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Business Briefs: September 2021 – The Crozet Gazette

John and Anna Fontaine at Crozet’s first “personal gym” in Piedmont Place. Photo: Malcolm Andrews.

Newtown Fitness Club: Workout Without the Crowd

You can bring your own music and a friend or two or three and follow the workout routine of your choice at the new “personal gym” now open at Piedmont Place in the center of Crozet.

Newtown Fitness Club, LLC, which operates a group of small, local gyms, has had success with three clubs in Staunton and three in Charlottesville, and is expanding near the home of one of its founders, John Fontaine of Ivy. “We’ve noticed that our three Charlottesville locations have a number of members who commute from here,” Fontaine said. The Piedmont Place location––the original home of Santosha Yoga and later Barre Fitness––is a little larger than the other six locations, and will include a boxing set up.

Although the concept seems especially fitting for Covid-era workouts, the idea was hatched well before the pandemic. Ben Huson, Fontaine’s brother-in-law, was determined to get fit, but found working out at one of the larger facilities near his home in Staunton was time-consuming, crowded, and sometimes embarrassing for a novice who didn’t know the ins and outs of weight training or high-tech fitness apparatus. Worst of all, the music was terrible.

Huson, a software engineer, relied on Fontaine for fitness training advice. He also shared his new idea with his brother-in-law: a small gym that would be stocked with basic equipment and open to the public by reservation. Fontaine liked the idea and so did the Staunton Innovation Hub (a co-work and business incubator). Their first gym opened there in June 2020. 

Scheduling was solved by a calendar-based door lock. After making reservations on the web site, members virtually “unlock” the door at the appointed time. A little more than a year later, Fontaine and Huson found themselves with six properties and 700 users. 

From the start, the two men wanted the cost to be reasonable. As a life-long fitness advocate, Fontaine knew the model for large fitness centers was to ask for a yearly commitment and rely on statistics that show only 20 percent of those who join will come more than once or twice. “With Newtown, it’s more like a vending machine,” Fontaine said. “You only pay for what you get.” People sign up, reserve space, and are billed monthly for the hours they use. Another plus: those who teach a small class or come with a workout buddy or trainer are charged the same as the single client. 

Although the equipment and the set-up for each gym is intentionally uniform, each one has developed its own character: “Some are used mostly by trainers,” he said. One center in Charlottesville has become a destination for boxers. Others are almost entirely individual clients. 

The gyms have a meticulous protocol for cleaning and, for now, the owners and family members are doing the daily anti-viral fogging and scrubbing themselves in all locations. Those who use the gym are asked to wipe down surfaces and return equipment to its original position. “For the most part, people have been great,” Fontaine said. The pre-arranged time slots ensure that anyone who causes damage or leaves things in disarray is easily identified. 

As fitting as this model is for these times, Fontaine said he hasn’t seen other businesses with the concept, except for a similar but high-end business in Toronto and one using shipping containers in Shang-hai. If there’s a micro-gym revolution, Fontaine said, Newtown is at the very beginning of it.

Find out more about Newtown Fitness and join at

More Honors for King Family Vineyards

Carrington King of King Family Vineyards was named the Virginia grower of the year by the Virginia Vineyards Association.

The award cited King’s management of the family’s estate, which he co-owns and which has expanded to 50 acres under his leadership, consistently producing award-winning wines. King has worked at his family’s operation since its founding in 1998, helping plant eight acres of Merlot and Viognier vines while he was still in high school.

Carrington King of King Family Vineyards was named Virginia Grower of the Year. Submitted photo.

“Carrington is one of the most experienced and professional vineyard managers in Virginia,” said Skip Causey, the association’s president. “He’s been a leader in handling the challenges of weather, employing helicopters and wind machines, for example, to protect his vines from late spring frosts.”

