TV attack ad targets Church Hill coffee shop

Posted at 6:13 PM, Oct 25, 2013
and last updated 2013-10-25 19:34:49-04

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR)--Whether or not Captain Buzzy’s Beanery can extend their hours and serve wine and beer is a discussion that has percolated in the Church Hill community for a while now, going back to June when the request was filed.

The coffee shop is located at 2623 E. Broad Street in a neighborhood, zoned as a single-family residential area. This requires shops to have a certain permit in order to sell food and drinks. Captain Buzzy's has operated from this location since June 2003, according to their website.

City Council was originally scheduled to vote on the issue June 24, but the voted was pushed back several times.  On Monday, Oct. 28, council will vote on a proposed ordinance that was amended to create a one-year trial period for the coffee shop.

Ahead of that upcoming vote an attack ad aired on cable television and was seen on YouTube, but the establishment was never named.  The ad was removed late Friday afternoon and replaced with a message of:  "Video has been removed by the user.

The transcript reads:

A Church Hill coffee shop now wants alcohol sales in a residential neighborhood. The city planning commission, the Church Hill association and 95 percent of immediate neighbors all said no. Despite these three strikes against the coffee shop, the proposal is still in front of the City Council. Tell your City Council representative to follow the city’s own rules. Stop the coffee shop from getting buzzed or this could be your neighborhood next.

The producers of the video, Amanda and Tim Hawkins of Hawkdoza Productions, said they were approached by a small group of people who had a script ready. Church Hill People's News details more on the group who allegedly purchased the buy.

“It was a group of concerned and educated residents,” Amanda Hawkins said.

The group, which included an individual involved in local real estate, wished to remain anonymous, Amanda Hawkins said. The production company has not disclosed how much they charged for the 30-second video or how the group paid for the video.

The group was specific that the video was meant to address the proposed changes at Captain Buzzy’s Beanery, Hawkins said. Although the shop is not named or directly shown, a blurred image of the storefront is in the background as a liquid is poured into a cup.

"It's a small, small group, very small,” Bob Buffington, owner of the establishment said. "Most of Church Hill really doesn't care.”

He called the ad hurtful, and he's optimistic that change will happen.

"I'm held up on a zoning issue,” Buffington said. “And I'm just trying to stay competitive in the neighborhood.”

Buffington told CBS 6 that a majority of residents “don't mind coming in here and getting a Chardonnay and a cold beer."

The proposed changes would extend the coffee shop hours by one hour, keeping the shop until 10 p.m. instead of 9 p.m.

"When I first opened, [people said] people drinking coffee were going to ruin the alleys and leave cups.  After ten years, that's not happened."

Buffington explained that there are several hurdles still to cross. He would still need to go before the Alcohol and Beverage Commission to obtain a license to serve wine and beer. And if City Council approves the one-year trial period, the planning commission would be able to evaluate if the community was directly affected by the zoning changes.

Buffington also said  the ordinance would not be automatically extended if the business was ever sold, but that City Council would first review the ordinance.

Buffington also told CBS 6 that he is not interested in selling the business.

*****An employee of CBS 6 was involved in the production of the ad, though that work was done on his personal time on behalf of Hawkdoza Productions, which is not affiliated with our station.

CBS 6 downloaded the ad, before it was removed from YouTube.*****