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Business Pulse - Applebee's bears fruit
Applebee's drink.jpg
Applebee’s bartender Shayla Reagan makes a Mucho Merry Berry Colada on Friday. The $5 drink is popular because it includes Captain Morgan’s rum.

There’s something you just gotta love about our Applebee’s, a restaurant which seems to do everything right.

But, for some reason, people are always asking me if our Applebee’s is going out of business. I don’t know why that’s a popular question, but it is.

From what I can gather, the most recent batch of questions is the result of an online report which said dozens of Applebee’s restaurants and nearly 100 IHOP restaurants would be closing before the end of 2020. For those who have been napping, the end of 2020 is awfully close.

Considering the year it’s been, perhaps the worst year ever, I’m glad to see 2020 entering the sunset of its existence. I’m also pleased to report our Applebee’s is in no danger of closing.

“We’re thriving,” said Greg Robinson, the general manager of our Applebee’s at Cumberland Plaza. “Our company is doing extremely well. It just recently purchased another 20 stores and everything is going great. We are doing a good business here at our store.”

When you’re looking for a go-to restaurant for a satisfying meal, Applebee’s is usually atop the list. And thanks to the rigorous safety precautions, you can eat at Applebee’s knowing restaurant employees are doing everything they can to keep you safe.

“We have partitions between every booth and we do extensive cleaning between customers,” said Greg. “All of our staff wears masks and we have a QR code for our menus so we don’t have to hand around the same menus to everyone. They just scan the code and they can see the menu on their phone.”

At one point, Greg said Applebee’s tried to enact a mask mandate that required customers to wear a mask from the front door to their table. Customers were free to remove the mask once they reached their table. All that was required was to wear the mask during the brief trip from the door to table.

“I can’t tell you how many times our employees were yelled at, all because we were trying to protect people,” said Greg. “I had hostesses who came to me in tears because someone shouted at them because they asked them to wear a mask to their table. So we’re not doing that anymore. We’re not getting yelled at because we’re trying to protect people.”

I think it’s great we have an Applebee’s in our town and it’s great to hear a sparkling report from GM Greg Robinson that things are going so well. For anyone who may be wondering, our Applebee’s is owned by Apple Legacy, a company based in Witchita, Kan., which purchased our store in August 2018.

Get your

Motor running

There’s a new mechanic in town! Joe T. Scott has opened Complete Auto Diagnostics & Repairs at 113 Walling Street.

Joe is a McMinnville resident who has been doing mechanic work here since he was in high school. He knows the value of providing honest work and says he has the know-how to do all types of repairs.

“I have the most up-to-date and modern equipment available, some of which I’ve bought in the last 60 days,” said Joe. “Everything with cars nowadays is about computer modules. There are computer modules that control everything and they all communicate with each other. You have to have the right equipment, the scan tools and the scopes, to diagnose the problem and I have all that.”

Joe has an interesting story in that he’s worked for the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Department for more than a decade. He didn’t set out to repair vehicles there, but word got around that he is handy with a wrench so his duties began to shift. Because of his skill, Joe is now part of the crew that keeps some 300 law enforcement vehicles on the road.

“The Sheriff’s Department puts a lot of miles on vehicles because they’re on the road all the time,” said Joe. “Plus law enforcement vehicles have a lot of electrical issues because of all the emergency equipment they have. They are hard to repair and a lot of people won’t touch them. I have the experience and training to do those types of repairs.”

Joe says he’s been constantly continuing his training to keep up with the latest technology and he’s also been regularly updating his equipment. He says he wants to provide local residents with quality service because all vehicles will have issues eventually.

“I’ve worked on vehicles my whole life, even as a part-time job when I was in high school,” said Joe. “I just love it. When I’m working on a car, I’m in my happy place. It’s something I really enjoy. I’ve found if you treat people right and you treat people fair, they will do business with you.”

Joe says he will guarantee all his work for 12 months or 12,000 miles. He says he wants people to have confidence that when they come to his shop, their vehicle will be fixed the right way.

