By Randy Arrington
About 30 local representatives and residents — and even a few tourists — showed up to mark the new ownership of the local wine shop and eatery that now features an extended food and drink menu.
“It’s exciting,” new owner Lynette Shenk said, “and it’s humbling, the support we’ve had from the community and the town.”
In July, Shenk purchased the downtown business from Chris and Lindi Jenkins, who first opened The Valley Cork on Dec. 6, 2018 and then closed the doors this past May. Shenk reopened the downtown eatery on Aug. 1, and received a full ABC license in October.
The food menu includes many of the favorite flatbread specialities previously featured at The Valley Cork (like pesto and three-cheese), but now the menu has added Loco Taco, California Chicken and Philly Cheese Steak options as well. There are Charcuterie Boards, small plates, sides and snacks, and of course — sweet treats, featuring the signature Cookie Skillet.
Those who attended Thursday’s ribbon cutting event were treated to miniature versions of the signature dessert.
On May 19, the previous owners of Valley Cork posted their decision to shutter the popular business on their Facebook page. The COVID-19 pandemic had closed the doors for two months at that point, and the recovery to a reopening just wasn’t in the cards for the Jenkins, who also needed to tend to their other business, Faithbrooke Barn and Vineyards.
“We have some heavy things to share, but our first priority is to say ‘thank you’. Your support has meant the world to us as we’ve tried to grow something special here in Luray, a place where we can all ‘Congregate, appreciate, and celebrate,’” the May 19 social media post began. “Like so many, we’re having to make some difficult decisions during this time. We must turn our full effort and attention to Faithbrooke. Because of this, we’ve made the difficult decision that we will not be reopening The Valley Cork.”
When Shenk saw that Facebook post in late May, she told her daughter, “This is something we should really look into.’”
Shenk isn’t new to the food service industry. She and her husband David operated Little Cabin BBQ and had been catering events all across the region since 2007.
But when she lost her husband of 23 years in December, she felt lost herself.
“Then COVID hit, and I was kind of in a downward spiral,” Shenk remembers. “So, I just needed something to do with my time.”
Now, she focuses her attention on a much-needed addition to the downtown eatery scene, along with help from her daughter, Samantha Dean, and her daughter-in-law, Emily Moyer.
“Even when we spoke with [the Jenkins] about it, and they said come talk to us — I still didn’t think it would really happen,” Shenk said.
But now that it has, she’s in it for the long haul.
“Wine isn’t something that happens overnight,” Shank said with a smile that could be seen even behind a mask. “Just like my roots are deep in the county… it takes deep roots for a fine wine to be produced. Page County is beautiful and full of color, and we’re open to all.”
Valley Cork is open 4 to 10 p.m. Thursday through Saturday. For more information visit them online at https://www.thevalleycork.com/