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Craven Raven’s a dream come true for ex-mill worker

MONESSEN – From an early age, Raven Anderson knew he liked to cook.

The youngest of 11 children, Anderson said his mother showed all of his brothers and sisters around the kitchen.

“It was definitely useful back then and it was something I enjoyed,” Anderson said. “We all learned how to cook and how to bake.”

Over the years, Anderson did a lot of cooking and barbequing with friends and family.

He even developed his own barbeque sauce. Well, actually, several flavors of sauces.

When Anderson was laid off from his job at the Koppers (Arcelor Mittal) plant in Monessen, he figured maybe it was time to put his hobby to work.

Craven Raven’s Barbeque – welcome to the Mid-Mon Valley.

Anderson, 47, opened his barbeque business on Third Street over a year ago and, even though the business has experienced some ups and downs with the economy, it has kept him busy.

“It was something I always wanted to do but never had the time,” he said. “Once I got laid off from the coke plant, I figured why not?

“I’ve been here a little over a year now.”

Craven Raven’s is a labor of love for Anderson.

And it’s a job that’s more time consuming than working in the mill.

“During the summer, my days start at 4:30 in the morning and I wasn’t getting home until after 10 at night,” he said. “In the winter, I cut back a little, but I still start early. There is a lot to do.”

Anderson said some days at the business he is swamped and others the orders are far and few between.

“The inconsistency is the toughest thing about this business,” he said. “Sometimes, it’s discouraging, but I try to stay positive.

“This was a dream for me. I put my heart and soul into it.”

Anderson says he prepares every meal as if it was being served to him.

“I try to let the love show through the taste of the food,” he said with a smile. “I do everything — all of the cooking.”

He says that the best part of having the business is dealing with people and seeing happy customers.

“When people are satisfied, that makes it all worth it to me,” he said. “It’s nice to make money, but I’m not in it for the money. If I stay busy and put out a good product, I’m pleased.”

Anderson said that on the slow days, his bad business is good for some family and friends.

“I’ve helped a lot of people out,” he said. “I’ll call them and say, ‘I’ve got leftovers, but ain’t delivering. You gotta come and get it.’ They do.”

Anderson, who is a winner in the “Best Ribs” category in The Valley Independent’s Valley Favorites, says while he was hoping Craven’ Raven’s would be a side business, it appears that it will be a little more fulltime for him for a while.

“I just got a letter from (the mill) that we won’t be going back to work until 2012,” he said. “That makes it a little tough.”

In the meantime, he’ll continue with the business, which is open 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.

He says he also began taking online classes to learn the home inspection business.

“I like to stay busy,” he said.

“I’m just a guy trying to make it.”


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