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Why I Built My Business in Washington County, VA (and You Can, Too!)

Learn from a local entrepreneur why Washington County is the perfect place to start a business.

By Lindsey Hyde on February 24, 2023

Mustafa Ahmed opened Greeko’s Grill & Café in 2018 and Rendezvous International Cafe in 2022.
Billie Wheeler

Quaint, friendly, affordable, growing – there are several reasons people choose to open a business in Washington County. Here, entrepreneurs can live the “good life,” thanks to the area’s phenomenal amenities, all while growing a successful company.

To get a clearer idea of what it is like to live and launch a business in Washington County, Livability spoke with Mustafa Ahmed, who opened two restaurants in Abingdon – Greeko’s Grill & Café in 2018 and Rendezvous International Café in 2022. He was born in Dubai, grew up in Egypt, and spent time in England, New York and Qatar before moving to Abingdon in 2015.

What brought you to Washington County?
Honestly, I was just visiting some friends. I have a very good friend who owned a restaurant here in Abingdon called Milano’s Italian Cuisine, and I just helped him for a little bit. I discovered that I really liked it here. The people were so nice and welcoming. My wife and I were expecting our first child, and we knew this was the place where we wanted to raise our family.

Why did you think Abingdon would be a great place to start a business?
We have a very nice town, and I enjoy bringing new things to the locals and tourists, like moussaka, lamb gyro, crepes, boba tea and more. I love it when people try some of our food for the first time and love it. There wasn’t anything quite like our businesses here, so I felt like it could fill a gap.

How did the community respond to you opening both businesses?
The people of Abingdon have been so supportive and having such a variety of restaurants to choose from just makes it more successful for everyone. Everyone here has been so supportive of my businesses and my family. I’m so happy we can call this place home. I see the people here as my family.

What kind of resources are available for entrepreneurs in the area?
The Washington County Chamber of Commerce is a big help as well as Abingdon tourism. They do everything they can to support locally owned businesses. The residents here are also very supportive and loyal to the businesses they love.

What piece of advice would you give others looking to start a business here?
Always believe in yourself and just be patient. The first one or two years are always the hardest, but if you build relationships with the community by supporting other organizations and businesses, I believe they will support you. It’s extremely important for us to give back to the county school system and organizations like Barter Theatre. It’s been part of our mission since day one, and it’s always paid off.

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