Claudia's Catering's leaving puts RVCC into an aggressive kitchen renovation project

Last fall Claudia Gibson unexpectedly retired and closed her popular catering and luncheon operation in the kitchen space at the Rockfish Valley Community Center. The kitchen had been working for 12 years.

"This unexpected announcement created an immediate challenge for RVCC in terms of replacing the lease revenue, but also created an exciting opportunity for RVCC to re-envision this space and its use to better promote its community mission," RVCC Executive Director Stuart Mills explained in April.

RVCC now plans “to broaden the impact that this space could have in our community by expanding the number and types of culinary activities it could support," Mills told the community.

The plan now is to create a “community kitchen.” Mills would like it to be anchored by one full-time cooking tenant, or two part-time tenants. During the tenant’s off hours the kitchen will also be available for rental, under the tenant-chefs’ supervision, for community non-commercial use.

Mills says he has has already been approached by individuals who have interest in teaching cooking classes of various types and styles.

Others have have told Mills they might use the kitchen for seasonal canning. Some want "to support events that include meals, to support community fundraisers such as spaghetti dinners and cooking competitions, to permit preparation of foods for sale at local markets and to support numerous other uses," Mills said.

No full or part-time tenants are in hand yet, however. Mills says RVCC is seeking “community-minded permanent tenants who want to grow their own businesses, and hopefully help others do the same.”

Anyone interested in renting the renovated kitchen space is urged to contact Sara Taylor at the Center to review the renovation and equipment plans and to discuss lease terms. Taylor can be reached at via email at or by calling 434-361-0100.


“We’re seeking community-minded permanent tenants who want to grow their own businesses, and hopefully help others do the same.”

–Stuart Mills, Rockfish Valley Community Center

Volunteers are already at work on the kitchen project. The RVCC has a preliminary estimate of just over $40,000 for the kitchen renovation project. "All of the work, with the exception of septic system rehab and equipment repairs, will be completed by RVCC’s corps of volunteer laborers," says Stuart Mills, RVCC’s Executive Director, who saying he is planning a June launch.

The renovations and upgrades to the kitchen "will be extensive," said Mills. Working with the Virginia Department of Health, the required repairs and improvements are being put into place. Other modifications are being made so the space will be more functional for the unknown tenants.

A partial list of the improvements include possible replacement of floor joists, underlayment and surface flooring throughout the space, installation of fiberglass reinforced plastic wall panels, upgrades to the electrical and plumbing systems and fixtures, window and air conditioner replacement, septic system rehab, and the refurbishment or replacement of existing kitchen equipment such as stove/ovens, reach-in refrigerator and freezer, sinks, grease trap, exhaust hood, dishwasher, shelving and the walk-in refrigerator.

Mills is looking for the majority of the financing from grant receipts. The Perry Foundation has awarded a $20,000 matching grant for the project. "This means every donation to the fundraising campaign for the project will be matched dollar-for-dollar up to that amount.”

To help reach that milestone, in addition to other grant requests, RVCC needs $8,000 or more for the project. They are calling their fundraising appeal “Enrichin’ the Kitchen!”

Donations from RVCC members and the community may be made on RVCC's website , or in person at RVCC’s Treasure Chest Thrift Shop or office. Questions? Contact Stuart Mills, RVCC Executive Director, calling 434-361-0100.