The dawn of a new year has brought a burst of business activity to our beloved Warren County. In making my New Year’s resolution in the blur of Tuesday night as it faded into Wednesday morning, I vividly remember my top goal – to report more business news.
OK, so it may not have unfolded exactly like that, but we can all play along.
Today’s business news brings a change in ownership to Nana’s Kountry Kupboard, your home of chocolate gravy. Judy Coppinger, forever in our minds as lovable Nana, has sold her longtime business to Devon Qualls. Judy says she’s going to partially retire as she helps Devon with the transition and Devon says she’s not going to tinker with a winning formula.
“There’s no reason to make a whole bunch of changes. I want to keep a good thing going,” said Devon. “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it.”
Devon says she’s ready to take over operations after working at Nana’s on two different occasions. Judy says she hates to slowly walk toward the door, but it’s time to go.
“I still like being here, but my body says I can’t,” said Judy, who opened Nana’s 22 years ago at its one and only location at Sunnyside Heights. “That first year, I didn’t know if I was going to make it. But I learned a lot about running a business from Nestor Stewart. He was a lot like me. He wanted things done right. He taught me a great deal.”
Judy spent years working at City Bank and B&P Lamp before joining the Stewart’s Pharmacy staff in the 1980s. She worked for Nestor for 12 years before opening Nana’s in the late 1990s. Judy says she never expected Devon to take over the business.
“I was talking to one of the waitresses and I said, ‘I can’t keep doing this. I have to retire,’” said Judy. “She told Devon what I said and it all started from there.”
Judy says she’s been blessed by a strong core of regular customers, some who come in every day. As for her chocolate gravy, she says that’s definitely a draw.
“We have some people who come in only for the chocolate gravy,” said Judy.
As for favorites at Nana’s, Judy says the omelets, which are served all day, are always greeted with cheers, as is the hot roast beef sandwich, which is served every day. The meats, vegetables and desserts are a staple.
Joining Judy at the restaurant Friday was her son, Chad, who has worked at Nana’s for years. Chad is now a successful youth minister at a church in Sebring, Fla., where he has worked to grow the youth congregation. Chad is in the process of establishing permanent residence in Florida after taking a church with virtually no youth participation to a church with around 60 youth regulars.
The editors of Business Pulse wish Judy the best of luck as she embarks on a new era in her life. It’s obvious she still loves her restaurant, but she’ll still be around for a bit as she helps Devon with the transition.
KFC on verge
It’s been a trying two months for local residents who love the finger-licking goodness of KFC. The restaurant on Smithville Highway has been closed for a very tiring two months as the building undergoes a complete remodeling project.
But alas, the darkness is about to end. I was on site at KFC on Friday morning and had a chance to chat with construction superintendent Ken Olson. Ken told me his crew is scheduled to be done with its work on Wednesday and a cleaning crew is scheduled to get the restaurant in sparkling shape over the weekend.
After that, KFC should be cleared to reopen when its employees are fully trained on the new procedures and equipment.
Ken has an interesting story as a guy who remodels KFC restaurants around the nation. His company is Summit Properties, which works for JRN, which owns 160 KFCs.
“We remodel 10 percent of their properties each year, which amounts to at least 16 restaurants,” said Ken. “Some people really love their KFC. They will pull up to the restaurant and yell at our crew for shutting it down for remodeling. That’s how much they love it.”
Warren County residents might feel much the same way at this point. Our KFC has been shut down since Nov. 4, but the end appears in sight.
Ken says as far as KFC restaurants go, the one in McMinnville is very large with seating for 140. KFC will not be reopening this coming week, but perhaps it could be the week after that, which would be the week beginning Jan. 12.
The Pool Shop
Amy Reynolds turned her love of pools into a career that spanned over 22 years. She dove in when she opened The Pool Shop Plus on Sparta Street in 1997.
After soaking in the sun and basking in more than two decades as a business owner, Amy is closing The Pool Shop and conducting a massive going-out-of-business sale. There is no exact closing date, but Amy says she hopes to have everything sold, shelves and countertop included, by the end of January.
While the move may leave some local pool owners high and dry, the irony is it will give Amy more time to relax by her own pool this summer.
