Meet The Staff
Sean Pugh, Co-Owner/General Manager
Sean Pugh began his restaurant career at the age of 16 washing dishes at Bob’s Big Boy Family Restaurant in his hometown of Annandale, VA. Although it was not the most glamorous job, Sean soon found he enjoyed the pace of the restaurant business and the wild assortment of people that tended to work there. After spending two years in the kitchen, Sean left his position as closing kitchen manager and moved to the front of the house to start waiting tables and began his first semester at George Mason University.
George Mason did not work out too well for Sean and he dropped out near the end of his second semester and started working part time as a teller for Crestar Bank. Although his banking career spanned the next six years, Sean always had a restaurant job to supplement his income and social life. The next big restaurant experience was at Benningan’s in Falls Church, where Sean made some lifelong friends and learned how much money is possible to be made waiting tables. In the meantime, Sean found himself going back to school to continue his education.
After completing an Associates Degree at Northern Virginia Community College and finishing a two-year stint at Chesapeake Bay Seafood House, Sean transferred to James Madison University and applied for a waiter position at Joshua Wilton House at the recommendation of one of his managers at Chesapeake. After waiting 9 months for an interview, Sean started as a waiter in May of 1993.
Fifteen years later Sean has grown at JWH from waiter to training waiter to full-and part-time manager to Catering Director to General Manager, finally making the transition to owner-manager in July 2004. Along with his business partners, Ann Marie and Mark, Sean is involved in all aspects of the business, but his main focuses are the wine program and accounting/financial matters.
Sean lives in Harrisonburg with his Miniature Schnauzer, Ludwig.
Ann Marie Coe; Co-Owner/General Manager
Ann Marie grew up in Fairfax City, Virginia. At an early age, Ann Marie was quick to learn all about southern hospitality from her mother, who was the master at making everyone feel at ease and welcome. As a young girl, she spent a great deal of time playing “make believe restaurant” to entertain her family and friends.
During her early college years at Northern Virginia Community College (where she met co-owner Sean Pugh), Ann Marie waited tables at a restaurant and concert venue and discovered she really enjoyed the people she met at the restaurant and that she had a knack for customer service.
Ann Marie moved to Harrisonburg to pursue a degree in Sociology from James Madison University. Her interest in people became further focused on helping others, and she earned her Master’s degree in Special Education. Her love for the Shenandoah Valley led her to search the area for teaching jobs.
She taught elementary children with special needs for six years with Staunton City Schools. During holidays and summer vacation she worked on the catering staff at Joshua Wilton House. It became clear to Ann Marie that it was time to move on to a new phase in her life, so she left education and worked at the Wilton House as inn sitter, housekeeper, and host. When Ann Marie had the opportunity to co-own a restaurant and inn with her two best friends, she jumped at the chance.
Mark Newsome, Co-Owner/Executive Chef
Mark’s culinary life began after his James Madison University days. Mark possesses a graduate degree in Biology from JMU and is a self taught Chef. In the early 1990’s Mark trained under Chef Shane Ingram at Joshua Wilton House and took over the kitchen as Executive Chef after Shane’s departure. Mark’s culinary influences are both broad and varied, allowing him to experiment with all cuisines in the Joshua Wilton kitchen.
The one constant philosophy involves fresh, local ingredients. Over the years, significant relationships have been forged between Mark and local farmers. Supporting the community and knowing exactly where the food comes from are major priorities for Mark. Joshua Wilton House was the first restaurant to utilize Polyface Farms located in Swoope, Virginia.