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Business Pulse - Fazoli's eyes February for opening
Workers paint the outside of what will be a Fazoli’s restaurant on The Strip in McMinnville. Two restaurants formerly operated at that location – Bojangles and Grandy’s.

It was in late July when I pieced together hints and details from various business sources and came to the bold conclusion Fazoli’s would be locating in McMinnville in the old Bojangles spot.

The prediction took a little bit of connecting the dots so to speak and left me just a little nervous after I made it in print in this column. My apprehension began to grow when the mid-August timeline I was told for a deal to take place came and went without a whisper. I wasn’t getting any reports about a deal inching closer.

Fortunately, today is a great day in McMinnville. I can tell you a Fazoli’s restaurant will be opening in our fabulous town under the ownership of longtime restaurant entrepreneur Bill Townsend.

Bill has purchased the property and brings 52 years of restaurant experience to McMinnville with his latest endeavor. A Bell Buckle resident, Bill currently owns six Captain D’s restaurants, although not our local Captain D’s, and he has previously owned a Wendy’s franchise. 

This is all a way of saying Bill knows his stuff. He is dedicated to providing good food at a fair price with exceptional service.

“If we’re asking people to pay their hard-earned money, we’re going to provide quality,” said Bill in a phone interview on Friday. “Fazoli’s is a company I really like. Their CEO has done an outstanding job over the past five years of increasing their sales and pointing the company in the right direction. They are opening a lot of new stores and doing well. This is my first Fazoli’s, but it’s a franchise I’ve been looking at for years.”

Bill said he’s been working on a deal for the old Bojangles property, which is more recently the old Grandy’s property, for about six months. He officially bought the land last week.

Fazoli’s is expanding its footprint and increasing its sales behind a popular product. The lasagna is a smash hit, the wings attract customers by the dozen, and the endless supply of breadsticks are always satisfying.

Motorists passing by have no doubt noticed work taking place on the outside of the building. Bill has been sprucing up the landscaping and the building has been getting painted.

“I hate to paint over the nice brick,” said Bill, “but I don’t want the restaurant to look like an old Bojangles. We’re going to be our own store.”

Bill has a timeline in place he hopes to be able to follow. The week after Christmas, Dec. 27, work is going to begin on interior renovation. 

On Jan. 24, his restaurant equipment is scheduled to arrive. This is also when he plans to start hiring employees. This will take some time as Bill says he wants to hire 70.

If everything goes according to plan, the opening date will be Feb. 22.

“That’s what we’re shooting for, but we’re not going to open until we’re ready,” said Bill. “Those are our current projections and they could change.”

Fazoli’s will be open seven days a week for lunch and dinner. Bill says his daughter-in-law Tammy Townsend will be handling day-to-day operations. He describes himself as a hands-on owner who will handle any aspect of the business.

“We don’t have anybody who is going to sit in an office,” said Bill.

I predict Fazoli’s will enjoy great success in our community and be a nice addition to our restaurant offerings. I’ve heard people say that location is not a good place for a restaurant because the first two which have located there have failed. I say our first two restaurants were not the right fit.

Grandy’s had the rare combination of bad food and bad service. If you had more than one option, I see no reason for anyone to ever eat at our Grandy’s.

Bojangles wasn’t strong either as the restaurant seemed to struggle at times with having chicken available. I don’t consider that a promising sign for a chicken restaurant.

I think Fazoli’s will excel at that spot. That’s my prediction.

Hotel opening

Pushed back

It’s been 30 years since a new hotel opened in McMinnville. With that long a drought, I guess we can wait one more week.

Our new Hampton Inn on Sparta Street was hoped to open this Tuesday, but that opening date has been delayed one week. The new opening date has been set for the following Tuesday, Oct. 26.

I stopped by the hotel on Wednesday to receive a tour from developer David Hunt, who should be applauded. The hotel has been appraised at $11.3 million so David has made quite an investment in our community. Thank you, Mr. Hunt!

Our Hampton Inn has 73 rooms, an outdoor pool, a fitness center, a conference room, and a spacious breakfast area that will feature waffles among other breakfast fare. It will provide quality that will set it apart, according to David.

“The Hilton banner is what brings people back,” said Hunt. “When people stay here, they know they will get a safe, clean room at a fair price. Hilton has people come in religiously to do checks to make sure we maintain the high standards that are expected. If anything is wrong, you get dinged. If you get dinged too many times, you lose the Hilton banner and that’s a big thing.”

Cupcake and I just returned from a glorious trip to Florida earlier this month. I can say we had first-hand experience about what a difference a hotel room can make.

