First Friday features two open house events

Two local businesses will welcome guests for special activities during Elkins ON TRAC’s First Friday celebration in downtown Elkins.

Studio MK and Clara Belle’s will host Open House events on Friday. The two unique businesses have something very significant in common, according to ON TRAC Executive Director Karen Carper.

“Both businesses are located in contributing properties of downtown Elkins’ National Register Historic District,” Carper said. “Guests can enjoy socializing and getting to know local businesses while they admire original pressed tin ceilings and other architectural features of these outstanding properties.” Historic photos are also available, she said.

New to downtown Elkins, Studio MK – A Paul Mitchell Focus Salon opened Sept. 8 in the first floor of the former Parmesano Building, located at 122 Third St.

Owner Melinda Kota has eight years’ salon experience and has been a national color educator for John Paul Mitchell Systems for four years. Kota will receive guests at the salon Friday from 5 to 7 p.m. First Friday specials will include refreshments, product samples and a door prize drawing for a free shampoo, cut and blow dry.

Raised in Summersville, Nicholas County, Kota has lived in Elkins for the past 13 years.

The hair color expert said she has been encouraged to take her talent to the city, but she is committed to staying in her home state. “I am proud to be a woman business owner from West Virginia,” she said.

Kota has been invited to Las Vegas for additional training with the John Paul Mitchell Systems’ global artistic team in May. “I’m excited about what I can bring back for my customers.”

The new business owner is interested in working with other businesses to promote downtown Elkins.

The Parmesano building was constructed in 1899 for Italian immigrant Vincent Parmesano. The two-story structure once had a full cast-iron storefront and large first-floor metal pediment. The former shoe-maker operated a fruit and confectionary business.

Located at 320 Davis Ave., Clara Belle’s opened for business in October 2012.

The family restaurant started small with a simple menu of doughnuts and coffee. It has expanded to include home-baked goods, homemade ice cream, daily lunch and dinner on Friday and Saturday evenings. An open stage provides free live entertainment on Wednesdays, Fridays and


Built in 1900, the historic Stalnaker Block building first housed a saloon. “We’re trying to make this grand, old building what it was before,” said manager Jessica Isner. “But we have ice cream instead of liquor.”

Isner has a special connection to the property. Her great-grandfather, Arley Bosworth “Boss” Thompson, bought the building in 1936. It has remained in the family since that time. The restaurant is named for her grandmother.

First Friday activities at Clara Belle’s include face painting, door prizes and live music as well as vendors offering local craft items, Longaberger baskets, Pampered Chef products and Park Lane jewelry. Admission is free.

The Open House at Clara Belle’s will last throughout the day with special activities in the evening.

First Friday activities are held on the first Friday of every month in downtown Elkins. For more information, find Elkins ON TRAC on Facebook, visit or email