On the night of January 2nd, Benjamin Culwell, the co-owner of Maggie’s Subs, set his alarm for 2 in the morning. He set it in anticipation of the blizzard that was forecasted, and when he woke up, he saw that the snow had begun to accumulate. He had a choice: either drive into downtown Fredericksburg before dawn to open his sandwich shop, or risk getting snowed in for possibly a few days. He chose the former. And to the residents of downtown Fredericksburg, he became a much needed source of comfort.
The building which houses Maggie’s has a history long predating the newly established sandwich shop. Over the years it has housed a variety of businesses, including a shoe store and dress shop. In fact, the building was initially conjoined with the neighboring locations of what are now Spirit’s American Bar & Grill and Bella Hair. Now that it is refurbished into Maggie’s, Culwell wants to provide quick sandwiches to the people of Downtown Fredericksburg.
Culwell, who has lived and worked in Fredericksburg his entire life, owns Maggie’s along with his father, Matthew Culwell. “This was a culmination of passion and love,” Culwell said, as evidenced by their decision to name the restaurant after his mother, Maggie. One of Culwell’s primary goals with Maggie’s is to pay homage to the City of Fredericksburg, which is abundantly clear upon your first step into the establishment. Replicated signs and polished antiques are decorated throughout, highlighting the history of both the building and city. And while this was Culwell’s first endeavor into opening a business, he and his father did not run into any major setbacks throughout the process.
That all changed soon after opening, when Culwell arrived at Maggie’s on the morning of Monday, January 3rd. As all residents of Fredericksburg (and probably most residents of Virginia as a whole) are aware, the snow that had accumulated that morning was extensive, averaging at almost a foot throughout the region. Many businesses, both downtown and throughout the surrounding area, lost power. But Culwell was fortunate enough to not lose power throughout the snowstorm. And while he allowed his staff to stay at home for safety, Culwell decided to open Maggie’s for those in Fredericksburg who needed nourishment.
As Culwell noted, many downtown restaurants did not have power during and after the blizzard, therefore had no way to heat up or refrigerate their food. “I kind of owed it to everyone to stay open,” Culwell said, as he believes he had a luxury in still having his power.
In the following days, according to Culwell, Maggie’s was extremely busy. Guests, most of whom did not have power, showed up to eat at Maggie’s, even if it meant, in some cases, walking across Chatham Bridge. And while he had to work by himself for three days, Culwell was thrilled to feed the residents of Fredericksburg through such a situation. “I’d never seen anyone that grateful to see a sandwich,” he said.
While the work to keep Maggie’s open was substantial, Culwell believes it was all worth it. His decision to stay open brought comfort and support to the local community, and for him, that is a pivotal action to take. “That’s what being a human is all about,” Culwell said. “It’s about your connection with everybody.
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