Afton Chamber Announces Citizen & Business of the Year
The Afton Chamber Introduces its Citizen and Business of the Year
The Greater Afton Area Chamber of Commerce has announced its choices for Citizen and Business of the Year for 2015-16. Nominees were submitted and voted on by Chamber members representing the wide area covered by the Chamber and overwhelmingly named the Main Street Grill and Bakery, owned by Liz Dawson, as the Business and Richard Cuthbertson as its Citizen due the honors for this year.
Rich Cuthbertson and his wife, Joan, moved to Afton from New Jersey in 1980, when Rich was transferred here by Bendix/Amphenol. Involvement in his community has always been part of self-expression for Rich. Almost immediately he became involved in local service organizations. With two growing daughters, Heather and Marissa, lending his guidance as a Girl Scout troop leader seemed the natural thing to do. Eventually, this broadened into a board membership on the Indian Hills Girl Scout Council and service on several committees. He also mentored with Big Brothers and Sisters of America and has been the object of praise for his inspiration and guidance to the youth in our area.
“Where there is a need, Rich steps up!” says wife, Joan. He has worked on the Board of Elections as an election inspector, as a member of the Afton Village Planning Board, and as Past-President and current treasurer of The Afton Sertoma Club. A Vietnam vet, Rich serves as an active member and Quartermaster of the Afton VFW Post 3529. Other pursuits have included a place on the editorial board and columnist for the original Afton Vision Group, which produced the inspiration for the inaugural version of “The Afton Vision” community newspaper.
Rich is also a volunteer water monitor for our local watershed area and a participant in the Afton Community Garden. In 2013, he helped resurrect the Greater Afton Area Chamber of Commerce and served on that board. Currently, he is newly appointed to the Afton Village Board of Appeals, and volunteers at the Afton Food Pantry.
Looking for a more artistic outlet for his “large” personality, Rich became a founding member and served as Past-President of the Afton Community Theater. He is also a past board member of the Tri-Town Theatre in Sidney, and served with the Bainbridge and Norwich theatre groups. He can regularly be seen on the stage of all local theater companies as both an actor and director. He is also a much sought-after Master of Ceremonies by many organizations, as his quick wit and inspiring voice raises the level of any event of which he is a part. But perhaps most important of all, Rich has been SANTA CLAUS for local children’s groups and parades for 20+ years.
As Joan put it so well, “Basically Rich has always been there for any group that has asked. He has been a mainstay of this area for almost 40 years – often with little or no recognition. I think it’s time to honor his years of service.” The citizens and businesses of the greater Afton area heartily agree, and honor him for his generosity of spirit and contributions to our communities.
A favorite among locals, and visitors alike – the Main Street Grill and Bakery, a cornerstone in Afton for the past decade, is being honored as the 2015-2016 Business of the Year.
Many describe this popular haunt as a “hidden gem”. Owner, Liz Dawson, has over 35+ years of restaurant experience, which shows in everything from the gorgeous presentation to some of the best farm-to-fork flavors in this area.
The Main Street Grill is a great place to enjoy a casual lunch, or a full-course dinner to celebrate a special occasion, and its popularity has brought visitors to Afton from distant areas just to experience the food.
Liz Dawson sprouted her culinary wings during her early twenties “My success came from hard work and because I take great pride in all that I do. Creating the Main Street Grill and Bakery was very exciting”.
Liz contributes to the community in any way she can. Her business and culinary philosophy is all based around community and sustainability. Local sourcing for the restaurant is important and Liz makes all their own bakery items from scratch. “It’s not only a great way to support our local economy to make it sustainable for future generations, but it’s also a great way to showcase the dedication and hard work of local producers and their unique products” she says.
Liz decided to revitalize the inside of her restaurant recently to reflect her beliefs – the dining room now features a mural of the “Tree of Life”, painted by a local artist. For Liz, it’s important that customers not only enjoy their food when coming to her restaurant, but that they have an amazing experience and take that experience away with them. “We are all part of a community network – an ecosystem – and it’s a beautiful thing. I want to connect consumers with the producers that live here in the community. Once that door is open, it’s amazing the connections we make. I feel so blessed that as a restaurant owner and chef, I’m able to do that”.
Local residents of the area are also grateful for the opportunity to partake of the phenomenon that is “The Grill”. Mention Afton in passing conversation to a stranger, and they are likely to say, “Oh, Afton—The Grill!” The community and the Greater Afton Area Chamber of Commerce are pleased to honor such a fine institution.
The formal recognition of Rich Cuthbertson and Liz Dawson’s Main Street Grill and Bakery will take place on Sunday, May 15 at the Afton River Club from 3-6 p.m. Internationally known motivational speaker, John Perricone will speak from 3 to 4:30. Presentation of this year’s honorees by Senator Fred Akshar will precede a sumptuous buffet dinner. Tickets for the afternoon events are available at a cost of $30 to Chamber members and $35 to the general public, who are enthusiastically invited to attend. More information on ticket purchases for the dinner can be found at www.aftonchamberofcommerce.com/events.