Unique sweet treats from an award-winning business in Morgantown

Have a sweet tooth? Head over to the Cupcakerie, the first and only cupcake bakery in Morgantown. Located on Willey St. it opened in 2011. Two friends, Anna McCarty Carrier and Janet Nelson Williams, met back at 2007 when they worked at a local law office together. They both grew up in Morgantown and graduated from WVU.

The ladies shared a passion for being creative, cooking and baking. When Anna decided she wanted to open up her own business, she opted for a cupcake shop.

Cupcake shops are quite trendy nowadays through the country. But back then there was no such place in Morgantown. Still to this day The Cupcakerie remains the only cupcake bakery in town. They have won the Best Sweet Indulgence in Morgantown award from Morgantown Magazine for the past five years.

What makes this business unique is that the cupcakes are made every single day from scratch. Anna and Janet strive to provide the best product with the finest ingredients. They also offer gluten free, sugar free and vegan options. They are also passionate about creating originally designed cupcakes for special days and occasions.

“We would love to add a personal touch to your event, whether it is your wedding, shower, birthday, retirement party, graduation, Christmas party, office party, tailgate… or anything else you may dream of! We believe cupcakes are perfect for every occasion!!!”

i-need-cupcakes

The Cupcakerie offers nine signature collections, one of which is The Mountaineer Collection.  The names of cupcakes include ‘Take Me Home Rocky Roads’,  ‘Gold & Blue-berry’, ‘Mountain Mama’ and ‘Almost Heaven Apple Pie’. As you can see the names are inspired by local traditions that are unique only to West Virginia.

Image source: Cupcakerie's Facebook page

Image source: Cupcakerie’s Facebook page

For more information check out The Cupcakerie on Facebook and Twitter.

Have you ever tried anything from The Cupcakerie?

 

 

 

 

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A Forgotten Relic

When most of us think about a shopping mall in the Morgantown area, we probably think of the Morgantown Mall. Located only ten minutes from the downtown campus and easily accessible by car and bus, it is a short distance from both WVU students and faculty. It also has the distinction of being the only traditional shopping mall in town.

However, this wasn’t always the case.

(video by Dan Bell, retrieved from YouTube)

The Mountaineer Mall, located in the West Sabraton area of town, was built in 1975 and experienced its greatest degree of success in the 70’s and 80’s. The mall even expanded in 1987, including more stores like Claire’s and Foot Locker. As you can see in the video above, the architecture of the mall was very fitting of the time, with its bright colors, skylights and interesting brass figures. The look may be dated now, but it was cutting edge in the late 80s, and probably wouldn’t look out of place in a John Hughes movie.

Business began to slow down significantly when the Morgantown Mall was built in 1991. Several big-name stores moved from one mall to the other, like JCPenney’s. Realizing that the old business model was no longer viable, the mall decided to change strategies, opting for discount retailers to replace the department stores that went to the other mall.

The “dead mall” has undergone something of a renaissance over the last few years, as what was previously a beacon of retail and commerce has become a place of community for many Morgantown residents.

The mall, which is now owned by Jager Management, includes (among other things) a senior center, a rehabilitation center and is the home to the Monongalia Arts Association. The mall also holds certain special events such as the Children’s Consignment Sale of Morgantown. It was even a polling place in the last election.

While the Morgantown Mall has taken a fair amount of business from the Mountaineer Mall, the elder statesman has demonstrated an ability to adapt and find a varying degree of success in an ever changing business climate.

Is Downtown Living Really All It’s Cracked Up To Be?

After just a few short months,  college students can’t wait for the day they can finally move out of their small, patrolled dorm rooms and into their own private apartment.  One of the main reason students move out of on-campus housing, such as dorms, is because they lack the freedom they were seeking when going off to college.  The thought of finally being able to escape quiet hours and floor meetings excites first-year students.  What they don’t realize is that new apartments aren’t always what they’re cracked to be.

What many students may not know is that there can be numerous rules and regulations and unexpected costs hidden within a lease.  Emily Wurster, WVU Junior, was so excited to sign the lease to her new apartment that she completely skipped over the part that stated she wasn’t allowed to have pets, extension cords, or even candles.

Another unexpected cost for students can be air conditioning,  A great deal of downtown housing in Morgantown lacks air conditioning, which can turn your apartment into a sauna for the first and last few months of the school year.  Many students turn to Amazon in hopes of finding a cheap portable air conditioner to keep their apartments at a decent temperature.  Justin Bianco, WVU Junior, lives at Casa D’ Amici where there isn’t any air conditioning. “I had to get a cooling unit.  The heat made it almost impossible to sleep and it was just straight up uncomfortable.”

