Madison Heights, VA - At a time when so many businesses go under, one Madison Heights restaurant has managed to survive for more than half a century.
Dudley's Family Style Restaurant has affordable dishes, nightly specials, and a convenient location. But that's only a small part of this businesses' recipe for success.
If Della Dudley ran your town, city hall would be open 24/7 and she would lead by example, the value of hard work.
"I've been at it since August 1, 1961 at 3 o'clock in the evening. And I've worked seven days a week ever since," Dudley says of working in the restaurant business.
The owner of Dudley's Family Style Restaurant dropped out of eighth grade to help raise her siblings. Now that same commitment is the reason for her business' success.
"It's almost like going to your own home 'cause she treats everybody like family," said George Ardenbright, a frequent customer.
Laurie Gulluscio, the director of marketing and membership for the Retail Merchants Association, Inc., will tell you there's value to first-name greetings and this small town nostalgia.
"Customers are willing to pay more for that," Gulluscio explained.
Della Dudley may not hold public office or even a high school diploma.
But she's accomplished what she considers her life's calling.
"I love people and I love helping people and I love giving people a job," Dudley said.
And the 66-year-old has no plans of giving up any time soon.
"I plan on doing this as long as I'm able to crawl," Dudley added.