By Debbie Adams
The Roasters Next Door coffee shop (better known as RND) will be opening later this month at Vinyard Station in Vinton.
This will be the second location in the valley for RND. Co-owners and brothers Quincy and Steffon Randolph are expanding from their first storefront shop on Main Street in Wasena which opened in April 2019.
The Vinton RND has found a prime location at the corner of Washington Avenue and Pollard Street, next to Joe Goodpies—highly visible to the almost 25,000 vehicles that pass by on average each day.
RND had its beginnings as a pop-up at the Grandin Village Farmers’ Market, and then in a shared space at the Meadery next door to the current Wasena shop. Since opening in the spring of 2019, and despite the pandemic, RND has become a welcome and integral part of that community.
The name “RND” defines their concept and brand—“roasters” for the coffee beans they source and roast in their own production facility; “next door” for being part of the neighborhood; and a play on words of “Research and Development” as something is always on their minds and in the works business-wise and menu-wise.
The Randolphs grew up in Richmond, where their parents (both school teachers) owned a coffee shop for a time. Working with them sparked Steffon’s interest in opening a shop of his own. He ended up in the Roanoke area when his wife was accepted to the Physical Therapy program with Radford University. He convinced Quincy to relocate and partner with him in the business.
Quincy says he began cooking in earnest when he was 15 (10 years ago) and has never looked back. He convinced his parents to allow him to take on extra course work to graduate from high school in three years at age 16 so that he could get on with his goal of enrolling in a Culinary Arts school. He attended Sullivan University in Louisville and earned a degree in Culinary Arts and then worked as a chef at fine-dining restaurants, including the Blackbird in Chicago.
He says he has never regretted the path he has chosen, “I like where I am and don’t regret not looking at other careers.” His level of enthusiasm has never waned.
The Randolphs chose Vinton for their second location because it has that same community feel they have found in Wasena. Both communities are undergoing a rebirth and rapid growth. Neither had a dedicated coffee shop. They could fill a void.
While they own the RND business, the Randolph brothers are leasing their space in Vinton from the Wilkinson Group, headed up by developer Dale Wilkinson, who has renovated the historic Vinton Motors building, also home to the Joe Goodpies and a future retail shop.
Vinyard Station, the home of the Vinton Motors car dealership for over 70 years, had sat vacant and in disrepair for several years before being redeveloped.
Plans are for the Vinton RND to be open seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Their team includes seven full-time and seven part-time employees, to be shared at both locations.
RND will seat about 40 customers. Once warm weather returns, they will add outdoor seating. The main entrance is on Washington Avenue. They will share parking with Joe Goodpies next door.
The menu will feature craft coffees made in-house from coffee beans that they source and roast. Quincy says he is always thinking about new recipes—he favors familiar flavors with a twist—which he tests in-house with his team before adding them to the menu.
He anticipates some items specific to Vinton. There will be seasonal beverages as well—he is currently considering some items that are sweet potato-based (in contrast to the autumn flood of pumpkin flavors), and eggnog for the holidays.
The beverage menu will also include loose-leaf teas and smoothies. Recipes he is mulling over include a veggie smoothie with kale, spinach, almond butter, apple juice, and a little ice and another fruit-based one.
Randolph says probably the most popular beverage at RND currently is the Madagascar bean vanilla latte so that will be a staple. He plans on adding a “Drink of the Month” once they settle in.
There will also be light-fare food—mainly pastries, snacks, and a few varieties of sandwiches to enjoy while reading, talking with friends, or studying. Becoming a full-service restaurant is not part of their plan, but their food offerings will be more extensive in Vinton than in Wasena simply due to having more space. (The Vinton RND is about twice the size of the one in Wasena.)
There have been some minor delays in opening due to the supply chain issues many are experiencing, delays in the arrival of equipment and furniture. Quincy believes they remain on track for a late November opening.
Vinton Town Manager Pete Peters issued a personal invitation for RND to set up a second location in Vinton, having become a frequent visitor to the original Wasena location and a Madagascar vanilla latte devotee.
Peters believes a café space like RND is a good fit for Vinton in its continuing revitalization of the downtown area. He likes the idea of the independent restaurants that have developed regionally, rather than chains. Independently owned restaurants tend to become more of a draw for out-of-town customers.
“Having gotten a number of sneak peeks at the space, it’s going to be a warm, relaxed and spacious interior with a great look and feel,” said Peters. “In addition to being a great hang-out spot to socialize over a great cup of Joe with friends, I see it becoming a remote office for many town residents and business owners, including myself. I anticipate there will be a lot of business conducted there and it will be great to have yet another option for community gatherings.”
Quincy says to accommodate those who want some quiet workspace with atmosphere, the café will have “good wi-fi.”
While exterior signage is up–building anticipation for and curiosity about the upcoming opening–the interior is awaiting more equipment and has just received a shipment of furniture from Txtur of Roanoke—unique and upcycled.
A beautiful wooden slab coffee table made by their head coffee roaster will likely become a conversation piece.
“As with our original spot in Wasena, friends and staff have contributed their creative talents to build sandwich boards, bench tops, coffee tables, and more,” said Quincy. “We have always thoroughly appreciated the willingness of the community to be involved in our growth and success.”
The RND space is sleek, designed by architect Hunter Greene of Hill Studio, but not cold or utilitarian—partly because of the historic nature of the building with its preserved bowstring trusses ceiling, visible from the street.
Developer Dale Wilkinson notes that Randolph has a great work ethic as evidenced by his comment that the RND “roaster works 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and it needs to be kept busy. Quincy is a hard-working young entrepreneur who loves Vinton and the people who live there. He doesn’t care about being the biggest; he cares about being the best.”
Quincy is also co-owner with Nate Sloan (of Wasena’s award-winning Bloom restaurant) of Crème Fresh next door to the Wasena RND which sells non-dairy ice cream—made from oatmeal and coconut milk. Fun fact: Quincy has appeared on the Food Network on Guy’s Grocery Games with Guy Fieri.
Customers will be able to keep up with the RND menu via social media—Facebook and Instagram—inviting them to come to Vinton and “check out the new space.”
“We are very thankful for the opportunity to open our doors in Vinton and share our style of hospitality with every guest who comes in,” Quincy said. “Our café will have a unique feel as a warm place to spend time in a casual, relaxed atmosphere.”
Their website describes RND as “founded by family, bolstered by community,” a “hypothetical which became reality.”
More information on RND, including updates on the opening, the menus, and the hours, is available on the website at https://www.roanokecoffee.com/ (you can order their bagged coffee online) and on their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/RoanokeCoffee/.