New house/apartment hunters tend to get excited when landlords show them places they like, and things such as utilities can easily slip their minds.  Utilities can include electric, gas, water, sewer, trash and cable.  Some landlords may require you to pay all utilities, while others may only require you to pay a portion.  If you’re lucky, you might find a landlord who will pay all utilities.  Although most utilities in Morgantown are generally reasonable, you should make sure you know which ones you are responsible for before signing that lease, or you could be in for an unexpected and costly surprise.

You find that a lot of students who live in dorms complain about the noise, even when quiet hours are in session.

They hope that when they get their own apartment it will always be quiet when they want it to be quiet.  What they don’t realize is that apartment walls tend to be even thinner than the concrete walls of the dorms.  Old buildings creek every time your upstairs neighbors decide to walk around.  Oh, and lets not even get started with the sirens.  If you chose any apartment or house even remotely close to High Street, be prepared for sirens at least once a day.

Everyone has their own opinion about where the perfect spot is to live.  So what do you think, is downtown living really all it’s cracked to be?

Craft Beer in a Small Market

There are three main options when it comes to local brews in Morgantown. You can find Chestnut Brew Works, Mountain State Brewing Company and Morgantown Brewing Company all pouring their beers all over Morgantown.

Black Bear Burritos, Pies & Pints, Apothecary, Iron Horse Tavern, Gene’s Beer Garden and other bars and restaurants, like Roosters and Martins BBQ Joint, all have at least one local beer on tap pretty much all the time. People love local, whether it’s shopping, drinking, eating or playing, people in Morgantown tend to choose local. People love the time, energy, hard work and passion put into brewing a beer that is made by somebody across town.

Morgantown Brewing Co. and Mountain State both can their beers and they can be found all across West Virginia, all thanks to local distributors that make sure people get the local beer they love. Mona Supply Company Incorporated distributes Anheuser-Busch owned beers, such as Stella Artois, Wild Blue, Boddingtons, etc. Being a beer distributor isn’t an easy job with deadlines to meet, kegs to tend to, tucks to unload and manages to deal with. The right mix of customer service, diligence, hard work and beer knowledge is key to succeeding in a competitive distributing market.

Northern Eagle Distributing, out of Romney, W. Va., focuses on bringing in more craft beer selections, like Bell’s and Founders. They use their Facebook page in collaboration with other local beer joints to promote events that include beer that they distributed to that bar or restaurant.

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This ad for Apothecary’s Ice Cream and Beer Pairing was shared on Northern Eagle’s Facebook page, which builds a strong relationship between the distributor and the buyer.

Small Business Saturday in Morgantown, WV

Small Business Saturday is a national holiday in the US that occurs each year on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. This day encourages everybody to get out and shop locally. This allows everybody to invest directly into the local economy  as well as support and encourage local artisans.

The importance of small businesses is crucial. They keep keep communities diverse, they offer unique products and give back to the neighborhood. To learn more read this article that gives six really important reasons to shop locally and celebrate Small Business Saturday.

Let’s look at what is happening in Morgantown today, what some local businesses have to offer and how  Morgantown commemorates this day.

Photo credit: Sasha Tarabanova

Photo credit: Sasha Tarabanova

According to wvmetronews.com “more and more, shoppers are spending their money locally”.  One of the main reasons for that is customer service. People seem to experience it more at locally owned places rather than at a big chain establishment.

Image credit: Pinterest

Image credit: Pinterest

Most of the small businesses on High Street are open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Everybody who spends $25 at any downtown business, gets a chance to enter a drawing for gift baskets sponsored by the Morgantown  Convention and Visitor’s Bureau.

You can easily spot a blue sticker on the door, balloons and blue door mats indicating that a business is participating in the Small Business Saturday event.

Image credit: Sasha Tarabanova

Image credit: Sasha Tarabanova

 

Image credit: Sasha Tarabanova

Image credit: Sasha Tarabanova

Image credit: Sasha Tarabanova

Image credit: Sasha Tarabanova

Image credit: Sasha Tarabanova

Image credit: Sasha Tarabanova

Image credit: Sasha Tarabanova

Image credit: Sasha Tarabanova

Image credit: Sasha Tarabanova

Image credit: Sasha Tarabanova

Image credit: Sasha Tarabanova

Image credit: Sasha Tarabanova

Image credit: Sasha Tarabanova

Image credit: Sasha Tarabanova

Small Business Saturday is a great way for local businesses to reconnect with the community. For customers it’s important to remember to support small local businesses throughout the year, not only on Small Business Saturday.

