Ritchie County restaurant wins Launchpad Pitch Competition

Kay Mullenix holds the check from the Launchpad Pitch Competition. Behind her are four of the five judges in the competition. From left, Mike Williams, Jan Dils, Carma Hanlon and Doug Kreinik. (Photo by Jeffrey Saulton)

Kay Mullenix holds the check from the Launchpad Pitch Competition. Behind her are four of the five judges in the competition. From left, Mike Williams, Jan Dils, Carma Hanlon and Doug Kreinik. (Photo by Jeffrey Saulton)

PARKERSBURG — Business startups from bakeries, to restaurants to a cane maker were among the finalists for the second annual Launchpad Pitch Competition Tuesday at the Parkersburg Art Center.

Winning the $5,000 prize was the owner of a restaurant in Cairo, Kay Mullenix, owner of Pastry and Petals LLC.

Mullenix was one of 13 semifinalists invited to the event.

In her presentation to the panel of judge, Mullenix said she is 25 feet from the rails and trails in the area. She said everything she makes is from scratch.

“If you are a rail and trailer I’m the last stop for 26 miles,” she said. “We’re open seven days a week and we do breakfast, lunch and dinner.”

Kay Mullenix, owner of Pastry and Petals LLC, in Cairo, was the winner of $5,000 in the second annual Launchpad Pitch Competition. (Photo by Jeffrey Saulton)

Kay Mullenix, owner of Pastry and Petals LLC, in Cairo, was the winner of $5,000 in the second annual Launchpad Pitch Competition. (Photo by Jeffrey Saulton)

Mullenix told the panel she would use the money to expand. She said at this time she is managing to pay her bills.

Mullenix said she was told about the competition by Steve Parks, executive director of the Ritchie County Economic Development Authority.

“He asked me if I was interested, and to a new business any kind of money is good,” she said. “Knowing we have a lot of tourism in the summer, this will allow me more freedom.”

As for changes Mullenix said she doesn’t expect too much at first.

“I’ll be in at six in the morning and start making more food,” she said.

Mullenix said she does not plan to change the name from Pastry and Petals, although she has expanded her offerings and the new signs stress she has a restaurant and bakery.

“I don’t want to change the name since a good many people know the name,” she said. “When we opened we had silk arrangements and items from local crafters, but when we moved to the restaurant we don’t have them. I’ve given it some thought, but I’m sorry, I’m not changing the name.”

When asked if she pays herself Mullenix said no.

“Do I draw a paycheck? No I do not, but I pay my son’s school tuition, that’s my paycheck.”

Mullenix said her best sellers are peanut butter fudge, carrot cake and taco salad.

Later, Mullenix said, she will look for a new cooler for beverages and open a second dining room.

“I’ve got the space,” she said. “It just needs to be cleaned out and renovated; it’s not major, and I also need more stock since we’re going from 17 tables to 44 — that’s a big adjustment.”

Parks said the win will be a boost.

“With her being the only restaurant in that part of the county this will be a big boost for her,” he said. “The exposure she got tonight was great.”

Tuesday’s semifinalists were Bee Haven Supply of Jackson County, 360 Tour Productions of Wood County, Jano Innovations of Wood County, North Bend Climbing Guides of Ritchie County, Pastry & Petals of Ritchie County, Bon Bon’s Cafe/Sistersville Sweets of Tyler County, Hungry Owl of Pleasants County, Taraific Cakes and More of Jackson County, Wonder Valley Farms of Roane County, Appalachian Ice Cream of Jackson County, Catered Whims of Wood County, Crazy Cake Cafe of Wood County, and Vickie’s Birdz of Jackson County.

Mullenix survived to the final round along with Wonder Valley Farms, Jano Innovations, Hungry Owl, Crazy Cake Cafe and Bee Haven Supply. Each gave a five-minute presentation to a panel of judges who decided the winner of $5,000, which can be leveraged for loans to be able to grow the business.

Launchpad is sponsored by the Regional Council, the Ross Foundation, Suddenlink, Managers Resource Group, Chamber of Commerce of the Mid-Ohio Valley, the Pleasants Area Chamber of Commerce, Huntington Bank, Vision Shared, Ritchie County Economic Development Authority and the City of Parkersburg.

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