COEBURN, VA – OCTOBER 6, 2022 – Traditional German foods will soon be available on Southwest Virginia tables as Oma’s Haus – operated by the mother and daughter team of Ulrike and Sonja Whalen — opens on 111 Dickerson Avenue in Coeburn in early winter.
Oma’s Haus was a recent recipient of a $10,000 Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority (VCEDA) Seed Capital Matching Grant.
“One of VCEDA’s target industry sectors is creative tourism and those businesses that support it,” said Jonathan Belcher, VCEDA executive director/general counsel. “Oma’s Haus fits that bill with its plan to bring a restaurant featuring traditional German foods to Coeburn, giving residents and tourists alike a new dining option while at the same time creating jobs. The new business projects four full-time employees and seven part-time employees within five years.”
The new German restaurant will also feature an artisan bakery, which is already operational, even as the restaurant location is still undergoing renovations. The Whalens are working out of the new location to run the bakery side of the business, selling German pretzels, including the ever popular Gouda cheese and bacon pretzel, as well as other traditional German breads and desserts, marketing those at area farmer’s markets and as special orders.
“Our dream is to bring authentic German foods to the table and to welcome everyone,” Ulrike Whalen said, noting their desire is to make everyone feel at home, like they would at “Grandma’s house.” “Oma” is the German word for “grandmother.”
“Some of the recipes we use are traditional family recipes and some we’ve updated with a twist,” said Sonja Whalen. “We use family recipes, including those we have from a cousin, who was a master baker in central Germany.”
Two favorites are the Black Forrest Cake and the After Eight Cake. The After Eight cake features mint melted in the chocolate frosting.
Custom orders are accepted for cakes, cookies, other desserts and for made from scratch breads.
“I’ve always liked baking and Sonja went to culinary school, so this is a good fit for us,” Ulrike Whalen said.
The Whalens used the seed capital grant to purchase equipment for the kitchen and toward remodeling costs of the building.
“The grant helped us tremendously,” Ulrike Whalen said.
Sonja Whalen agreed, adding, “it helped us get on the right track and gave us a boost of confidence. Doing something like this is a leap of faith.”
The Whalens 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 Wise County Industrial Development Authority.
“Mountain Empire’s Small Business Development Center appreciates the opportunity to get to know the ladies with Oma’s Haus,” said Becki O’Quinn-Purdie, SBDC director at MECC. “We are excited to see this new business open and provide a new option for dining in the area. Oma’s Haus established a great reputation through local farmer’s markets and we feel confident that will continue with the restaurant. The SBDC appreciates the VCEDA Seed Capital Fund opportunity for this business.”
“Being unique is very important in today’s small business environment,” said Wise County IDA Executive Director Brian Falin. “Oma’s Haus is taking full advantage of that opportunity by establishing a German-inspired restaurant and artisan bakery in the Town of Coeburn. The Wise County IDA was proud to provide a letter of support for Oma’s Haus in their application for the VCEDA Seed Capital program. Ulrike and Sonja have a true passion for their business and we are excited to see it continue to develop and grow.”
The business may be reached at 254-458-6048.
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. Only businesses in qualifying industry sectors are considered for funding. The seed capital program is funded by regional natural gas severance taxes paid by the natural gas industry.