“We ordered the vines when I was 18 years old, and I was 19 by the time we started planting,” King said. He remembered coming home from college on weekends to work in the vineyard, at a time when the family did everything by hand. He praised the example of his father, the late David L. King, a prominent force in the Virginia wine industry.

“He was always about doing the work and getting out there and being a leader,” King recalled. “Don’t go sitting in the house and direct people from there. Get out there, and do the work with them, and they’ll be inspired to treat the ground and the vineyard like it’s their own.”

King said the vineyard has always been a team effort. “My brothers, James and Stuart, have been with me every step of the way, so this is very much a shared honor.”

In addition to the Merlot and Viognier that made up the initial planting, King Family now grows Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Petit Manseng, and Malbec.

Farmers Market Supports Crozet UMC Food Ministry

Despite the pandemic, economic uncertainty, and unfavorable weather conditions, the Crozet Farmers Market has had its best season ever, said Al Minutolo, market manager. “I think it’s probably because people are searching for ways to be outside safely. We’ve seen a lot of new faces.” Minutolo, who works as a volunteer, collects a percentage of sales from the vendors each week. He noted that the $1,000 check awarded to the Crozet United Methodist Church represents $20,000 in sales from the market this year.

Al Minutolo (center), manager of Crozet Farmers Market, hands a donation to Diana Pace, representing Grace Grocery. Photo: Malcolm Andrews.

Unlike other markets, the Crozet Farmers Market doesn’t require any seasonal fees or rentals from vendors except the percentage, making it possible for small growers to come sporadically, depending on the timing of their crop or the productivity of their kitchen. Everything at the market must be home grown or home-made, Minutolo said. In accepting the check for the church’s Grace Grocery, volunteer Diana Pace said the money would be used for holiday turkeys.

To find out more about Crozet UMC food ministry and Grace Grocery, visit

Perrone Robotics Names Vice President for Global Sales

Crozet-based Perrone Robotics, a leading provider of autonomous vehicles, has hired a Vice President for global business development. Joseph Holmes has more than 16 years of experience in global sales, with a particular focus on autonomous and zero emission innovation. He’s been a leader in sales activity and growth in markets for passengers, goods and material handling, most recently as North American director of sales for EasyMile. Holmes lives in Colorado and joins several key professionals that Perrone has hired and promoted, both in-office and in work-from-home positions across the country.

Joseph Holmes, Perrone’s Vice President for Global Sales. Submitted photo.

At Perrone Robotics, Holmes will lead the company in expanding autonomous sales and finding solutions across the entire transportation chain. 

Paul Perrone, founder and chief executive officer, said, “His addition to our senior leadership team has a direct impact on our ability to serve customers both in the United States and internationally. Joe will play a key role to help us establish Perrone Robotics as the reliable fully autonomous mobility solution of choice.”

Perrone is a leading provider of fully autonomous vehicle systems, and its autonomous systems help businesses and governments increase transportation efficiencies, enhance safety, and promote zero-emission electric vehicle use. Learn more at or follow @perronerobotics.

Paukert Receives Mastership Award

Dr. Zachary Paukert, who lives in Crozet, was chosen for the “Mastership Award,” a professional credential from the American Academy of General Dentistry. The award, which he accepted during the Academy’s annual scientific session in Austin, Texas, recognized his commitment to excellence and is one of the most respected honors in the dental profession. 

Dr. Zachary Paukert received the mastership award from the Academy of General Dentistry. Submitted photo.

According to the Academy, Dr. Paukert completed more than 1,000 hours of continuing dental education in 16 disciplines of dentistry, including 400 hours of hands-on skills and techniques. “Becoming a master means a dentist has taken part in some of the most rigorous continuing dental education programs today,” said Bruce Cassis, the Academy’s president, who added that only two percent of dentists earn the mastership designation.

A general dentist is the primary care provider for patients of all ages. Paukert is co-owner of Charlottesville Dental Health Partners and serves the Virginia Army National Guard as the State Dental Officer.

