Anyone visiting the new Crawford Village development in Danbury can immediately see that its creation has been a labor of love for owner Jimmy Kiser.
The new building provides a new home for Kiser’s Stokes Pharmacy and the new River Rock Cafe run by Lee Charleville.
Kiser, who runs the Stokes Pharmacy with Greg Southern, said the new facility had been a dream for years.
“We had outgrown our old location and there were some security issues,” said Kiser. “I had been looking for land for years.”
His dream came true when his cousin purchased about 50 acres across the street from the county government center.
“I asked if I could buy three acres and Greg and I started building this,” said Kiser. “I am a general contractor so I actually built it myself. I have been in this business since 1978 and my wife is also a pharmacist. We had always wanted to build a pharmacy from scratch. I drew it out on a little program on my computer but the county required an architect’s stamp. So once I got that I was ready to start. We took it from the forest to this building.”
The new building features pre-cast concrete walls covered in a special brick Kiser picked out specifically for the facility.
But as impressive as the outside is, long-time customers will be even more amazed when walking through the doors of the pharmacy to find a high-end store complete with leather benches, marble accents and a fireplace and fish tank.
“When we were in the trailer you could have 10 people getting a prescription filled at the same time and so everybody was having conversations with each other,” said Kiser. “I was afraid that being in a bigger area people would feel lost. So I wanted to do what we could to keep the people’s interest so I put a fireplace in and an aquarium with natural fish.”
The store also features basic over-the-counter medicine, a full line of homeopathic medicines, a room for vaccinations and a line of cards which sell for $1.39 a piece.
“The customers have been amazed,” said Kiser. “But, I don’t want them to think we are changing. We are still the same old country pharmacists that we have always been. We built this for our customers and for Danbury. We want the people in Danbury to be proud of this building and this project.”
He said customers can be helped by any of the five pharmacists who work there.
“When customers come in, we find out what their symptoms are and try to help narrow it down for them,” said Kiser, noting that he plans to have a customer appreciation day later in the spring.
After opening on March 14, Kiser said the new facility has really only had one problem.
“Business has been really good, we have had a lot of people transferring and it has been really exciting,” he said. “But this parking lot has been full every afternoon at lunch and people have had to park all the way down to the road. It is a good problem to have.”
The new River Rock Cafe, located in the same building as Stokes Pharmacy, has had a lot to do with causing the parking problems.
The new restaurant, run by Danbury resident and co-owner of the Downtown Deli and Cafe in Winston-Salem Lee Charleville, offers breakfast, lunch and, on Thursday through Saturday, dinner.
“We are trying to fill a niche,” said Charleville. “I did not want to come in and do the usual fare. We are doing gourmet grilled panini sandwiches and non-greasy sides. We have fruit salad, potato salad, pasta salad and chips.”
The menu also features a variety of unique pasta dishes, pizzas baked in a traditional brick oven and some really interesting flat-bread dishes.
“They are like a rustic pizza,” explained Charleville. “We bake it on the stone in the oven and then top it with field greens and drizzle it with a dressing.”
Breakfasts are also unique to the area.
“I am doing really good sausage gravy and biscuits” said Charleville. “I am baking really big biscuits and serving them with honey, or apple butter, or strawberry preserves. I am also doing loaded grits with cheddar and bacon and homemade oatmeal. I have fresh baked cinnamon buns that are huge. You walk in in the morning and you smell coffee and cinnamon buns.”
He said the restaurant was also the fulfillment of a long time dream.
“I have had the restaurant in downtown Winston since 1989 and have lived in Danbury since 1991,” he said. “My wife, Jane Priddy-Charleville, and I have toyed with the idea of opening a restaurant in Danbury for years, but we never thought it was feasible.”
That changed after Kiser started trying to recruit Charleville to provide food next to the pharmacy.
“I had worked at King Drug where they have a lunch counter and knew what that was like, so we knew we wanted to have a drug store with an eating place nearby,” said Kiser. “I had thought about a Subway and then I met Lee.”
“I said ‘no’ at least six times, but he was very persuasive” said Charleville. “He is just a can-do kind of guy and does not take ‘no’ at all. He was very accommodating on what I wanted to do.”
Charleville said the appearance of the restaurant is a joint effort between his dream, Kiser’s building expertise and the decor advice of their wives.
“It is all of us,” he said. “We put our heart into this. We are proud of what we have done.”
The finished product is an inviting dining area with indoor and outdoor seating and open kitchen. the walls feature photographs of local scenery taken by Jane Priddy-Charleville and the restaurant’s motto – Hike. Paddle. Eat.
Dishes on the menu are named for local attractions and high school teams.
“We always wanted to key in on not only the locals, but also the tourists,” said Charleville. “It has been really well received so far. I want to thank the community for all of their support. They have been great. Now my job is to keep them. I want to get their return business by giving them the best food I can.”
Nicholas Elmes may be reached at 336-591-8191 or on Twitter @NicholasElmes.