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Business Pulse - La Cazona owner ready for 2nd restaurant
La Cazona owner Manuel Ochoa.jpg
La Cazona owner Manuel Ochoa says he has big plans for the building on Sparta Street which is currently Foutch’s Family Restaurant. Manuel says a few things must be worked out before the deal is finalized and he hopes to take over the first of the year.

It was a monumental story last week when Billy Foutch revealed he was in the process of selling Foutch’s Family Restaurant to La Cazona owner Manuel Ochoa.

I had the chance to chat with Manuel on Friday to get his thoughts on the deal. I’ve been fortunate to know Manuel for years and was there when he launched La Cazona some 15 years ago.

“I really like the place he has there,” said Manuel. “It’s clean and only four years old. I’m thinking I want to go in and I don’t want to change much. It is not going to be Mexican. I want to keep it as an American restaurant. I want to keep the same people and keep the same price. I see breakfast and lunch staying pretty much the same. The only thing I might change is to add a few nicer items for dinner.”

Manuel said it appears most of the details have been hammered out between him and Billy Foutch, the owner of Foutch’s Family Restaurant. However, he said attorneys are still working on final details, the most prominent of which is a no-compete clause.

Barring any setbacks, Manuel says he would like to assume ownership of Foutch’s Family Restaurant at the start of 2020. He said a hectic holiday season makes it difficult to think he can take over any earlier than that. La Cazona will remain in operation and be unaffected by the deal.

As for his background, many people may not realize that Manuel has spent most of his restaurant career serving American-style food. He got his start as a teenager in California working for a top-shelf hotel that employed 75 cooks.

He started at the bottom, which was the breakfast shift. He gradually worked his way up to the lunch shift and then the dinner shift. 

“For a while, all I was doing was breakfast items -- eggs, omelets, pancakes,” said Manuel.

Manuel eventually was promoted to banquet chef, which is above dinner cook. He said the hotel paid for him to have extensive culinary training and he enjoyed the work. However, he soon decided he wanted to travel east.

“I told them at the hotel I feel like Tennessee is waiting for me,” said Manuel. “They could not believe I was leaving.”

The rest is history as Manuel open La Cazona at Northgate Center soon after moving to Tennessee. He says the restaurant continues to excel, but the work is demanding with a seven-day schedule and constant responsibilities.

Manuel says he realizes Foutch’s Family Restaurant is wildly popular and he wants to continue with the same format with a few minor tweaks.

“For me, the Reuben sandwich is one of my favorite sandwiches. I love it,” said Manuel. “So I could see adding a Reuben sandwich and some other items. One thing I want to do is hear from the people what they want. When people come in here to La Cazona and make suggestions, I listen to what they have to say and I offer it.”

There’s new kidney

Specialist in town

I was among the people who was shocked by the unexpected death of Dr. Pat Sabo at the age of 62. He passed away in March, which left a void in the healthcare community.

His passing left questions about what would happen at Southern Tennessee Nephrology on Sparta Street. Those questions have been answered with the addition of Dr. Anisa Nayeem, who is now serving as medical director of the facility.

Dr. Nayeem came on board this summer and has plans to turn the dialysis facility into her own practice. It will be renamed Southern Kidney Specialists beginning Jan. 16.

“I will continue to operate the dialysis unit but I will also be a primary care office for outpatients,” said Dr. Nayeem, who lived in McMinnville as a child while her father, also Dr. Nayeem, was a physician at the hospital. “It’s been a wonderful experience here and it’s neat being Dr. Nayeem after my father was Dr. Nayeem here.”

I think having Dr. Nayeem here is a great addition to our medical community. In a day when so many folks are forced to travel out of town for their medical care, she can treat people for their kidney-related problems right here in McMinnville. 

“Diabetes and high blood pressure are the two leading causes of kidney failure in the U.S.,” said Dr. Nayeem.

If you want to avoid your risk for kidney woes, Dr. Nayeem says maintaining overall good physical health is a great place to start. She also says taking daily pain medication is not good for the kidneys. If you have to do that, she recommends Tylenol.

“I try to figure out why the kidneys aren’t normal and get them stable,” said Dr. Nayeem. “People tend to think of dialysis as a bad thing, but there are a half million people in this country who would not be alive today without our machines. They are life-sustaining and that keeps people around to spend time with their families.”

Dr. Nayeem described kidney failure as a “silent disease” and said patients often don’t come to her until their kidneys are functioning very poorly. She said regular blood and urine tests are great for detecting problems early.

Dr. Nayeem is engaging in conversation and she’s great at explaining things in an understandable way. Southern Tennessee Nephrology can be reached at (931) 968-2525.

Disability specialist

Is here to help

If you’re looking to get Social Security disability benefits before you’re 65, attorney Dalis Holliman is ready to evaluate your case.

Dalis has joined the firm of Farrar, Holliman & Medley on West Main Street and he’s ready to help you navigate the complicated maze of obtaining money from the federal government.

“If you’re looking to get benefits early due to a physical or mental condition, the big thing is showing that you cannot work a 40-hour week,” said Dalis. “You have to show there’s some condition that’s keeping you from working. Every case is different and it’s important to know what you’re facing. I can tell you up front if I think I can get you approved or if I think it’s going to be a waste of time because it can be a process that takes 18 months to two years and that’s a long time to be waiting.”

Dalis is well familiar with the legal process. His father, Guy Holliman, has been a partner at the firm since its inception in 2000. His mother, Debbie Holliman, is an attorney in Smith County.

“My parents told me in high school and in college that I don’t want to become an attorney,” said Dalis. “Yet here I am.”

Dalis is taking the spot formerly occupied by Barry Medley, the singing judge. Barry has been gradually phasing himself out of the office and Dalis is taking a more prominent role.

Dalis said getting disability benefits can be especially tough if you’re under 50 and there’s a pretty high rate of denial on the first and second levels. He said most cases have to be decided by an administrative law judge, a step which comes on the third level.

Dalis said a key part of the equation is the career of the person seeking disability benefits. He said a person who does secretarial work might have a more difficult time, depending on the injury, than a person who does heavy labor and is expected to lift up to 50 pounds.

The process can be complicated and I don’t intend to simplify it in this column. If you’d like more information, I’d recommend calling Farrar, Holliman & Medley at 473-0656.

Storage available

On Manchester Hwy

If you want storage, RCP Storage at 4690 Manchester Highway has got it. Business owners Mike and Sally Pack have 173 units available, including 30 climate-controlled units.

“There are plenty of security lights in place and it’s well-lit at night so people can feel safe,” said Mike. “We have gated access and there are 24-hour security cameras.”

Mike has been working on the storage units for months and did all the concrete work himself. There are units of all different sizes such as 6x15, 10x10, and 10x15. With a keypad for the gate there is 24-hour access.

“We have good rates and the units are move-in ready,” said Mike.

Folks are always needing extra storage and I think it’s great Mike has built this new facility. While I had him on the phone I asked him about the concrete business in general since new construction is typically a good barometer of the overall economic climate. Mike says his schedule is hectic.

“There’s plenty of work out there to do, too much work for me,” he said. “It’s commercial and residential. There are a lot of people building and getting things done.”

Mike says his biggest challenge is not getting work, but finding people who will do the work. This is a comment I’ve heard dozens of business owners make in recent years.

“I have some guys who have been with me for a while and they are good workers,” said Mike. “The problem is finding younger people who want to work.”

If you need extra space for all you’re stuff, RCP Storage can be reached at (931) 224-9153.

That’s all folks

As we move forward, I suspect Business Pulse will adopt a more festive, holiday feel as we barrel toward the holidays. It’s a great time of year.

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