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DRBA Presents 2020 Star Awards

The Del Ray Business Association presented its annual Star Awards on Jan. 19, recognizing key individuals who have gone above and beyond in their service to the Del Ray community.

Jason and Loren Yates, owners of Yates Automotive, Lena’s Wood-Fired Pizza & Tap, Yates Dry Cleaners, and Yates 7-Eleven were presented with a Business Award. “Jason & Loren Yates’ generosity to countless nonprofits, their support and participation of all the events that Del Ray Business Association sponsors, and their dedication to providing the best services to the community is unequaled,” said Del Ray Business Association board member Gayle Reuter. “Even in the mist of the country’s worst pandemic and the worst possible time for businesses to survive, they have never wavered in supporting their employees and donating critical services and funds to nonprofits that are helping those most in need.”

Mara Benner, owner of Four Directions Wellness, also received a Business Award. “Mara is one of our most dedicated volunteers and a tireless advocate for small business,” said Del Ray Business Association President Sue Kovalsky “As chair of our membership committee and a key member of our wellness committee, Mara has led tremendous efforts to promote our small businesses and help them survive this pandemic — safely.”

The Del Ray Business Association presented its Star award for public service to retiring Alexandria City Councilwoman Del Pepper, in recognition of her 35 years of service to the City of Alexandria. “Del has been a long-time supporter of the Del Ray Business Association, an advocate for small businesses, and one of the biggest cheerleaders of our community events,” said Del Ray Business Association board member Pat Miller. “From promoting the Alexandria Turkey Trot from the City Council dias, to judging decorating contests at the Del Ray Halloween Parade, to showing up to show her support for new businesses at their ribbon cuttings, you could always count on Del Pepper to be there with her smile and positive words of encouragement.”

The Del Ray Business Association presented a special award to the Alexandria Curbside Dining Group, a Facebook group with over 11,000 members focused exclusively on supporting our restraurants during the pandemic, founded by and moderated by The Zebra Press’ Mary Wadland and Lucelle O’Flaherty. “This is a great example of someone asking, ‘How can I help businesses directly?’ — and making a huge difference,” said Reuter.

The Del Ray Business Association represents the independently-owned restaurants, retailers, and businesses in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria. For more information, visit