Alexandria, VA

Outgoing Alexandria City Councilwoman Del Pepper received top honors from the Del Ray Business Association on Tuesday, as Pepper and a number of notable Alexandrians were virtually presented with the community’s annual Star Award.

DRBA ended up tricking Pepper by telling her that they wanted her to briefly speak to the association about Del Ray’s finer qualities. Instead, Pepper arrived at the virtual meeting to find herself the recipient of the neighborhood’s greatest annual honor.

“It was really wonderful to get that, and soon I’ll have my star in-person,” Pepper told ALXnow. “They really tricked, me. Del Ray really is special to me and to be recognized by them was just great.”

DRBA board member Pat Miller said that Pepper has been a cheerleader for Del Ray during her 35 years of public service.

“From promoting the Alexandria Turkey Trot from the City Council dais, to judging decorating contests at the Del Ray Halloween Parade, to showing up to show her support for new businesses at their ribbon cuttings, you could always count on Del Pepper to be there with her smile and positive words of encouragement,” Miller said.

The Business Award was presented to Jason and Loren Yates, owners of Yates Automotive, Lena’s Wood-Fired Pizza & Tap, Yates Dry Cleaners, and Yates 7-Eleven.

“Jason & Loren Yates’ generosity to countless nonprofits, their support and participation of all the events that Del Ray Business Association sponsors, and their dedication to providing the best services to the community is unequaled,” said Del Ray Business Association board member Gayle Reuter. “Even in the mist of the country’s worst pandemic and the worst possible time for businesses to survive, they have never wavered in supporting their employees and donating critical services and funds to nonprofits that are helping those most in need.”

Mara Benner, owner of Four Directions Wellness, also took home a business award.

“Mara is one of our most dedicated volunteers and a tireless advocate for small business,” said Del Ray Business Association President Sue Kovalsky. “As chair of our membership committee and a key member of our wellness committee, Mara has led tremendous efforts to promote our small businesses and help them survive this pandemic — safely.”

DRBA also recognized The Zebra Press for starting a Facebook curbside dining group that has grown to more than 11,000 members.

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