A popular locally owned bakery and cafe has found a new home on King Street in downtown Leesburg.

Cowbell Kitchen, co-owned by Cheryl Strasser and Bre Grant, re-located in November to a more modern, accessible space at 26 North King Street.

Strasser, a pastry chef, started Cowbell Kitchen in 2013 as a food trailer based at the Old Lucketts Store. The concept evolved and grew in popularity and in 2017, Strasser and business partner Kaeley “KK” Brady moved to a brick-and-mortar space on East Market Street in Leesburg.

In 2018, Brady suddenly and tragically passed away after an illness. After her sister’s death, Bre Grant moved to the area from California. Grant decided to team up with Strasser and continue Brady’s legacy of supporting local farms and businesses and giving back to the community.

About a year and a half ago, their landlord, Jeff Mitchell, suggested moving to the former Joe Kelly Insurance building. They agreed the King Street location would better suit their needs and decided to go ahead and make the move.

Over the past year, Mitchell transformed the former office building and built out a spacious and modern kitchen for the cafe with new gas stoves, which they did not have before, and more user-friendly space for baking.

“We couldn’t have done this without him,” Strasser said of Mitchell.

They now have a garden patio area with tables and heated lamps and the interior is designed to feel like an English bakery with pink floral wallpaper and an eclectic style.

Before the pandemic, Cowbell’s business plan included serving farmer’s markets in the Washington, D.C. area. When COVID hit, they decided to scale back and focus on building the business in Leesburg.

“We had to pivot. We started doing more takeout and wholesale business,” Strasser explained. “This has kept us in business.”

They teamed up with The Market at Bluewater Kitchen, based in Upperville, which sells Cowbell Kitchen’s pastries and other products. In addition, they have two other regular wholesale clients, The Corner Store in Waterford and Winchester’s Hopscotch Records.“We have hired a sales person to grow our wholesale business. With our larger kitchen, we are able to produce more,” Strasser said.

Another silver lining — while some restaurant workers lost their jobs during the pandemic — Cowbell Kitchen was able to hire “an amazing crew,” growing to 12 employees.

Moving to the new location has increased foot traffic, they said. The menu has expanded with more breakfast, brunch and lunch items, including vegan and vegetarian dishes. Wine and beer will be added to the menu this month.

In addition to Cowbell’s selection of pastries, homemade buttermilk biscuits, cookies, donuts and cakes, there are buckwheat pancakes, avocado toast, grilled cheese sandwiches, homemade soups, quiche, a veggie burger and much more. Also on the menu is KK’s famous smoothie bowl, a menu item she created with homemade nut butter and granola and locally sourced fruit.Their goal of supporting local farms and businesses continues to be an important feature, with many products from local farms on the menu.

“When COVID hit it made us change everything,” Strasser said. “Fortunately Bre is really great with infrastructure, and she set up online ordering, a breakfast club, and we hustled. In the end, business is better. We have conquered so many things — we will get through this.”

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