TAZEWELL, VA – November 7, 2022 – In 2021, Vincent and Lucie D’Amato decided it was time to leave Virginia Beach where they had lived for more than 30 years to move to Tazewell County to the farm where Lucie grew up. The decision to open a small business followed based on the idea of supporting the county in which they now live full time. They decided to purchase and renovate a circa 1889 building on Main Street to open their new business, a deli and hiking gear shop, The Happy Goat LLC.
The Happy Goat LLC, which will open later this year, was a recent recipient of a $10,000 Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority (VCEDA) Seed Capital Matching Grant.
“The Happy Goat will offer another dining option as well as a place to purchase hiking gear in Tazewell that will appeal to both tourists and locals,” said Jonathan Belcher, VCEDA executive director/general counsel. “In so doing, it will create new jobs in the community which is what the VCEDA Seed Capital Matching Grant program strives to do. The new business projects two full-time employees and five part-time employees within five years.”
In 2021,Vince retired from government sales and Lucie had the ability to continue to work remotely in healthcare, so the timing seemed right to move to Tazewell and to start the new business. The couple’s son, Joe, also moved to the Tazewell community and is helping to launch the business. His college friend, Antonio Villa, relocated to Tazewell from Richmond and will help run the deli. Both are graduates of Virginia Tech with agriculture science degrees.
“Goats like to eat and hike; Tazewell is a livestock community, so the thinking was let’s open a deli and hiking gear store,” D’Amato said. “It can also be a great place to use your computer, meet friends or catch a football game.”
After purchasing the building at 216 Main Street, the D’Amatos began making needed renovations, including replacing the roof, upgrading the electrical and plumbing, installing new floors and walls and making other structural improvements. New exterior windows and side windows, as well as a new brick front were also added.
In addition to selling sandwiches, salads, soups, hot dogs, side items and daily grab and go fare, the new deli will also offer table seating, as well as seating at two large walnut counters. The business is also tapping into the outdoors market in the area and will offer hiking gear and accessories for sale.
“The vision of the business is to connect with the community and offer an opportunity to partner with local farmers and folks interested in doing business together, “ D’Amato said. “We also would like to create a connection place for local/regional hiking.”
Those interested in being trading partners with the new store, may contact The Happy Goat by sending an email to info@the happygoatonmain.com.
As the business grows, D’Amato added, plans are to add catering services through the development of sandwich and salad party trays. Ice cream and/or gelato offerings are also likely to be added to the deli offerings.
The D’Amatos worked with the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at Southwest Virginia Community College (SWCC) in developing their application to VCEDA and received a letter of support from the Tazewell County Industrial Development Authority.
“Getting approved for the VCEDA grant was huge for us,” D’Amato said. “It showed us people feel comfortable with what we are doing and with our business plan. A big shout out to Misty Bandy and Margie Douglass at the Small Business Development Center – they really helped us out with the application process.”
“Main Street in Tazewell, VA, is the perfect setting for The Happy Goat LLC to build a thriving business that will cater to locals and tourists alike,” said Margie Douglass, SBDC program manager at SWCC. “Within their newly renovated space, the D’Amatos will operate a quality upscale deli and an outdoor adventure retail shop with an emphasis on promoting hiking in the surrounding areas.
“It was the pleasure of the staff at the SBDC to work with The Happy Goat LLC on the development of their application and business plan in the process of applying for the VCEDA Seed Capital Matching Fund Grant,” Douglass added. “With the assistance of this grant, we are confident The Happy Goat on Main will become a staple of the community for locals and a must-visit destination for tourists. We are thrilled that the D’Amatos have decided to open a business highlighting their hometown’s beauty and small-town hospitality. We look forward to continuing to work with The Happy Goat as they grow a diverse and loyal customer pool along with the economy of Tazewell County.”
The business may be reached at 757-651-3975.
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.