A Loudoun-based restaurateur has been recognized as the best in the state.
Tony Stafford, owner of Ford’s Fish Shack, has been honored as the recipient of the Jim Wordsworth Restaurateur of the Year Award by the Virginia Restaurant, Lodging & Travel Association. Ford’s Fish Shack has locations in Lansdowne, Ashburn, and South Riding.
The award recognizes a Virginia restaurateur who is distinguished as a successful operator, demonstrated exceptional leadership and extraordinary contributions to Virginia’s restaurant industry, his restaurant, and patrons.
Stafford realized his dream of bringing fresh “off-the-hook” seafood and home-made dishes to guests after he served as executive chef for Artie’s in Fairfax, and as the managing partner at Bonefish Grill in Centreville. In 2010, Stafford and his wife, Ana, opened the first location of Ford’s Fish Shack in Ashburn. Seven years later, they have three restaurants plus a growing catering branch—Ford’s Wicked Catering.
“This is definitely a people business—and as long as you put your people first, you will be successful,” Stafford stated. “My staff (over 165 people) and I work very hard every day to make sure every guest is made to feel like they are a VIP in our restaurants. When I won Virginia’s Restaurateur of the Year award, the first thing I thought was all of us are being recognized. I could not have won this award without their daily support. I was the one accepting this award but it actually belongs to every employee, both present and past.”
Recently, the Northern Virginia Magazine named Stafford’s Ford’s Fish Shack the “Best Seafood Restaurant” for the fifth year in a row. Ford’s also is a returning competitor at Tasting Table’s Lobster Roll Rumble in New York City.
Stafford donates more than $50,000 in cash and food annually to local organizations like Autism Speaks, American Cancer Society, Relay For Life of Loudoun County, Life With Cancer, No Kid Hungry, Boulder Crest Retreat, and the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center.