With ice cream, hot food, live music and locally made pantry goods, Nutty Buttery hopes to bring the Carver community together beginning this fall. (Photo by Stephanie Breijo)
Carver, the VCU area and Jackson Ward will all find an ice cream parlor at 701 W. Clay St. this fall, but the shop at the corner of Munford and Clay streets is set to serve up something else, too: a side of community.
Nutty Buttery will most likely open in November — "I was hoping for October, but it is what it is," owner Charleen Baylor says — and aims to please Carver and beyond with ice cream, candy, coffee, sandwiches, entrées, wine, beer, pantry items, kids' activities, live music and perhaps even karaoke. It's a little bit something-for-everyone, which is more than a little bit of the goal: Nutty Buttery wants to be the neighborhood's much-needed gathering spot.
"A lot of places are exclusive to just coffee or just drinking or just food, and that kind of limits some folks coming to visit, and I want to be open to everybody," says Baylor, who began planning the business years ago. "I want it to be a designated community space. I'm kind of like that third space: first space being home, second space being work, third space being someplace you can walk to where you can a decent meal for under $10 and sit and talk to people and have good conversation."
Though Baylor isn't certain who'll provide Nutty Buttery's ice cream, the new entrepreneur is currently in talks with Bev's Homemade Ice Cream as well as Beaverdam's Lazy Creek Farms, which produces a high-butterfat ice cream. Baylor says her shop will offer locally made jams and jellies from nearby farms, plus handmade soaps, local chocolate, roasted nuts, baked goods and snack items such as Route 66 potato chips. She'll offer coffee, especially served alongside breakfast sandwiches that will be available when she opens as early as 7 a.m.; she'll serve up sandwiches and soups at lunch; and in the evening you'll most likely find entrées such as salmon, salmon cakes and grilled chicken breasts. Baylor hasn't yet applied for her ABC license, but hopes to offer between four and six wines by the glass, in addition to retail beer and wine for people to take off premises.
Guests can watch busy Belvidere Street from countertop seating along the Munford Street side of the building, and along the Clay Street side there will be banquette seating. Add a few tables and chairs throughout the 1,526-square-foot space, and you've got room for about 50. There may even be a small performance stage on the way, Baylor says.
Baylor's original space — intended to open years ago with old business partners — fell through when the economy dipped. "But since it was my idea, I never stopped," the Carver resident shares. "I just kept going, so here I am finally." After a successful fight against cancer, and leaving her position as a respiratory care director and manager at Bon Secours, she decided it was time to once again pursue her dream.
For Baylor, it's a dream she says is in her blood.
"I come from a long line of entrepreneurs," she shares. "My grandfather had a wonderful bakery in Ashland, and it was a hub — you couldn't sit down, but that didn't stop people from comin' and lingerin'. My great-aunt had a beauty salon and a beauty school, and that's the same thing in the black community: It's where people come and linger. So I just combined those two ideas with offering food and drink to make it one whole community space."
Nutty Buttery is located at 701 W. Clay St. and is set to open in November with hours roughly placed as Tuesday through Sunday as early as 7 a.m.; open as late as 10 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday; closing early Sunday and Tuesday.