MOBI graduate creating connections in downtown Bluefield, WV

Updated: Mar 29

Bluefield, WV – If you love a good burger or hotdog, another exciting dining destination just landed in downtown Bluefield, West Virginia. Charles Drake, a local resident and recent graduate from Bluefield WV Economic Development Authority’s (BEDA) Entrepreneur’s Bootcamp opened the doors to his new business on May 8th; Drake’s Place.

Located at 520 Federal Street, the restaurant is a quick-service dining destination that prides in their large selection of hand-held items. Some of their highlight items include their burgers, loaded hotdogs, and chicken sandwiches. You can pair their main entrees with their unique sides and desserts such as fried pickles, sweet potato fries, cookie and brownie delight, or dirt cake.

Grilled Chicken Sandwich, Hotdogs, and Desserts from Drake's Place

Drake was born in Mississippi, but was raised in West Virginia and considers Bluefield “home”. After seeing the separation that COVID-19 brought our small city, Drake gained a desire to serve and connect with the community and create a space for people to share a meal that feels like a cookout with your family in the backyard.

“I grew to love Bluefield, just being in a small town where people know you and you can see faces and be a part of the community,” says Drake. “When I think of the passion behind my restaurant, it’s family, being able to have nice gatherings, being outside, and just enjoying being together," said Drake.

Drake’s strong passion for family and community lies within raising his two sons with his wife, Leighia. Drake mentioned seeing his kids interact and put smiles on their guests’ faces is the highlight of his day.

Charles and Leighia Drake with their two sons

When journeying through the process of starting his business, Drake enrolled into BEDA’s Entrepreneur’s Bootcamp and graduated on June 23rd, 2020. Less than a year later, he opened Drake’s Place in downtown, dubbing the Bootcamp as a huge opportunity.

“Opportunities are that, you can either take an opportunity or leave it. MOBI is certainly an opportunity and to have the city put resources into a free class is extremely rare. Whether you want to start a business or not, it’s a good opportunity to learn," said Drake.

BEDA launched their Entrepreneur’s Bootcamp on June 5th, 2020, in partnership with Santa Clara University’s My Own Business Institute (MOBI). In response to COVID, BEDA sought a way to easily put practical and valuable tools into the hands of local small business owners or aspiring start-ups. The Authority continuously strives to provide tools and training to help the communities businesses grow and succeed. Drake is 1 of 17 graduates from the program.

Starting a business can be tricky and seem overwhelming, and BEDA’s program helps break down the process. The Bootcamp is spilt into two different tracks of your choice: Starting a Business, or Expanding a Business. Topics covered include accounting and cash flow, communication tools, E-commerce, buying businesses, and achieving lowest expenses. The courses are 100% free and can be accessed and completed on your own time. Starting is as simple as registering and having the desire to learn.

“I’ve got a 4-year degree, but what was great about MOBI is that it was condensed into short classes, it was meaningful content versus theories. It was very applicable to businesses. BEDA has done a great job connecting the pieces,” said Drake.

Drake’s strong passion to take what he has learned and serve others is already paying off. His May 8th grand opening was a success and they continue to create connections every day.

“My favorite thing about doing business in Bluefield is being able to see the same people over and over again. To know people, to know those in the community,” said Drake.

Drake’s is open 11:00am-7:00pm on weekdays and Saturdays. They currently offer quick service take-out, online ordering, and delivery through DoorDash. A loyalty program is also available for those that can’t get enough and want to save with rewards. Plans to open a dine-in experience are already underway.

To learn more about Drake’s Place, find them on social media @drakesplace.bluefield

Interested in our Entrepreneur’s Bootcamp/MOBI? Click here to find out more and sign up today

Faith Blackwell, Marketing and Administrative Assistant (

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