GATE CITY, VA – March 10, 2023 – Josh Cress is quick to admit he learned a lot about cooking from his grandfather and to him, it seemed natural that when it came to looking at starting a business in Scott County, opening a restaurant was a good choice. He and his wife, Courtney, bought the former service station/garage/flower shop on 744 Kane Street and turned it into the Kane St. Smokehouse LLC.

Kane St. Smokehouse LLC was a recent recipient of a $10,000 Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority (VCEDA) Seed Capital Matching Grant.

“VCEDA’s seed capital matching grant program was developed with an eye toward assisting local entrepreneurs in creating jobs and new business in the seven coalfield counties, one-city area that comprises Southwest Virginia’s e-Region,” said Jonathan Belcher, VCEDA executive director/general counsel. “Kane St. Smokehouse LLC fits the bill in the creative tourism sector, providing another dining option for not only tourists, but also for local residents to enjoy. The business projects four full-time and 10 part-time employees within five years.”

When Josh Cress looks back, he has fond memories of learning to cook barbecue with his grandfather, Donnie Cress.

“I’ve been cooking barbecue since I was a kid and I always liked it,” Cress said. “My grandfather and I cooked together.”

Originally from central Florida, Josh, his wife and their three children, Kylee, Harlee and Maverick, decided to move their family to a different area. They enjoy the outdoors and riding ATVs and wanted something a little slower paced, ultimately deciding to settle down in Ft. Blackmore. Josh has a background in construction, raised cattle and owned ice vending machines in Florida and Courtney was an RN, however, they decided to sell out and try something new. Both had always wanted to do something where they could work together and owning a barbecue restaurant was something they always talked about. Soon after their move, they bought the building, which is now Kane St. Smokehouse and began renovations on the space — doing the work themselves — to turn it into a restaurant. With the exception of the electrical work, Cress said the work was done by them, truly making it their own space. 

The restaurant seats up to 60 inside and another 12-15 at picnic tables outside.

Smoked and grilled meats – including ribs, chicken, brisket, pulled pork and Italian sausage links — along with freshly prepared side items – baked beans, potato salad, coleslaw, jalapeno corn casserole, loaded baked potatoes, pickle chunks, or chips — are on the menu. Cress said customer favorites and number one sellers are pork ribs and pulled pork. In addition to service in the restaurant and take-out options, Kane St. Smokehouse also offers catering for large events and can provide food with as little as 24 hours notice. Signature sauces are also sold by the gallon.

“When guests enter the restaurant, we want them to feel welcomed and at home,” Cress said. “Whether traveling through town or a local resident, we want everyone to experience a warm and inviting atmosphere where they can relax and enjoy the company of their family and friends. We want Kane St. Smokehouse to be the local hangout for a delicious meal.”

Cress noted the VCEDA funds were used to purchase some kitchen equipment and for operating capital.

“Getting the VCEDA grant was key to our business and really put us ahead,” Cress said. “We had put everything we have into getting it open and running. Having the grant gave us a boost and allowed us to turn what we originally envisioned into reality.”

He added that going through the process of working with the Small Business Development Center had also given them confidence. Preparing a business plan and researching the business helped with knowing the numbers needed for success and with goal setting, he said.

The Cress’s worked with the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at Mountain Empire Community College (MECC) in developing their application to VCEDA and received a letter of support from the Scott County Economic Development Authority.

“Mountain Empire Community College’s SBDC is grateful for the opportunity to work with Josh and Cory Cress at Kane St. Smokehouse,” said Becki O’Quinn-Purdie, SBDC program director at MECC. “Their passion for their food and restaurant was clear. They have established a solid standing in the community and continue to provide consistent delicious BBQ. The VCEDA Seed Capital fund will help the Cress’s continue to build upon what they have established.”

Kane St. Smokehouse is open for lunch on Wednesdays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and open Thursday-Saturday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. for lunch and dinner. Plans are to increase those hours and days in the future. The business may be found on Facebook and may be reached by calling 276-690-2233.

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. or

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.