The Orlean Market – A Fauquier County Gem
By Julie Reardon
The Orlean Market – A Fauquier County Gem
Located ten miles west of Warrenton on one of the county’s most scenic roads, the Orlean Market has long been a favorite of both locals and visitors alike. With gas, a deli and convenience store, a porch with Blue Ridge mountain views, picnic tables scattered around the lawn, plus live music most weekends, it’s also become a destination and local gathering place.
Kia Kianarsi, who owns and runs the business, never thought when he took a few consulting jobs for events in Fauquier that he’d find himself moving there and running the Orlean Market. He was living in Northern Virginia and stopped by the Market after a job meeting and was smitten with the area, the history and the beautiful Blue Ridge views at the store, which is housed in a historic old house and has operated as a country store for over a century. He now lives there and runs the business that is such a vital part of the community in this scenic corner of northwestern Fauquier County in the heart of Orlean. “It’s the only gas, convenience store, grocery, deli and pub for miles,” he said. As he researched the store’s history, he found that 50 years ago, it used to host jam sessions for local musicians on the last Friday of every month. “They’d roll up the rugs, bring their instruments and jam and people would dance and enjoy the music,” he explained.
The Last Friday of the month jam sessions were well received, so it was a natural fit to add more live music on Friday and Saturday nights in the pub, which is adjacent to the convenience store and deli and has an outside terrace as well. The musicians are mostly local and an eclectic collection of different styles of music. “All family friendly,” added Kianarsi, who has an 8 year old son. “We want it to be a place where the whole family can come and enjoy.” They’ve hosted New Year’s Eve celebrations and Trunk or Treat for Halloween as well. “It gives people something to do without having to drive an hour,” he said.
All food is fresh, prepared onsite with much of it locally sourced from area farms, and Kianarsi credits his outstanding staff for the quality. “I have an amazing staff,” he said. Just as his business was growing, however, the pandemic struck, hitting restaurants and small businesses especially hard. But the Orlean Market found ways to adapt and remain a vital community resource. They started delivering, not just meals, but convenience store items, beer, wine and even propane tanks for grills. Kianarsi and staff took extra precautions to keep everything disinfected and wiped clean: shelves, counters and merchandise. Additionally, often the market has items the big box and chain groceries can’t keep in stock, like toilet paper, paper towels and hand sanitizer. Kianarsi frequently went live on the Orlean Market facebook page to let people know that yes, he had toilet paper and oh by the way, a nice selection of local wines too.
On any given weekend, you might find tourists and locals alike. It is a popular destination with cyclists, both bikes and motorcycles. You could see horseback riders and even the Old Dominion Hounds, the local foxhunt club. Besides a large parking lot, there is a 3.5 acre lawn with picnic tables scattered around. Some face the pretty Blue Ridge views, some are under shade trees and some are near the tree swing that is a favorite of the children.
And speaking of children—Fauquier, especially the area near the market, has a serious internet problem. It’s shameful that a wealthy county 50 miles from the White House has ignored the basic needs of its citizens for so long, but now government mandates students to complete their studies online with woefully inadequate or unavailable internet access. In addition to the county public schools, many college students are at home trying to study online; many more adults are stuck at home trying to run businesses remotely on overloaded and inadequate internet service. Much of the county has poor or non-existant high speed internet. There are a few bright spots, however. The Orlean Market has a strong, clear signal and during the week, the pub and restaurant rooms become impromptu classrooms for remote study and teaching pods for the students, led by adults. “We’re very lucky that Piedmont Wireless [a local internet provider available in some locations] sponsors us, so we can offer free internet,” said Kianarsi.
Stop by the Orlean Market and say hi if you’re in the area. Explore the historic old building and envision what it must’ve been like 100 years ago. Sample some of the freshly made deli or pub specialties. Take in some live music on weekends. Check their Facebook page for upcoming Christmas events—at press time they were undecided and awaiting possible government restrictions to see what kind of celebrations would be suitable. The Orlean Market is open 7 days a week from 8:30 am til 7 pm and is located at 6855 Leeds Manor Rd., Marshall, tel. 540/364-2774. Visit them on Facebook or at http://www.orleanmarket.com to find out the latest happenings.