MOBI graduate creating connections in downtown Bluefield, WV

Updated: Jun 9

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 pro