ROANOKE, Va. – Roanoke’s Historic Fire Station One is once again making history.
Once a station from which horse-drawn equipment was dispatched to fight fires, today it is home to a furniture gallery, restaurant, and boutique hotel.
“Number one this is such a beautiful old building and it means so much to Roanoke and we respect and love this property,” said Greg Terrell, the man behind the station’s current configuration.
What it is today was born in a sense by the pandemic.
Terrell was already in the furniture business, making private label commercial furniture at Frank Chervan Incorporated, employing 200 craftspeople in a business that opened in 1932.
“Long story short, the pandemic hit and we needed work and we needed to expand and change and we always thought we wanted to make residential furniture. So we started TxTur as a little side business literally with just hiring one person,” Terrell explained.
Terrell’s team knew how to make furniture, but they realized a couch sold best when people could actually sit on it.
“We make over 3000 different styles of chairs a year in the plant because we do all these custom commercial projects. We took just a ratty old building and opened a little showroom and Roanoke was so kind to us. People came in and in 30 days we wrote about $100,000 worth of orders and we were like blown away,” Terrell said.
So from that tiny, hot space in the factory grew the idea for the fire station’s next chapter ... and Terrell’s.
“The Team and I put together a plan to just redo this whole building and make it our flagship store and that’s where we are today,” he said.
But furniture wasn’t enough for Fire Station One
There’s also a bistro called Stock Cafe and Bar, featuring a real chef and a Nordic menu. Which Terrell describes as “clean and ingredient-focused, not unlike the furniture.
“I think it also harkens to the way the furniture is designed. It’s not overly ornate. We try to have a good design, simple and well executed and I think that’s kind of the way the menu works,” Terrell said.
To top it off, Terrell converted the upstairs of the fire station to a boutique 7-room hotel. Transforming the old firefighters’ quarters into rooms for tourists, and as it turns out, customers.
“People that’ll stay in the hotel and come down and be like ‘The bed that I slept in was beautiful and comfortable,’ and they just buy it the next morning. It does actually work,” he said.
Terrell wasn’t sure it would all work – furniture, a restaurant, and a hotel, but it’s a vision that just came into focus. Now it’s the model for even more growth. A second location will be opening soon in Richmond, in another historic building.
“I think we’re going to reshape the industry. And I think it’s going to be not only well received by customers, but I think it’s going to provide a great existence and income for our team,” Terrell said.
For Terrell, it seems as if the thrill is making it all work.
“I think on the entrepreneurial side what came down to as we have bucked the trend for a long long time. Everybody said what we do every day - they sent it all to China. Vietnam you know,” he said speaking of moving manufacturing overseas.
“And we kept saying, ‘No it doesn’t have to have to be to be. There is good work for good people here in the United States.’ We’re going to do something different. We’re going to focus on what we do. And it has been a hard 20-some years doing it, but we’ve hung together and grown. And this is the real embodiment to me of that,” Terrell said.