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Business Cheetah 12-13
Construction on Zaxby's has begun
Wanda Newby will be the new manager of Three Star Mall beginning Jan. 2. She will replace longtime mall employees Teresa Martin and Susie Griffith. Wanda is pictured with Dave Nelson, vice president of Ershig Properties.

It was in last week’s column when I made the outlandish statement I was tired of writing about chicken. After months upon months of Bojangles reports, I was ready to wipe my fingers of the grease and move on with my life.
But then fate came riding into town on its tall, white horse as ground was broken Tuesday morning on Chancery Street for what will eventually be our new Zaxby’s. So here I am once again writing about chicken. I’m not going to fight it. I’m going to embrace my inner beak and cluck.
I do have some information to provide. Contrary to popular opinion, our Zaxby’s is not affiliated with the one in Manchester. The one in Manchester is owned by the same group which owns the Zaxby’s in Tullahoma, but they aren’t building here.
There’s another group that owns Zaxby’s in Winchester, Fayetteville and Shelbyville. We’re not affiliated with that group either.
Our Zaxby’s is affiliated with a group that’s currently putting the finishing touches on a Zaxby’s in Talladega, Ala. This will be the group’s first Zaxby’s in Middle Tennessee.
I’ve been told representatives from that group will be in McMinnville either just before Christmas, or just after, and they are agreeable to meeting with me when they’re in town. So I’ll be able to provide additional information after that meeting.
As for a timetable for Zaxby’s to open, you have to take weather into consideration, especially when you’re building this time of year. But, if you recall the words of the Bojangles construction superintendent, he told me restaurant projects like this one routinely take 90 days from start to finish. He said it didn’t matter if it is an Outback or a Taco Bell.
So if we go by his 90-day window, that means our Zaxby’s should be ready about the time our income tax returns begin arriving. We’ll have money in our pockets and chicken on our minds.

Hardee’s get rejected

For those of you thinking the most powerful force in the universe is the double cheeseburger, think again. Local residents flexed their muscle, voiced their concerns to the McMinnville Board of Mayor and Aldermen, and were successful in trampling a Hardee’s rezoning request.
If rezoning had been approved, it would have led to a new Hardee’s being built at its current site.
Heading into Tuesday night’s vote, my thinking was it would be a unanimous decision. But I thought it would be unanimous to approve rezoning. I never dreamed the Hardee’s request would be voted down unanimously, and I would have to really wonder about my life if Hardee's rezoning did pop up in my dreams.
From my outside view looking in, I thought the proposal from Hardee’s was a sensible solution. There’s a problem with drive-thru traffic backing up on West Main Street. There’s also a problem with nearby residents complaining about hearing orders from the drive-thru speaker.
By giving Hardee’s an extra commercial lot through rezoning, an official with the restaurant chain said the current building would be leveled and a new one constructed at that spot in reverse order in hopes of easing those problems. That had the potential to produce positive change.
By rejecting Hardee’s request, nothing will change. The traffic problems on Main Street will persist. The drive-thru speaker noise will persist. All the problems from residents who say they hate Hardee’s as a neighbor are still going to be there.
The way I see it, Hardee’s was trying to offer a solution to some well-documented problems. Since that solution has been defeated, now what? How are the traffic and noise issues going to improve? Does someone have a magic wand I don’t know about?
Hardee’s presented a viable proposal. I’m really surprised city officials didn’t give it their stamp of approval.

Mall names new manager

It was two weeks ago when I told you about the upcoming departure of Three Star Mall employees Teresa Martin and Susie Griffith. After nearly 30 years at the mall, the two are retiring at the end of the year.
The search for their replacement has ended as Wanda Newby has been named the new manager at Three Star Mall. Her first official day on the job is Jan. 1.
Ershig Properties owns Three Star Mall and company vice president Dave Nelson was in McMinnville on Tuesday to make the announcement.
“We’re working with Wanda in a transition period right now,” said Dave. “We’re looking forward to her getting started and working with merchants in the mall and working in the community. Wanda has a unique background and we’ve had a chance to work with her in the past.”
Wanda and her husband, Buck, own TN Construction. They have done remodeling work for the mall in the past such as exterior work and interior renovations to the space currently occupied by Roses.
“We do commercial construction all over the state,” said Wanda. “Our specialty is build-outs. We’ve done work at a number of malls and done a lot of commercial work in the Tullahoma area.”
Wanda has other history with Three Star Mall as a former owner of The Cookie Shop. Folks with long memories will remember The Cookie Shop was once located in the corner spot across from J’s Restaurant. It closed more than 13 years ago in August of 2002.
Wanda owned The Cookie Shop in the mid-1980s and her mother operated it. However, for all the cookie fans of the world, and I am perhaps the biggest one, Wanda says she has no plans of reopening The Cookie Shop now that she’s mall manager.
Wanda says she has some big ideas for Three Star Mall and is anxious to get to work. She will be doing some training with Teresa and Susie in the time leading up to her first official day. She said she would love for the mall to return to its glory days when every store was filled with a tenant and shopping activity was robust.
Since Dave was available and I don’t often get a chance to chat with an Ershig representative, I asked him about the mall vacancies and why spots like the former Bookland location have been empty for more than six years.
“Our company has a national presence and we’re constantly talking to retailers,” said Dave. “If it fits in their plans to open a store in this market, we’ll definitely talk to them. There’s a lot of competition for space and I think malls across the country are seeing that. You can look at bookstores as a perfect example of the way people’s shopping habits are changing and retail is having to adapt. For us, we’re looking at possibly repurposing some space, maybe using some of it for offices or uses other than retail.”

