B&B Buffet Owner Awarded $3,000 to Invest in Business
Bonnie Henthorn, co-owner of the B&B Buffet in Middlebourne, found herself with $3,000 extra to invest in her business, thanks to a winning presentation at the Wetzel County Chamber of Commerce’s Wetzel Tyler Entrepreneur Pitch, held Monday, Sept. 23 at the Wetzel County Mollohan Center.
A $2,000 second place prize went to Minna’s Main Street Salon, LLC, while $1,000 in first place funds went to S&S Diamonds & Fine Jewelry.
Other pitch contestants included R&B Transportation, Grandma’s House of Quilting, Magnus’ Magnificent Balloon Magic, Jenkins Auto Parts, Diane Rivers LLC, Sub Express, Mountain Maintenance, LLC, Barista’s Cafe and Pub, and The Original’s PJ’s Pizza.
A representative of each business had the opportunity to give a five minute presentation on the business and what awarded funds would purchase for the business. Judges for the competition were Cory Dennison, Vision Shared; David Barnhardt, WVNCC; and Jody Murphy, Pleasants County. Gold sponsors for the event were EQT Foundation and Vision Shared. Silver sponsors were the Tyler County Development Authority and Regional Economic Development Partnership (REDP). Bronze sponsors of the event were Wetzel County Commission, WETZ/Power Country 99.5, WXCR LiteRock 93.R, and the Wetzel Chronicle.
The chamber’s Eric Vincent served as event emcee, while the New Life Apostolic Church served hot dogs, chips, and baked goods as a fundraiser.
The 2017 entrepreneur pitch winner, Michael Scharf, gave remarks on how last year’s winnings allowed him to buy a drone device for his business, Cricket Web Services. Scharf said the drone allows him to offer his clients additional photography services. He noted sometimes individuals seek his expertise in taking photographs of their personal property, or photos of gas line activity adjacent to their property.
Bill Stokes, proprietor of the Doolin Center, spoke of how the 2017 pitch’s second place funds allowed him to be able to purchase much-needed maintenance on the center’s heating and cooling. This allowed him to use the facility for a special February 2018 Groundhog Day party and March 2018 Mardis Gras party.
Following the 2017 honorees’ remarks, each competitor then took to the podium to pitch his or her business. Alicia Cook said Grandma’s House of Quilting, located on Maple Avenue in New Martinsville, provides quilting materials and quilts for purchase. Cook aspires to increase quilting in the area, and she offers classes in order to teach her trade. Cook has clientele from several areas, including Woodsfield, Sistersville, and Middlebourne.
Minna Emch, of Minna’s Main Street Salon, stated when she discovered her business’s 310 Main Street, she fell in love with the real estate and saw potential. She said she has a vision of creating a “beautiful spa and beauty shop,” much like one might see in Pittsburgh or New York City, or in her native Sweden.
Currently, Minna’s Main Street Salon employees two nail technicians and with additional funding, the business will upgrade its electricity with more electrical breakers, including one for the back room, where a tanning bed will be located in the future. Minna’s Main Street Salon will also have track lights in the future.
The purpose of Magnus’s Magnificent Balloon Magic is to “create joy,” according to owner Thomas Jackson. Future endeavors would involve the purchase of a Cricut machine, to cut vinyl and personalize balloons. The balloon business is approximately a year old and has served seven to 10 parties since its establishment.
Bonnie Henthorn, of the B&B Buffet on Main Street in Middlebourne, said her restaurant is self-service. The B&B Buffet consists of two owners and two part-time employees. The B&B Buffet strives to support the local economy with the purchase of materials from the local Witschey’s Market and other local vendors. Different promotions have been used to attract business, including an indoor picnic for the 4th of July, Knights Night discounts, and Sunnyside Up Saturday.
Additional funds would help the B&B Buffet with the purchase of an ice machine, lift chair, marketing, and a commercial fridge.
R&B Transportation is a Wetzel County business providing taxi service for area residents. Owner Billie Baker said his business had just recently provided transportation for a young lady who needed a ride to Camden Clark Hospital, to give birth. Baker said his business has grown in the past year with the addition of two more cars and two more drivers. He would like to see one more car on the route, specifically, an old original checkered-style taxi.
“It’s sure been enjoyable,” Baker said of his business, which might provide rides to 10 individuals on one day, or as many 25-30. Baker said he was inspired to start his business after working for the senior citizens center and realizing some individuals have no means of transportation.
Barista’s Cafe & Pub has been in business for 17 years and is now owned and operated by the Smith family, which took over in October 2017.
“We want to be a destination,” stated owner Adam Smith. Smith said he hopes the cafe will grow from a counter service to include a wait service. The Smith family would also like to add additional restrooms to the facility and upgrade the cooling facilities.
Recent improvements to Barista’s includes a deck overlooking the Ohio River and the implementation of local works by local artists. The venue currently employees 15 people, though the Smith family looks to hire four more, including the wait staff.
Scott Jenkins owns Jenkins Auto Parts stores, including one shop in Middlebourne in the former Southern States feed store. Jenkins aspires to move his auto parts store to a vacant building across from Witschey’s Market, at the north end of Middlebourne, and he hopes to have his new location open as early as November.
Jenkins noted the new location is a much larger facility and described the facility becoming a like a plaza. He noted he has one individual who is hoping to move her beauty shop to the property, and Jenkins himself hopes to add a Sub Express store. Jenkins would like to see the location grow and eventually even include a pharmacy facility.
Jenkins said any winnings from that evening’s chamber event would be put toward his new location’s parking lot. He described investing a substantial amount of funds into the location already, as he had to purchase five heating and cooling units.
Currently, Jenkins Auto Parts is open six days a week, starting at 6 a.m. each day. He said his client base is within a 30-40 mile radius and he does receive a lot of business thanks to the oil and gas industry.
Steve Hunt of S&S Diamonds and Fine Jewelry said he has been in business for 37 years now and is looking to grow with a signature engraving system. This system would allow S&S Diamonds to engrave a plethora of keepsakes, such as baby cups, awards, and more. Items can be engraved using a specific loved one’s handwriting. The jeweler’s current engraving machine is a manual machine, and Hunt described the different between the old and new machines as “day and night.”
Erika Donaghy said PJ’s Pizza is in need of an ADA standard handicap accessible ramp. Donaghy showed images of what the future investment would look like; she said the current PJ’s Pizza building is an older building. However, she wants to install the ramp so that all customers can feel independent. “We try to help people and want to uplift everyone,” Donaghy said of PJ’s Pizza. “We want to serve people the way they should be served.”