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Business Pulse - Industrial sites stir interest
Begonias - Seth.jpg
Seth Davis stands in the dining room of Begonias, his new Main Street restaurant. Begonias is currently serving to friends and family members with plans to open to the general public in the coming weeks.

When I first started writing this column some 20 years ago, all people wanted to know about was job news. Was a new factory coming to town? How many jobs would it bring?

In today’s business climate where jobs are flying off the grill like hotcakes, I don’t know how concerned people are with employment. I mean everybody who wants to work already has a job, right?

That said, more jobs appear on the horizon. Industrial Development Board director Don Alexander says business activity has awakened from its pandemic slumber and companies are actively eyeing Warren County as a place to locate. On Thursday, Don entertained visitors who toured our spec building and our robotics center and Don said they liked what our community has to offer.

“Our spec building can not only save companies time, it can also save them a lot of money considering how much construction costs have gone up,” said Don. “Steel is 52% higher than it was a year ago so it would be really advantageous for a company looking to expand to consider our spec building.”

The spec building offers 60,000 square feet of space and was designed to be expanded if necessary. The old AquaTech building on Belmont Drive is now vacant and has 137,500 square feet available.

Don said the old Flight Deck Specialists building on Belmont Drive has also come available recently and has 28,500 square feet. There’s also the old MPC building on Garfield Street which is now vacant and has 56,000 square feet.

“We have a flavor for everybody,” said Don.

With the buildings we have available in our community, and business activity ramping up, I think we’ll be seeing some new companies in our town in the near future.


It’s time

For Begonias


The buzz has intensified and there’s real excitement surrounding the opening of Begonias on East Main Street.

Restaurant owner Seth Davis calls it “elevated casual dining” and says people are welcome; however, they want to walk in the door. 

“Look how you want,” said Seth, “because we’re going to show off on the plate.”

The interior looks fabulous and there’s an extra level of enthusiasm that surrounds Begonias because of its location. I think Seth nailed it when he said, “You could pick this restaurant up and put it any other place in town and it wouldn’t be the same thing. This is where I wanted to be.”

Seth hasn’t established an opening date to the general public just yet. He and his crew are currently serving friends and family members for dinner to iron out all the kinks and it will probably be another week or so before the doors open for everyone.

In talking to Seth on Friday, I like his mindset. He’s not focusing on this month or this year. He wants to open a restaurant for the long haul that will be at that spot decades from now.

He certainly has the restaurant experience to operate a thriving business. He’s been working in restaurants for 21 years, dating all the way back to when he washed dishes at Shoney’s.

“I’ve done every job from the front door to the back door,” said Seth.

His finance Savannah Winnett is by his side, along with head chef Megan Kennedy, who Seth describes as “one of the most talented people I’ve ever met.”

Begonias has been described in loose terms as a “pizza place,” but Seth says the menu will have a little of everything. That includes pasta that’s made fresh daily. 

‘We’ll start with eggs and flour in the morning and have pasta at night,” said Seth.

One thing I’ve mentioned in this column before is the need, at least by my perception, to have a downtown restaurant that’s open past 9 p.m. Any time I eat downtown on Saturday night, the restaurant staff is sweeping the floor and putting up chairs before I leave.

“We’re going to be open till midnight on Friday and Saturday nights,” said Seth. “We’ve heard that’s what people want so that’s what we’re going to offer. It’s not so much we think people are going to come and order dinner that late. It’s more a thing where customers don’t feel rushed and feel like they have to leave because the restaurant closes at 10 p.m. We’re going to be here till midnight so you can take your time.”

Seth wants to give a big shout-out to property owner Ken Roberts and his granddaughter Raven Young for guiding him along during the opening process. Seth describes Raven as “an absolute baller” and said Ken has been a valuable resource in providing direction.

I would also like to praise Ken Roberts for his work on revitalizing the old Fraley’s building. Ken bought the property in 2004 and let it sit vacant for years. I’d lost hope he would ever do anything with it.

But Ken has proven me wrong and he’s made McMinnville proud with his work on the building. Main Street was already brimming with life before his restoration project. The opening of Begonias, and Southern Traditions before that, puts an exclamation point on the entire downtown area. Thanks Ken!


So long

Grandy’s


After six months and one week of business, our Grandy’s closed on Monday. It was sad to see.

I posted the story to our Southern Standard page on Facebook and the community reaction was pretty harsh. It seems, based on online comments, people had received lousy food and lousy service at Grandy’s. Some folks actually seemed to express some degree of satisfaction the restaurant was closed.

There’s no need to repeat those comments in this space. I think it’s sufficient to say local residents were largely dissatisfied with Grandy’s and considered the food bad. Speaking for myself, I ate there once and was not inclined to return.