“I’ve had a shop as a side job in Murfreesboro for several years,” said Joe. “I’ve had some customers tell me they are going to follow me here to McMinnville because they don’t want anyone else touching their vehicle.”

Joe says he will work on any type of vehicle problem, from brakes to suspension. He says he can do major engine work, provided he’s not too busy.

“Just opening up a new business, I imagine I’ll do anything to keep me busy here at the start,” said Joe. “I’ve been wanting my own shop for years.”

Joe thanks Randy Mullins of Pa Auto Sales for renting him the space to operate his garage. He can be reached at (931) 743-4750 or by email at

Auntie Mattie’s

Is awesome

The year hasn’t come to an end, but the prestigious Business Pulse award for perseverance has already been determined. It goes to Auntie Mattie’s Soul Food at 488 North Chancery Street.

The restaurant opened in April, just when COVID restrictions were paralyzing businesses throughout the state. If that timing wasn’t bad enough, Auntie Mattie’s couldn’t even put up a sign to advertise its business because the existing sign on the property was determined by city officials to be 2 feet and 9 inches too close to the road.

Before you launch into a tirade about how the sign ruling was a case of the city overstepping its bounds, let me explain. It was absolutely a case of the city overstepping its bounds and I’m pleased to report Auntie Mattie’s was able to overcome this unnecessary roadblock.

The restaurant has been able to excel thanks to delicious food.

“All our food is homemade and it’s just us here in a family business,” said owner Marlena Galie. “They really love the banana pudding and they love the greens. The smoked ribs and fried chicken go fast. I’m not revealing my recipes. I’m not going to tell that.”

When I stopped by Friday, one of the first customers was David Robinson. He was having a to-go box loaded down with ribs, mashed potatoes, cole slaw and cornbread. Upon seeing the feast, David said, “I guess I’ll have to take a nap after this.”

Auntie Mattie’s offers a meat and three sides for $8. After that, each additional side is $2. If you don’t want meat, you can get a vegetable plate for $6, or you can stop in just for dessert.

Ribs, fried chicken, fried okra, cheesy mashed potatoes, green beans, and turnip greens are just some of the regular menu items.

 “This is the first soul food restaurant in McMinnville,” said Willie Galie, who is operating the restaurant with his wife. “We’re trying to give people a different taste.”

Auntie Mattie’s is open Monday thru Friday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The phone number is (931) 414-4388.

Old Fraley’s 

Taking shape

Of all the business stories I’ve reported this year, probably the one which has generated the most excitement is the work that’s being done to catapult the old Fraley’s building back to life. People talk with a smile when they discuss how that new development is going to slingshot Main Street to the next level.

For those who may not know, Southern Traditions will be occupying a large part of the building, about 4,700 square feet. Owner Dale Groves is moving his business from Sparta Street back to the downtown area where he got his start.

On the other side of the building, PI.E Pizza will have a spot. PI.E is moving from a food truck to a physical building and local residents are eager for the transformation.

Since this project is of interest to me, I stopped by Friday to check out renovation work. What I saw was impressive.

The spot where Southern Traditions will locate looks about three or four weeks away from completion. I’m not skilled enough in judging construction progress to estimate when the spot may be move-in ready.

What I can tell you is the new store is going to look great and it’s going to be an asset to the downtown business community for years to come.

Also of note, the back Fraley’s parking lot is currently getting redone and a brand new parking lot is also planned for the corner of Main Street and Sparta Street. This seems like promising news since I often hear complaints there’s not enough downtown parking.

It’s also encouraging to report there are a number of downtown building projects underway which are incorporating residential units above the retail stores on the ground floor. It seems to be a growing trend that people like to live in upscale downtown apartments so we’ll have to see how this continues.

The best idea, in my very wise opinion, would be for the city to level the Blue Building and sell the property to a private developer for upscale apartments. McMinnville needs nice apartments and people seem to be gravitating to downtown areas. This one seems like a no-brainer.

That’s all folks

Thank you for reading. If you want to see your business news in this space, just send me an email at