Poplar Springs to close

“I have no regrets. I know the knowledge gained outweighs the pain and suffering.”

Howard Foer
Poplar Springs co-owner

After a terrific 11-year run, Poplar Springs is closing its doors.

Like many in the hospitality industry during the economic recession that started in 2008, the Inn and Spa was hit extremely hard, said co-owner Howard Foer on Monday.

Unfortunately, the founders of Festive Foods catering business racked up significant debt and were never able to fully recover.

The property was foreclosed on and is scheduled to be auctioned on Nov. 6 at 11 a.m., according to tranzon.com.

Since purchasing it in 2002, Foer spent nearly seven days a week, 52 weeks a year handling the operations of the three-pronged business.

Along with the Inn and Spa, Foer also operated a restaurant that was open from Thursdays through Sundays.

Set back in a gorgeous rural setting off Casanova Road in Fauquier County, Poplar Springs became the home of weekenders, corporate groups and wedding parties after originally being part of a 2,000-acre tract of land that was given to Revolutionary War Colonel Robert Randolph.

In 1929, Randolph’s descendant through marriage, Robert Randolph Hicks, took part of the land and built the Manor House, which was being used today for corporate events and weddings.

Running the historic property was a learning experience for the 51-year-old father of two, who said he wants to spend some time decompressing before focusing more of his attention to Festive Foods.

“I am going to be nervous when I have a couple of days off,” joked Foer, who began his catering business in Northern Virginia in 1987.

Foer hopes that the new owners will continue to use the place in a similar fashion. Since the 1980s, the property has been used as a special events site.

Foer praised The Fauquier Bank for working with him from the start and was happy that he was able to assist so many high-school aged children get their first taste of employment.

At any one time, Poplar Springs employed 40 people, many of them local, said Foer.

One such person was Jason Shaffer, who eventually worked his way up to restaurant manager after starting in the kitchen as a 17-year-old junior at Liberty High School.

The 28-year-old Shaffer graduated from Culinary Institute of America in New York and would often return to help Foer during school holidays and when there was a staffing shortage.

“It is kind of sad to see it finally come to an end,” Shaffer said. “…you couldn’t ask for a better boss.”

Foer said he was really nervous when he first dealt with the Fauquier County Board of Supervisors regarding changes to the property. However, he said many of the board members and the community at large made him feel extremely welcome throughout his time running the business.

It’s been a happy marriage that unfortunately will be coming to an end very shortly.

“I have no regrets,” said Foer. “I know the knowledge gained outweighs the pain and suffering.”

Staff writer Kipp Hanley can be reached at (540) 878-2414.