JOINT OWNERSHIP—Amber Greene, far left, Walt Rainey, center, Wes Lyons, right, and Molly Rainey are the owners of Fudge Farm. Also pictured is Walt and Molly Rainey’s daughter, Braxlynn. (Photo by Briana L. White)
by Briana L. White, For New Pittsburgh Courier
Two Pittsburgh Black-owned businesses have become one, with the hopes of a “sweet” outcome financially, and for disadvantaged youth.
Wes Lyons and Amber Greene, co-owners of the former Cakery Square physical store location at the Waterfront in Homestead, recently decided to close the store and partner with Fudge Farm, which has two locations—on the South Side and at the Waterfront.
So, those cannoli cookies, cupcakes and brownies that customers came to enjoy at Cakery Square will now be available at the Fudge Farm locations.
On June 15, the South Side location (1503 E. Carson St.) held a Launch Party to celebrate the new partnership, new mission, and a new location. A third Fudge Farm location will open later this month in Bloomfield at 4615 Liberty Ave., between Bitter Ends Garden and Luncheonette and Lot 17. Husband-and-wife team Walt and Molly Rainey, who originally started Fudge Farm, now own half of the company, while Lyons and Greene own the other half. The name “Cakery Square” is not a part of the new arrangement.
Walt and Molly Rainey are looking forward to the partnership with Lyons and Greene. “We decided to partner with Wes and Amber, as we believe we all have different strengths, so as a whole, we will be a powerhouse,” Molly Rainey told the New Pittsburgh Courier. “Wes has amazing marketing abilities and Amber has phenomenal organizational abilities along with the education needed to run a small business.”
The foursome is hoping to turn Fudge Farm into franchises that will expand throughout the U.S. Locations in Morgantown, W.Va. and Cincinnati have been discussed.
Fudge Farm’s menu favorites include the specialty milkshakes, and fudge- and chocolate-covered strawberries. In addition to the new menu items being added, the new Bloomfield location will host cake decorating classes for $35 a person and guests are welcome to bring wine. In addition, there will be cookie, candy and fruit bouquet decorating classes available. For special events, such as baby showers, and bridal parties, you can rent out a private room.
Fudge Farm will hire students that are involved in Lyons’ Pursuit Program, which was developed to prepare students, grades 7-12, for academic success by developing their decision-making skills, improving their writing and communication skills and keeping them engaged and invested in learning.
“With multiple locations, we will have the chance to provide more opportunities to underprivileged youth within the community, which has always been our main focus,” Greene told the Courier.
Lyons, a North Braddock native and 2006 graduate of Woodland Hills High School, was signed by both the New York Jets and Pittsburgh Steelers after playing football and graduating from West Virginia University with a degree in business.
He later penned a book, “The Pursuit With Patience,” which was the catalyst for his Pursuit Program.
Walt Rainey told the Courier in a June 17 interview that there’ll be roughly 20 students from the program employed between the three Fudge Farm locations. He said the students will also be used outside of the stores, as Fudge Farm participates in select trade shows and produces and delivers products for 1-800-Flowers.
“It feels good (to help the students) because I come from a similar background as some of these kids,” Walt Rainey told the Courier. “It’s a no brainer for us. I know exactly what they need and I’m able to relate. We (Walt Rainey and Lyons) can feel the appreciation from the kids because they look for us to give them the guidance, without them speaking those words.”
Walt Rainey is a Hill District native, who was raised in a single-parent household, but told the Courier he persevered, graduated from Schenley High School in 1993, and is now giving back.
“We just thought the mission should be geared towards what Wes has built with the Pursuit Program, and we just want to focus on that mission.”
(Rob Taylor Jr. contributed to this story.)
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