Town icon, owner of 'The Cheese Shop' passes away

The Cheese Shop and Fat Canary owner, Tom Power, died last week.

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. (WVEC) -- A town icon is gone in Williamsburg, but he's leaving his legacy behind.

Tom Power died this week in an unfortunate swimming accident in Bermuda.

Power's children tell 13News Now, Bermuda is a place where their dad and mom Mary Ellen loved and had vacationed many times over their 56 years of marriage. Their first trip to Bermuda was for their honeymoon in August 1961. 

The Power’s owned “The Cheese Shop” and “Fat Canary” right in the heart of Colonial Williamsburg's Merchants Square.

Their first cheese shop was located in Warwick Center, Newport News in 1971. In 1973, Tom and Mary Ellen opened their second shop, located on Prince George Street in Williamsburg.

In 1980, Tom and Mary Ellen opened the Trellis restaurant in Merchant Square with business partners John Curtis and Marcel Desaulniers. The Powers operated the Trellis for 14 years and then sold their interest in 1994.

In 2003, Tom, Mary Ellen and their three adult children had the opportunity to relocate The Cheese Shop to Duke of Gloucester Street.

Fat Canary has been awarded AAA’s Four Diamond Award. In 2015 and 2016 Fat Canary was awarded Top 100 Best Restaurants in America by Open Table. 

In 2016, Mary Ellen and Tom were inducted into the Specialty Food Association Hall of Fame. Over the years the Power business has been lauded in newspapers like the New York Times, and magazines like Newsweek, The Washingtonian, Virginia Living, Distinction, and Hampton Roads Monthly.

Tom and Mary Ellen recently received the 2017 Prentis Award from the College of William and Mary on May 16. The Prentis Award is given each year to recognize an individual or couple in the Williamsburg community for their strong civic involvement and support of the College of William and Mary. 

Their children Cathy, Mary Ellen, and Tom Power Jr. continue the work started by their parents. They posted on The Cheese Shop’s Facebook page they will soon plan a great celebration to honor their father.

Faith Cumings and her husband moved to Williamsburg almost 40 years ago, and instantly formed a relationship with the Powers.

"I will always associate him with what's good about Williamsburg," Cumings says. "I wish I could have told him about the difference he made in The Cheese Shop, the town and my life."

To read more about the Powers and their more than 40 years of service to the community, head to The Cheese Shop webpage.

© 2017 WVEC-TV


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