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How Urban Farmhouse could begin spreading around Virginia

Urban Farmhouse is looking to franchise its cafe brand. (J. Elias O’Neal)

RICHMOND, Va. — After a year of restructuring prompted by the closure of some of her locations, Urban Farmhouse Market & Café owner Kathleen Richardson is preparing to take her business down a path she said she was never initially interested in traveling.

The locally based coffee shop and café chain is entertaining offers to franchise the concept, with interest lining up in Richmond and Northern Virginia.

“I was taking the Starbucks approach to my business,” said Richardson, who started Urban Farmhouse in 2010 after stints on the corporate side of McDonalds, Panera and Starbucks. “I wanted to own all of my locations, but I’m realizing now that may not be the best approach for our growth.”

Richardson said the decision to franchise came after outside inquiries about expanding her concept and limited on-hand capital to pursue the ventures herself.

“We have had a lot of requests over the years from around the country and throughout Virginia,” Richardson said. “I’m realizing that our concept is popular, and people want us, but having us place all of our revenue back into the business makes it challenging for us to grow.”

The change of heart comes as Urban Farmhouse continues to regroup after growing quickly to six stores, only to close three in close succession about two years ago. Richardson closed her locations in Manchester, Church Hill and near VCU in 2016.

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