Monday, September 22, 2014

White Hart reopening

Abe Loper was a regular customer at the White Hart until it closed in March 2013. After prayer and consideration, he decided to purchase the business located on Main Street in downtown Lynchburg and will reopen it Sept. 13.

Loper, who owns his own laser tag business, missed the White Hart. He said that despite the “closed” signs posted on the windows, people still wandered in trying to buy a coffee during the renovations.

 reopening — Loper missed the White Hart and decided to purchase the closed business. Photo credit: Tobi Walsh

Reopening — Loper missed the White Hart and decided to purchase the closed business. Photo credit: Tobi Walsh

“It was a long shot,” Loper said. “I started praying that if it was supposed to work out, then it would. Being an owner of a coffee shop and (being) a regular are two different things.”

Loper said that, after a little bit of research, purchasing the business was going to cost a lot less money than he had planned. With the help of loans from some of his friends, Loper said that he was able to buy it.

“I had no plan going into it, and then it started coming together,” Loper said.

According to Loper, once he saw the interior of the building, he realized that there was still a lot more work that needed to be done. That is when he decided to turn to the community for help.

“We knew that it was going to take at least $15,000 of renovations,” Loper said. “I had put most of my money into buying the place. I didn’t even think about what it was going to take to clean it up.”

Thanks to the help of Indiegogo.com, a crowd funding website, Loper said that he was able to raise $11,101 in 30 days. Even though they fell short of the goal, Loper said he was still amazed by how fast they raised the money.

“We started the campaign at the end of July, and by the end of August, we had the money,” Loper said. “I’m amazed by all the people in the community who wanted
to help.”

Loper said that more than 100 different volunteers showed up to help paint and clean up after a call for help went up on Facebook.
Liberty University student Julio Ortiz, 26, was one of those people.

“Back in July, I moved across the street from the White Hart because I loved it,” Ortiz said. “I thought it was going to be open. I had no idea it closed, and I was upset that it wasn’t there anymore. When I heard that it was re-opening, I went down to help paint and move furniture.”

Ortiz said that he is excited to see the changes that Loper has made to the place.

“It’s still going to be the same White Hart,” Ortiz said. “It will just (be) with better hours, a full menu and more local bands. I think Abe really has the community in mind and really listened to what the people around Lynchburg wanted.”

Junior Ian Pringle frequented the White Hart when it was open.

“I was going there at least once a week,” Pringle said. “It was a lot quieter than the Muse, so I got homework done without any distractions. It was also a great place to go to just hang out with friends.”

Sophomore Libby Faddis never got the chance to go to the White Hart while it was open.

“Everyone always said how they loved the atmosphere and how different it was from other cafes in Lynchburg,” Faddis said. “It made me want to go check it out, but then I found out it closed.”

Now that it is reopening, Faddis said she cannot wait to check it out.

“It is so much different than places like Starbucks or Dunkin’,” Faddis said.

Loper said the changes make it more inviting.

“I didn’t want it to lose that rustic feel, but I wanted it to be a place where grandma and that typical hipster kid can come together without either of them feeling out of place,” Loper said. “I want it to be a community watering hole.”

Besides some new paint, the White Hart will now feature a full menu including breakfast, lunch and dinner, Loper said.

“We’ll have a late-night menu for the college students and then things like shepherd’s pie and burgers,” Loper said. “We also want to get food from local venders as much as we can.”

Loper promised that crowd favorites will be back.

“And don’t worry: We’re still taking Flames Cash,” Loper said.

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