudoun and to offer prepared meals by subscription for busy families and commuters. The partners are setting up shop in a historic building right on Lovettsville’s main street.

“I’m the kitchen and she’s the cupboard,” McIntyre said with a laugh.

McIntyre will offer subscription meals four nights a week and operate her catering business out of the shop’s commercial kitchen, while Evans-Kavaldjian will run the retail grocery, offering both local and international food items along with craft beer, wine and cider.

The idea has been brewing for years, the partners said. While Evans-Kavaldjian encouraged McIntyre to launch her catering business in 2007, the friends have discussed a joint venture for some time. But the opportunity to set up in the perfect space on East Broad Way sealed the deal. Dinner Belles will move into the former Liberty Pies location in the center of town, a building that has that has played numerous roles over the town’s nearly 200-year history.

“It definitely has retail synergy. The size of it is manageable,” McIntyre said. “It has history. … It’s a prime location and it connects old and new. Old Lovettsville has memories of what it’s been in all its iterations, and new Lovettsville has connected to what it’s been recently and wants to see it continue on.”

On the kitchen side, McIntyre is thrilled to have a commercial kitchen of her own after years of working out of rented space. The move will allow her to expand her subscription meal services and catering business. With nearly a dozen years of Dinner Belle Catering under her belt, McIntyre has built a reputation for offering elegant but accessible and weeknight-friendly meals using fresh seasonal ingredients.

“I get to make the things I like to make, and I feel like I have a handle on what people enjoy,” she said. “I haven’t been able to really do the business that I’d like to do. … This gives me the opportunity to really level up.”

McIntyre will offer pre-ordered subscription meals Tuesday through Friday evenings, with menu choices posted each week. She’ll also have limited dishes for drop-in pickup, including soups, quiches and pot pies.

On the retail side, Evans-Kavaldjian will put her own foodie enthusiasm and connections built during her years as manager of Potomac Vegetable Farms’ farm stand down the road from her Morrisonville home and art studio to use as the specialty foods manager.

Michelle McIntyre and Jill Evans-Kavaldjian will open Dinner Belles Kitchen Cupboard in Lovettsville in March.
[Patrick Szabo/Loudoun Now]
            She has already made arrangements to sell charcuterie from nearby Long Stone Farm and goat cheese from Georges Mill Farm Artisan Cheese. The shop will also have an international flair, including food-friendly German and Austrian wines and snacks in a nod to the town’s celebrated German heritage, in addition to local craft beverages.

“It’s all going to be a little bit special in some way,” Evans-Kavaldjian said. “When we go traveling, we look for cool little shops, so we’re going to have a cool little shop.”

The proprietors will suggest wines to take home with McIntyre’s subscription meals and sell plenty of items perfect for picnics for winery and farm visits and town events like summer concerts and movies on the town green.

“If they’re going to somebody’s house for dinner, they can pick up some Long Stone Farm salami and some Georges Mill goat cheese and a bottle of wine to bring over with them,” Evans-Kavaldjian said.

The plan is to open six days a week with Mondays closed. In the near-term, Evans-Kavaldjian will take on the role of shopkeeper most of the time, as both women continue to wear multiple hats. McIntyre, who is married to Lovettsville Vice Mayor Jim McIntyre, will continue to homeschool their three youngest children.

Evans-Kavaldjian is president of the Loudoun Arts Council and a working painter and printmaker who is heavily involved with the Western Loudoun Artists Studio Tour each year. She’ll also continue her relationship with Potomac Vegetable Farms, even as she steps down as manager of the popular farm stand.

The two women met 20 years ago as young parents living in downtown Lovettsville. Their children have grown up together and the families have become close, with a shared love of great food front and center. The women and their husbands connected with fellow local food lovers as part of an informal dinner club, and during one gathering at McIntyre’s home in 2006, the idea for her catering business was born.

“I came out with this huge dish of paella and they all said, “You should be a caterer!’” McIntyre said.

Both women think Lovettsville is more than ready for their concept. The town is well known for not having a grocery store, and residents have been left high and dry since the closing of the town’s quirky and beloved Loudoun Street Mini Mart, which offered some specialty groceries and fresh sandwiches along with a good selection of beer and wine.

The growing town now boasts several new restaurants and a bustling independent coffee shop right next door to a small market selling artisan crafts and home decor.

While still finishing up the permitting process and updates to the space, the Dinner Belles partners hosted a successful Valentine’s Day pop-up last week, which featured several local bakers, a winery and a local boutique florist. Locals also appear to be counting the days until the shop is open for good.

“It’s been overwhelmingly positive,” Evans-Kavaldjian said. “Every person who came to [the pop up] was saying, ‘We can’t wait until you’re open!’”

 

Dinner Belles Kitchen Cupboard is scheduled to open in March at 24 E. Broad Way in Lovettsville. For more information and for updates on opening day, go to lovettsvilledinnerbelles.com of follow Dinner Belles Kitchen Cupboard on Facebook.

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