Looking ahead, what happens next? Trident Holdings bought the property for $1.25 million last summer and I’m sure the company is not going to let it go for cheap. That means we’ll either be looking at an empty building for a few more years or another chain restaurant will take a stab at that spot. I don’t think there are many local mom and pops in position to plop down $1.25 million for that building.

Chick-fil-A, In and Out Burger, Steak and Shake, and even Olive Garden have been mentioned online as chain restaurants people would like to see at that spot. Taking all things into consideration and giving my expert opinion, I think the building would have the greatest chance of success if it was transformed into a Mexican restaurant.




Offering healthcare

to Infinity


There’s a reason Infinity Family Health has its name. The reason is because the healthcare clinic sees all types of patients, from birth to all the way to seniors. It’s a great concept really.

“This way we can see the whole family,” said nurse practitioner Leslie Whaley. “We can do it all in one stop. There’s no reason to drive all over town for your child and your grandmother. We can see everybody right here.”

Whaley and her sister, Kirstie Dixon, have opened Infinity Family Health at Northgate Center next to Save-A-Lot. They are both nurse practitioners and they’re joined in the business by Kirstie’s daughter-in law, Lindsey Dixon, a certified medical office manager.

“We can handle it all from acute symptoms like an earache to chronic problems like diabetes and high blood pressure,” said Kirstie. “There’s a real shortage of primary healthcare providers in this town because few people want to navigate all the government issues and navigate all the insurance red tape.”

Kirstie and Leslie have been nurse practitioners since 2013. Kirstie used to work as an emergency room nurse who saw her share of horrific injuries and also dealt with mundane situations.

“I saw plenty of sore throats in the ER,” said Kirstie. “That’s the state of our healthcare system today. I had one patient come to the ER for a pregnancy test.”

Leslie used to focus on newborns and younger patients. Before that, she was in geriatrics so she’s seen both ends of the spectrum when it comes to healthcare.

If you'd like to schedule an appointment, Infinity Family Health can often see patients on the same day they call if it’s a problem that needs immediate attention. Lindsey says the business accepts nearly all insurance and it’s her job to deal with the pesky insurance companies. For that she deserves a trophy.

At a time when there really aren’t many doctors in town serving as primary care providers, nurse practitioners are increasingly becoming the way to go. Kirstie says she enjoys talking to patients, diagnosing problems and managing their care. She said she hears about more than physical health issues.

“A lot of times people want to talk about their social problems,” said Kirstie. “That impacts their health too and they want to talk about what’s going on.”

If you’re looking for someone to help with your primary care, Infinity Family Health can be reached at (931) 507-5000. Business hours are Monday, Tuesday and Thursday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Wednesday and Friday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.


Travel agent

Takes flight


Pandemic concerns are easing. Travel is increasing. Summer has arrived. It’s time to vacation!

If you’re looking for help in planning your next getaway, Cindy’s Awesome Travels has opened on Sparta Highway. Travel agent Cindy Harvey has been in the business part-time since November of 2019 and she’s preparing to give it her full attention come mid-July.

That’s when Cindy is leaving her job of 18.5 years at River Park Hospital so she can concentrate fully on her travel agency and also spend time on the road with her newlywed husband, John Harvey, who is a truck driver. Cindy and John were married two weeks ago.

Cindy says she can help in booking nearly every 

aspect of your trip. This includes arranging the flight, hotel accommodations, car rental, and even excursions at your vacation spot.

“Trips to Cancun are very popular,” said Cindy. “Gulf Shores is also a popular destination and it stays booked during the summer. Florida is highly visited. Beaches in general are a real popular request.”

Cindy says she can look for deals surrounding your trip no matter the destination, even Paris. 

“If you can picture the world, I can book anywhere you want to go,” said Cindy. “I can also do passports. I find this type of work very interesting. I love looking up trips and seeing different places. While I do that, I put places on my own personal bucket list.”

Cindy says when she leaves work at the hospital she will be accompanying her husband in his truck in trips across the country. If this pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that we’d be in big trouble without truckers.

Cindy says she and John are also planning a personal trip to Sturgis, South Dakota on the back of a motorcycle. To me that sounds like great fun if you substitute a car for the motorcycle.

Cindy says a great perk that comes with being a travel agent is she can book trips regardless of where she is in the country. She says it’s easy for her to make arrangements whether she’s in McMinnville or Montana.

Cindy’s Awesome Travels can be reached at (931) 808-8608. Your next vacation spot is just a call away.


That’s all folks


Today’s column was a joy to compile with friendly folks at every turn. If you have business news to report, send me an email at editor@southernstandard.com.

 473-2191.