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Business Pulse - Looks like we'll eat mor chikin
Chick-fil-A truck.jpg

Years from now we might discover this was a giant social experiment to learn how long people would stand in a parking lot waiting for chicken.

Turns out, Warren County residents will wait over an hour in drizzly conditions if it’s Chick-fil-A.

In what’s been one of the biggest business stories of the year, the Chick-fil-A food truck drove into McMinnville on Tuesday to serve customers at Cumberland Plaza, commonly called the Lowe’s Shopping Center.

“It’s hard to beat a Chickfil- A sandwich with ranch,” said Luke Nisbett, who was picking up several orders for his co-workers at the Sheriff’s Department.

Added big fan Sandie Bassett, “I love Chick-fil-A. I don’t think I know anybody who doesn’t.”

Sandie bought seven meals in all and waited slightly more than an hour for her food. “It’s worth it,” she said.

A post about the Chickfil- A food truck on the Southern Standard

Facebook page had a strong response with 224 comments and 601 likes. Several people wondered if this was a test run to see if a Chickfil- A store would fly in McMinnville.

Well I have good news and bad news about that. Which should I tell first?

The bad news is I don’t look for McMinnville to get an actual Chick-fil-A restaurant that operates from a building that doesn't have wheels. The good news is there are plans for the Chickfil- A food truck to make regular appearances here.

“We’re going to be coming to you guys, probably at least twice a month, as long as you guys show us that you want us to be there,” said Chick-fil-A representative Chris Elliott. “What we’re doing now is going around and hitting several smaller towns that don’t have a Chick-fil-A so we can see the response. We still have a few more places to go and then we’re going to start formulating a more definite schedule.”

Elliott said the Chick-fil-A truck that visited McMinnville is affiliated with the restaurant at Metro Center in Nashville. Elliott said the truck stays extremely busy and was going to be parked outside a Nashville Sounds baseball game on Friday night before attending an all-day event on Saturday.

Elliott said there’s a chance for the Chick-fil-A truck to come to McMinnville more than twice a month but that has yet to be determined. Could great food truck sales eventually lead to our very own Chick-fil-A brick and mortar restaurant?

“The food truck has absolutely nothing to do with our stores,” said Elliott.

The Chick-fil-Afood truck will likely continue to operate from its same spot at the Lowe’s Shopping Center when it does return. If you missed the opening act, you can at least catch an encore in a couple weeks.

Another important lesson from all this is the Southern Standard Facebook page remains a great source of news and information. The page is approaching 21,000 followers with a goal of doubling in size in the next year.

I’m pushing for a big promotion where the person who becomes our 50,000th follower collects a grand prize of $50,000, but so far that idea is stuck in the mud. Maybe we could award $25,000 for our 25,000th follower in a few months.

The moral of this story is to follow the Standard online at www.southernstandard. com, or on our social media pages for the latest news and local happenings.

Speaking of Food trucks

Auntie Mattie’s Soul Food To Go is closing its door at 488 North Chancery Street. Friday was the last day at that location.

But don’t fear, Auntie Mattie’s fans. Restaurant owner Marlena Galie says she will still be around McMinnville, and other places too, in her Auntie Mattie’s food truck.

“I’ve been at this spot for two years and I think it’s time to take Auntie Mattie’s out on the road to travel,” said Marlena. “It will give more people a chance to try the Auntie Mattie’s food. It’s been a good two years and I’ve enjoyed it, but I think a food truck will be better. A lot of people like food trucks.”

Marlena says her goal is to have her food truck ready in time for Back to The Strip, which is the first Saturday in May. She says she will be looking at different locations to set up around town in addition to going out of town for car shows and other events on weekends.

Marlena said several people who have found out she’s leaving have asked her about renting the building. It’s owned by Tennessee Credit and it’s in a high-traffic location.

When contacted on Friday, a Tennessee Credit employee said the building does not yet have a new tenant, but it’s expected to go fast.

Studying electric vehicles

Ford has huge plans when it comes to electric vehicles, particularly the F-150 Lightning which doesn't need gas.

Tesla is generating excitement thanks to owner Elon Musk and his commitment to electric vehicles.

But before everyone rushes out and buys a new EV, there needs to be proper infrastructure in place. If these vehicles are going to run entirely on electricity, and not use a drop of gas, how are we going to provide that electricity?

Enter Ben Newman, soon to be general manager at Caney Fork Electric. Ben has been test driving an EV for a week with one week more week to go as part of an Upper Cumberland test program. Since Caney Fork will be supplying the power to many of these EVs, it makes sense for Ben to get a firsthand experience of how they work.

One thing to point out from the top is that EVs don't use gasoline, but they aren't free to drive. Ben picked up his car last weekend and had to pay $7.60 to charge it for 45 minutes. For folks who want to 'fill up' and go, a 45-minute wait is a bit long.

Ben explained that there are three levels of EV car chargers.

• Level 1 is the slowest and costs about 20 cents an hour. Ben said his vehicle was about 40% charged on a Level 1 charger after 16 hours.

Level 2 is a bit faster and delivers a full charge in about eight hours. This would be the type of charger installed at homes to charge EVs overnight.

Level 3 is super fast. These are the type of chargers TVA wants to install every 50 miles on interstates. Ben said he used a Level 3 chargers and his car went from 15% to 84% charged in 45 minutes.

Ben's two-week test drive will be used to collect data on what's needed to keep EVs on the road. The cars will lose their allure in a jiffy if people run out of charge and are stranded on the side of the road.

'Everything we're hearing is that electric vehicles are coming so be prepared,' said Ben. 'We're trying to be prepared.'

I talked to Ben on Monday just a couple days into his EV test drive experience. We have plans to touch base this week so he can provide more insight into how it's working after a full week of driving.

Many of us have questions about EVs and how they will work. It looks like we're soon going to have some answers about how an EV does around Warren County. I'll have more information in an upcoming edition.

California Invasion

It seems like nearly every time I talk to someone in local real estate it’s mentioned that Warren County is receiving an influx of residents from California.

Turns out, it’s not just our county, but Middle Tennessee in general with Nashville now a hot destination for those fleeing the West Coast.

It’s such a big trend, Los Angeles TV station KTLA sent a crew to Nashville to report on why so many people are moving to this area. Reporter Glen Walker shared some of his findings with sister station WKRN in Nashville. Walker said California’s population is actually decreasing.

Walker said a huge factor is the housing prices in California. “A lot of times the structure will be a two-bedroom house and you’ll pay over $1 million for it,” Walker told WKRN.

He noted California residents can sell their home and move to Tennessee where the median home price is $446,000 and often pay cash.

Walker added it’s important for Nashville to not grow in an out-of-control fashion. “I think your big concern here is Nashville not turning into L.A., which is urban sprawl,” Walker told WKRN.

That’s all folks

Several businesses appearing in the new business listings on page 5B of today's edition look like they will be promising Business Pulse feature stories in the weeks to come. I’ll try to track down as much information as I can.

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