The Yellow Jacket — Sweets and Eats opens in Williamstown

Photo by Erin O’Neill Caitlyn McKinley, left, serves a strawberry milkshake to Kathy Taylor, who made the two-hour drive from Buckhannon to attend the grand opening of The Yellow Jacket — Sweets and Eats in Williamstown Thursday.

WILLIAMSTOWN — While work began in January and the soft opening was in June, Williamstown’s newest eatery pulled out all the stops for its grand opening celebration Thursday, including a marching band and various dignitaries.

The Yellow Jacket — Sweet and Eats, located at the corner of West Virginia 14 and Dodge Avenue in a renovated house, has been a labor of love for owners Joe and Sherri Conny.

“We are so blessed and we are very thankful,” said Sherri, a native of the Morgantown area. “We love ice cream and we love to cook and when I retired I decided we needed to do something fun, that the kids and the community can be involved in.”

Part of the business’s mission statement includes treating everyone like family. The turnout for Thursday’s grand opening actually included several members of the extended Conny family, as well as staff and community members.

“I’ve worked here since they opened and it’s been one of the best places I’ve worked,” said Rose Powell, the restaurant’s manager. “I love the customers and the food and the owners are just so kind and caring.”

Photo by Erin O’Neill Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., second from left, congratulates the Conny family, center, on the opening of their business. Manchin was joined by Carrie Ankrom, left, with the Marietta Area Chamber of Commerce, Williamstown Mayor Jean Ford, second from right, and Marietta Mayor Joe Matthews, far right, for a ribbon cutting.

The menu items are created by Joe and Sherri Conny and Chef Dave Rudie, a family friend and longtime local food preparer. Some customer favorites include pepperoni rolls, chicken salad and the soon-to-be famous “freak” shakes, a gargantuan concoction comprised of ice cream, cookies, candies, whipped cream and other goodies.

“It’s pretty cool to have a freak shake named after me,” said one of the Conny’s granddaughters, Nevaeh Premo, 13, of Fairmont.

Nevaeh’s Dream is the newest creation, complete with white chocolate mermaid tails coming out of the ice cream. Each of the grandchildren has a dessert named for them and a special freak shake is introduced each month.

In addition to new menu items, an expansion of the building and parking is also in the works.

One of the ice cream specialists employed by the Connys is Isabella Ruble, 17, a student at Williamstown High School. While many of the students will be returning to high school or college, Ruble plans to keep her job during school.

“I absolutely love working here,” she said. “I’m a very creative person and I’m working here to help pay for my cosmetology school. Working somewhere where I can show my creativity and making people’s day is pretty awesome.”

Caitlyn McKinley, 19, will be going to Penn State in the fall and the absence of some of the students opens up some job opportunities for others during the fall and winter months.

“It’s been such a great place to work and I’ll definitely try to come back next summer,” McKinley said.

The grand opening ribbon cutting ceremony was attended by Williamstown Mayor Jean Ford, who has her own sundae named after her and raved about the chicken salad; Marietta Mayor Joe Matthews, who said he was happy that the two communities could welcome the new business in the Mid-Ohio Valley; and West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, a family friend, who was played in by the Williamstown Marching Band.

“I am honored to congratulate my friends, Sherri and Joe Conny,” Manchin said. “Small business is the backbone of our home state and entire nation. I can attest to the unwavering dedication it takes to start and maintain a successful business. When you’ve made a business out of something you’re passionate about, there’s not a more rewarding experience in the world.”

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The Yellow Jacket — Sweets and Eats

* Location: West Virginia 14 and Dodge Avenue, Williamstown

* Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily

* Contact: 304-295-7255 or find them on Facebook.com/sherriconny

* Sample menu items: Sandwiches — BBQ, cheeseburger, hot dogs; Papa Joe’s Hoagies; “Freak” shakes; sundaes and splits; salads; pepperoni rolls

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