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Caterer's relocation bid denied

Planned move into school building off due to zoning regulations

By M.K. Luther - mkluther@nvdaily.com

FRONT ROYAL -- Despite Warren County School Board approval, an area business cannot relocate to a school building because of town zoning regulations.

Gourmet on the Go, a Winchester-based catering and homemade meal delivery service, is planning to leave its Creekside Station location after five years, according to co-owner Kay Schroyer.

Schroyer and her partner, Lisa Jakobsen, both live in Warren County and want to move the business closer to their homes, Schroyer said.

The owners wanted to rent the kitchen at the school system's vocational building, Blue Ridge Technical Center, and prepare the delivery meals and provide catering services, according to information provided by Superintendent Pamela McInnis.

The business would not maintain a retail storefront at the building, according to McInnis. The business is certified for food service by the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and the Virginia Department of Environmental Health.

The business would have used Blue Ridge Technical Center kitchen for close to 20 hours a week, generally from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. from Tuesday to Thursday, according to McInnis.

The business partners were planning on working with the career and technical education program to offer culinary arts instruction to the high school pupils, bringing back the former culinary arts program to the curriculum for the 2011-12 school year.

The School Board approved the request at the Dec. 9 meeting, Schroyer said.

However, following School Board approval, the owners learned from the town Department of Planning and Zoning that a commercial business cannot be located in a school building.

The building is zoned for a residential district, Schroyer said. The school system would be allowed to partner with the catering and delivery business for instruction, but the selling of meals is not permitted in the zone.

The owners do not plan to appeal the zoning decision because of time constraints, Schroyer said.

"We want to have business continuity for our customers," Schroyer said.

Meal deliveries will continue, but some customers might have to pick up meals at partner sites, Schroyer said.

The business partners are exploring the possibility of running the business from churches or firehouses in Warren County, Schroyer said, or even becoming a home-based business.

"When the dust clears, hopefully we will be able to give better service to our Warren County customers," Schroyer said.

In the meantime, the business's website menu remains current for the month, and deliveries are still being made.

"We are going to be lean and mean in the New Year," Schroyer said.

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