Cheryl Strasser and Kaeley “KK” Brady are taking their farmers market concept to downtown Leesburg with the impending arrival of Cowbell Kitchen.
Strasser started Cowbell Kitchen five years ago as a food truck in front of the Lucketts Store following a career spent in the restaurant industry, crossing several states. Brady joined her as a business partner after graduating from George Mason University, curious about a food truck concept herself. Strasser offered to take her under her wing, and gave Brady the green light to proceed on something that particularly interested her: smoothie bowls.
“I bought her a Vitamix, and said ‘here do it,'” Strasser recalled.
The duo soon caught the farmers market bug, and now exhibit at seven farmers markets each week in Virginia, Washington, DC, and Maryland. They’ve long since sold their food truck to focus on the farmers markets and, with the opening of the Leesburg cafe, will now be able to move out of shared commercial kitchen space to their own full production facility where food for both the markets and the restaurant will be made. They’ve landed at 116 East Market St., the former site of Pittsburgh Rick’s.
The concept for Cowbell Kitchen’s owners has always been simple: fresh, healthy, locally-sourced, plant-based food, made simply but packed with love. Down to its smallest details, Cowbell Kitchen’s offerings are truly unique—the ketchup, granola and nut butter are homemade, among other things. Each week, Strasser and Brady set their menu based on the offerings of the 20 farms they source from, and the menu offered at the seven farmers markets they participate in will be similar to what will be found at their flagship cafe. Offerings include breakfast bacon, egg, and cheese sandwiches, their specialty grilled cheese sandwiches, Brady’s famous smoothie bowls, and Strasser’s delectable pastries. The two have even started to dip their toes into the wedding market, fulfilling requests for dessert tables and even wedding cakes.
Strasser and Brady have high hopes for the walk-in traffic from nearby government offices and the court system, not to mention local residents and visitors to downtown Leesburg. But a main goal of the facility remains to be the production site for all the wares they sell at their regular rotation of farmers markets, so they are not trying to turn into a high-volume establishment, Strasser stressed.
They are keeping overhead low, not planning to hire many employees, and staying true to their roots of hand-making all their own food. Visitors to the restaurant will likely see Strasser in the working kitchen, which they’ll encounter upon entering the space, and she may even share some anecdotes about how she came up with her recipes. Adding to the homey vibe, the restaurant is even being furnished by antiques plucked from Strasser’s own personal collection, and a few colorful touches. A small seating area is available inside the restaurant, but they expect many customers will grab food to go.
It’s the simple touches by two dedicated professionals that Strasser and Brady hope will make Cowbell Kitchen a staying power in Leesburg for years to come.
“That’s what we hope people embrace: two really true passionate people doing their thing and trying to make it,” Strasser said. “We’re kind of like the underdogs.”
Strasser and Brady are hoping to open Cowbell Kitchen’s doors within the next few weeks. For more information on the restaurant, visit cowbellkitchen.com, or check out Cowbell Kitchen on Facebook and Instagram.