Find Dr. Paukert at

Families Find Help at Prosper Parenting

Many people find parenting the most rewarding as well as the most challenging endeavor of their lives. Crozet’s Sheila Jordan, a behavior specialist and health coach, works with parents who find additional challenges in caring for their children with autism, learning disabilities or anxiety. 

It’s no secret that stressed, busy parents often forget to think of their own needs. “So often parents whose children have special needs, and all parents of young children in particular, put their health on the back burner for far too long, and this leads to high levels of stress and anxiety for families,” Jordan said.

Sheila Jordan counsels parents on preserving their own health. Submitted photo.

Her Crozet practice is devoted to helping families find strategies for identifying and understanding their child’s needs while also helping the parents care for their own health and wellbeing. Jordan said she’s found there are a number of key components to counseling stressed families: listening with empathy and humility; highlighting the family strengths; creating an achievable plan that improves life for both the child and the parents; and providing continued support as the family grows. “Life always changes!” she said.

Find Sheila Jordan, M.Ed. RBT ACE Certified Health Coach at [email protected], or 703-507-3253.

Jewelry on display at Artisans Depot in September

Ninika Gordon’s one-of-a-kind silver jewelry pieces will be on display and for sale through September at the Artisans Depot in downtown Crozet. On Saturday, September 11, the artist will be present in person from 1 to 3 p.m.

Gordon, a Madison County silversmith, creates her handmade pieces out of silver, gold and gemstones. She learned her art growing up in a family of craftspeople, and uses shapes found in nature to inspire each original piece. 

Crozet Artisan Depot represents more than 70 regional artists, and is open seven days a week. For more information visit, or find the more on Facebook and Instagram. Visitors area asked to wear a mask while inside the shop.

Silver jewelry by Ninika Gordon now at Artisans Depot.

Biz Bits

Look for the opening next week of Carolina Obando Beauty in the Piedmont Place space vacated by Over the Moon Bookstore. Obando says the space will offer full beauty services as well as a boutique. 

The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services can now reimburse eligible organic growers and processors for up to 50 percent of their 2020-2021 organic certification costs, not to exceed $500 per category of reimbursement. Applications are due to VDACS no later than November 1. Find an application at or contact Roz Stein, VDAC’s Office of Domestic Marketing and Promotions at 804-786-3951. 

A new Dunkin’ Donuts at Shenandoah Village in Waynesboro is open and promises fans a more upscale experience than Dunkins of the past, with a streamlined facade, electronic ordering, and yuppie options like avocado toast. Fans of the traditional chain’s offerings will find their favorites there, too. 

Outside seating has been restored at Fardowners, and it’s now open at Noon on Fridays for lunch. 

The Virginia ABC reports more than $600 million added to state programs and services in FY 2021, an increase of more than $70 million over last year. Mike Perry, manager of Crozet’s ABC store, confirmed that his customers tend to choose the same top five brands as customers statewide: Tito’s vodka, Hennessy cognac, Jack Daniel’s whiskey, Patron tequila and Jim Beam bourbon. 

Families looking for internet connection are invited to use the free Wi-Fi anywhere on the grounds of the Greenwood Community Center at any time, or reserve a spot inside the center Monday and Wednesday between the hours of 8:30 and 4:30 by calling (434) 466-3389 The county is also enrolling students for fall classes at the center, including clogging, Tai Chi, karate, iaijutsu, Essentrics and fitness, all to begin this month. Make sure to check the county website for Covid-related changes, www.Albemarle org. 

Augusta Health has been selected to join the Mayo Clinic Care Network. Members of the network have special access to Mayo Clinic’s knowledge and expertise, so physicians from Augusta Health can combine their understanding of their patients’ medical needs with Mayo Clinic expertise. There is no additional cost to patients. 

Former Duner’s chef, food truck entrepreneur, caterer and Food Network winner Laura Fonner will open Siren in Charlottesville, in the Random Row home of the former Shebeen.