Virginia's Favorite BBQ Opens New Location at Montpelier


On August 18, James Madison’s Montpelier will host a media preview announcing the opening of Exchange Café in the Montpelier Visitor Center, a new collaboration between The Montpelier Foundation and Craig Hartman, owner and executive chef of the widely acclaimed BBQ Exchange of Gordonsville. This event will feature a tasting menu and remarks by Montpelier President and CEO Kat Imhoff, Hartman, and other local tourism leaders. Guests are invited to take a complimentary tour of the mansion after the event.

Exchange Café is the newest addition to Hartman’s barbeque brand, which is best known for its popular restaurant in Gordonsville and catering services. With decades of experience in top-rated restaurants including Clifton Inn and Keswick Hall, Hartman—a self-proclaimed history buff—leads his team with a single mantra: capture the soul of Virginia cuisine. Hartman’s barbeque is fired with native Virginia green hickory; his meats are sourced almost exclusively from Virginia farms; and his dishes are based on authentic Virginia recipes.

Hartman sees no better place to expand his business than at the home of James and Dolley Madison, widely recognized for their gracious hospitality that earned Dolley Madison the title of America’s first “First Lady.” “It is an honor for us to be affiliated with Montpelier, the home of James and Dolley Madison,” said Hartman. “Our cafe at Montpelier fits the BBQ Exchange vision: cuisine, people, hospitality that embodies genteel southern hospitality and fits seamlessly with the history, culture, and art of central Virginia.”

“The addition of Exchange Café at Montpelier provides us with an opportunity to further contribute to the economy of our region while providing visitors and the local community with a great amenity,” said Imhoff. “We look forward to welcoming guests from around the country or just across town to join us for lunch, coffee with a friend, or even a light snack while checking email on our free Wi-Fi connection. Of course, a walk through the garden afterward is an added bonus.”

While mansion tours are ticketed, Montpelier’s grounds are open to the public free of charge, providing visitors with full access to Exchange Café, the Museum Shop and Galleries, the Landmark Forest, and the historic property from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday.

The media event will take place on Monday, August 18 from 12:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. in the Montpelier Visitor Center. Montpelier is located at 11407 Constitution Highway, Montpelier Station, VA 22957. Guests are invited to sample a tasting menu and take a complimentary tour of the mansion. The property will be closed for general visitation on this day.









Caroline Godfrey