By Kara C. Rodriguez

Years of combined culinary experiences, not to mention coupledom, have teamed up to bring a new dining concept to downtown Leesburg.

Charles Schech, who for almost two years has served as The Wine Kitchen’s general manager, is joining forces with partner Lauren Barrett to bring Buford’s Biscuits to life.

It’s been just about a lifetime spent in restaurants for Schech, who grew up working in his mother’s western Pennsylvania restaurant. He has since worked in many corporate restaurant settings, with B.F. Saul, Hilton and Salamander Resort in Middleburg. Likewise, Barrett is no stranger to the food and beverage scene, most recently serving as the operations manager with Catoctin Creek Distillery in Purcellville and managing several restaurants over the course of her career.

Putting Barrett’s culinary degree and Schech’s business background to work, Schech said the two make a great team, in and out of the restaurant scene. The couple had discussed opening a restaurant together many times, but when the downtown Leesburg restaurant space became available—the former site of Señor Ramon Taqueria and, most recently, Balls of Glory—they jumped at the opportunity.

“Availability is quite rare in downtown Leesburg so when the opportunity came forward, we had to take it,” Schech said.

The two also see an opportunity in one of the culinary concepts not yet prevalent in the downtown area—good, old comfort food in the guise of Southern cooking.

“Downtown offers plenty of great dining options for dinner service, but we felt it could use a great breakfast and lunch option,” Schech said. “Southern fare will fill a void. We wanted an inviting, relaxed and casual establishment that would make our guests feel at home. Eventually we’ll offer service in the evening as well. We will provide food that reflects the love for the region, shows respect to our ancestors and pride in our heritage.” 

A staple of any good Southern menu, of course, is fried chicken.

“Lauren makes amazing fried chicken,” Schech said proudly. They plan to serve their food in pie tins, the chicken complemented by coleslaw, with apple chutney on top and a poached egg. The pie tin will serve as the perfect plate to allow guests to sop up all the liquid goodness. Schech is the man behind the biscuits, which, of course, will be freshly made.

The restaurant is named in homage to Barrett’s father, who is affectionately known as Buff. He’s the type of guy that can make friends with strangers in a grocery store and leave the store with plans for that evening, Schech said. The duo hopes the venture elicits that same kind of warm, friendly atmosphere. 

In addition to the food offerings, Buford’s will open with beer and wine selections and a limited liquor menu, and eventually hopefully a full liquor license, Schech said.

It will be hard to leave the comfort of The Wine Kitchen and the leadership of restaurant owner Jason Miller, Schech acknowledged, but they plan to take all they have learned from Miller and use it to make Buford’s successful. The two have both worked for Miller and it was Barrett who recommended Schech for the general manager gig.

“[Miller’s] leadership has instilled in us how a restaurant should be run and managed using locally-sourced food and giving guests a great experience,” Schech said.

Schech and Barrett held Buford’s opening Wednesday, after facing some delays during remodeling. 

“We don’t want to open if it’s not perfect and what we think is perfect. We want it to be great from the beginning,” Schech said.

For more information on the restaurant, follow Buford’s Biscuits on Facebook.