Transformed Maola Milk Plant could mean big business for New Bern

    Mike Hawkins purchased the old Maola Milk Plant and has turned it into a location that will host the 2019 Home and Outdoor Living Expo -- and hopefully many other events -- in the near future. (Kate Hussey, NewsChannel 12 photo)

    From creamery to drapery to possible big business for one location in New Bern.

    The Maola at Riverfront might not sound familiar to you. If you don't recognize the name, that's because it used to be known as the Maola Milk Plant. Step inside now and you'll see a huge transformation from the factory it once was. It's that transformation that could bring big business and tourism to New Bern.

    Building developer Mike Hawkins remembers getting ice cream from the Maola Milk Plant as a kid, when the almost 100-year-old creamery was still in business. That's why, after the New Bern location closed down, Hawkins bought the waterfront property. He was leasing it to Maola during the week as a shipping location but switched gears when his daughter saw the plant as the perfect place for her wedding.

    Using porcelain reclaimed floors, re-purposed brick, ivy and Thomas Edison-style lights, he transformed the space into the beautiful venue it is now. Since the New Bern's Convention Center is still closed due to Hurricane Florence damage, having this space is a big help.

    "With the convention center being closed, people have nowhere else to go," Hawkins said.

    This Saturday and Sunday, the 2019 Home and Outdoor Living Expo will be held at the Maola at Riverfront. Ken Warren, advertising manager for ENC Media Live, said it's great having this kind of venue to turn to in order to host the event.

    "Not being able to use the convention center was a problem but being able to come to this location gives us a way to do things we've been wanting to do with this show for the last several years," Warren said.

    Hawkins Construction is planning on to have waterfront concerts, car shows and other events here at the Maola at Riverfront. If you're interested in hosting an event here, email them here.

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