Tripling Their Love and Commitment to Napa’s Community
Ben and Ali Koenig opened Heritage Eats in Napa’s Bel Aire Plaza in 2015 to bring the valley a fast-casual, globally-inspired restaurant concept that thinks and acts locally. Opening and operating a family-owned, small business has presented its variety of challenges and opportunities for the Koenigs over the last five years, but the latest disruptions due to the novel coronavirus set a new course for the future of the restaurant industry as they knew it. Despite the dire business circumstances due to dine-in shutdowns and public health concerns, it became their goal to creatively think of ways to serve the most critical needs of residents, help in building community, and pivot and expand their business model to seek its greatest potential.
Thanks to the community’s response to support local restaurants, the Koenigs were able to do just that while providing a unique service to Napa in a time of extreme uncertainty. Their efforts included developing a variety of programs such as ‘Heritage @ Home’, a new staple grocery program that allowed Napa locals to get fresh food and essential products delivered to their doorstep; ‘Dine OUT and Donate’, a community partnership to donate portions of their sales to local organizations in need; and ‘Pay It Forward’, a campaign to help feed over 2,000 first responders and families.
Continuing this effort to adapt and meet the community’s changing needs, the Koenigs sought new ways to bring their restaurant to locals increasingly at home with two new mobile ventures – the Best Food Truck Ever by Heritage Eats and Haven Napa.
Now open, the Best Food Truck Ever by Heritage Eats is parked at the historic Food City building in South Napa. Traditionally a variety of cuisines are available amongst clusters of food trucks at festivals or business parks, but Heritage Eats put all of that variety into one truck – making the Best Food Truck Ever a single, easily accessible destination for an array of Heritage Eats’ greatest hits and savory truck-style menu items.
The second restaurant, Haven Napa, launched in October and is a ‘better chicken wings’ joint where the ‘joint’ is your own home. As a delivery-only, ghost-kitchen brand, Haven Napa is focused on bringing the ‘better wings brand’ to Napa. By being delivery only, the culinary team focuses entirely on the quality and flavor of the wings. Additionally, they have selected Mary’s Chicken, a NAE (“No Antibiotics Ever”) chicken brand, as the base for their unique-to-Napa flavors. Most popular items include Sweet Chili, Nashville Hot, and the Carolina-inspired cherry-flavored Cheerwine BBQ.
In celebration of these efforts, it is no surprise that Senator Bill Dodd named Heritage Eats Napa County’s 2020 Small Business of the Year. “It’s not about growing necessarily–it’s about recognizing we have a responsibility to do more,” remarked Ben. “The community support we have received enabled us to maintain employees and keep serving our neighborhood. Now we are multiplying that love by opening two more locations, hiring more local staff, and reinvesting in our Napa family. We’ve got to keep paying it forward.”
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Article By: Elizabeth Smith