BLUEFIELD, VA – NOVEMBER 16, 2020 — As Collin O’Donnell prepares to graduate from Bluefield College next month with his Bachelor’s degree, the Buffalo, NY, native already has plans to pursue his Master’s Degree at his alma mater and to continue to operate the new business he opened earlier this year in Bluefield, Va.
The Grind, a coffee and bagel shop in downtown Bluefield, launched as a start-up in January, but due to the pandemic, ended up opening in a food truck setting in May. Now, the new business is finalizing renovations to its space on Spring Street in Bluefield with plans for a grand opening in the next six weeks. The Grind was a recent recipient of a $10,000 Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority (VCEDA) Seed Capital Grant.
“VCEDA was pleased to work with Collin after hearing his plans for The Grind,” said VCEDA Executive Director/General Counsel Jonathan Belcher. “Not only did his business plan meet the criteria for the seed capital grant program, but at the same time, opening the business will also impact in a positive way, downtown revitalization planning in Bluefield.”
O’Donnell noted The Grind will employ five full-time and 12 part-time employees.
An Army veteran, who did a tour of duty in Afghanistan from 2013-2016, O’Donnell, who was injured while there, was awarded the Presidential Call to Service Award. In March 2018, after recovering from his injuries and being honorably discharged from the Army, he made the decision to move to Bluefield, signing with Bluefield College to play college football. After his first season, he was placed on scholarship and was named one of the captains of the team. The friendships he forged there are friendships he has carried with him into the opening of The Grind, with teammates and friends, Cole Carter, Joshua Wright, Joe Haner and Sam Kirtley, along with Marisa Clifton, joining him to get the business up and running.
When COVID-19 came along, it resulted in O’Donnell pivoting his business plan to utilize a food truck, but soon, he said, the new business will celebrate its grand opening and will feature eat-in dining space, a TV entertainment lounge, outdoor patio space and a small lending library and reading. Plans are to host book clubs, philosophy clubs, veteran specific groups and more.
No longer just a coffee shop, The Grind will feature five different bagels — plain, everything, wheat, asiago and cinnamon raisin; white rolls and pretzel rolls for both breakfast and lunch options. Freshly baked buttermilk biscuits will be another breakfast option. Ham and turkey features on the menu will be deli cut in The Grind’s own full-sized commercial kitchen.
“Quality and quantity are important,” O’Donnell said. “Our customers can expect delicious fresh melts on handmade freshly baked bagels and rolls, as well as breakfast sandwiches that rival anything in the region.”
O’Donnell noted The Grind seeks to offer regional flavors while employing a unique culture around its brand.
“Our apparel, coffee and brand represent people of the region who make American gears turn every day without hesitation,” he said.
The Grind works with small business roasters including, in Virginia: Brugh Coffee Co., Christiansburg; 25/30 Espresso, Fredericksburg; Lexington Coffee Roasters, Lexington; Lamplighter Coffee Roasters, Richmond; and Miller House Coffee, Virginia Beach. In Maryland, The Grind purchases coffees from Ceremony Coffee Roasters in Bethesda; and in North Carolina, from Vigilant Hope Roasting in Wilmington.
“The Grind will offer the largest variety of small business craft roasts along the Appalachian trail and east coast,” O’Donnell said. “We have partnered with — and are continuing to partner with — numerous café roasters around the region to provide us with their taste of home. Each batch is roasted in their establishment and shipped to us directly.”
In addition to the coffees and other menu items being available at the business, an e-commerce site, now under development, will allow guests to purchase the coffees they love at The Grind for use and enjoyment in their own homes. Both the coffee shop and the online store, once it is up and running, feature what O’Donnell called the “flavors of Appalachia,” as well as regional samplings. Through the online service, he said, customers will be able to order from small businesses directly, subscribe to coffee plans and check out a variety of other options.
O’Donnell took part in the first Tazewell County Business Challenge where he won first place for his idea to start The Grind and $5,500 to be used in the equipment purchase portion of the business. Getting the VCEDA seed capital grant, he said, has allowed him to forge ahead with his concept for The Grind.
“The VCEDA seed capital grant was a total blessing and I am grateful beyond measure,” O’Donnell said. “It has allowed me to move forward with the plans to renovate the Spring Street space and to have it become a place for people to hang out and feel at home with their friends and family. We are creating an inviting space and we are also happy to be a part of revitalizing the downtown area of Bluefield. I am incredibly thankful for the grant.”
“Our company is based on authenticity,” O’Donnell said. “We aren’t a corporate chain planting a flag, we are your neighbors planting our roots and on a mission to develop our community.”
The Grind is located at 103 Spring Street in Bluefield and may be reached by calling 276-821-8262. The business also has a Facebook Page which may be found at The Grind Bluefield.
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.