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Gourmet coffee shop, new burger joint and more business news in Williamsburg area


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The gourmet coffee shop Eleva, first founded in 2018 by Emilio Baltodano, recently opened a location in downtown Williamsburg, with another storefront set to open later this year in New Town.

The first Williamsburg coffee shop, located at 111 S. Boundary St. in Merchants Square, is currently holding a soft opening with a grand opening slated for mid-May. The business is operated by Amr and Sue Hassan.

“My husband and I love to travel and our favorite thing to do while traveling is to have a coffee after dinner, relax and talk about our experiences, about life,” Sue Hassan said. “We were introduced to Eleva about a year and a half ago and fell in love with the brand and the company’s mission.”

The Merchants Square location features a craft espresso bar, specialty drinks made with coffee, matcha, chai and teas as well as “unique food offerings including tapas and fresh baked pastries,” Hassan said.

“Our lounge is a haven of relaxation, and a place where you can savor both your coffee and the moment,” she said. “Eleva means to uplift in Spanish, which captures the mission of Eleva: taking the experience of drinking coffee to new heights, and raising the quality of life for coffee growing communities.”

The Hassans plan to offer evening hours as well to cater to William & Mary students who want to enjoy coffee and food, socialize and have fun. There will be entertainment, including trivia nights and karaoke nights and other events.

The first Eleva opened in Brooklyn, New York, in 2020. A second location opened a year later in Charlottesville near the University of Virginia but has since closed to focus exclusively on the new coffee lounges in Williamsburg, Hassan said.

“Eleva is the product of five generations of coffee heritage,” she said. “The Eleva team has a deep knowledge and appreciation for where coffee is produced, and a passionate attention to detail for each step in the process of blending, roasting and crafting our drinks.”

Baltodano will operate the other Eleva storefront in New Town. That shop will be located at 4808 Courthouse St. and is expected to open this summer.

For more information on Eleva, visit


Aunt Carol’s Sauce now available at Williamsburg-area Food Lions

Hampton native Tahjere Lewis, a young entrepreneur who first started selling his product Aunt Carol’s Sauce out of his dorm room at Virginia Tech a few years ago, is basking in the success of his business. His sauce is now available at more than 70 Food Lion locations across the region, including four stores in Greater Williamsburg.

Markus Taft

Aunt Carol’s Sauce at Food Lion. (Markus Taft)

Growing up, Lewis loved his aunt’s sauce, a common condiment for seafood dishes at family gatherings. The two talked about selling the sauce. When his aunt passed away in 2018, Lewis decided to fulfill a promise to his aunt to introduce the sauce to a wider audience. He worked on replicating the recipe while he was a student and began selling the sauce out of his dorm and eventually the dining hall, as well as at local food festivals.

Today, Aunt Carol’s Sauce has two distribution facilities, one in Hampton Roads and one in North Carolina. The sauce, which comes in two flavors, mild and spicy, is an accompaniment to seafood, meats and vegetables. It is sold at smaller businesses and restaurants throughout the area, as well as in Florida and New York. Last year, Lewis and his mother approached their local Food Lion about the possibility of carrying the product in the store. The manager passed the idea onto the grocer’s corporate office, who loved it. Aunt Carol’s sauce officially hit store shelves earlier this spring.

“This is an amazing opportunity,” Lewis said. “It still feels so surreal. I am so grateful to Food Lion.”

In Williamsburg, Aunt Carol’s Sauce can be found at the Food Lion locations at 1234 Richmond Road, 5251 John Tyler Highway, 5601 Richmond Road and 701-A Merrimac Trail.

“I hope to continue to increase awareness of my sauce and the importance of embracing legacy,” Lewis said. “I hope my sauce brings family together. It’s about enjoying food with the people you love and finding the time to make that connection with your family.”

For more information on Aunt Carol’s Sauce, visit


Cook’s Burger Bar opens in Midtown Row

Cook’s Burger Bar opened last weekend in the former Matchsticks BBQ space in Midtown Row. It’s operated by Against the Grain Restaurants, which owns Precarious Beer Project, Amber Ox Public House and The Bake Shop in downtown.

The retro-inspired restaurant has a diner-style menu featuring burgers and fries as well as snacks and small plates such as tinned fish, pickled eggs and chicken liver pâté. The extensive bar menu includes ready-to-drink canned beverages (beer, wines and cocktails), draft options by Precarious Beer and four rotating draft cocktails.

Cook's Burger Bar opened on Saturday in Williamsburg. (Courtesy of Cook's Burger Bar)
Cook’s Burger Bar opened on Saturday in Williamsburg. (Courtesy of Cook’s Burger Bar)

The 85-seat burger bar at 1246 Richmond Road is “an homage to classic mid-century Midwestern restaurants and hospitality with a whimsical menu and aesthetic guaranteed to transport you back to Grandma’s house,” Andrew Voss, co-founder of ATG, said in a news release.

Visit for more information.


Dots and Dashes

  • South of the Border Mexican Restaurant is set to reopen at the end of this month. The restaurant, which is located at 322 Second St. in the Edge District, has been temporarily closed for a remodel following damage from a fire last November. The reopening coincides with the restaurant’s 20th anniversary.
  • S.L. Nusbaum Realty recently announced two new retail leases: Couture Med Spa has leased 3,750 square feet of retail space in the Monticello Marketplace shopping center, while Technology Zone has leased 1,200 square feet of retail space in the James-York Plaza shopping center in the Edge District.
  • The third annual Next Level Talent, Next Level City spring regional job fair is scheduled for May 1 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Hampton Roads Convention Center. Numerous regional organizations are collaborating on the event, including Williamsburg’s Economic Development office. Job opportunities will focus on maritime, offshore wind and defense jobs, in addition to other trades. Attendance is free. To register, visit
  • Williamsburg-James City County Schools will host a job fair from 3-6 p.m. on May 2 at the School Board & Central Office at 117 Ironbound Road. On-site interviews will be conducted, and conditional job offers could be made to qualified candidates. Career switchers interested in teaching positions should bring college transcripts for review. Openings can be viewed on the school division’s website at

Staff writer Rekaya Gibson contributed to this story.

Brandy Centolanza,

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