Jonathan Belcher, VCEDA executive director/general counsel, right, presents a ceremonial seed capital matching grant check to Gabriel Yates, center, of Trailhead Country Kitchen LLC, in Haysi. Also pictured is Larry Yates, left, Haysi mayor and chairman of the Dickenson County Industrial Development Authority.

HAYSI, VA — As Gabriel Yates looked at the Town of Haysi in Dickenson County, he saw an opportunity to cater to the town’s growing tourism economy as a result of Spearhead Trails’ Ridgeview Trail. As a result, he opened Trailhead Country Kitchen LLC. The new restaurant was a recent recipient of a Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority (VCEDA) $10,000 seed capital matching grant.

Not only does Trailhead Country Kitchen serve the restaurant needs of hungry trail riders, capitalizing on its slogan, “Don’t Ride Hungry,” but it also serves as a gathering spot for locals searching for a place nearby to have a good home-cooked meal, as well as to Russell Fork River whitewater rafters, kayakers, innertube floaters and fishermen. From hot roast beef sandwiches with real mashed potatoes, to burgers, sandwiches, pizzas, dinner specials and desserts, there’s something on the menu to appeal to the appetites of many.

“VCEDA was pleased to assist Trailhead Country Kitchen LLC with a seed capital matching grant,” said VCEDA Executive Director/General Counsel Jonathan Belcher. “The seed capital program was established to assist entrepreneurs in growing their new businesses and is doing just that. Trailhead Country Kitchen projects two full-time and six part-time employees within three years.”

Already, Yates said, the new business — which officially opened in February — has one full-time employee and four part-time employees. The COVID-19 pandemic has created issues with operating the restaurant at its full potential, Yates said, but as state restrictions on restaurant openings have eased, things are starting to take shape.

An outside patio deck overlooks the river and inside dining is also available. In addition to its main dining area, Trailhead Country Kitchen also has a separate large room available to use for overflow diners or to offer for rent for parties and other larger gatherings.

“I saw the potential here when this was operated as a restaurant previously and when the opportunity came up, I had been considering operating a food truck, but instead decided to open the new restaurant,” Yates said. He operates two other businesses in Southwest Virginia’s e-Region, Rural Satellite Services in Dickenson County; and Freedom Wireless in Buchanan County.

Menu prices at Trailhead Country Kitchen range from $2 to $19 per item before taxes, depending on the order placed. Open seven days a week for lunch and dinner, business hours are 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays; and 12 noon to 8 p.m. on Sundays. Dine in and carry-out service is available.

“The VCEDA seed capital grant really helped us,” Yates said. “It helped us with inventory and to continue to operate through the pandemic to keep people employed and to be able to keep catering to the local and the ATV community.”

Yates worked with Margie Douglass, director of the Small Business Development Center at Southwest Virginia Community College. The Dickenson County Industrial Development Authority provided a letter of support for the project as well.

Trailhead Country Kitchen LLC is a member of the Dickenson County Chamber of Commerce and is located at 279 Main Street in Haysi. It may be reached by calling 276-865-7997. The business Facebook page regularly posts information about daily specials and other happenings in the community.

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.