Lena’s owners and staff were presented the award Feb. 11 in a ceremony at Yates Corner, where Lena’s is located. The award, given to the business that represents the heart and soul of Del Ray, is determined by a public vote of neighbors and customers.
"The Yates family has been a part of Del Ray since 1964," said Del Ray Business Association board member Gayle Reuter. "They've always been such an important part of Del Ray, always decorating, always winning landscape awards, and has given back to the community in so many ways -- especially these past couple of years with COVID. Every time we put out a call for help, Lena's is always there supporting us. This award reflects how much you care about your neighbors and the community itself."
Lena’s is owned and operated by Jason and Loren Yates. Named for the matriarch of the Yates family, the restaurant opened in 2015 at Yates Corner, which also includes Yates Dry Cleaning, Yates 7-Eleven and Yates Automotive Service Center.
“We’re very, very grateful to have [Lena’s] as part of the community.”
DRBA president Lauren Fisher
Patrons cited Lena's thoughtful dining experiences throughout COVID. For many, a visit to Lena's Oasis marked their return to in-person dining during the pandemic.
"Lena's didn't just put up a tent with tables outside," wrote one nomination. "They recognized people needed an escape during COVID, so they created an elevated dining experience.”
Another nomination noted their involvement in community events.
"Lena's always opens their door to the community, sends pizza for volunteers, sponsors events and is always there to support our community."
Over 1,000 neighbors participated in online voting. 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, Ms. Preeti's 7-11, and Dolce & Bean. A business cannot win the award multiple years.
"It's not just the innovations and the experience,” said DRBA president Dr. Lauren Fisher in presenting the award. “There's something special -- there's so much heart put into all of your businesses and being family-owned adds to it. People feel it. We're very, very grateful to have you as a part of the community."