Have you done some shopping today? Do you like to shop at big box retailers or small local businesses?

 

 

What Morgantown, WV has to offer on Thanksgiving break

In a previous post my classmate Kameron Duncan discussed what it means to be a business in a college town and what struggles some business owners face during  holiday breaks.

Thanksgiving is approaching and most students are getting ready to leave town for a week-long break. For some businesses this will be a challenge and perhaps a disadvantage, for others it will be an opportunity to attract new customers and serve the Morgantown community. Some businesses in town are proud to offer various Thanksgiving related activities.

Elegant Alley Cat offers holiday gifts and decor with new items arriving weekly.  They update their Twitter and Facebook daily.

Morgantown Farmer’s Market welcomes everybody to join Thanksgiving themed market  and stock up on some fresh, locally grown produce. This is also a great way for the local community to support Morgantown area farmers.

If you don’t feel like baking, Naticakes has got you covered. They are offering various desserts, Thanksgiving pies, “Autumn” macarons, “Harvest” cupcakes, cookie trays, etc.

We'd love to join your Thanksgiving table!

A post shared by naticakes bakery & crème café (@naticakesbakery) on

 

Sargasso will be hosting Thanksgiving Buffet on Thursday, November 24 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The menu includes oven roasted turkey breast with gravy and stuffing, homestyle rolls, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, etc. Check out full menu here.

For more upcoming events, activities and places that will be hosting Thanksgiving dinners read The DA’s How to spend your Thanksgiving in Morgantown.

 

 

 

 

Being A Business During Break

WVU’s campus is one of the most lively places that a person can find themselves in, at least while classes are in session. However, during breaks and in between semesters, Morgantown can turn into something of a ghost town.

The town undergoes a significant transformation during this time. Bus routes change, cabs and Uber drivers receive smaller fares, and the noise level is greatly reduced on Friday and Saturday nights. But what of the businesses in Morgantown? What happens to a restaurant that stays open until 4 AM on a Friday night when there’s half as many people in town? What do clubs do when the drink specials aren’t bringing in customers like they would on St. Patrick’s Day?

“I’ll be honest, it’s gonna be pretty dead,” says Jacob Butler. Butler works at Papa Allen’s Pizza, located in the Sunnyside region of Morgantown. His assessment refers to the impending Thanksgiving break that sees most of Morgantown’s out of state students travel back to their homes for the holiday. Since out of state students make up about 51 percent of WVU’s current enrollment, this can be a significant drop in customers.

Butler says that he worked in the store during the summer, and the business was the slowest that he had ever seen it. “We would make like one [pizza] every few hours, but now we can have one every twenty minutes. It’s crazy.”

Since Papa Allen’s Pizza has the distinction of being both a local business (it only has one store) and a business that is relatively new (it opened in 2015 alongside the University Place apartment complex, with which it shares an address), it can suffer particularly dearly from the drop in business. Having extended periods of downtime when a business isn’t being patronized can be harmful to its development.

Police Forces Improve Downtown Safety

Morgantown faces many problems in the downtown area while trying to deal with drunken college students.  The town has recently made improvements that solved problems such as students not getting home safely, police responding confusion, and the always famous couch burning.

When you venture downtown there is always that dreaded walk home, especially if you don’t live downtown.  Police forces have recently taken action into making sure taxi stops, bus stops, and street vendors are strategically placed in front of clubs and bars to lower the risks of drunk driving, or to get someone home who may be having trouble walking.

A shooting happened this August that left one dead and one injured.  Bystanders say it began with a fight and ended in gun shots.  Occurrences similar to these are what have the Morgantown community afraid to be in the downtown area at night.

Fortunately for this case Morgantown Police knew it was there call to respond too, although in the past Morgantown Police and University Police had trouble determining who was to respond to which calls.

Near the end of March 2016 University Police and Morgantown Police came to a mutual aid agreement where WVU Police will be the first responders to any calls made around the North High Street area, also known as “Frat Row”.  The council believes that this will allow Morgantown Police to direct their attention to other areas of Morgantown.

Couch burning has been a West Virginia University tradition for decades now.

In an attempt to lower the amount of celebratory couch burning, the town has banned the use of any padded furniture on front porches.

