A Familiar Face Opens Up a New Business in Downtown Wheeling

In recent years, the City of Wheeling has seen private and public funding funnel into the region supporting several new projects–from infrastructure repairs to construction projects to new businesses. While it may be rough now, there appears to be a diamond under the surface.

One of the people riding the rails of revitalization is Melissa Rebholz. Known by her friends as ‘Midge,’ Rebholz founded Midge’s Kitchen in 2020–a business that utilizes locally grown produce for to-go meals, available at the Public Market, and to cater private events.

In her life, Rebholz has worked in the food industry as both a farmer and chef throughout the country. She’s also traveled across the country where she has experienced the dining options offered in big cities and rural communities alike. Upon moving to Wheeling in 2019, she quickly noticed a gap in the local food scene–street foods. 

Melissa Rehbolz stands outside of her kitchen, located in the First State Capitol building. (photo taken by Ruthylee Photography, posted on Midge’s Kitchen.)

“We have really nice places to get food downtown, but what about all these guys on the street,” Rebholz said, considering the workers redesigning Wheeling’s streetscape. “I don’t know a lot of people who can spend $15 on lunch multiple times a week, so I wanted to have something cheap and easy to grab and go.”

“Spending 14 years in New York there are things you can buy on the street, like $1 sliced pizza, pretzel knots, roasted nuts, and hotdogs,” Rebholz said. 

A native of Buffalo, New York, Rebholz knows a good hotdog when she sees it. Playing on West Virginia’s cultural ties to hotdogs, she thought she could combine the two histories in a way unique to the region. That’s where her latest business venture came to mind–Midge’s Hotdogs.

Utilizing a cart she purchased from Michigan, and after going through the registration and licensing required by the local health department, Rebholz has started offering the City of Wheeling the comfort foods she has become accustomed to in her travels.

  • Rehbolz plans to offer specials throughout the year keeping the Midge’s Hotdogs’ menu lively and featuring local ingredients when they’re in season. (photo courtesy of Melissa Rehbolz)

Midge’s Hotdogs will serve hotdogs from New York that are all beef with natural casings that lock in moisture, and a vegan hotdog option. The buns are freshly baked from Cellone’s bakery in Pittsburgh, PA.

As for the toppings, you can expect the classic condiments of mustard, ketchup, cheese, and a chili sauce, or just sauce as it’s known in West Virginia. Rebholz will be mixing it up, too, with an Ohio corn relish and a cabbage and beet relish–both utilizing local ingredients when available. 

She also plans to offer specials throughout the year.

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“People can come and just get mustard on the hotdog, and then they’ll be the opportunity for people to think outside the box a little and get different things,” Rebholz said of her menu.

And, as with any hotdog cart, Midge’s Hotdogs will offer chips and sodas, too. 

As for the price, Rebholz is keeping it simple. $3.50 for a meat dog, and $4.00 for any toppings. Vegan dogs are $4.00 for the base, and $4.50 with toppings. 

Accessibility is something Rebholz has considered throughout the design and development of Midge’s Hotdogs.

“I don’t want to just cook food that 70% of the community can’t afford. That’s not what I want to do with my career,” Rebholz said. “But if people want meals that cost more than a hotdog, using local produce, that are more using my culinary education then you can come to the Public Market and buy those meals.”

You can find Midge’s Hotdogs throughout Wheeling in the next couple of weeks – check out her schedule below! Rebholz will be set up most often from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., alternating between the corners of 14th and Main, and 15th and Eoff. 

The schedule for Midge’s Hotdogs is from July 24 through August 18. Updates are available on Facebook at Midge’s Kitchen.

As for special events, Midge’s Hotdogs will be vending at the Wheeling Arts Fest on Aug. 5 at Wheeling Park, at the Waterfront Hall on Aug. 6, and during the Heritage Music BluesFest from Aug. 11-13. Rebholz is also planning on setting up at other events throughout the year.

“If you’re hungry, come get a hotdog on the street and then you’re not hungry anymore,” Rebholz said of her business. “And you can do it with the couple dollars you have in your pocket.” 

To stay updated on when and where Midge’s Hotdogs will be, follow Midge’s Kitchen on Facebook and Instagram

• Justice Hudson is an AmeriCorps volunteer and citizen journalist originally from Saint Albans, West Virginia, and has lived in Wheeling since January 2020. He studied history and women and gender studies at West Virginia University and has worked in farming and community education since moving to the Friendly City. In February 2023 he began writing as a folk reporter independently for the Hudson Household Editorial and for organizations including Mustard Seed MountainBlackByGod: The West Virginian, and Weelunk.