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Business Pulse - It's fiesta time in Newtown
Nelo's No.jpg
Nelo's Mexican Restaurant is expected to open this week at the old Billy's Restaurant location in Newtown. It will be a family operation run by Elias "Nelo" Lopez and Carmen Vargas, among others.

There’s a fiesta brewing this week in Newtown, complete with sombrero.

Nelo’s Mexican Restaurant is on the verge of opening at the old Billy’s Restaurant to bring a new flavor to a part of town clearly on the rise.

Bolstered by a Dollar General, two convenience stores, and U-Haul rentals, Newtown is showing it belongs on the map of Warren County places to be. If a vape shop could somehow locate in that area, the circle of life would be complete.

I stopped by Nelo’s on Friday and found co-owner Carmen Vargas brimming with excitement. She’s ready to open as soon as the Health Department stops by to give its stamp of approval, which should be a breeze considering how the place sparkles.

I must admit, I’m a guy who loves chips and salsa. I’ve also been known to scarf down my share of guacamole so I’m ready, willing and able to give Nelo’s a try.

People chuckle and say Warren County has too many Mexican restaurants. I’m here to say we don’t have enough! Thank you Nelo’s for opening.

Carmen says she and co-owner Roberto Lopez have been in the restaurant business for years. They are geared toward customer service and have tried-and-true recipes ready to serve.

They say Nelo’s should be open this week and it will be open seven days a week once it gets the green light. Come join the celebration and check out the business velocity being created in Newtown.

MPC on its

Way out

At Thursday’s Industrial Development Board meeting it was announced Metal Products Company is on the verge of closing its doors on Garfield Street.

The news was a shock considering MPC has been in business for 30 years in McMinnville and has a current workforce of 49.

“Metal Products has let us know they are going to close operations,” said IDB director Don Alexander. “They are a tenant in that building that we own and they have a really low-market rate. There may be somebody looking to come in behind him and I want to know what the board would like to do in terms of a new lease.”

It was discussed that there is heavy interest from a potential buyer to take over the business. If that happens, IDB members wondered what they should do about setting the price for rent.

The building is 56,000 square feet and, at one time, was the old Genesco building. It used to be a shoe factory. The dimensions of the facility don’t necessarily translate well to today’s industrial climate where companies want high ceilings and open space.

IDB members decided they should arrange a meeting with MPC owner Jim Dyer and the potential buyer as soon as possible. Board members were in agreement they do not want to lose a potential tenant and have the building sit empty. 

When contacted Friday, Mr. Dyer thanked Warren County for its support over the past three decades.

“We at Metal Products Company have sincerely appreciated the community support during the last 30 years, and we will always have great faith in the vitality of McMinnville and Warren County,” said Dyer. “But now MPC is facing challenges. Recently our largest customer moved to Wisconsin, and the COVID-19 pandemic has caused financial distress like nobody could have predicted. We are faced with difficult decisions, but we remain focused on making the most of a difficult situation. Through the decades here, MPC has put millions of dollars of payroll and purchased services into the community, and we will do everything in our control to keep giving back. We hope to make an announcement in the near future that is both positive and encouraging to everyone involved.”

Let’s hope a deal can take place so Warren County doesn’t lose local jobs.



The monthly Industrial Development Board meeting was brimming with promising news. In another announcement, IDB member Jenny Nafrada said her sister and brother-in-law, Emily and Chad Graves, have decided to put a pharmacy in the old bank building they are renovating on West Main Street.

The building was once a First American Bank and also an AmSouth before it shut its doors. Best I can remember, the building has been empty for some 14 years.

Graves Family Properties purchased the building about three months ago and there’s been much activity outside and inside. The place already looks much, much better.

Jenny told the IDB that the decision has been made to place a pharmacy at that location. She said the vision is also for it to become either a women’s health center or some type of health clinic for the entire family. That sounds like great news.

In the days of yesteryear, Main Street used to be overflowing with pharmacies. They were all over the downtown business district. 

This is located a couple blocks away from what’s considered the Main Street retail district, but it’s still nice to see a pharmacy coming downtown. Maybe there can be a bit of nostalgia and a soda fountain included in the redesign plans. Just thought I’d throw that out there for consumption.

Huddle House

To open Oct. 7

The undefeated Warren County High School football team has started a tradition of drinking maple syrup after games to celebrate all the pancake blocks that were delivered.

If they should happen to want pancakes to go with that syrup, Huddle House is opening its McMinnville location on Wednesday, Oct. 7, the company has announced.

One of the drawing points to eating at Huddle House is that it’s always open. That means it will be open after Pioneer football games too. The team can start a new tradition by piling into the restaurant to eat plates of pancakes to go with their pancake blocks.

Let’s hope the team is still unbeaten by the time Huddle House opens. Nothing helps to enhance the magic of a historic football season like hashbrowns, omelets and sausage. Go Pioneers!

Back to

Bustling Newtown

I’ve already mentioned Newtown once in this article, so why not twice?

A new office building is under construction on Nashville Highway in Newtown at the front corner of the Woodland Creek subdivision. When I stopped by Friday, I learned Pinnacle Homes of Woodbury owns the property and is doing the construction.

Pinnacle Homes consists of partners Mike Hutchins, Cole Reed and Kendal Smith. Mike was on the building site Friday.

“It will be used for the USDA and FSA offices,” said Mike. “They are good tenants. I rent to them at two other locations.”

Mike says the USDA rent checks “arrive like clockwork” and he wishes all his tenants were so punctual. Mike says it’s a busy time for Pinnacle Homes, which is busy building.

If you’ve noticed the new apartments that have been built in Woodbury, those are owned by Pinnacle Homes. The apartments are located on the left after you pass Co-op. There are 10 units crammed on the property and they are almost ready for occupancy. Mike says two are already rented.

As a general comment, construction activity is very brisk in Warren County and this overall region. I’m amazed at the amount of building I’m seeing, both residential and commercial.

Thinking back, I don’t know if there’s ever been a time with so much construction taking place around our community, from a new hotel, to a new Middle Tennessee Natural Gas headquarters, to a new Dollar General.

That’s all folks

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