Voting is now open for the 2021 Heart of Del Ray award, sponsored by the Del Ray Business Association!
Every February, the Del Ray Business Association presents the Heart of Del Ray Award to the business that represents the heart and soul of Del Ray, as determined by a public vote of neighbors and customers. Selection is based on which business best demonstrates their warm and welcoming attitude to the community and customers; their commitment and generosity to the community; and to their overall contribution to the Del Ray community.
The nominees for the 2021 Heart of Del Ray -- plus comments from the customers who nominated them -- are:
Voting is now open at visitdelray.com/heartofdelray; voting closes at 12 p.m. on Th., Feb. 11. A large heart-shaped award will be displayed on the winning business on Fri., Feb 12 to greet them for the Valentine’s Day weekend.
- DEL RAY PSYCH & WELLNESS: Their bright blue building is a hub of community activity -- including donation drives for local non-profits, free outdoor yoga, pop-up markets, and more. "This business has become a neighborhood bright spot and part of its foundation. From how festive the building looks now, to its outside free classes and all the workshops offered to help keep Del Ray happy and healthy, especially now!" wrote one nomination. "The virtual resources that Del Ray Psych has provided during the pandemic have been so, so helpful and accessible. Community is at the core of everything they do," wrote another.
- DOLCE & BEAN: Dolce & Bean features delicious desserts -- and one of Del Ray's favorite neighbors, owner Petros Ghebre-Egziabher. "Petros is the nicest, most welcoming business owner -- he always greets guests with a smile! His spirit, even throughout COVID, has put a smile on my face, as well as lightened up the community atmosphere," wrote one nomination. "He takes the time to get to know all of his customers and has fostered a culture in his store of exactly what I think of when I think of the word 'community,'" wrote another.
- ROCK OF AGES MUSIC (ROAM): Founded by Alexandria native John Patrick, ROAM is an all-inclusive music center that discovers and cultivates artistic talents. “They are building a safe community for our kids, all while embracing the arts. The end results are amazing and fill the kids with such a sense of accomplishment and self esteem," wrote one nomination. "JP and the gang always have the kids best interests at heart, and keeping them occupied and creative through this pandemic," wrote another.
- ROSEMONT LANDSCAPING & LAWNCARE: While this Del Ray business has seen tremendous growth, they've remained committed to their hometown, volunteering with community projects and cutting lawns at no cost for those who are terminally ill. "This is a home-grown business that is always ready to donate a helping hand to the local community through school donations, playground installations, Rebuilding Together and many more," wrote one nomination. "They are compassionate and passionate about building the best community, yard by yard, playground by playground," wrote another.
- ST. ELMO'S COFFEE PUB: Known as "Del Ray's Living Room," St. Elmo's Coffee Pub has been a community gathering place for over 20 years; after COVID, they moved from hosting poetry readings and jazz nights to being a collection center for Grace Food Pantry. "When I think of a heart, I think of a beating hub of activity. I think that perfectly describes the role St. Elmo's plays in Del Ray," wrote one nomination. "This neighborhood has been built around St. Elmo's. It’s time to recognize the place that started it all!" wrote another.
- STOMPING GROUND: Three words are used most often to describe chef/owner Nicole Jones’ Stomping Ground -- friendly, welcoming, and delicious. “Nicole epitomizes the life and love in Del Ray. She’s inclusive, supports diversity, brings southern hospitality, and provides a certain spice that is so rare anywhere else,” read one nomination. "In addition to making amazing food, Nicole is such a champion of other small businesses in Del Ray! She's also so good to her staff and works really hard to make sure they earn a living wage. Through COVID she's put them first and made changes to ensure their safety stays key while keeping her business open."
A business can only win the award once. Past winners of the award include A Show of Hands, Jen Walker of McEnearney Associates, Bobi Bomar Homes of Alexandria, The Neighborhood Pharmacy of Del Ray, Greener Cleaner of Del Ray, Del Ray Pizzeria, Mind the Mat Pilates & Yoga, Caboose Cafe, Del Ray Cafe, Pork Barrel BBQ/Holy Cow/The Sushi Bar, Taqueria Poblano, and Ms. Preeti's 7-11.