A neighborhood café with its own bakery, where you can savor breakfast or lunch with friends, or grab a freshly baked French pastry or baguette to go—this was Jason Becton and Patrick Evans’ vision when they opened MarieBette Café & Bakery in late 2014. MarieBette immediately gained an enthusiastic following, which Jason attributes to Charlottesville’s appreciation for the entrepreneurial spirit. “People like to support new businesses,” he says. “We got a lot of good attention in the beginning and a lot of good press. It just kept going, and it really helped to carry us through.”
As they were getting their business off the ground, Patrick and Jason worked to bring another aspect of their vision to life: cultivating relationships with local producers, whose products would feature on MarieBette’s menus. “People want a story about where their food’s coming from,” Jason says, noting that such stories are easily lost in the distribution chain. “I think people are a lot more aware of that in general—where their money’s going and how it’s coming back into their community.”
Now, through partnerships with local producers, including Free Union Grass Farm, Jason and Patrick are witnessing how their own small business can directly support others. Free Union Grass Farm’s owners, Erica Hellen and Joel Slezak, deliver eggs each week to MarieBette themselves, often grabbing a treat on the spot. “Erica always goes upstairs and buys a pastry,” Patrick says with a grin.
“It’s nice that you can support the people who are making the food directly,” Jason says. “This isn’t unattainable. As a small business, you can have a relationship with a farm and know where your food is coming from.”
In Our Local Commons, Vol. III, MarieBette Café & Bakery sponsored a story about Free Union Grass Farm. Order the book today or join us for a holiday party at Roxie Daisy on Saturday, December 17, when we’ll be selling and signing copies—and offering treats from MarieBette!