Haymarket Picks: 10 Great Family-Owned Restaurants & Businesses

Haymarket Picks: 10 Haymarket & Gainesville, VA family-owned and locally-owned restaurants & businesses …

Updated: 9/25/17 – I am thrilled with the recent retail development and the expanding variety of eateries, shopping and activities new to the area. However, there are a few local family-owned favorites – some that have been around for many years, others are newer – that I would like to recognize. These ten establishments, mostly family-owned, are small businesses that help our community thrive. Whether you’re new to the area or have been here for years and just haven’t stumbled upon them, give them a try. As with my previous “best of” lists, these are just a FEW favorites of many fantastic local spots.

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Hidden Jewels

Hidden Jewels Cafe is located right in Downtown Haymarket on the the corner of Washington and Jefferson and at any given time you are likely to find an agent from EXIT Heritage Realty enjoying a coffee, smoothie, baked good or sandwich here. The atmosphere is relaxed, the staff is friendly and accommodating and the food is delicious! Hidden Jewels is proud to feature local, organic and natural breakfast, lunch, and catering options. They source their produce, meat, dairy, and other ingredients almost exclusively from area growers. All of the bread is baked daily, on site, using the best organic ingredients.

With locations in both Haymarket and Warrenton, they are able to connect with growers almost year round to provide high-quality, local goods for their customers.  For special diets they offer plenty of gluten-free and Paleo options too.

Cookies and Cream

Located behind the baseball field on the QBE site (former Pace West School) on Washington Street and Bleight Drive, this sweet little shop has become a favorite dessert destination for locals. You can spot it in the evening by the trendy string lights draped over the outdoor seating area that’s filled with families enjoying their tasty treats on the covered picnic tables.

The Cookies & Cream shop, owned by an area family, is housed in a 1927 Sears kit-home that was actually moved from the Haymarket Community Park site to this location and preserved for it’s current business use. There are framed photos and floor plans of the original home on display inside.
Cookies and Cream offers premium hard-serve ice cream from Gifford’s and a variety of cookies that are baked on location. They also serve speciality drinks and Italian sodas, all made to order. The playground nearby makes a trip to the ice cream shop all the more fun. You will find friendly service and a whole lot of satisfied customers when you visit Cookies and Cream.


This Lebanese-American restaurant, formerly affiliated with Nora’s A Taste of Lebanon, is the best kept secret in Gainesville! It’s set back from Route 55 on the Haymarket line in the Piedmont Center Plaza. The family at Byblos strives to provide guests with an all-natural, healthy, and authentic dining experience using only the highest quality ingredients. Every dish they serve tastes like a home-cooked meal prepared just for you, with tender meats, fresh vegetables and delicious sauces and flavors.

Sonia, the daughter of Walid (former owner of Nora’s A Taste of Lebanon), has been involved in the restaurant business for over 15 years. At a young age, she started with helping her Father with his restaurants where she developed a passion for the restaurant business and pursued her education in the industry. Over the years she has worked in the restaurant business outside of family owned/operated restaurants. After Nora’s closed, Sonia took the initiative to open a similar restaurant naming it “Byblos” after the first city in Lebanon.

AKT Nourish

AKT Nourish (aka Annie’s Kitchen Table) is a family-owned little market and eatery located on Washington Street in the center of town. Dine indoors or outside for breakfast or lunch in this charming space complete with white tablecloths. Or, enlist a personal chef and order your meals ahead online. The “farm to fork” menu, made from fresh, local ingredients changes daily and is posted on the website. The desserts are absolutely delicious! Owner Anne Thomas takes pride in what she’s doing and it shows. Open 8:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

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Balans Studio

Balans, a locally-owned fitness studio also located in the Harris Teeter plaza in Gainesville, is more than fitness—it’s about wellness, nutrition, style and community. When you enter, a soothing aroma, the sound of trickling water and the sleek, “green” inspired atmosphere feels more like a spa than a typical exercise studio. A unique blend of classes for all levels includes Yoga, Barre, TRX® and Mat Pilates. Personal training, nutritional guidance and workshops are also available. A simple online class reservation process allows flexibility for hectic lifestyles as you can sign up for whatever class suits your mood or schedule that week.

Details: A Unique Gift Boutique

Founded in 2002, locally-owned Details was originally focused on products for the home but in recent years it transitioned into a chic gift boutique. Located just a block from Washington Street in Haymarket, this quaint shop occupies two floors of an old farmhouse. It features iconic brands and trending favorites like Alex and Ani®, Pandora®, Kendra Scott, Brighton® and Vera Bradley®, as well as a variety of hand-picked clothing items and a mix of unique accessories. Here you will always be greeted by a friendly sales associate eager to help you find the perfect gift—even if it’s for yourself!

Blue Ridge Seafood & Crab

Family-owned and operated for 37 years, Blue Ridge Seafood is the area’s only authentic “seafood shack” complete with the atmosphere—picnic tables, paper table coverings, dated furnishings, pitchers of beer, and peel-and-eat shellfish of all varieties. It can get crowded, especially on a Saturday night, but the seafood is scrumptious and the prices are reasonable. Favorite menu items include the Garlic Crabs, Hard Shell Blue Crab, Spiced Shrimp Basket and the Hush Puppies are not to be missed! Located on Route 29 just past Wegmans.

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Pickle Bob’s Soft Serve Ice Cream

Pickle Bob’s has been a Haymarket landmark since 2003. Although it recently changed hands in ownership, it’s still the number one spot to head to after the soccer game! Located on the corner of Route 15 behind the Sheetz, you can’t miss it’s unique storefront and the pickle mascot. At Pickle Bob’s there are countless ways to enjoy your creamy, soft serve ice cream—mixed with fruit, nuts, candy or cookies—in sundaes, shakes, cones, tornados or floats. Order a Pup Cup for your furry friend! For years it was cash only here, but Pickle Bob’s is now accepting credit cards.

Gainesville Ballet

Since Gainesville Ballet opened it doors in 2005, this local dance studio has transitioned into an award-winning, premier performing arts organization. Annual performances like The Nutcracker and Le Corsaire are held at the Hylton Performing Arts Center and combine guest professional dancers from all over the world with the talent of area students of all levels. Managed by a husband and wife team in new, state-of-the art studios on Old Linton Hall Road, Gainesville Ballet offers outstanding instruction led by an international faculty. Dance classes, as well as voice and piano lessons, are offered to students of all ages. (Photography: B. Payden Photography)

EXIT Heritage Realty

EXIT Heritage Realty was voted BEST REAL ESTATE AGENCY in Haymarket 2017 by Haymarket Lifestyle Magazine.

Mother and son, Cheryl Garcia (Now Associate Broker with over 30 years of experience) and Bryan Garcia, Principal Broker opened Heritage Real Estate in September 2003. In August 2006 they joined EXIT Realty as franchise owners forming EXIT Heritage Realty. Even though they are part of one of the fastest growing real estate companies in North America, they are deeply rooted in the community and take pride in their personalized service to clients—past and present. Bryan grew up in this area and knows Haymarket well. The office is the white farmhouse right in the center of town on Washington Street across from the museum, you can’t miss it. On Haymarket Day in September, you’ll find EXIT’s friendly agents handing out hundreds of water bottles and free balloons.

Want to take a tour of Haymarket area homes? Call Bryan Garcia he lives in Haymarket and knows the area well.

Call or text Bryan at 703-517-2574 or email BryanGarcia@exitheritage.com