With fall in full swing, many Ohio Valley residents are decorating their homes with seasonal staples like mums, corn stalks and pumpkins. For many families, autumn trips to Nicky’s Garden Center have become a yearly tradition. Over the course of the last few years, Nicky’s has added to its offerings, becoming a true day trip destination.
Mary Coleman of Wheeling says she and her family have been making an annual trip to Nicky’s for the last four years. She and her husband Andrew have four children: Lance, 16; Aiden, 6; Chloe, 4; and Emily, 2. The family enjoys everything from the coffee shop to the pumpkin patch.
“We make a day of it,” said Coleman. “We are usually lucky enough to catch a food vendor to grab some lunch, and we spoil the kids with treats from the coffee shop. I, of course, order a pumpkin spice latte to sip on while we browse.”
Coleman continued, “The kids each pick out their own pumpkin and we always leave with mums, hay bales, and corn stalks as well. We love to take our traditional photos at the Fall displays.”
The Coleman family looks forward to fall fun at Nicky's every year.
Coleman says her family looks forward to the fall trip to Nicky’s Garden Center all year round.
“This has become a tradition because our children will talk about Nicky’s Garden Center throughout the year and how they look forward to going back,” Coleman said. “It is a wonderful feeling to have created these cherished memories.”
This fall, the Colemans and all the other visitors to Nicky’s Garden Center will have even more to enjoy. Since late July, locally beloved Avenue Eats has been operating a food truck during the weekends onsite at Nicky’s. From 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, patrons can grab one of the restaurant’s signature burgers and fries from the limited menu.
Nicky’s Garden Center owner PJ Lenz happened to purchase a food truck just prior to the tragic fire that permanently closed Avenue Eats brick-and-mortar location in November 2020. Lenz and his wife Nikki had been loyal customers to the restaurant, and it seemed like a natural idea to form a collaboration.
“My family loves Avenue Eats, and [owners] Laura and Phil have always been great customers at Nicky’s,” Lenz said. We contacted them about a month after the fire and said, ‘I think we have a win-win for both of us.’”
Lenz added, “It has been awesome seeing all the love out there for Laura, Phil and Avenue Eats.”
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In the first few weeks, fans poured out in droves to show their support. The momentum has continued, and customers are still lining up for a taste of the gourmet burgers they’d been missing since the business had been closed.
“My burger was as dreamy and delicious as any Ave burger ever was,” said local resident Lindsay Schooler. “With a little patience for a slightly smaller menu and wait times on par with any restaurant or food truck, folks are sure to enjoy Wheeling’s garden eatery.”
The lunch and dinner offerings from the Avenue Eats food truck compliment the coffee shop that’s been operating at Nicky’s since the business was at the Bethany Pike location. After the move to the Warden Run Road location, the coffee shop expanded and now offers Nikki’s homemade biscotti and chocolate chip cookies, mini donuts, slushes and several new coffee drinks, including some that are CBD infused.
Nicky’s Garden Center has even started offering fitness and wellness classes. Local fitness instructor Ashley Wear has been holding her “Fight for Your Health” classes on weekends at the center. The self-defense inspired class is offered for $10 and includes a CBD coffee or latte from the coffee shop.
Wear says holding classes at Nicky’s Garden Center is not only enjoyable but beneficial to the participants’ mental health.
“The environment that you are working out in truly matters,” Wear said. “Being outside surrounded by nature or in the greenhouse surrounded by plants makes for the perfect place for a workout.”
Wear continued, “It help you check in and be present when you can hear the birds chirping and wind rustling. Plus, the energy of Nicky’s is magical. You feel tucked away in a sanctuary and can truly be at peace.”
Of Wear, Lenz said, “She is awesome at what she does, and she has a great class.”
Lenz says there are ongoing conversations with more local entrepreneurs, and they hope to see some additional offerings and attractions come to business in the next year.
Nicky’s Garden Center is open for retail sales Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
• Wheeling native Jennifer Materkoski is a graduate of West Liberty University and Kent State University, where she earned a master’s degree in journalism and mass communications. Before beginning her current role as director of communications and employee engagement for a global business process outsourcing firm, Jennifer worked in local media and non-profit communications. She is a current board member of Generation Wheeling, also chairing the organization’s Work Committee. She lives in Wheeling with her husband, Rich, and her three children: Mason, Mercer and Miller.