BIG STONE GAP, VA – MARCH 11, 2021 — Family and friend recipes passed down through generations will be among the food fare offered to patrons of The Marion Kitchen LLC, a mobile food truck business in Lee County, when it officially opens later this spring. The Marion Kitchen LLC was a recent recipient of a $9,000 Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority (VCEDA) seed capital matching grant.

Jessica Ernspiker, of Big Stone Gap, owns the business, which she named using her maiden name, Marion. Opening the business and creating the foods enjoyed by her family for generations, Ernspiker said, has been a dream of hers and her father’s for many years.

“Assisting entrepreneurs in the region to get their businesses up and running enabling them to create jobs, is the primary goal of VCEDA’s seed capital matching grant program,” said Jonathan Belcher, VCEDA executive director/general counsel. “The Marion Kitchen projects one full time and one part-time position.”

Plans are to set up the food truck in Lee County on a regular basis, but also, during festival season, to travel some to various events with the food truck. Service will be offered from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. for lunch and from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. for dinner three to four days a week as the business gets up and running.

“The VCEDA grant has allowed me to take a nice deep breath in developing this new business,” Ernspiker said. “The seed capital funding has allowed me to step back and say, ‘this is gonna work’.”

Ernspiker said the VCEDA grant is mainly going to be used as working capital. She personally invested in the mobile food truck and in transforming the interior into a first class kitchen. A plumbing inspection was on tap for earlier this week prior to the delivery of the food truck.

“I am so excited to be getting ready to open for business,” Ernspiker added. “It seems like there have been so many delays – from getting tires, to transportation, to having to deal with changes in regulations due to COVID. It has been a challenge, but we are almost there.”

Ernspiker said visitors to The Marion Kitchen will find pork and chicken sandwiches using a special rub and seasoning for chicken from family recipes; fried potato wedges using her father’s recipe for the dip; pan-fried hot dogs; chocolate covered peanut butter pie; fresh fried beignets (a pastry, similar to a donut, but without the hole in the center); and more.

“A lot of memories come with the foods we will prepare,” Ernspiker said, noting as she prepares the foods to be served, she has fond memories of the people who provided her with the recipes or the first time she tried the food.

“In a lot of ways, we live with our senses,” Ernspiker said. “Food involves so many of our senses from taste, smell, texture (feel) and sight – it’s just a wonderful thing. We are so excited and looking forward to serving Southwest Virginia.”

More information about The Marion Kitchen, including menu specialties may be found on the business Facebook page at

Ernspiker worked with the Small Business Development Center at Mountain Empire Community College on the development of The Marion Kitchen’s business plan and application to VCEDA. The Lee County Economic Development Authority wrote a letter of support for the project.

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 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.