BIG STONE GAP, VA – MARCH 10, 2022 – As Elise and Robert Bloomer have worked to develop the 404 Café and Creamery, LLC in Big Stone Gap, Va., purchasing made in Virginia ingredients has been a top priority – from coffee and chips, to ice cream. Soups, sandwiches and baked goods are also on the menu for the Big Stone Gap, Va., restaurant.
404 Café and Creamery, LLC is a recent recipient of a $10,000 Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority (VCEDA) seed capital matching grant.
“The 404 Café and Creamery, LLC is not only creating jobs at its Big Stone Gap location, but because of its ‘buy local’ focus, it is also serving to help other businesses locally and in other locations in Virginia to grow,” said VCEDA Executive Director/General Counsel Jonathan Belcher. “The 404 Café and Creamery originally projected two full-time jobs and eight part-time jobs within five years and they have already exceeded part of that goal and now employ one full-time and 10 part-time employees. They have further indicated to us they will likely add the additional full-time job projected within a year, as well as another three to five part-time employees in the future.”
The new restaurant, located within a block of the Big Stone Gap Visitor Center and the green belt area features both indoor dining and an outside patio option as well. An ice cream cart has been purchased to allow the café to travel to provide ice cream for various day events in the area.
“We are trying to use local businesses as much as possible to supply the things we need in the restaurant,” Elise said. “Our coffee mugs were designed by Big Stone Gap Pottery and many of our other items — from coffee, to chips, to ice cream — are coming from other Virginia businesses. I was born and raised in Virginia and we are trying to support Virginia businesses whenever we can.”
Elise said opening the new business in Big Stone Gap meant the realization of a long-held dream, the achievement of something she has wanted to do since she was 12 years old.
“I always wanted to have a business in Big Stone Gap and I am excited that I get to do that now,” Elise said.
The building in which the new restaurant is located previously housed a dry cleaning business and is newly renovated. Two murals have been painted by Union High School students, along with the café slogan, “Drink Coffee – Be Awesome.” Business hours are Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, 6:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Saturdays from 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.; and Sundays from noon to 8 p.m. The restaurant is closed on Wednesdays.
“The VCEDA grant has been very helpful to us,” Elise said. “When you are budgeting for a project like this, you have to be careful what you spend money on. Having this grant made a huge difference for us.”
Elise said the funds have been spent on the purchase of various pieces of equipment needed — from a coffee maker to a milk shake maker — and on the ice cream cart which allows the business to go mobile.
The Bloomers worked with the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at Mountain Empire Community College (MECC) in the development of their application to VCEDA and received a letter of support from the Wise County Industrial Development Authority.
“The Mountain Empire Community College SBDC appreciates the opportunity to work with clients like 404 Café and Creamery,” said Becki O’Quinn-Purdie, SBDC director at MECC. “Elise has a wonderful vision for the café and creamery in her local hometown. The SBDC has enjoyed watching this business from its concept to opening. This is another great asset to the Big Stone Gap community.”
The 404 Café and Creamery is located at 404 E. Shawnee Avenue East in Big Stone Gap. The business may be found on Facebook and may be reached by calling (276) 523-2233.
About Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority and Southwest Virginia’s e-Region: The Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority, created by the Virginia General Assembly in 1988 to enhance and diversify the region’s economy and help create jobs, markets Southwest Virginia’s e-Region and its focus on electronic information technology, energy, education, emerging technologies, and entrepreneurship. VCEDA is a unique economic development organization that manages funds for economic development projects from a percentage of the coal and natural gas severance taxes paid by coal and natural gas companies that operate in the region. Located in southwestern Virginia, the region includes Buchanan, Dickenson, Lee, Russell, Scott, Tazewell, and Wise counties and the City of Norton. www.vceda.us or www.e-Region.org.
About the Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority Seed Capital Matching Grant Fund: VCEDA region for-profit businesses one year and under with less than 10 full-time employees are eligible to apply for dollar-for-dollar matching grants up to $10,000 from the VCEDA Seed Capital Matching Fund. Applicants work with the Small Business Development Centers at Mountain Empire and Southwest Virginia community colleges to prepare the applications to VCEDA that include detailed business and financial plans. Businesses must be located in or plan to operate in the VCEDA region in southwestern Virginia that includes Buchanan, Dickenson, Lee, Russell, Scott, Tazewell, and Wise counties and the City of Norton.