This month's "Business Spotlight" is Fuad Khayyat and the family behind Vine Valley
How did you get started? What made you want to start this business?
ALL: Growing up, we always loved being in the kitchen.  We're foodies. We enjoy cooking and making food. Fuad always cooked for friends, family, and people would say, "you need to open a restaurant!" We were customers of Vine Valley, and about 10 years ago the owners wanted to sell. 
FUAD: I thought, why not!? I can make the business more inclusive, open it up to the masses. Bringing the food to everyone and taking away the intimidation of Lebanese cuisine.  I've made it more than a grocery store.  Today, it's more about the kitchen than the products on the shelves. 
How long have you been in business?
FUAD: Vine Valley has been around for 30 years, we bought it 10 years ago. ELIZABETH: Vine Valley is an area in Lebanon, we wanted to keep the name. 
If you could go back to the beginning of the business, what would you tell yourself?
FUAD: We would have jumped right into the distribution game. We distribute our hummus, baba ganoush, kibbe, and more.  Hoping to get into chips and other items. It was intimidating to make that jump, because you don't know what the market is, but people have really responded. We're in Acme, Mustard Seed, Seven Grains, and other grocers in the region.  We make the hummus you get at Cafe Arnone. 
From your perspective, what is the business climate like in Akron?
ELIZABETH: It's good, people love to support local business, but we feel it could be better. 
FUAD: Here in the Valley, the small businesses could do so much better if the Valley improved overall. It's the gateway to the National Park, and in the 1970s and 80s it was thriving.  Customers would come more often if the Valley was a destination.  
MELISSA: We get folks coming to Vine Valley from all over northeast Ohio, they might stay if there was more to do. 
Thinking of the Merriman Valley, what would you like to see for the neighborhood?
ELIZABETH: Less vape stores and massage parlors. (we all laugh out loud in agreement)
FUAD: We need to take advantage of the National Park, create a true gateway neighborhood.  One thing we can do is build the Valley depot station and get the train to stop. 
What is your favorite thing about your business?
ALL: It's family. This is a family-owned business. We love making food for our customers. 
TIM: Our patrons are an extension of our family. 
MELISSA: We have customers who have been coming to Vine Valley for 30 years, who bring their friends, kids, and grandkids. 
ELIZABETH: Food connects you to family and friends.
FUAD: The positive feedback we receive from our customers makes it all worth it. It's what drives me. We grew up here in Akron, this is our home, and we love it. 

Vine Valley is located at 1450 N. Portage Path, Akron, 44313. They are open Tu-F, 11am-5pm, Sa, 11am-2pm, CLOSED SUNDAYS & MONDAYS