“When I was first opening this place and told people it was a pool shop, people thought I was talking about billiards,” said Amy. “There were times when I first started that the river looked better than my pool but I learned along the way. Now people come back and say, ‘It worked. My pool looks great’ and that makes me so happy.”
Amy said she loves her business and her customers but it’s time for her to call it quits and head to the house.
“I’ve watched people’s kids grow up and get married and have children,” said Amy. “I’m going to miss it. We have about three slow months but it’s crazy wild the rest of the time.”
As part of her regular business operation, Amy conducts water sample testing. She says one thing her water tests consistently show is the high concentration of fertilizer in Warren County water, in some communities more than others.
“I’ve heard a lot of people talk about the high cancer rate here,” said Amy. “I can say if you’re drinking a lot of tap water here, then you’re drinking a lot of fertilizer.”
Amy says she’ll be giving away a free sign with every purchase and selling her merchandise at cost in order to move it quickly. “If you’re looking for a deal, you’ll get it here,” said Amy, a pool owner herself for some 40 years.
The Pool Shop Plus is located at 1123C Sparta Street across from Chabalita’s. The business can be reached at 473-1607.
Ideas to better
We live in a mostly spectacular community, but there are always ways to make things better. It’s with this in mind, I asked a few of our business leaders their thoughts about ways we can improve our fine community.
The most common answer was more residential developments as we are quickly becoming a more attractive place to call home than the traffic headache of Murfreesboro, known for its overpriced housing.
Local businessman Todd Herzog quoted stats from the Boyd Research Center at UT-Knoxville that projects there will be 1 million new citizens in Tennessee over the next decade, including about 500,000 of those centered around Rutherford County.
“Population growth is a real issue,” said Todd. “We are right on the edge of a burst of growth which could serve us well for some time if we take advantage of this opportunity and be proactive, not reactive.”
I’m not convinced Rutherford County is embracing any more growth at this time. A new high school seems to open in that county every year and its roads are already jammed to capacity.
This is where Warren County can showcase our attributes as a cozy alternative to the dizzying stimulation of big-city life. But we need more places to live, as pointed out by Security Federal’s Michael Griffith.
“We need planned residential developments that incorporate Warren County’s No. 1 asset, which is the natural setting of the Cumberland Plateau along miles of scenic rivers within a short drive to great Southern cities like Nashville and Chattanooga,” said Griff. “This will improve our tax base while increasing sales tax collections from newcomers with higher discretionary income.
"The developments must include hiking and biking amenities and work to enhance the outdoor recreation we already have here. This will further support the great retail businesses and restaurants we have in our community.”
County Commissioner and Prater’s BBQ owner Gary Prater says he believes the best way to move Warren County forward is to concentrate on the entire county.
“All of our emphasis seems to be surrounding the city and what’s happening on Main Street or happening at the Park Theater,” said Prater. “The rural areas need attention too, from county line to county line. We get so caught in downtown, we forget about Morrison, Centertown, Dibrell and Irving College.”
Local nurseryman and County Commissioner Scott Rubley said he would like to see more done to fully embrace the nursery industry.
“With the economic impact of the nursery industry being so substantial, I think an agricultural center in the county would be very beneficial, something similar to the center in Lebanon,” said Rubley. “It would be convenient for the local nurseries to be able to have trade shows and events here. We would also be able to keep the dollars spent by potential customers here in Warren County. With the new hotel project, I think it could provide a good opportunity for increased revenues. We have been attempting to meet with the Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner of Agriculture in hopes there may be some state and federal funding available.”
Industrial Development Board director Don Alexander pointed out Tennessee is already a major automotive hub with the likes of Nissan and Volkswagen. He thinks it would benefit Warren County if we could work to refine automotive technology.
“If we could devote more research into refining electric cars, I think it would serve us well,” said Don. “A drawback with electric cars is people are afraid the battery will run out before they reach their destination. The batteries are being designed to go further and further and another thing that’s happening is extra batteries are being designed to carry in briefcases to replace batteries once they’re out.”
I was well-impressed by the insight offered by members of our business community about ways to make Warren County better. Voicing ideas is a fitting first step to warming up the launch pad.
That’s all folks
May your new year begin with bells and whistles. Reporting business news is as easy as an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.