TAZEWELL, VA – March 2, 2023 – Erin and Nick Keene began their foray into the restaurant business first thinking they might operate a food truck, but as they developed the concept, the food truck idea turned into brick and mortar restaurant on 171 Main Street in Tazewell, Va. Later this year, the couple, along with daughter, Bailee, will open Bee Noodle’d, a pasta concept restaurant that will deliver quick entrees in a casual setting, using fresh local ingredients, honey and quality poultry and other meat products. Their vision is to serve quality recipes with exceptional service.
Bee Noodle’d, LLC was a recent recipient of a $10,000 Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority (VCEDA) Seed Capital Matching Grant.
“Creative tourism is one of our target sectors for the seed capital grant program and restaurants, such as Bee Noodle’d, which offer different dining experiences and utilize homegrown products, appealing to tourists and locals alike, fit the bill for that ,” said Jonathan Belcher, VCEDA executive director/general counsel. “The business projects eight full-time and three part-time employees within five years.”
Originally from Tazewell, the Keenes returned to the area, hoping to bring back a little something sweet to the place that molded them and to play a part in helping to revitalize the town. While the new restaurant is not yet open, Nick noted he made Baklava — a layered pastry dessert made of filo pastry, filled with chopped nuts and sweetened with honey — and sold it in a Christmas gift set package with the restaurants signature-labeled honey products.
Both Nick and Erin have several years of experience in the restaurant and hospitality industry.
“At our core is the value we place on gathering around the table to enjoy great food and conversation and we want to offer that to our community,” Keene said. “We believe in grass roots, hometown growth and giving back to the place that molded us into the people we are today.”
When the restaurant opens, he noted, seating for 40 to 50 people will be available. An outdoor deck planned for renovation will offer seating capacity for an additional 20 during the spring, summer and early fall months of the years.
A variety of pasta dishes, soups, salads and bread, using fresh local ingredients as much as possible and incorporating local honey into several recipes will be offered once the restaurant opens. Lunch and dinner will be the focus with Saturday and Sunday brunch hours also planned.
A website is planned for the future and in the meantime, the business has a Facebook page where followers are kept up to date on the progress toward opening.
“The largest part of the VCEDA grant is being used toward the cost of kitchen equipment and we are using local artisans in the purchase of décor for the restaurant,” he said. Any funds not used for kitchen equipment, he added, are planned to be used for inventory.
“It makes me real emotional to think about it,” Keene said. “We started on this journey a couple of years ago, originally thinking we would do a food truck, but that changed. It’s been a dream and I sometimes wondered if it would stay a dream, but when I found out we got this grant, I got chills – it brought me to the reality, we are going to do this. It got me over the hump of my self-doubt, so to speak. Everything has started falling into place. It all feels like it was meant to be.”
The Keenes worked with the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at Southwest Virginia Community College (SWCC) in developing their application to VCEDA and received a letter of support from the Tazewell County Industrial Development Authority.
“We feel blessed to have people like you help us make our dreams come true,” he said of his appreciation — and that of his family — for both VCEDA and the SBDC.
“The SBDC congratulates Bee Noodle’d, LLC in Tazewell on receiving a $10,000 VCEDA Seed Capital Matching Fund Grant,” said Margie Douglass, SBDC program manager at SWCC. “Bee Noodled’s unique pasta concept will be a great addition to the ever-growing Main Street in Tazewell. It was the pleasure of the staff at the SBDC to work with Bee Noodle’d, LLC on the development of their application and business plan in the process of applying for the VCEDA Seed Capital Matching Fund Grant. With the assistance of this grant, we are confident that Bee Noodle’d is positioned to become a favorite for locals and a must-visit destination for tourists. It is exciting to have a restaurant that highlights locally grown ingredients in their recipes. We look forward to continuing to work with Bee Noodle’d as they grow their business.”
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, within qualifying business categories, 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.