Greenhouse Coffee is a small coffee shop in downtown Crozet next to the Western Albemarle Rescue Squad. They have everything from warm cookies to a delicious cup of coffee to pick you up in the morning. Greenhouse was opened in 2009 by Camille Phillips, a former nurse for the Airforce. Camille and her husband accidentally stumbled upon Crozet.
“In 2001, my husband and I were both trying to decide - since we were both in the military and getting out- we were trying to decide where to live. We researched the best small towns in America. Best college towns. Best art towns. But we knew we didn’t want to live in Charlottesville, we wanted to live somewhere outside of it. We drove through Crozet and, kind of by accident, came over the hill by the graveyard and avenue. It was like, Oh this is it. This is where we want to live.”
Camille always knew that downtown Crozet was going to grow. She bought the property where Greenhouse lives now and renovated it. With the total team of 22 local employees, they plan to expand their kitchen space, as they “try to do it all in 100 square feet.” Ms. Phillips recognized that most of the workers in Greenhouse are under 18. The money they earn usually goes back to the community as they mostly spend it in Crozet.
Camille envisioned Greenhouse as a place for the Crozet community to gather together. She and fellow Airforce nurses would go down for tea when she was based in Europe. She described a cute little house with a garden setting for people to relax and chat. When Ms. Phillips came to Crozet, she wanted to incorporate those wonderful elements for the community.
“I wanted to be a place to meet with their friends and not have to worry about the place and space for them to feel comfortable...Moms groups come, older people come later in the day, and people bring their family and friends here...It’s a space for people to be here by themselves among other people, so it’s a way to create a community.”
Other than hiring locally for the benefit of the community, Greenhouse offers free coffee for the rescue squad as well as discounted prices when they buy food. There is also a civic discount for all civil services such as teachers, fireman, and policeman. Greenhouse also tries to only buy locally for ingredients and support other businesses by making them food. They’ve made powerballs for Shenandoah Joe and provided cookies for florists. Camille also mentioned how they donate whatever they can for any local organizations looking for donations. From a platter of cookies to a pound of coffee, Greenhouse always looks for a way to give back to the community.
Growing in Downtown Crozet
“It’s really neat to see the idea I had put into play actually work. I feel like it was the right time, the right place, but an incredible amount of work goes into it.”
When Greenhouse first opened, Mudhouse and Trailside Coffee opened at the same time, and because of the support of the people, the three coffee shops flourished. Camille also expressed the hardships of being a small business owner. She joked about how she is always planning, recovering, doing, scheduling, and more. She had to be the “constant” of the business- always doing something to keep the business as successful as it is now. She laughs as she said, “My husband says, “If it were easy, everybody would do it.”
Message to the Community
“To thank Crozet for believing in us, giving us a chance, becoming our friends, and our very valuable patrons, They kept us going; They are the only reason why we are here and it’s because people come and they like it. What we have given, they have gotten back a lot more. Just appreciating that people have been faithful.”
If you’d like to visit or know more about Greenhouse, visit their website at http://www.greenhousecrozet.com/.
Written by Diana Kim