There’s always been a circus of excitement surrounding what I call the old Bojangles building on The Strip.
It was in late 2015 when local residents were counting down the days before Bojangles opened its doors and brought its brand of chicken and biscuits to McMinnville. The opening date was Dec. 1, 2015.
It was almost exactly five years later when Grandy’s took over that location and opened on Dec. 6, 2020. That experiment barely made it six months before Grandy’s shut its doors.
So we have one location, two different restaurant chains, and just over three years of total operation. That spot, despite all the positive energy surrounding it, has been like a bad dream.
Fazoli’s will be looking to change that. In conversations with various super-secret sources who shall never be named, Business Pulse has learned Fazoli’s is in the process of closing on the property that was Bojangles and Grandy’s.
For those with great memories, Trident Holdings bought that property last year for $1.25 million, according to Warren County property tax records. Trident Holdings primarily operates Captain D’s restaurants, but it’s the company which is trying to resurrect the Grandy’s chain, obviously with a few speed bumps.
I texted Chris Benner with Trident Holdings on Thursday and asked him if he could verify that Fazoli’s is the restaurant looking to locate at the old Grandy’s. He said it is Fazoli’s!
From what I understand, a closing date has been set for mid-August. We all know how business deals can collapse at the last minute, but barring anything drastic it appears McMinnville will be getting a Fazoli’s for the first time in city history.
For those not familiar with Fazoli’s, I would describe it as a McDonald's for Italian food. Founded in 1988, it’s headquartered in Lexington, Ky., with around 210 locations in 26 states.
Menu items include lasagna, fettucine alfredo, baked spaghetti, pizza, mozzarella cheese skewers and boneless wings. There’s also cheesecake for those who like dessert.
There are Fazoli’s in Tullahoma, Cookeville and Murfreesboro, just to name a few nearby locations. I ate at the one in Tullahoma years ago.
In talking with a couple local residents, I learned there are people who really like Fazoli’s and are pumped at this news. I’m excited a new restaurant appears to be coming so soon and that a prime retail location won’t be sitting vacant for years.
Some folks have asked me if I think that’s a bad location because both restaurants which located there have failed. I do not think that's a bad location. It's an awesome location.
Grandy’s closed because of its so-so food and shaky service. I’ve heard people say they pulled up to the Grandy’s drive thru and were never greeted with a voice over the intercom asking to take their order so they drove away. I’ve heard about groups that went to Grandy’s after church only to learn they didn’t have any chicken so they left.
To those stories, I say those were the lucky ones. I went to Grandy’s and was actually served. If I were only ignored, I could have walked out and got a good meal somewhere else.
Bojangles struggled because it seemed to lack consistency and I’ve learned people often don’t give you a second chance if they aren't pleased.
I remember when Ray Talbert and John Duncan developed a vision for a new community bank in Warren County and put the wheels in motion to start Homeland Community Bank. That was 18 years ago.
The bank has flourished and I’m pleased to announce it has expanded with its first location outside of Warren County with a prime spot on the four-lane to Murfreesboro.
“Our success is due to the unwavering community support here in Warren County,” said Ray Talbert, bank president and CEO. “The spirit of community banking can be easily summed up in one simple phrase: We are you; you are us.”
Homeland Community Bank’s story began in 2003 with its headquarters on North Chancery Street across from Walmart. With the new branch in Woodbury on John Bragg Highway, the bank now has four locations.
Talbert credits the bank employees, the board of directors, and most importantly local residents for allowing Homeland Community Bank to prosper.
“As a community bank, we take great pride in being a part of all aspects of our community, whether by employing our residents or supporting the financial needs of businesses, farms, schools and government,” said Talbert. “Being community focused, we pay attention to all of the opportunities that exist, no matter the industry, to ensure those businesses receive the capital they need to grow. We are the heartbeat of our community. We are in touch with our community’s needs and strive to help address those needs. We have been truly blessed by the number of customers who have believed in us and been customers of the bank throughout the years. Our customers are the reason we continue to see growth and their promotion of us is priceless.”
The Woodbury branch will provide full-service banking solutions and will maintain the same business hours six days a week as the main office. The drive-thru opens at 7 a.m. Monday thru Saturday with the lobby opening one hour later on those days.
