Front Royal-Warren County EDA aids local businesses with awards

The Front Royal-Warren County Economic Development Authority recently awarded cash to local businesses. The three winners were Maria Dutton of Passages Travel, who received $1,000, Hope Ben of Ben’s Family Cuisine, who was awarded $750 and Katie Tewell, of The Apple House and Fork’d food truck, who received $500.

The awards, paid for with EDA budget funds previously used to pay for business appreciation luncheons, were instituted to more directly impact local business, said Marla Jones, EDA director of marketing and business development.

“The audience we were honoring couldn’t attend (luncheons) because they were too busy running their businesses,” she said. “We decided that the money that the EDA spent to host a big luncheon would be better spent if we created an award grant program so that every year, small bizz in Front Royal and Warren County can apply to win a cash grant in celebration of their business and their community service.”

Tewell, who co-owns The Apple House with her father in Linden, expanded the business to include the Fork’d food truck, and said she will use the winnings to add a new smoker to The Apple House’s kitchen.

“We currently have smokers but when we added Fork’d, we needed to purchase an additional one,” she said. “We purchased an Old Hickory smoker so we can keep up with the demand. Currently we’re going through close to 800 pounds of pork a week, so we needed some help.”

Tewell said the smoker will help them manage that demand along with some other benefits.

“We can cook a large volume – this past weekend we cooked ribs, brisket and pork at the same time, which before we were never able to do,” she said. “It’s helped to make us more efficient. We’re able to offer more variety.”

Ben said she will use her $750 winnings to add burners, which will help them turn out more food at a faster rate. Ben’s Family Cuisine serves several varieties of Asian cuisine, and Ben said her specialty is Thai food.

“We don’t cook anything until they order it, so if we have three curries cooking at the same time, which takes five to eight minutes, we only have three burners to use. It helps us go quicker. Instead of waiting for the one burner to finish we just start another pot. It’s really helpful for us to process the food a little quicker.”

Ben said she is in the process of adding a larger ventilation hood to compensate for the increase in burners, and after that process’ completion, she will add the new burners themselves.

Jones said Ben was worthy for the award.

“Hope is an incredibly dynamic and devoted business owner and she has reached out to the community to announce her business,” Jones said. “She has catered many community events and she has become a real friend to the community. She’s done a marvelous job. She’s a very determined individual.”

Dutton, who took home the EDA’s largest award of $1,000, used her winnings to upgrade the company’s computer, which Dutton said is what makes her business tick.

“It’s my database system,” Dutton said. “It allows me to work. It’s how I run my business… It doesn’t enhance my business any more, it’s just a newer version so it will make me more efficient. All of what we do is through booking systems and that’s all done over the internet.”

Jones said that the idea behind the awards is to give back.

“I speak on behalf of the entire EDA saying that we realize that small business make up 85 percent of all business in the state,” she said. “We want our local business community to realize that we recognize that and we appreciate that… We try to help businesses get on their feet. Once they have become sustainable and contributing back to the community we try to give back with these awards.”

Contact staff writer Nathan Budryk at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or nbudryk@nvdaily.com