POUND, VA – OCTOBER 16, 2023 – The desire to give back to their community and to create a homestyle dining option in Pound was the primary reason Mark Pilkenton and his daughter, Kelsey, began planning to open Vonda’s Hometown Restaurant, named after Mark’s wife and Kelsey’s mother, Vonda.
Vonda’s Hometown Restaurant, LLC was a recent recipient of a $10,000 Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority (VCEDA) Seed Capital Matching Grant.
“Vonda’s Hometown Restaurant, LLC will provide a dining experience in Pound not currently available,” said Jonathan Belcher, VCEDA executive director/general counsel. “This will provide a new homestyle dine-in restaurant in Pound. Their plan to utilize locally sourced meats and produce will serve to further assist local farmers. The business projects up to four full-time and four part-time employees within five years.”
The Pilkentons, life-long residents of Pound, began to explore ways to give back and to grow their community and in doing so, began to focus on creating a community restaurant in Pound to feature homestyle cooking, utilizing local produce and local meats. Additionally, the restaurant will offer retail space for local artisans and crafters to sell their products.
Kelsey and Vonda will manage the day-to-day operations of the business.
“My Mom had a restaurant before and I grew up around it,” Kelsey said. “She was well known and I just thought it would awesome for her and for me to do this together. We want to become the local hub for the community to fellowship and share a meal.”
Deciding on the location was easy. Mark Pilkenton, a long-time small business owner in Pound, already owned the building, a former bank location, where the new restaurant will be located at 8044 Main Street in Pound. He had bought it previously for future business use and ultimately decided to work with his family to develop it into the new restaurant. Its location is near the public boat ramp in Pound, making it a convenient destination for kayakers and tourists traveling through the area to stop and grab a bite to eat.
Renovations are ongoing now, with plans to open in early winter 2023.
Once open, the restaurant will be open seven days a week, offering dine-in and drive-through pickup options. Breakfast, lunch and dinner menu items will be offered. A variety of salads, subs, sandwiches and burgers will be staples on the menu along with daily specials featuring comfort foods like chicken and dumplings and chicken casserole.
Funds from the VCEDA seed capital grant are being used to complete the renovations at the space, including new flooring, a hood in the kitchen and toward the purchase of small appliances needed at the restaurant which will seat approximately 40-50.
“We are very thankful for the VCEDA seed capital grant,” Kelsey Pilkenton said. “It definitely helped in giving us a head start on the restaurant and it has meant a whole lot to us.”
The Pilkentons 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 enjoyed collaborating with the Pilkentons as they set off on their exciting journey,” said Becki O’Quinn-Purdie, SBDC program director at MECC. “Get ready, Pound, because a fantastic homestyle dine-in restaurant is about to make its entrance, not only catering to the wonderful community but also bringing smiles to travelers passing through. The SBDC team is thrilled to be a part of this incredible venture and can’t wait to see Vonda’s restaurant flourish and bring joy to all who step through its doors .”
“The Wise County IDA was proud to provide a letter of support for Vonda’s Hometown Restaurant for the VCEDA Seed Capital fund,” said Wise County Economic Development Director Brian Falin. “We enjoyed visiting the new location, learning about the plans for the business and seeing firsthand the hard work and investment the owners are putting into providing a valuable small business to the Pound community. We see great opportunity for success for Vonda’s and look forward to visiting and having a good meal soon.”
Vonda’s Hometown Restaurant may be reached once it opens by calling 276-796-4396. The business may also be found on Facebook.
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, 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.