A cup of coffee? A loaf of bread and a bowl of soup? A T-shirt design? A shave and a haircut?
Decisions, decisions. And they’re yours to make, after listening to four entrepreneurs make a short but impassioned plea for your vote.
Mugshots, Sarah’s on Main, Stradwick’s Fade Cave and Wheeling Threads have sights set on the $3,000-$4,000 cash prize to help fund their business ventures, and will be facing off in hopes of winning the most votes at the Wheeling Heritage Show of Hands event set for Wednesday, May 23.
When Jake Dougherty, now executive director of Wheeling Heritage, started Show of Hands about four years ago, “the goal was to show people things were happening in Wheeling,” explained Alex Weld, project and outreach manager of Wheeling Heritage. Weld took over for Dougherty when he became executive director.
“It has changed a little bit because I think now people know that things are happening in Wheeling. So the goal now is … we want downtown to be as vibrant as possible, and that can’t happen without small businesses,” Weld said.
All four of the presenters will gain something Wednesday, Weld pointed out — whether they win or not.
“The worst thing that can happen is that you don’t win, but you still make connections, there’s great networking that will happen, you will meet people at this event. Every business owner, every presenter will meet people at this event who are now fans of theirs, who had no idea of what they were doing before this. And that to me is what makes this such a cool event.
“Can you imagine being one of these people that says, ‘not only am I going to get up here and talk about my dream but I’m going to dedicate my savings and everything I’m doing in my life to open a business in Wheeling’? So it’s so important that people not only support them in here but go out in the real world and patronize their businesses,” Weld said.
One year, there was an accountant in the audience, Weld recalled, and he approached one of the presenters at the event. “He said, ‘Hey, I would gladly help you out with your accounting. Your business idea is so cool.’ I just happened to be in earshot and thought, ‘this is what this is for.’”
Wednesday’s Show of Hands is the 14th installment of the crowd-sourcing project. Some past success stories include the most recent winner, Zeb’s Barky Bites, started by a 9-year-old whose dog had a “sensitive stomach” — they’ve opened a storefront in Centre Market; Cat’s Paw, a gallery and frame shop; YWCA Youth Board; Vigilant Books and Coffee in North Wheeling; Grow Ohio Valley; and Ohio Valley Hip-Hop Awards.
This year, 13 applications where received, and the Show of Hands committee whittled it down to the four who will be hoping for the most votes on Wednesday. Some of the criteria the committee members considered are the impact of the project, the proximity to downtown, the inability to get traditional funding and that the amount of the grant will substantially impact the project, Weld said.
Orrick is the main sponsor, contributing $1,000 per event, while several people, who are part of a group called Friends of Show of Hands, each give $250 per event. The donations collected at the door also go directly to the winner. Other benefits include a marketing video produced by George Kellas, and WesBanco has agreed to provide a team of their employees to help guide the winning project.
Doors open at 6 p.m., with a half-hour of mingling, music by Gregg Molnar and snacks. The pitches begin at 6:30 p.m. A $5 donation gets you one vote, and a $10 or more donation gets you 60 seconds to make an announcement regarding something you or your organization is doing. Winners will be announced at around 8 p.m. The event is held on the third floor of the Wheeling Artisan Center, 14th and Main streets, Wheeling.
MUGSHOTS: Grant Coleman hopes that Mugshots — a gourmet coffee shop and eatery at the former Keg and Kraut in East Wheeling — will be open in early July. He has purchased the majority of equipment for the restaurant, but, with the Show of Hands funding, hopes to refurbish the building as well as work with local artisans to fabricate a coffee bar.
“This will help us out a great deal. While we absolutely will be opening the shop one way or another, we are a young family on a limited budget. We are putting just about everything we have into making this dream come to fruition, and this money would be a tremendous blessing when it comes time to open the doors,” he said.
“I have lived or worked (he is the Northern Regional program assistant for Catholic Charities West Virginia) in East Wheeling for most of my adult life. I love the neighborhood, and I love the people who live there. Every time I have driven past the abandoned old Keg and Kraut, I have thought about how great it would be for the East Wheeling community, and really Wheeling as a whole, if there was a thriving business there. … Once I saw the inside I fell in love with the building. … It is absolutely perfect for our concept, and I think it will make a great home for our business. There is also an opportunity for a tremendous amount of outdoor seating, and the space is large enough to offer some live music,” he said.
Coleman is excited about working with local artisans. “Renew Refinishing and Restoration has offered to help us with the build-out of the coffee bar. East Wheeling Clayworks will be hand-crafting mugs for us, and we will be offering them a place to sell their work in the shop. Our fresh produce will be purchased mainly through local entities like Grow OV and Jebbia’s. Our breads and baked goods will be purchased through a variety of local bakers and bakeries. My wife, Devan, and I are big believers in shopping local even in our personal lives. The shop will be the same wherever possible,” he said.
And, if it weren’t for coffee, Grant and Devan may not have met.
More than a decade ago, he worked a second job as a barista at Second Cup Café in North Wheeling, a spot where Devan and her friends would frequent. The coffee shop was about to close its doors for good, and Devan was about to head off to college. “It was my last shift of the last night the cafe would be open, and Devan rushed in at the very last minute to get a chance to say goodbye and for us to see each other one last time. We chatted long after the doors were closed to the public, and when it finally came time for us to go our separate ways I reached out to give her a hug. She wrapped herself around me with a burst of affection, and the connection that I had always felt with her grew to something I immediately couldn’t understand. … 10 years later, here we are married with an amazing little 5-year-old son and another child about to be born this October. … Coffee shops bring people together in a way that fosters relationships like no other type of business. … What a dream it will be to offer others the same opportunity we had to find love or friendship or even just the brief companionship of a stranger. East Wheeling needs this — a welcoming environment right at the entrance to the neighborhood, a place for neighbors to become friends and hard-working Wheeling residents to find sanctuary from the stresses of their day to day.”
