Think Different + Be Different. That is the motto behind Railyard FVL and its owners, John and Jennifer Kistler.
We have long been involved in the community and as stewards of Fayetteville, we felt passionately about making the city a better place to live. In early 2023, I (John) realized it was time to shift from my career as an active duty Army officer to something that would allow my creative passions to flourish. As a Soldier, I consistently heard from others serving that “there’s nothing to do in Fayetteville”…and that bothered us.
We knew something was missing and it took a little while to figure out what it was and eventually we determined that Fayetteville needed a food hall. Folks here love to eat; chain restaurants do exceptionally well but there is a lack in local, mom and pop style establishments despite the demand for such venues. And that was it! Railyard FVL was destined to become a food hub for locals and out-of-town guests.
Yet Railyard would become so much more. Railyard is about experiences. Food drives the experience but art is just as important in creating those one-of-a-kind memories. Envisioned as a community gathering space, we knew we wanted to incorporate the arts into the business. Including a performance stage was integral to the design process and allowed us to capitalize on all the area has to offer in performance art. We plan on pursuing partnerships with community arts organizations and local artists as we believe these relationships are key to driving community engagement at Railyard.
And still it developed more. We added art gallery space. We consciously wanted to promote fitness and added recreation amenities such as pickleball and sand volleyball. We are partnering with a local soccer coach to incorporate a mini soccer pitch. We grew from being a food hall business to a food, beverage, and arts, entertainment and recreation destination!
We are thrilled to be able to offer something to the citizens of Fayetteville and beyond – something that the whole family can enjoy. Railyard is a place of social gathering, where we can engage with each other, enjoy exceptional food and drink, and unite in the common goal of having a great time.
We can't wait to see you and your families in The 'Yard!
- John & Jennifer Kistler
John F. Kistler, III
John is a Fayetteville native who has lived much of his life in the city. He recently received an Honorable discharge as a U.S. Army Civil Affairs officer and is currently serving in the Reserve component. He has over 12 years of leadership and management experience, including the last 3 in Special Operations. Leadership and training schools he has attended include: Infantry Basic Training, the Warrior Leaders Course, Military Intelligence Officer’s Course, Anti-terrorism Level II, Civil Affairs Assessment and Selection, Civil Affairs Qualification Course, Airborne School, Advanced Negotiations Course, Modern Army Combatives Program, Special Operations Combatives Program, and Advanced Special Operations medical training. John has a B.A. in history from Fayetteville State University and a M.A. from East Carolina University in International Relations, where he studied international business and communication. John is a big-picture visionary who knows where he wants to go and what he wants to accomplish and surrounds himself with expertise and knowledge from the community to achieve that vision. A huge advocate for downtown Fayetteville, John enjoys giving back to the community and believes it is important to connect with the community. John’s community involvement includes serving on: the Millennial Advisory Commission, Fayetteville Kiwanis Club Board of Directors, and the Fayetteville/Cumberland County Arts Council Board of Trustees. John and his family have developed relationships with the Salvation Army of the Sandhills and the Child Advocacy Center through various fundraisers that they host annually. John was recognized as a leader in the community with the Fayetteville Observer’s “40 Under 40” award in 2020.
Jennifer Dawes Kistler
Jennifer has over 8 years of restaurant owner/operator experience, currently operating a successful Firehouse Subs franchise on Glensford Drive. She also has 5 years of experience in restaurant management and retail sales. Jennifer hails from Fort Lauderdale, FL and has a B.A. in Business Management from Florida Atlantic University where she also studied marketing. Jennifer’s Firehouse Subs store has consistently been rated in the top 5 stores in the Southeast Region and her current gross sales exceed $850,000. Jennifer also spends time involved in the community through the Fayetteville Junior League, Salvation Army, St. Patrick Catholic School, Cumberland County Schools, and the Child Advocacy Center. In 2021, Jennifer was honored as a Fayetteville Observer “40 Under 40” award winner for her contributions to the community and success as a business owner.