In Ft. Lauderdale, our hotel featured a gorgeous, ocean-front view. It looked like it might have been a nice hotel in 1970, but it was an absolute dive in 2021. We both hated it.

But in our three nights in Key West, Cupcake and I stayed at The Duval House, an absolutely charming bed and breakfast that I’d recommend to everyone. It was wonderful and it made our stay even more special.

Hunt hopes to have that same kind of impact with his new Hampton Inn in McMinnville, which will be his seventh Hampton Inn.

For those who are wondering, it’s been three decades since a hotel was last constructed in town. McMinnville Inn on Sparta Street was the last one, built in 1991. Before that, Shoney’s Inn was constructed in 1989. 

It’s now operating under the name America’s Best Value Inn and is located on the bypass.

Hunt says Hampton Inn will allow McMinnville to kept many out-of-town visitors in town for their overnight stay.

“You’d be amazed at how many people who are visiting McMinnville drive to Manchester or Murfreesboro to spend the night,” said Hunt. “It will be a big thing for this town to keep them here.”

Hampton Inn guests will be treated to luxury. Each room has its own microwave, refrigerator and TV that’s at least 50 inches wide. Doors are heavy and extra thick to serve as a barrier to hallway noise. There are also thick walls to minimize noise from adjacent rooms.

“With the robotics center across the street and all the people who are in this area for business, I’m expecting there will be a lot of guests who stay multiple nights,” said Hunt. “That’s why I made the decision to have a microwave and refrigerator in every room.”

Saying goodbye

To Moody Stinson

I always admired Moody Stinson for his drive and determination. Who else can you think of who made a career in business operating from the same location for 60 years?

The longtime owner of Diamond Jewelry Company on Main Street with his wife Judy since 1960, Moody passed away last Saturday at age 81. He will be missed.

One thing that’s especially interesting to note about Moody is all three of his sons also went into the jewelry business. They got their start piddling around his shop in elementary school and it apparently made an impact.

I’ll always remember one conversation I had with Moody back in 2004 when Main Street revitalization resulted in the road being closed and the street itself being ripped apart. I wandered downtown, talked to Moody for a while, and managed to get his picture by a backhoe.

I asked him how he thought the road closure would impact his business and he was remarkably upbeat.

“I’ve been here for 44 years,” he said at the time. “They should know where to find me by now.”

At his funeral, those in attendance were asked to raise their hand if they had ever purchased a piece of jewelry from Moody. Everyone in attendance raised their hand.

In a day when so many people are quick to order online and buy things from a faceless company like Amazon, it’s refreshing to remember our country was founded on mom and pop businesses like Diamond Jewelry Company, where you always knew the friendly face behind and counter.

Ascend has new

Financial advisor

Anyone who has paid scant attention to the stock market in recent months knows it has been a turbulent ride. That’s why it’s important to rely on the services of a competent financial advisor more than ever.

Ascend Federal Credit Union is pleased to announce the promotion of Joshua Wells to associate financial advisor on the Ascend Retirement and Investment Services wealth management team. In his new role, Wells will develop and execute wealth management and financial plans for members in the Manchester, McMinnville and Franklin County locations.

Said Ascend CEO Caren Gabriel, “Josh’s passion for helping people achieve their financial goals, build net worth, and plan for retirement will make wealth planning easier and more accessible to our members.”

Joshua earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from MTSU. In addition, he is designated as a chartered retirement planning counselor by the College for Financial Planning.

Ascend is located in McMinnville at Three Star Mall. For more information, visit

Eller named

Executive director

You had to know former Chamber of Commerce president Mandy Eller would land on her feet. Mandy, a Warren County native, has been named executive director of the Beersheba Springs Medical Clinic, a facility which receives about 12% of its patients from Warren County.

Mandy brings grant writing and fundraising experience to the clinic and hopes to continue crucial relationships with medical and community organizations to maintain and expand services as needed. 

“The clinic serves a vital need to those who otherwise would not have access to medical or dental care and prescription medications to improve their quality of life,” said Mandy.

Her first order of business is the annual appeal for donations from the public. This year, the facility is rolling out a Friends of the Beersheba Springs Medical Clinic Club, with top donors being a “Best Friend Forever” or “BFF.” To join, sign up for automatic recurring donations as low as $10 a month to support the work of the clinic.

The clinic began offering dental services just before the pandemic and is now offering it one day a month, mainly for extractions. Officials hope to be able to offer the services consistently in 2022 and even expand to dental cleanings and routine checkups.

The Beersheba Springs Medical Clinic was established in 2010 with a mission of improving health of people in the immediate and surrounding areas. If you’d like to make a contribution, go to the website and click the tab “Donate.” 

That’s all folks

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