This action is said to have decreased dangerous couch/street fires by 40 percent.  Even though burning couch fires have decreased WVU Junior Emily Wurster believes that it hasn’t helped much.  “I saw people on Snapchat burning couches about two weeks ago. If they want to burn a couch they can just take it from inside their house.”

The council has given fire marshels the power to protect and arrest those who are found or seen breaking any of these laws.

Morgantown continues to receive funding for an array of improvements around town.  Although it can definitely use some more major repairs, they have made several large steps to make people feel more safe in their community.

 

 

Monongalia County Finally Passed Their Brunch Bill: What Does That Mean?

Monongalia County  passed the “brunch bill,” the legalization of the sale of alcohol at 10 am on Sunday’s in West Virginia. Similar to Morgantown City passing the brunch bill, this allows for restaurants to start selling alcohol three hours before the previous time, 1 pm. What does this mean for local businesses though?

Iron Horse has been known for it’s brunch specials, even before the passing of the brunch bill. But now you can have a bloody mary with your chicken and waffles on a Sunday morning and everything will be right with the world.

But what about Monongalia County?

Terra Cafe is also another local spot that is known for it’s brunch specials and for their craft beer selection. The best way to cure a hangover is to drink beer, right? So heading to Terra Cafe for eggs and bacon with a nice breakfast stout at 10 am on Sunday is definitely the plan.

Along with the legalization of hunting on Sundays in WV, the brunch bill was passed in Monongalia County after it was seen on the ballot for local WV legislature. This means that restaurants, distilleries, breweries and clubs can all sell alcohol before 1 pm on Sundays, too. Talk about Sunday fun day! People have some pretty serious opinions about the brunch bill, especially in Morgantown because this town notoriously thrives on it’s reputation for being a drinking-town.

Passing the brunch bill means more than just buying drinks before 1 pm, but allows people the option to do so. I think this bill is more about having the choice to do so rather than not having an option to do so at all.

I’m from Virginia, where liquor sales are regulated through ABC stores and they are closed on Sundays, but you can walk into the local grocery store and pick up a bottle of champagne to accompany your orange juice for Sunday morning mimosas. Nothing wrong with that!

So when I came to WV and realized I couldn’t have a bloody mary or pick up a case of beer for the football game that day at 11 am, I was unpleasantly surprised and pretty annoyed. Alcohol laws vary from state to state, for example in Virginia you can purchase liquor from the ABC store the day before you turn 21. The reasoning behind that law is “they aren’t going to open the bottle until midnight” but there is not way to monitor that, but I have never heard of that law being dismissed.

But now everything is okay and for my last few weeks in WV, I can have a mimosa anytime I please on Sunday morning.

Election Day food and drink specials in Morgantown

What happens in Morgantown when you get a whole day off? You are correct. Party! November 8, 2016 – Election Day – was no different.

Some of the local businesses had a great chance to use this special day as an opportunity to attract customers, provide unique offers and discounts on food and drinks and even introduce new menus. Let’s recap.

Mutts, a local bar in Sunnyside, offered beer specials for the customers on Election eve.

They also invited everybody to watch the Election results, with a Bourbon of course.

According to Liquid Lounge, a Morgantown nightclub on Walnut Street, “we are screwed either way”, so why not indulge in $1 drinks and drafts?

Morgan’s Diner made sure no one went to vote (and battle those lines) on an empty stomach.

Sandwich University on High Street aka Sandwich U came up with “FatHillary” and “FatDonald” sandwiches, which were limited time additions to the menu. They also kept count which sandwich was more popular (wink!).

Atomic Grill hosted a Wine Election Day. They took this opportunity to introduce a new wine menu and asked the customers not only to vote for the new President but also wine! (not particularly in that order)

Image source: Atomic Grill's official facebook page

Image source: Atomic Grill’s official Facebook page

“ON ELECTION DAY STOP BY ATOMIC GRILL TO CAST ANOTHER VOTE FOR YOUR FAVORITE WINE CANDIDATE FOR FREE!!

Atomic is creating a whole new wine menu and we need your help. Try a bunch of wines and cast your vote to help us decide while watching America’s vote results (you may need a drink for that anyways).

We will also be featuring some food pairings to go with the wine!”

For this occasion Facebook event group was created, where they posted details and updates for the event.

Image source: Atomic Grill's official Facebook page

Image source: Atomic Grill’s official Facebook page

Did you take the opportunity to experience what Morgantown businesses had to offer on Election Day? Do you know of any other fun Election Day specials that were going on in Morgantown?