Wheeling's Heritage Port teems with activity during many special events throughout the summer, but the Wheeling-Ohio County Rails to Trails group believes that atmosphere should be the daily rule rather than the exception.
Speaking before the Wheeling Development Committee on Monday, Trail Manager R. "Scat" Scatterday proposed an outdoor dining area at the waterfront, which would be located along the Wheeling Heritage Trail adjacent to the playground area toward the north end of Heritage Port.
Scatterday said the eatery, which would be known as the "Depot Bikery" - a combined homage to the nearby former site of the Pennsylvania Railroad Depot and the trail - would be open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. weekdays, weather permitting, and could open on select evenings during city-sponsored entertainment such as Waterfront Wednesdays concerts. The city, he said, would solicit proposals from restaurants and vendors that would be interested in catering a variety of soups, sandwiches, snacks and non-alcoholic beverages.
Photo by Ian Hicks
A cyclist pedals north on the Wheeling Heritage Trail Monday.
Local businesses such as Carenbauer Distributing, Lowe's, Middle Creek Garage and a couple anonymous donors already have committed to providing 10 patio tables with umbrellas, 40 patio chairs and an 8-foot by 10-foot box in which to store the items when not in use. Vendors would be responsible for daily setup and tear down.
"We're hoping that this will help toward what you all have been trying to do for a long time - excite people and bring more use to the waterfront," said Scatterday
Mayor Andy McKenzie agreed, noting he often hears from residents that the waterfront is underused. He acknowledged, however, that there are many details that would need to be worked out, such as ensuring the operation would meet Wheeling-Ohio County Health Department regulations. The mayor also suggested the proposed location may be less than ideal from a visibility standpoint, noting a spot closer to WesBanco Arena might draw more attention.
Scatterday said utility needs would be minimal because no cooking would be done on-site, and patrons could use the Heritage Port restrooms located near WesBanco Arena.
"We have caterers (at Heritage Port) all the time. ... It would be in that same category," he said.
City Manager Robert Herron said if council chooses to move forward with the idea, it should consider limiting eligible bidders to those who do business in the city.
"I don't think you want to get in a situation where you have someone from Ohio or Pennsylvania come in and hurt the businesses that are paying property and B&O taxes," said Herron.
In other business, the commission unanimously approved designating 1201 Valley View Ave. a redevelopment area, which would allow residents Phillip Kendall and Lara Graves to serve alcohol at the restaurant they hope to open there, to be named "Avenue Eats." Graves said they are looking to create a "trendy" atmosphere offering outdoor dining, local produce and a regional selection of beer and wine.
Kendall and Graves said they have no plans to serve hard liquor, request a limited video lottery permit or operate past 8-8:30 p.m. nightly, and Graves added a nearby law firm has offered the use of 10 parking spaces during evenings and weekends.
The committee unanimously approved the request, with the condition that the business cannot be open past 10 p.m. each night.