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Business Pulse - Sonic returns with new menu treats
Steve Hannah.jpg
Sonic owner Steve Hannah says the Warren County community has been understanding as employees work with an entirely new system and all new equipment. Steve says the Sonic app should be up and running this week.

If a black hole one day swallows up Planet Earth and we’re sucked into a vacuum void of sunshine and kittens, it would be the worst of times.

It was almost that bad for the past two months and two days as Warren County residents were left in a haze of bewilderment as we trudged through life without a Sonic to call our own. 

It got so bad, some local residents have stories to tell their grandkids about the spring of 2019 when they were forced to drive to Woodbury or Manchester just to get their Sonic fix.

Fortunately, there’s a saying that refers to the light at the end of the tunnel. We’ve finally reached that light as Sonic reopened Tuesday at 1 p.m. and was promptly greeted with carloads of customers.

“There was one lady who heard we were reopening Tuesday afternoon so she kept driving around the block until she saw the cones move,” said local Sonic owner Steve Hannah. “She wanted to be the first customer.”

For the one person in town who might not have realized this already, our Sonic on The Strip is back up and running. Steve says it’s better than ever.

There are new digital menu boards which show exactly what you’ve ordered to help with customer satisfaction. There are also new menu items like the wildly popular Red Bull slushes and a Hawaiian chicken sandwich. For dessert, there are ice cream sandwiches in Oreo and chocolate chip flavors.

Steve said it’s apparent customers have missed Sonic. He has cameras that monitor all 41 stalls and he said there was a six-hour stretch where all 41 stalls were taken non-stop.

The thing Steve wanted to emphasize most of all is his thanks to the community for its support and understanding. He said some wait times have been a little longer as adjustments are made.

“This is a brand new system we’re using with brand new equipment so it’s taking us a little while to get up to speed,” said Steve.

He noted that people who have worked at Sonic for years are essentially starting from Square 1 because everything with the new store has changed. As for employees, Steve said he recently hired 25 to bring his workforce to 62 employees.

The biggest question I’ve heard pertains to the Sonic app and when it will be available for the McMinnville restaurant. Steve said it takes time to learn procedures related to the app so it was always the plan to roll that out after the restaurant opened, but the Sonic app should be available this week.

“We didn’t want to offer something we couldn’t handle,” said Steve.

With Sonic reopening, life has returned to normal in our cozy town. There’s reason to be a little happier, a little less hungry, and a little kinder to animals.

Farmers Market blooms

under new manager

There are many great things about summer. This includes, but is not limited to, the Barren Fork River, the Civic Center ballfields, Bonnaroo, and watermelon. 

Also deserving a spot on the list is our very own Warren County Farmers Market, which is now under the direction of new market manager Sherri Smith.

The market was bustling with activity when I stopped by Saturday morning with customers eyeing items like gorgeous ferns, blooming hibiscus and ripe tomatoes. Sherri said it was the busiest Saturday so far this year.

One thing Sherri wanted to stress right off the bat is the new Farmers Market hours, which are 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. on both Saturdays and Wednesdays. She said while the crowds come in bunches on Saturdays, the Wednesday hours are sometimes forgotten.

The start time was pushed back one hour from the traditional 6 a.m. opening, mainly because few people want to be out shopping so early. 

If I cared to conduct such a survey, I think 998 out of 1,000 people would agree 6 a.m. is entirely too early to be out buying produce. 

Sherri has a rich history when it comes to our Farmers Market. She worked with Leonard Keel and had been helping him sell his produce at the market for the past seven years before becoming manager. Mr. Keel sadly passed away earlier this year.

Sherri is proud to say she's born and raised a Warren County girl and she's looking to take the market to new heights. Live music is one thing she has on her radar but says that might have to wait until next year.

She says it's easy for anyone looking to become a Farmers Market vendor. You first have to become a member, which costs $15 a year. After that you can rent booth space for $10 a day or you can buy a season pass if you're really serious.

"I have a great bunch of vendors and this is a great place to get local produce and flowers," said Sherri.

But the offerings don't stop at produce and flowers. There are baked goods that include breads, pies and cakes. There's BBQ which can be a mouth-watering treat. There's homemade soaps and just a fun variety of things to buy as American consumers.

"It's great because I get to see and communicate with so many people in the community," said Sherri, noting the Farmers Market is a relaxing place to chat, which is an attraction for many folks.

If you would like to learn more about being a Farmers Market vendor, Sherri takes reservation twice a week on Tuesdays and Fridays from 12 to 2 p.m. each day. The number is (931) 259-0727.

Miller Photography

moves to Main Street

Miller Photography has developed quite a reputation for itself during its years of business in the Midway area.

Owners David and Shelly Miller say the photo business has been really clicking and that's the reason they decided to expand and open a studio on West Main Street in a building they share with D.M. Simpson Realtors.

"We still have the location at the farm in Midway for the country setting, but we felt like we needed a presence in town that's a little more convenient for everyone," said Shelly.

The main reason is volume of work. Shelly is pleased to report Miller Photography has landed the contract to take photos for WCHS and WCMS. It's a big-ticket item as senior photos for over 460 WCHS students begin in June.

"One thing that happens when school officials go with a local company for their pictures is it allows for us to expand and rent a studio downtown and it allows us to hire an office manager and that's something which might not be seen if someone from out of town was used," said Shelly.

For anyone not familiar with the Miller Photography work, I can say it's very impressive. As someone who has taken pictures since the days of the Rubik's Cube, I admire some of the captivating shots they've been able to capture.

"First and foremost, we're a print studio," said Shelly. "We want you to walk out the door with a nice print you can hang on the wall. Digital is fun and easy and it's instant gratification, but I think people are photographed so much now they don't cherish that family photo the way that they used to. And people don't realize they're losing a lot of their memories in the digital age when a hard drive gets corrupt or something like that."

The Miller Photography studio is located just down from the Main Street Live summer concert series which is set to kick off Friday, June 7. With so many people in the area, Shelly says they will likely have the studio open for viewing and she might even have a quick photo shoot available to provide a keepsake for folks enjoying a night of music.

Shelly said they might also offer seasonal specials down the road. She said it's too late for Mother's Day this year, but there might be other occasions where they open the doors for mass photo shoots. The number for Miller Photography is 668-1969.

That's all folks

In the category of awful news, I'm scheduled to have sinus surgery this Tuesday. Yuck! This is not a play for sympathy but rather an early warning that I might not be able to report business news next Sunday. I apologize for any inconvenience.