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Business Pulse - Billy selling Foutch's Family Restaurant
Billy Foutch 37.jpg
Billy Foutch is pictured at Foutch’s Family Restaurant on Sparta Street at its opening in October 2015. Billy says he’s sold the restaurant to La Cazona owner Manuel Ochoa and is preparing to retire.

McMinnville is on the verge of losing a legendary restaurant owner with the upcoming retirement of Billy Foutch.

Billy told me Friday night a deal has been reached to sell Foutch’s Family Restaurant on Sparta Street to Manuel Ochoa, the owner of La Cazona. Billy says he doesn’t have a last day set just yet, but he figures it will be in the next week or two.

When he retires it will bring an end to an iconic restaurant career that lasted for 60 years. During that time, Billy has cooked his way into the hearts of most all of Warren County.

“I appreciate people so much for giving me business all these years,” said Billy, who tried to retire once but found it didn’t suit him. This time he says will be different. “I don’t intend to ever go back,” he said.

Billy also dismissed any thought he might return to his restaurant in Newtown, which has been vacant since it was closed in October 2018 by another operator.

“I’m 81 years old and too old for that,” said Billy. “It’s too hard to get good help.”

Even at 81, Billy maintains a schedule that would make most folks cry, working seven days a week. He’s usually at the restaurant at 5:30 a.m.

Billy says the health of his dear wife Marie is the reason for him selling the restaurant. He said if she wasn’t sick, they would likely still be running Foutch’s Family Restaurant. He opened the restaurant on Sparta Street in October, 2015.

Since I learned about this news so late on Friday I wasn’t able to reach Manuel for comment. From what Billy says, Manuel has no plans to change the menu. He said he believes Manuel will keep the same name and the same fare.

Manuel is a restaurant veteran so he knows the game. Believe it or not, La Cazona has been open at Northgate Center for 15 years. I still remember eating there on opening week.

Serenity Thrift

closing local store

It was in May, 2015 when Serenity Thrift moved into the desolate old Hasting’s building that had been gathering dust at Northgate Center for two years.

Serenity Thrift brought new life to the building with old clothes and there seemed to be a new measure of happiness in the retail world. Then came an announcement on Friday that Serenity Thrift is closing its local store.

“We regret to inform you that we will be closing our McMinnville Serenity Thrift Store permanently on Wednesday, Nov. 27, at the end of the day,” said a message posted on Facebook. “The general business decline in that area makes it impossible to justify keeping the store open. We are aware of the impact this closing will have on employees and have offered employment within other locations. We appreciate all our customers that have supported us and hope you will visit us at our other locations.”

Serenity Thrift was founded by Gerald and Debbie Morrison and I remember Debbie telling me when they located here that they signed a 10-year lease. I’m not sure if they had some sort of escape clause but it hasn’t even been five years yet.

While I appreciate the effort of Serenity Thrift to provide affordable clothing to the community, I should note that I’m not really an enthusiastic thrift store shopper. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with thrift store shopping, and I’ve purchased used items from various places, but I think that prime retail space at Northgate Center could be better utilized.

When Fred’s Pharmacy closed, I mistakenly said it would be a long time before anything else came to that location. I was wrong as Harbor Freight arrived six months later.

No disrespect to Fred’s, but Harbor Freight is an upgrade in my book. Perhaps the same thing can happen with the Serenity Thrift location. That spot would be perfect for Old Navy. Just saying.

Patel has no

Plans for land

When the new four-lane to Woodbury was finished, I figured it would be an incubator for retail development. Now five years after the highway has opened, I can’t think of one single business which has opened along the road.

I find that surprising.

I think many local residents expected that to change when an auction was held recently for property on the corner of the four-lane and Pigeon Hill Road.

Sid Patel, who owns both convenience stores in Newtown along with the old Meat Market building, purchased five acres on the corner. The widespread speculation I heard was that Sid would put a gas station there.

However, word on the street doesn’t always correspond with the facts and when I stopped by to talk to Sid on Friday he said he doesn’t have any plans for the property. He said buying it was probably a mistake and he will likely sit on it for a while to see what happens.

It stands to reason a new business will someday open along the four-lane to Woodbury, but I’m not led to believe Sid will be the one doing it. 

The Pigeon Hill Road corner seems like a logical location because it's about halfway between McMinnville and Woodbury.

New building

Just a big shed

When you construct an enormous building within eyeshot of the bypass, it’s going to generate some questions. I’ve been asked by several people about the large building going up near the bypass at its intersection with Shelbyville Road.

The building has the looks of a facility which could be home to a new industry and new jobs. Unfortunately, that’s not the case.

In talking with the property owner, it appears the building is going to be his dream shed, perhaps the biggest shed in the history of Warren County. He’s got a bunch of stuff and needs a place to put it.

Taking a quick look at this shed, it appears about five times bigger than my house. I can only imagine how much stuff it will hold.

Jeanette is back

With bigger practice

After spending a year in the congested confines of Chattanooga, Jeanette Jordan has returned to the welcoming arms of Warren County with her cozy health and wellness studio.

Jeanette is committed to helping people overcome their chronic pain with total-body wellness. She takes a holistic approach to healing, believing that everything in our lives contributes to our level of fitness. This includes what we eat, how we sleep and what we do to take care of our bodies.

“My goal is to help someone who wants to get their health in order but doesn’t know where to start,” said Jeanette. “Diet can affect mental clarity. Better sleep can lead to better digestion and a calmer nervous system. Sleep is one of the major pillars of health. And if you’re not digesting well, your body is not working right. If you have high anxiety and high levels of stress, that carries into the bedroom when you try to sleep.”

Jeanette has an office at 228 East Colville Street. She can be reached at (931) 212-4584.

Jeanette practices myofascial release therapy. It’s a combination of physical therapy, massage therapy and chiropractic work, although she stresses she does not perform chiropractic adjustments.

She can help ease chronic pain in the shoulders, neck and lower back. It’s a more clinical approach than simply getting a massage. Jeanette can determine how your body is aligned and detect problems that create pain.

Body work is only one aspect of her business. She is also a mentor and wellness coach who works individually or in group settings at retreats. She recently held a women’s retreat on the Ocoee River that was filled to capacity.

Jeanette has been reinvesting money made from her practice into advanced training. Over the past year she’s attended seven seminars to ensure she’s got first-rate knowledge on the best healing practices.

Jeanette has deep ties to this community as the granddaughter of Betty Jo Jordan and the late Magness Jordan. Mr. Jordan was a war hero who was part of the historic D-Day invasion. He was captured and escaped enemy custody thanks to Frenchmen in disguise who worked to free him while he was under care at a hospital.

For more information, Jeanette has an informative website – Please note that is not a misprint and there is no “m” at the end of the web address.

That’s all folks

I hope today’s column answered all your business questions. If not, email your questions to me at