Come, Sit, Eat, Buy Local, Local, Local at Nuttall’s Store
Oysters fresh from the Chesapeake Bay and the Middle Peninsula. Pork raised in the Shenandoah Valley. Coffee roasted in Yorktown.
Welcome to Nuttall’s Store in Gloucester, where beef tastes like beef, chicken like chicken, crab like crab and so on. The butcher behind the counter has something to do with that, but it’s not just because he happens to be a classically trained chef.
“Buy the best ingredients you can. If you buy mediocre products, the best you can do is mediocre,” says Win Goodier while stocking 10 quarts of clam chowder he just finished making that will be sold out in a few hours.
The Johnson & Wales graduate cooks everything in the store — a selection of soups and dinners to go. Even the meatloaf looks yummy.
He buys local if at all possible, from seafood to beef to the coffee you’re welcome to make a cup of. The coffee is called Mobjack Java and made in one of the original seven buildings still standing from before the Revolutionary War in Yorktown Village.
But unless you happen to be motoring down two-laned Ware Neck Road, you’re not likely to stumble on Nuttall’s. Yet the place is no secret thanks to the devotion of locals and a growing social media presence that beckons folks from Richmond, Virginia Beach and all the in-betweens.
If it’s your first visit, all the mailboxes out front might confuse you into thinking Nuttall’s is a post office, which it actually is. Along with a library.
Consider it the epicenter of the Ware Neck community.
You’re barely in the door when a checkers game encourages you to stay awhile. Bottle caps are the pieces; have a seat and make your move.
Order a sandwich — where else can you get a Bologna Burger on a brioche bun?
Don’t leave without crab cakes if they’re in season. Made with just enough breadcrumbs to hold them together, you won’t find filler. Top your Seven Hills Angus Beef burger with Hickory smoked bacon from Edwards Virginia Smokehouse in Surry. If there’s sour cream poundcake left, snag a loaf. Goodier could probably make nothing else and still run out.
“We can’t keep it in stock,” says the former executive chef from the Hermitage Country Club and Richmond’s Tobacco Company, among others. The culinary director and chef at Nuttall’s was also once a waterman. When his parents bought a fixer-upper on the Eastern Shore, he was drawn to the salty lifestyle where payment was cash only.
“You’re your own boss. It’s peaceful. Seeing the sun come up every day is beautiful,” he says, recalling a lifetime ago on the Chesapeake Bay.
He only did it a year or so as an 18-year-old. Despite $100 bills bunched in both pockets, Goodier shifted directions when his father brought up grown-up ideas like insurance. Goodier knew his way around a professional kitchen from part-time jobs, where he scrubbed pots and pans along with chopping parsley and peeling shallots — anything the chefs asked, he did.
“I liked using the fancy knives,” he says.
Goodier was sold on Johnson & Wales the first time he set foot on the Rhode Island campus. On a return visit home over break, he smiles remembering his mother asking him to make lasagna with their typical arrangement — “you cook, I’ll clean up.”
“That’s when that deal ended,” he says. “She said I used stuff she didn’t even know she had.”
Goodier is a history buff — his first executive chef job was at the storied Chamberlin Hotel in Hampton. His first job out of college was in Colonial Williamsburg. He imagined himself returning to the area one day. He was asked to join the Board of Directors at Nuttall’s some years ago, but the insufficient kitchen space limited him from considering a position there.
When Nuttall’s leveled a garage to expand, Goodier said to himself, “you know what? This could work.”
He started in June 2019.
Goodier immediately set up a supply chain that doesn’t involve contracts or shipping. Seven Hills Meat from Lynchburg provides Angus beef reminiscent of the steers the Goodier family raised. Crab comes from nearby picking houses on the Middle Peninsula. B.N. Garnett Seafood, a father-son business in town is his oyster go-to.
“Mom shucks and Mom delivers,” he says. “The watermen have a hard enough time as it is. I want to support them as much as possible.”
Autumn Olive Farm in Waynesboro delivers its pork to Charlottesville on Wednesdays; a buddy of Goodier’s happens to be there that day for business reasons.
“He comes back on Wednesday with it on ice,” Goodier says.
The bottom line: it’s got to be local if at all possible — a principle that helped Nuttall’s thrive during the early months of the pandemic. When other stores couldn’t get meat, Nuttall’s sold plenty. Goodier stopped posting about it on social media when the out-of-towners became frequent customers.
“We saw a 50% increase in sales last year,” Goodier said. “We probably doubled our product line.”
The new clientele discovered what Middle Peninsula folks have known all along: Nuttall’s is pretty special.
It’s hard to know where to begin when you push the latch down to open the front door and seal it back up again before choosing an aisle.
Cans of Whitley’s Peanuts are a staple. Ware Neck Store jams, butters, chutneys and pickles tempt along with selections from The Williamsburg Winery.
Penny candy is actually a penny.
A 50% off collection in the rear of the store includes everything from platters to purses. There’s something charming about the standing sign advertising the Village Blacksmith on Gloucester Street that you spot on your way back to browse.
Plenty of regular staples are inside, too, along with fishing supplies, craft beers and souvenirs of all sorts.
Nuttall’s dates back to 1877. It’s listed on the Virginia Landmarks Register and the National Register of Historic Places. You can leaf through binders of artifacts that include old photos and even receipts.
A weathered historical marker by the parking lots celebrates Rudy Nuttall, the Ware Neck native who operated the store for 55 years. When he retired at the age of 88, a group of locals formed Friends of Ware Neck, a nonprofit that purchased the historic building. They’re determined to not only to preserve this place but grow it. A community room is in the works once funds are raised.
Pre-pandemic, Nuttall’s offered a wine dinner for 18 in house. The usual fare is what Goodier refers to as “not fancy, but good.”
How good? By the time you drive away, you’re already planning your next trip back.
Nuttall’s Store is located at 6495 Ware Neck Road in Gloucester. Hours are 9 a.m.-5 p.m. on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays. The store is open until 6 p.m. on Thursdays and Fridays; closed Sundays.