Mountain Mama’s Leaving Friendly City Sept. 1

Mountain Mama’s Bike and Kayak Rental – also an independent Greyhound bus agent – will close up shop Sept. 1 after three years in downtown Wheeling, owner Roger Malone said Tuesday.

A sign outside the business advertises a “closeout” sale of bicycles and kayaks on Friday and Saturday, inviting passersby to “inquire within.” Mountain Mama’s originally opened on the ground floor of the McLure Hotel in 2010, and later moved to its current location at the corner of 14th and Main streets, closer to the Ohio River and Wheeling Heritage Trail.

Malone said his decision to close the business was largely a personal one, noting he wants to be closer to his family in the Pittsburgh area. He also cited poor weather conditions the past couple of summers as a factor.

“It has nothing to do with Wheeling,” Malone said, adding city officials have been helpful during the business’s time in the city. “I think we served Wheeling well for the past three years, and they did the same thing for us.”

It’s unclear what this will mean for Greyhound bus service to and from the Friendly City. Other than the downtown location, the three Greyhound locations closest to Wheeling are in Cambridge and New Philadelphia, Ohio, and Pittsburgh – 51, 57 and 59 miles away, respectively.

“There will still be Greyhound service in Wheeling,” Malone claimed.

Greyhound officials could not be reached Tuesday to confirm that.

The closure also will impact Ideal Provisions proprietors Dean and Carrie Barath, who for the past year and a half have set up shop outside Mountain Mama’s, drawing hungry patrons to the corner with the aroma of barbecue wafting from their outdoor smoker.

The Baraths said they are not yet sure what Mountain Mama’s closing will mean for them. Dean Barath said they plan to explore other options in Wheeling, and may ask city officials for permission to set up shop at Heritage Port.

Mayor Andy McKenzie said Tuesday he was unaware of Mountain Mama’s impending closure, but he, too, expressed confidence that Greyhound will find a way to continue serving the city. He said the cycle of businesses opening and closing is a fact of life – but he pointed to a record year for Business and Occupation Tax collections as an indicator of Wheeling’s overall economic health.

“Do I want more? Yeah. But we’ve been fortunate to see really good growth. … You just hope at the end of the day you have more businesses coming than going,” McKenzie said.