Stiles to put career in the bag

Have you ever wondered about the most popular chip? If you ask Frito-Lay delivery driver Kermit Stiles, he has the answer.
“It’s Doritos by far,” said Kermit. “In fact, Doritos are the No. 2 item in the entire grocery business. Campbell’s Soup is No. 1 and Doritos are right behind at No. 2.”
Kermit would know as he’s spent the past 43 years delivering chips and other snack products while working for Golden Flake and Frito-Lay. Now, at age 62, he’s ready to call it a career as he’s retiring.
Jan. 2 is scheduled to be his last day doing a job he started when he was a lad of 19.
Kermit travels about 250 miles a week running his route which covers Warren and Van Buren counties. He said the hardest part is anticipating what will sell and keeping the shelves stocked.
“In the grocery business, people think about milk and bread,” said Kermit. “A lot of people think it’s no big deal if you run out of chips, but it is a big deal. People get upset if it’s not there. This can be tough in places around Fall Creek Falls. They don’t want to be short, especially during their busy season.”
As a chip guy, Kermit notices things that won’t catch the attention of many others.
“I was watching the news the other night and they were in a store where there had just been a robbery,” said Kermit. “You could see the chip aisle in the background and it looked great. I thought, ‘Man, that thing has just been stocked.’”
Kermit says it’s been an interesting career. As you’d expect, he says rainy days are his least favorite because the boxes get wet as he makes his way in and out of stores. He says his biggest customer is our local Kroger store, which can sell as many as 4,000 bags of chips in a week. Frito-Lay no longer stocks our Walmart.
When it comes to potato chips, Kermit says regular Lays chips are the top seller. He said the company introduces promotional potato chip flavors about once a year such as biscuit and gravy, and Reuben flavor.
“I’ve never figured out why they don’t come out with a turkey and dressing flavor,” said Kermit. “I think that would go over well.”
Kermit says he’s made a number of friends and established some loyal customers in his years delivering chips. He said people have noticed his longevity.
“Probably the most common thing I hear from people now is, ‘You sure have been doing this a long time,’” said Kermit.
As for his retirement, Kermit and his wife Shirlene devote much of their time to crafts. They had a booth at the recent Warren County Arts & Crafts Fair at the Civic Center where Kermit had success selling his woodwork. He says they will probably do four or five shows next year and spend more time with their many grandchildren.
So if you notice someone else stocking the chip aisle of your favorite grocery store and wonder what’s happened to Kermit, he’s rode off into that lightly salted sunset where the clouds look like cheese puffs and the pastures have a hint of sour cream and onion.

Glenda Taylor joins Hillis Realty

The friendly staff at Donald Hillis Realty & Auction has another agent on board. Glenda Taylor recently earned her real estate license and is eager to begin selling residential and commercial property.
“I’ve been wanting to do this for years and years,” said Glenda. “The time was finally right. My last daughter has gone off to college so I decided to do it.”
Said Donald Hillis, “I’m excited about Glenda joining our team. I feel she will be a great agent who will help buyers and sellers through the process and make it a positive experience.”
Glenda says with holiday celebrations and Christmas shopping commanding so much attention this time of year, she realizes now is not the best time to buy or sell a home. But that time will be here soon.
“Things will start to settle down at the beginning of the year and people will start thinking about moving,” said Glenda. “Then when warmer weather gets here, people will start looking. The summer is the best time because kids are out of school and there’s no problems with changing schools in the middle of the year.”
If you’d like to give Glenda a call for your real estate needs, her number is 273-1130. The new sign outside Donald Hillis Realty proudly welcomes Glenda on staff.
Setting goals
For 2016

IDB setting goals for 2016

Industrial Develop-ment Board director Don Alexander had an interesting request for IDB members at their last meeting in November. He wanted them to start thinking about possible projects for next year.
“I’d like for us to start thinking about what kind of goals we can set for 2016 and come back with some ideas for our meeting in December,” said Don.
I like the idea of trying to establish some direction for the new year, which is something I don’t recall the board doing in the past. Said Don, “If you don’t have any goals, you’ve already met them.”
With this Thursday scheduled to be the last IDB meeting of 2015, I’m anxious to hear if board members have come up with any ideas. There’s always talk about spec buildings after the board has constructed three of them and gotten all three filled rather quickly.
There’s also talk about helping existing industries expand with Morrison Tool & Fab and Miniature Precision Components two companies which are seeing their workload steadily increase.
There’s also talk about whether our community needs more jobs as I consistently hear employers complain they can’t find quality workers to fill available jobs. I don’t subscribe to this theory of not needing more jobs because as soon as you stop moving forward, you essentially start moving backward.
These are all things for board members to contemplate as they look to shape our economic footprint for the future. Good luck.

That’s all folks

Let me know your latest chicken news by calling 473-2191 or emailing