BIG STONE GAP, VA – February 24, 2023 – What started as a food truck nicknamed “The Shack,” as a nod to the appearance of the food truck as it was brought home to be renovated, has since sparked an interest in the community and in Rebecca and Joe Baird that led them down a path to develop a full-service restaurant with a bar.

The Shack at Lonesome Pine, LLC, located at 2706 Country Club Road in Big Stone Gap, officially opened earlier this month and began providing guests with a dining experience and a place to hold catered events in space leased at Lonesome Pine Country Club.

The Shack at Lonesome Pine, LLC was a recent recipient of a $10,000 Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority (VCEDA) Seed Capital Matching Grant.

The food truck, which was initially operated by Rebecca and her brother, Jackie, while her husband, Joe, was deployed to Afghanistan, continues to operate today, even as Rebecca, Joe and Jackie begin their new venture with the brick and mortar restaurant facility.

“While the Bairds have previously operated a food truck in the region, their decision to open a second business, an entirely new restaurant facility, will serve the local community and tourists alike,” said Jonathan Belcher, VCEDA executive director/general counsel. “The business originally projected one full-time and four part-time employees within five years, but has already adjusted those projections to be two full time and five part-time in that period.”

The new restaurant, which includes a full bar serving classic cocktails, beer and wine, is open for lunch and dinner and celebrated a soft opening earlier this month and will formally celebrate its grand opening on March 10 at 2 p.m. The main restaurant facility, seats 52, however, a banquet room seats up to 160 and is used for larger events for which the banquet room is reserved, according to Rebecca Baird.

Baird described the restaurant as a “fast casual restaurant, with a relaxed family atmosphere,” serving philly cheese steak and reuben sandwiches, burgers, chicken tenders and other home-cooked fast food items and salads.  Grilled shrimp, steak medallions, spinach artichoke queso, crab dip and more are also staples on the menu. Boxed lunches are available for golfers at the country club during the day.

“We used the VCEDA grant to make some necessary renovations to the restaurant space, including toward redoing the floors, new furniture and new kitchen equipment and to assist in purchasing our food inventory,” Baird said. “The grant enabled us to do things we might not have been able to do before. It gave us the opportunity to get started with a positive balance.”

The Bairds 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 Community College’s SBDC is privileged to work with The Shack at Lonesome Pine as they transitioned and grew from food truck to adding a brick and mortar location,” said Becki O’Quinn-Purdie, SBDC director at MECC. “The Shack will provide event services and catering needed for the county club and the area. VCEDA’s Seed Capital Fund will allow The Shack at Lonesome Pine to continue to make needed improvements and offer excellent food and service to the community.”

“The Shack food truck is a staple of Wise County and the region and we are excited to see them grow their operations at the Lonesome Pine Country Club,” said Brian Falin, Wise County Industrial Development Authority executive director. “The opportunity to provide food service to the members and guests of the club, as well as for special events and catering, gives the owners significant growth potential and will be a great addition to Wise County. The Wise County IDA was proud to support this application.”

The restaurant is open Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. One buffet a month is held, usually on the first Sunday of the month. Saturdays and Sundays are reserved for private events. During the month of February, the banquet room was booked every weekend.

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, within qualifying business categories, 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.