The Wool Factory – Historic venue, contemporary culinary gem
Home to Selvedge Brewing, The Workshop, and Broadcloth
The setting is impressive, a sturdy but neat and trim historic textile factory. This remarkable restored complex of buildings houses three businesses under one branded umbrella: The Wool Factory. Each business caters to customer palates in its own distinct way: the Selvedge Brewing brewpub, The Workshop coffee and wine shop, and Broadcloth restaurant. Residents of Charlottesville have a new local culinary hangout, and visitors can happily add The Wool Factory to their Charlottesville itinerary.
To get to this renovated delight, you wind your way through a historic Charlottesville working-class neighborhood. You arrive at a complex of industrial buildings, which was home to Charlottesville Woolen Mills, founded in 1868. Most of the surviving mill buildings standing today were built in 1920s to 1930s. The factory produced a variety of wool textiles, from fabrics for uniforms and work clothes to cashmeres.
The surrounding village and neighborhood grew along with the mill. Housing was added over the decades in a variety of architectural styles, dating back as far as 1847, including Gothic Revival, Colonial Revival, Craftsman Bungalow, and Cape Cods.
The mill closed in 1962. Today, the large redbrick buildings and black trim still exude an industrial vibe, but the generous windows lighten that vibe as surely they lighten the interior. The complex sits beside the Rivanna River Trail along Moore’s Creek, just up from where the creek meets the Rivanna River – no coincidence, given the value of water to early industry. The creek and woods across the waterway contribute an idyllic air to the setting.
The three businesses that make up The Wool Factory sit at the eastern end of the complex.
The complex simplicity
The welcome mat at The Wool Factory is a neat, spacious courtyard. The yard is bounded by the glass-and-brick textile mill building and two smaller complementary peninsulas. An elevated covered walkway to nowhere adds character and speaks to the buildings’ history. Ample seating invites visitors to come in and sit a spell.
Selvedge Brewing at The Wool Factory
Selvedge Brewing resides in the peninsula between the courtyard and Moore’s Creek. Following a brewpub model, the business serves a full menu as well as its own beer. The beers are created to pair with the food, and they represent a diversity of styles to please a diversity of palates.
In keeping with the historical setting, beer names use textile terms: Cashmere New England-style DIPA, Corduroy bock, Flannel No. 1 pastry stout, Chambray West Coast IPA, Demin lager, Seersucker gose, and more. The beer menu includes ingredients and tasting notes, so even beer newbies can feel confident in their choices. The small brewhouse brews just enough beer for the brewpub (or crowler fills to take home).
The menu is crafted by executive chef Tucker Yoder, who oversees the menu at Broadcloth as well. Yoder presents delicious elevated pub food – locally sourced ingredients crafted into bar-friendly food, with thoughtful vegetarian options. Think burgers made with local beef, smoked local mushroom tacos, hot dogs from Autumn Olive Farms, and wings, plus roasted eggplant, braised pork, salads, desserts, and more.
As a full-service restaurant, Selvedge serves wine and cocktails as well as beer, mocktails, craft sodas, and other non-alcoholic treats.
The high ceiling, open rafters, and plentiful windows complement the industrial vibe of the tasting room restaurant. While the windows illuminate the space by day, bright white ceilings accentuate the lighting after dusk. Window tables beside Moore’s Creek offer views the waterway, occasional wildlife, and the foot and bike traffic along the trail.
Across the courtyard from Selvedge sits a small boutique wine and coffee shop, dubbed The Workshop.
Coffee at The Workshop comes from local roaster Grit Coffee. Freshly baked breads and pastries come from Cou Cou Rachou, a Charlottesville bakery headed by The Wool Factory’s executive pastry chef, Rachel De Jong.
To differentiate itself and offer special somethings to its customers, The Workshop stocks a distinctive selection of wines. These include local winemakers’ passion projects – such as Blanc de Blancs, produced in Virginia by renowned winemaker, Claude Thibaut – and some international favorites. In consultation with Joy Ting, independent Virginia winemaker and enologist, The Workshop plans to produce its own small batch wines.
Whereas Selvedge is upscale pub food, Broadcloth is just plain upscale epicurean, in atmosphere and in food.
The notes of industrial chic blend with a retro-craftsman vibe in a small, intimate space. The restaurant also includes a bar and a chef’s table in the kitchen.
Executive chef Tucker Yoder has spent decades honing his craft as well as building relationships with local farmers and purveyors. The result is an ever-changing ingredient-driven menu making the most of fresh Virginia produce, meat, and poultry. Rachel De Jong works her magic on the dessert list.
As a sample, the prix fixe menu for University of Virginia graduation weekend included five appetizers: seared scallops with minted peas, lemon thyme, and lamb bacon; duck liver mousse tart in a Ritz cracker crust with bread-and-butter pickled ramps and miso beer mustard; plus a seasonal vegetable salad, chilled asparagus velouté, and caramelized maitake with gnocchi and kale. Entrées included ribeye, seared steelhead, poached halibut, roasted duck breast, and a vegetarian option featuring cabbage, quinoa, and smoked tofu.
Desserts for that weekend were pistachio dacquoise with strawberries and honeysuckle ice cream, chocolate pot de crème, and vanilla ice cream with butter roasted strawberries. (De Jong can even make vanilla ice cream into something distinctively elegant!)
The fine stitching
As of this writing, Selvedge Brewing and Broadcloth are both reservation-only.
The symbiotic relationship among the businesses at The Wool Factory is a plus for customers. Customers can grab a beer from Selvedge and coffee and/or a bottle of wine from The Workshop and enjoy them all in the courtyard. (Seating in the courtyard is first come, first serve, though reservations are required under the outdoor tent). Diners at Selvedge can even order a bottle of wine from The Workshop.
The Wool Factory also includes event spaces and can host up to 570 guests.
So whether it’s just you or you with a group, big or small, swing by the historic mills to enjoy a treat for your eyes as well as your mouth.
The Wool Factory
1837 Broadway St., Charlottesville, Virginia