“We invite everyone to stop by and experience community banking at its best,” said Talbert. “Homeland Community Bank is humbled and appreciative of the continued patronage from our many friends and customers throughout the last 18 years. You, our customers, are the reason we are successful, and we are continuously grateful.”
Job fair Set
for Aug. 16
Mark your calendar for Monday, Aug. 16. That’s when American Job Center will be holding a jumbo job fair at Milner Recreation Center, formerly McMinnville Civic Center.
The job fair will take place from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and many employers are expected to be on hand. McMinnville city officials voted to waive the normal rental fee for the rec center and allow American Job Center to have use of the facility for free because the event has been deemed an attribute for the community.
Becky D. Hull is helping to coordinate the job fair. She is executive director of the Upper Cumberland Local Workforce Development Board, which serves a 14-county region.
“We’re really trying to figure out a way to make that employer-employee connection,” said Becky. “This is a great opportunity to hand over a resume and make a positive first impression.”
The Chamber of Commerce held a job fair in June at Three Star Mall with some 30 employers in attendance. Employers were there, but people seeking jobs were not as attendance was reported as low.
Becky said that problem permeates throughout her 14-county area. She says there are many jobs available, but there aren’t workers jumping at the chance to apply for those jobs.
Becky said one thing her office is looking to do is connect students with prospective employers while they are still in school in an apprenticeship type of program. She said her office is also looking to assist people who have been involved with the justice system and may be encountering extra hurdles to employment due to a criminal record.
“We’re having to be creative,” said Becky. “We’re an employment agency and we can help in a lot of ways. We can even help with transportation and child care.”
While that large job fair is still a couple weeks away, there is a more immediate job fair happening this Wednesday, Aug. 4, for people looking to work at the Hampton Inn hotel coming to Sparta Street.
Current projections have the Hampton Inn opening in mid-September if everything goes according to plan. The job fair will be hiring for all positions at the Hampton Inn and it will be held at the Chamber of Commerce building on Court Square.
Job fair hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Aug. 4. It will be held upstairs on the second floor of the Chamber.
Organizers of the hotel job fair point out that a background check and a drug test are required before a job offer will be extended.
I remember about 10 years ago, there was no real interest about who served on our Industrial Development Board. City and county officials would make recommendations and the names would get approved without any discussion or debate.
Times have changed and I’m glad to see there’s strong interest in serving on our Industrial Development Board. Appointing people to serve has even caused a bit of controversy in recent years because the seats are suddenly in demand.
To provide a brief summary, our IDB is managed by director Don Alexander who reports to a 10-member board. City and county governments each appoint five members to the board.
Three of the city’s five seats expire this month. Those are seats currently held by Tommy Foster, Sandra Haynes and Brent Nunley.
McMinnville Mayor Ryle Chastain began discussing possible replacements for those people at the city’s most recent meeting on Tuesday. Mayor Chastain rattled off a list that includes 16 names that are currently under consideration for those three seats. Those names can be seen in the graph below.
Upon seeing the names, my first impression is that Ryle has composed a very impressive list that contains many of our prominent community leaders. I don’t think you can go wrong with any of those choices for the IDB.
Since I’ve covered Industrial Development Board meetings for years and years, I thought I would provide a few comments.
One thing I think is important is the IDB should be a diverse board. It wouldn’t be a good overall representation of the community if you had 10 bankers on the board. Being in the same field, their view of the community is through the same window.
That being said, I don’t think we need another banker/ financial advisor on the IDB. There are three already, which is 30% of the board.
One thing I think is badly lacking on the board is an industry leader. For me, this is a glaring oversight. That’s why I think Greg Smartt, CEO of Ben Lomand, and Stacey Harvey, president of Superior Walls, are two strong candidates.
Greg and Stacey run large companies with dozens of employees. They are in touch with current industry needs and would be an asset.
I realize the current mindset when it comes to appointing members for board positions, not just this board but any board, is to inject new blood and replace some of the people who have served for years. I can’t argue with that philosophy and in fact I’ve written a column saying it’s a positive step to get other people in our community involved.
Despite that line of thinking, I think Tommy Foster is a guy city officials should think about retaining on the IDB. Tommy is in the real estate business and has strong connections in our community and beyond. He’d be a guy I would want to keep if I was picking IDB members.
That’s all folks
Business news has been beating down on us like 90-degree weather. There’s been plenty of news to report. If you have information you’d like to see in the newspaper, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.