TULA’S RESTAURANT AND BAR, THORNTON RIVER GRILLE, RUDY’S PIZZA, AND THE CORNER STORE are all Rappahannock food operations that are owned and managed by the Thompson family of Sperryville.
Ken and Mary Thompson moved to Rappahannock County, Virginia in 1993. While shopping in the Corner Store in early 2000, Ken overheard the owner Randolph Clater talking to a realtor about the possibility of selling the store. After the realtor left, Ken questioned Randolph about his plans, which resulted in the Thompsons acquiring the store three weeks later, and son Andy and his wife Dana moving from Texas to operate the store.
In late 2002, work began on the creation of the Thornton River Grille. Using vacant space in the Corner Store building, the Thompsons hired Peter Kramer to design and build the new restaurant, which opened in November, 2003 under the direction of Executive Chef, Tom Nash.
In 2006, the Thompsons and Nash began thinking about pizza. In December of 2006 Rudy’s Pizza was born and the Corner Store building was now out of room. By 2009 Rudy’s claimed the distinction of being named “The best pizza in Sperryville.”
In 2009, the Corner Store was selected by Virginia Business Magazine as the Northern Virginia Finalist for the 2008 Virginia Small Business Success Story of the Year Award.
In 2014, the Thompsons expanded their food operations to the Town of Washington by opening the new Tula’s Off Main Restaurant and Bar. The new Tula’s offers full service dining, private dining, a separate bar, and outside dining on the patio. The bar also has a separate ping-pong room that is proving extremely popular.
Andy Thompson is General Manager of all four food operations and has found a high level of synergy between the businesses. The Corner Store has long been known for high quality meats, seafood, and sausages, and is the primary supplier of these products to each of the restaurants. “By combining the purchasing power of all of our operations, we are able to better control quality and manage costs,” says Andy. Nash and Corner Store Manager Terri Lehman work together to find local suppliers for food products, to the extent that practically all produce used by the four operations are sourced locally.
Wine Specialist Jacob Konick manages wine selection and purchasing for each of the businesses, and Andy finds local and international beers (over 250 varieties) for the operations.
And what does Ken Thompson plan to do in the future? “Concentrate on improving my ping-pong,” says Thompson.