RIPLEY - A piece of history in Ripley is being given a new life.
Maryann and Gordon Rhodes are converting the historic Parsons-Waybright Funeral Home off Highlawn Drive into Country Rhodes Bed & Breakfast with a coffee shop/bakery and store/gift shop/floral shop—all under one roof.
“Our name is Rhodes, so we played off the John Denver song, ‘Country Roads,’” explains Maryann Rhodes. “Everything fell into place and we want it to feel like coming home—an example of what West Virginia is like and what Jackson County is like. We hope that we present that well to the public and to our guests, and make Jackson County and West Virginia proud.”
“We looked at the building several years ago and I just fell in love with the architecture and the history,” said Rhodes. “I just felt it would make a perfect bed & breakfast. We had no background in food service, retail or hospitality, but we just felt right for the place to be something like this—to be here for Jackson County. Also I wanted to get away from being behind the desk for 12 hours a day and pushing a pencil, to get out and do more personable kind of things.
“We fell in love with the building, and looked around inside. At that point, we thought about living downstairs. We were going to renovate downstairs and make the top part the bed & breakfast. But the renovation budget was just too expensive.”
The Rhodeses went to another building and began renovating it for a bed & breakfast, but they just couldn’t give up the thought of the Parsons-Waybirght location.
“Ronnie Waybright and I talked again and we came to a deal on it,” said Maryann. “There’s so much history here. We were afraid someone would come in and gut the building and turn it into just another commercial building. I didn’t want to lose the history of the place. I’ve heard so many amazing stories from customers already. I’ve actually asked those people to write those stories down for me. We’ll have a little book of stories for our bed & breakfast customers when they come in so they can get the feel and the history of what we have here.
“During that period of time, it made me stop and think about all the other possibilities we could do with it. We decided to live in the small back apartment and renovated that with the upstairs still to be the bed & breakfast. Downstairs we had all this space available, so we did the store downstairs and we cut out part of the garage for the coffee shop and bakery.
Page 2 of 3 - “I wanted all of the businesses that are under one roof to go hand-in-hand and make sense. I didn’t want an odd duck in the mix. With the guests here and a kitchen, it took just a little bit more to make the coffee shop and have it open to the public. So guests will have a place to have breakfast and dine and the store to shop in, but also have them open to the public as well.”
Renovations began last January on the downstairs. The downstairs businesses are now open and the work is now concentrated on the upstairs. Rhodes said the bed & breakfast will be ready to open by spring. It will feature five rooms with baths accommodating queen-size beds.
“The views are spectacular from the first two rooms with the windows going around,” said Rhodes. “It’s going to be kind of a homey feel as far as the décor. We didn’t want to go formal. We wanted it be relaxing, but not just a country or primitive feel that some people are turned off by. It’s a mix, and I think we’ve found a good mix that people will be pleased with and provide a calming atmosphere. We’ll be part of the West Virginia Bed and Breakfast Association. We’re within walking distance of Ripley shops, both inside and outside city limits, and the night views upa here are spectacular, especially in the summer. There’s never a bad sunset up here.
“We’ve already had inquiries about the bed and breakfast for the Fourth and concerning weddings. We can accommodate small weddings, conferences, meetings, parties and tea parties, and we’re working on package deals for those types of things. We’ll likely begin taking reservations in March.”
The coffee shop/bakery is open Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. and Saturday from 8 a.m.-4 p.m., serving breakfast (sausage gravy, breakfast biscuits, wraps including the loaded breakfast wrap) and lunch, pastries, specialty coffees and teas, lattes, smoothies, frappes, soups, sandwiches, beans, catering for small groups, cakes for any occasion (Tanya Martin formerly of Big R wil be coming on board to do cakes), pastry trays and more. Breakfast and lunch deliveries will be available inside city limits; minimum order of $20.
The gift shop and floral offers Amish-made furniture, primitive décor accessories, linens, table linens, heritage lace products, shower curtains, gifts for all occasions, Swan Creek candles, Donna Sharp purses and bedding, Camille Beckman lotions, jewelry, reimagined furniture, Amish jar foods and cheeses, a full line of greeting cards, silk floral, sympathy gifts and throws, and a focus on Jackson County products including quilts, jewelry, goat milk soap, wood products and more. A full-service floral line is planned to extend current cash and carry and silk arrangements, sympathy gifts, etc.
Page 3 of 3 - “It’s an inviting atmosphere here where the ladies can shop and the men can have a cup of coffee and watch TV,” said Rhodes. “We want to put our best face forward showcasing Jackson County products with the community’s help for our guests from out of country, out of state and out of country; and be something that Jackson County can be proud of. Everything under one roof with products from the low end to the high end in price so there’ll be something for everyone. Hopefully we can keep customers in Jackson County and help other businesses here as well. With all of us working together, maybe we can bring a new dynamic to the area.
“It’s been a long, arduous process but we’re almost there. Our ultimate goal is customer service which is lacking so much today. We have six employees, all food service certified, plus my husband and me. We run a tight ship and a clean ship. We’ve worked hard. We believe in preventative maintenance. We’ll keep things polished and shiny and hopefully be a gem.”
Contact Country Rhodes at 304-372-3755.