Business Pulse – What a long and strange journey it has been

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I wrote my first Business Pulse column in November 1999. To use a quote from the Grateful Dead, “What a long and strange journey it’s been.”

I rested on this perch and observed major developments during my shift at the Business Desk, which has a few more ketchup stains than when I arrived.

There was some bad news along the way. The carrier closed, as did Stewart’s Plaza Pharmacy. The old City Drug has burned down in the heart of Main Street and two downtown retail icons have left our landscape forever – Warren County Furniture and Fraley’s Furniture.

Kmart closed, as did JC Penney. We also said goodbye to Mary’s Greenhouse, but those are just sad brushstrokes.

More importantly, there was some fabulous news. The Farmers Market has its own pavilion. Lowe came to town. We now have a wonderful Zaxby’s and Dollar General has taken over the county with 14 locations. There really is one near you, unless you live on Rattlesnake Road.

There’s a brand new Hampton Inn across from the hospital, and Bridgestone just announced plans to create 380 new jobs. In a bit of heartwarming familiarity, Prater’s BBQ is like your favorite recliner, always there for your enjoyment and cooking up some great Morrison food.

At the risk of sounding like a T-shirt, life is good.

BIGGEST POSITIVE POINT

DEVELOPMENT

Without a doubt, the revitalization of Main Street McMinnville over the past 23 years has been a joy to cover.

People may not remember it, but not too long ago many buildings on Main Street had plywood decorations on their front windows.

Capalano’s was one of the first major renovation projects. Then came New York Grill and Topz. Now there’s Collins River BBQ, Park Theatre, Begonias, The Hitch and Evelyn Taylor Avenue.

Our downtown is a charming attraction and a thriving part of our local economy. Much of this is due to the courage of city officials who launched Phase 1 of a $5.2 million Main Street Revitalization Project on August 16, 2004.

THE BIGGEST SURPRISE

It’s really surprising to me in this era of mega development that nothing happened on the 30 acre lot on the Ring Road and Spring Street.

I’ve seen bulldozers clear this property of trees and overgrowth in a matter of days, even working Labor Day weekend like a deadline has to be met. But nothing happened.

I even saw a developer’s sketch, which I published in the newspaper, of how a mall project there would be designed. But nothing happened.

The earth seems to sit there now as quietly as a muted television. Will anything come?

BIGGEST BUST

They are both in the same building and I don’t know which is the bigger disappointment.

Bojangles lasted 2 years and 10 months before going bankrupt. Grandey lasted six months in a rare combination of poor service and bad food.

Runner-up – LiteWire, the company that was supposed to bring 125 jobs to the Blue Building and never showed up.

BIGGEST CHALLENGE

Affordable housing seems like a fairy tale in Warren County and indeed for all of America. I don’t see how young couples or young single adults just starting out can afford homes that all cost north of $200,000. It’s out of reach for most.

So maybe they can rent a quality apartment at a good price? It’s also a punchline.

Kids fresh out of college or new to the job market face real problems when it comes to housing prices. They reached the stratosphere too quickly.

BRIDGESTONE

A REAL JEWEL

I’ll put the Memory Lane trip in the park because there’s some economic news to report. Our headline in Friday’s edition was Bridgestone’s Thursday announcement of a $550 million expansion that will add 380 jobs to our Warren County plant.

When it comes to manufacturing compensation in this area, Bridgestone has always lifted the veil. Adding 380 better paying jobs to our economy is going to be a game changer.

This is by far the biggest news of 2022, perhaps the biggest business story of this century. It may be an expansion, but adding 850,000 square feet of manufacturing space and 380 jobs is like landing another major industry that pays extremely well.

Industrial Development Board Executive Director Don Alexander put it well when he said, “That plant could have gone anywhere in the world and they chose Warren County.”

WHETHER THERE IS

Roasting chicken

There’s now delicious chicken at the Marathon station at 306 Beersheba Street, next to NAPA.

Store owner Jay Patel and his wife Dhrashti brought Chicken Broaster, a brand known from afar. Chicken Broaster is so tasty, Jay says people are driving across town to gobble it up.

“We make it fresh all day and it’s very tender and juicy chicken,” Jay said. “We started selling it on Tuesday and our customers love it. People have told me it’s hard to find chicken this good.

Jay says they start making breakfast at 5 a.m. with an assortment of chicken, cookies, tenderloin, and gravy. They switch to lunch dishes around 10 a.m. and fried chicken offerings include up to a family meal with sides like potato wedges and macaroni and cheese. The menu includes chicken sandwiches, chicken fillets and chicken boxes of all sizes depending on your appetite.

When I stopped on Friday, the store was full of customers just waiting to buy Broaster Chicken. For anyone wondering how good it is, Jay says give it a try.

New restaurant

At Mount Leo

Trends & Treasures Diner opened in the Mt. Leo Mall, next to the Homeland Community Bank. Its first day was last Sunday and owners Wilson and Leslie Martin are ready to serve delicious food.

“Our main ingredient is love and by that I mean we care about our food and how it’s prepared,” Wilson said. “We have a nice, clean place and on Sundays we want to make you feel like you’re coming home with cornbread, collard greens, pork chops and stuff like that.”

Burgers, hot dogs, chicken wings and chicken tenders are still on the menu, but Wilson thinks customers will definitely come back for the delicious daily specials.

“Saturday we have BBQ ribs that are made with a special recipe sauce that comes from my grandfather,” Wilson said. “It’s his own homemade sauce.”

BBQ ribs are served with coleslaw and baked beans.

There’s a kids’ menu that includes burger sliders, grilled cheese, and a corndog. Daily specials include tacos on Tuesdays and fish on Fridays. Sundays are always home cooking with meat and two sides.

“We have good prices and we’re just trying to make an honest living,” Wilson said. “It’s been our first week in business and we’re working hard to get our name out there.”

The restaurant is located at 811 Beersheba Street and it even has shirts and hats out front if you’re interested in clothing. “It’s like a pinch of Cracker Barrel,” Wilson said.

Hours are 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. The phone number is (931) 414-4424.

It really is

Everybody

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