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Cornelius News

Entrepreneurs: Beverages, flowers and a budding business

Madalyn Ziongas and her pop-up flower and tap truck \ Photos courtesy Madalyn Ziongas

April 24. By TL Bernthal. Madalyn Ziongas wanted to open up a winery and name it after her beloved dog when she and her husband lived in Virginia.

That desire morphed into Bentley’s Buds and Brews—a pop-up flower and tap truck—two moves, a death in the family and three children later.

The business is named after the special pet who just lit up a room. Bentley, a Boxer with heart conditions, died at 5 years old.

Her next truck, she hopes to double the business and buy another truck, will be painted pink and be all girly.

The Ziongas family

Ziongas says her goal is to earn double her husband’s salary—he works for Bank of America—so he has the option of quitting his job, being with the family full time and joining her full-time, or pursuing a passion of his own.

She says the business is making money, “but we’re not millionaires.” She also hopes to hire someone later this year to help with events. Both private events and pop-ups are critical to the success of the business.

Madalyn and Thomas have three sons: Emery who is almost 7, and twins Atlas and Everest, who are 17 months. They live in the Magnolia Estates neighborhood. Emery is home-schooled and much of the Bentley’s Buds and Brews planning was done while Madalyn was postpartum with the twins. The boys sometimes join her at pop-up flower sales.

The passion

For now Ziongas has a  passion for making people feel happy, healthy and inspired. Building memories in creating a  bouquet, not just buying some flowers.

This is Ziongas’s first business and she went into it with that passion, energy and intuition, not a formal business plan.

“I went with my intuition,” she said and got what licenses and documents she needed. She had a “we’ll figure it out” attitude and took things step by step.

Ziongas is a Reiki master teacher/healer and loves to give the gift of health and balance. “It’s through flowers that I have found a way to translate that beauty and creativity on a daily large-scale basis.”

The flowers

She can help customers gather a pretty bouquet, but encourages each person or family to own the experience. It’s fun to watch a child pick a flower, then mom and other family members, she said.

“Families take photos while picking flowers and get what they want,” Ziongas said, while working within their budget.

“I love seeing my customers light up like the sun and form a natural connection with the nature around us,” she said.

Stems can range from $1 up to $12 each for peonies and dahlias. A small bouquet can have four or five stems, a large may have 15.

The truck is outfitted with 16 flower buckets and, when rented for private parties, three taps for beer or other beverages.

Ziongas was wary of buying the expensive blooms but when she asked customers, they said they would buy them. And they have at pop-ups in Birkdale Village and elsewhere.

The truck is outfitted with 16 flower buckets and, when rented for private parties, three taps for beer or other beverages.

She buys the stems from Blossom and Branch, a small farm in Maiden; Bo’s Wholesale Florist in Cornelius, and through an online network of 30 NC farms.

The truck

The truck has been popular for birthday parties, bridal showers, as well as other parties. Ziongas fills the flower buckets, and the taps can pour beer of the renter’s choice.

When a business hires the truck for an event, coffee, cold brew, water, iced tea or lemonade may flow from the taps.

Ziongas said finding a truck took a focused effort, and when she wasn’t looking for one on Facebook Marketplace, she was dreaming about it.

The 1949 Chevy 3600 flat bed was bought sight unseen — a mechanic did check it out in Tennessee — for $15,500 and was shipped to Cornelius.

“It was in great shape,” Ziongas said, and the color was perfect: Dark green just like Bentley’s collar used to be.

The truck was outfitted with the help of father, John Dermott, a contractor in Florida, who stayed in Cornelius several months to finish the project.

“It requires a lot of maintenance,” she said. Fortunately her husband, Thomas,  who is retired Army, likes working on cars. He also drives the truck to events, and keeps it and the tap lines clean.

The truck has made it to every scheduled event, and only broke down once at an event. The shifter got stuck and couldn’t be driven home that night

Ziongas says you just roll with the quirks of the business and vehicle.

The death in the family

Ziongas’ 51-year-old stepmom died from COVID in 2020. She spent time in Florida to help her Dad.

“I wanted to do something to brighten my Dad’s days,” she said.

The truck has been popular for birthday parties, bridal showers, as well as other parties.

She set up a pumpkin patch in the front yard, with proceeds going to two schools and a scholarship in honor of her stepmom.

“It turned into a bigger thing,” she said. A church reached out to host the pumpkin patch annually.

And Ziongas said she started to think about a truck and Christmas trees.

Year-round goals

Ziongas had hoped to be ready for the 2022 Christmas season and had scouted out Christmas tree vendors who would work with her.

“I wanted to get a truck and deliver Christmas trees, have a photo booth, deliver to their doorstep to brighten up their day,” Ziongas said.

Selling Christmas trees from the truck is on the plate for this year.

So is a portable pumpkin patch.

“It’s so fun to see the community and give them a memory,” Ziongas said.

“Experiences are everything.”