Rhoda Worku, right, owner of the Caboose Café and winner of the 2016 Heart of Del Ray award, is joined for a photo by past winner Pat Miller, Caboose Café employee Iris Hasing, and past winners Serdar Basegmez, Bobi Bomar, Eric Reid and Megan Brown.
Forget Iowa and New Hampshire. It was the Caboose Café and Bakery that came out on top once the votes were counted in the 8th annual Del Ray Business Association’s Heart of Del Ray award.
Caboose Café owner Rhoda Worku was presented the award Feb. 12 by DRBA president Bill Blackburn. Given each year during the Valentine’s Day holiday, the award’s giant heart goes to the business that serves as the “heart and soul of Del Ray.”
“We want to thank everyone that nominated a business,” said DRBA representative Gayle Reuter. “Over 35 wonderful businesses were nominated making it very tough to narrow it down to just five finalists. Many voters also expressed continued strong support for past winners, which is a tremendous compliment to them and reaffirms how lucky we are to have such great businesses in Del Ray.”
“The one thing I heard most from voters was how hard it was to vote for just one business because we are so lucky to have such great businesses in Del Ray."
— DRBA representative Gayle Reuter
Other finalists for the 2016 award were Affordable Signs and Banners, Holy Cow/Pork Barrel BBQ, Taqueria Poblano and Truly-Life Eco Gifts.
Voting is open to the public and takes place via email in the week leading up to Valentine’s Day. According to the DRBA website, selection is based on which business best demonstrates a “warm and welcoming attitude to the community and customers, a commitment and generosity to the community and to an overall contribution to what makes Del Ray the best place in the world to live, work and shop.”
“The one thing I heard most from voters was how hard it was to vote for just one business because we are so lucky to have such great businesses in Del Ray," Reuter said.
The Caboose Café, located at 2419 Mount Vernon Ave., has been in business for more than 12 years serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. A second location is in Cameron Station in the city’s West. End.
According to Reuter, voters commented on "how welcoming the Caboose Cafe staff always is and how it feels like home. Several parents also mentioned that they love that Rhoda and the Caboose staff have provided such a safe and happy place for their kids to visit before and after school."
More than 1,600 votes were cast and a business can only win once. Previous winners of the award include A Show of Hands, Jen Walker McEnearney Associates, Bobi Bomar Homes of Alexandria, The Neighborhood Pharmacy of Del Ray, Greener Cleaner of Del Ray, Del Ray Pizzeria and Mind the Mat.