SARAH’S ON MAIN: “We are nearing the end of a major renovation project at the 2122 Main St. or the Old Lebanon Bakery,” chef/owner Sarah Lydick said. “We have completely gutted and re-imagined the dining side of the new cafe. We are so excited to be doing this, to be a part of the revitalization of our beloved Wheeling.”
If Lydick wins, she will use the funds to spruce up the outside of the café, she said.
“We have a courtyard on the south side that we would love to make even more enjoyable. We want to install shade sails and purchase new tables and chairs so our customers can enjoy a little outdoor oasis in the middle of downtown. We already have great landscaping along the perimeter, thanks to the previous owners — it makes it feel like a little secret garden. We also would like to plant some large bushes along the sidewalk to cut down on some of the road noise We want to create a comfortable inviting space for the community to enjoy.”
Sarah’s on Main will be open for breakfast, lunch and special events.
“We’ll strive to source our ingredients locally, specialize in European-style breads and pastries. Each day, we’ll offer prepared sandwiches and salads that are ready to grab and go, as well as an extensive made-to-order menu. We’ll be perfect for a quick stop or to have a leisurely sit-down breakfast or lunch. At lunch, we’ll offer creative twists on classic sandwiches, soups and salads,” Lydick explained.
From a tiny farm town in Iowa (with a stop in Wheeling for a few years where she graduated from Wheeling Park High School and Wheeling Jesuit University), she was trained in classic French cuisine at culinary school in Paris, and “totally fell in love with the culture and their food traditions.”
Lydick apprenticed at The French Laundry in Yountville, Calif., one of the top restaurants in the world with three stars in the Michelin Guide. Following her apprenticeship, she cooked for a family in Pittsburgh, then came to Wheeling to manage Sandscrest.
“… until I decided the time was right to try to create something new.”
Lydick hopes to open Sarah’s on Main in June. “My husband and I are co-owners, but I’ll be the one there doing it. We will be posting menu peeks and pictures on our Facebook and Instagram pages, so please ‘like’ us!’
STRADWICK’S FADE CAVE: A barbershop with a man-cave feel is barber Chad Stradwick’s goal for the Fade Cave, located at 1902 Market St. He hopes to open July 10.
“It’s been my dream to open a barbershop in Wheeling and establish the ultimate grooming experience for men. Hair, beard, skin and scalp transformations are my specialties. Included in my skill set are straight razor shaves for the head, face, and neck accompanied by essential oil-infused hot steam towel services, deep cleansing and exfoliating facials, ingrown hair extractions, haircuts, beard trims, hair washes, beard lusters, and hair dye enhancement services consisting of temporary, semi-permanent, and permanent color,” Stradwick said.
“I want the ambiance of my business to resemble a ‘man cave,’ which is how I created the name ‘Fade Cave.’ Gentlemen in the Ohio Valley deserve to be pampered, yet they don’t have a place that caters to their interests. I want to fill that void, and I believe my vision of a rustic barbershop feel combined with the looks and feel of a man cave will bring my dream to fruition.”
He would use the Show of Hands money to complete the build-out costs to get the commercial space up to code and meet ADA standards for the restroom.
Stradwick was born and raised in Wheeling. “I’ve lived other places, but this will always be my home,’ he said. He graduated from the Errol Barber School in Morgantown.
WHEELING THREADS: “We are, in short, an apparel business that creates a different take on Wheeling tradition and pride,” said Wheeling Threads owner Daniel Finsley. “Our city has a vintage overtone, an overall historic memory, all while continuously growing into something modern. What we have created thus far is exactly that — using the historic traditions, and giving them a modern, light-hearted twist with our in-house designs. That being said, we are both artists, before anything else. Hence the awesome designs,” Finsley said.
“We simply want to continuously further our involvement in the art community. We sell our designs and product for profit, but the big picture is that we were created to not only push our own art for purchase but also help our surrounding communities and organizations raise money. Whether it be to help the Soup Kitchen of Greater Wheeling, Wheeling’s YWCA, or the Youth Service System of Wheeling raise money for their individual causes, or helping to raise money for an improved park section of a neighborhood, we are here to help you do just that.
“We will create completely unique and amazing designs for your cause — a piece of art that will never be found anywhere else, aside from at Wheeling Threads. We handle the print aspect, online presence, shipping, poster production (guerrilla marketing) and social media push. We will create shirts, hoodies, phone cases, pillows, towels and so on. We want to ensure it creates interest from as many demographics as possible. All the while only using a VERY small percentage to cover our printing costs for your paper marketing.”
The winning grant will help Finsley to build his inventory, find a downtown storefront and purchase an on-site payment system.
• After nearly 38 years as reporter, bureau chief, lifestyles editor and managing editor at The Times Leader, and design editor at The Intelligencer and Wheeling News-Register, Phyllis Sigal has joined Weelunk as managing editor. She lives in Wheeling with her husband Bruce Wheeler. Along with their two children, son-in-law and two grandchildren, food, wine, travel, theater and music are close to their hearts.