Preservation Magazine, Fall 2016

Place Setting: With the Grain

Restaurants in Former Grain Mill and Storage Spaces

Virtue Feed & Grain Exterior

photo by: David Coleman Photography

Virtue Feed & Grain

106 S. Union St.
Alexandria, VA 22314
571.970.3669 |
| American, Tavern

From its perch overlooking the Potomac River, the building that today holds Virtue Feed & Grain has served the Old Town Alexandria community in Virginia since the 1880s. The two-story brick structure initially housed feed and grain, and the exterior still bears a sign for “Walter Roberts Hay, Grain, Flour & Feed Office.”

Later home to a beloved books/records store, the building sat vacant for almost three years until it underwent a yearlong transformation into a modern American tavern in 2010. Bricks removed to construct the second-floor corner window were repurposed to build the pillars and dividing wall in the downstairs dining room. The construction team from Bonitt Builders ground and polished the original concrete floors and preserved the 19th-century support timbers.

Virtue Feed & Grain serves favorites such as Old Bay–seasoned lump crab dip and pork ribs topped with pineapple barbecue sauce.

Aerial shot of Tin Bins overlooking the river

photo by: Donald Trueman/Paramount Pixels

Tin Bins

413 Nelson St. E
Stillwater, MN 55082
651.342.0799 |
| Bakery, Café

Just six years after it was constructed in 1898, a Minnesota grain elevator was loaded onto logs and rolled to its current location along the St. Croix River in Stillwater, Minnesota. The Commander Company purchased and renamed it in 1919. After almost a century of use as a grain storage facility, the Commander Elevator was converted in the 1990s into an outdoor-clothing store featuring an indoor climbing wall.

By 2009 the Commander Elevator sat vacant. Then locals Sherri Hopfe and Mike McGuire purchased the structure and opened Tin Bins, part of a mixed-use space with a restaurant, an architecture studio, and an apartment adjacent to the Stillwater Commercial Historic District. Opened in 2013, Tin Bins celebrates its history with sheets of the original tin lining the interior wood scantling walls.

Diners are encouraged to wash down any of the cafe’s homemade baked goods with its Commander Blend coffee.

Dining room at the Grist Mill

photo by: Courtesy the Grist Mill

The Grist Mill

100 River St.
Warrensburg, NY 12885
518.623.8005 |
| American

When new owners Ash and Jaime Anand first set foot into the Grist Mill restaurant on the Schroon River in Warrensburg, New York, they knew they wanted to steward the historic structure. “It’s a real piece of history,” says Ash Anand. “We loved it and definitely wanted to carry on the legacy that the men and women before us had built.”

At its peak, the mill, dating from 1824, churned 15 tons of grain per 18-hour day. But after almost 140 years of operation it was shuttered in 1963, remaining disused until 1976, when it was purchased and transformed into a restaurant. The building was raised 15 feet, and a sea wall was constructed to protect it from rising river waters.

Today the Grist Mill maintains its historic feel with exposed structural beams and slate floors on the lower level. After exploring the restaurant’s mill history displays, sit and enjoy the house favorite pan-roasted halibut with a local draft beer.

$ = Value, $10-19 per person

$$ = Moderate, $20-29 per person

$$$ = Expensive, $30-39 per person

$$$$ = Splurge, $40+ per person

Katharine Keane headshot

Katharine Keane is a former editorial assistant at Preservation Magazine. She enjoys getting lost in new cities, reading the plaques at museums, and discovering the next great restaurant.

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