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Business Pulse
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The Chef
Has opened

Once upon a time there was a chef who worked at fancy restaurants and learned how to prepare fine cuisine. That chef would stumble upon a great idea to open a restaurant in McMinnville with his three brothers. Thus, the concept of the Chef and His Crew was born.
After about five months of renovation work to the old Peking building at Plaza Shopping Center, the Chef and His Crew had its grand opening Monday. It was intended to be a soft opening, but word quickly spread.
“Monday and Tuesday were just supposed to be friends and family days, but I guess you can’t keep a new restaurant quiet in Warren County,” said Arcadio Ramirez, who is The Chef. “We were trying to lay low, but we were packed on Tuesday with really more business than we wanted so we decided to close Wednesday and take a day to regroup and work on some things. We reopened Thursday ready to go and it’s gone really well. The business has been steady.”
Arcadio is operating the business with his three brothers, who are all co-owners. They are Oswaldo Ramirez, Eduardo Ramirez and Miguel Gomez.
The Chef and His Crew has hired nearly 40 employees and Arcadio says he is still looking for another cook or two. The restaurant is open seven days a week.
The building is no stranger to restaurants as it has been home to Ponderosa, Peking, and a couple short-lived Japanese restaurants. I realize I’m probably missing a restaurant or two in there somewhere.
The new-look interior has been completely remodeled and it’s evident there’s been much work done to the facility. There’s also a little work left to be done as the bar area is not complete.
Arcadio says the hottest selling entree thus far is the mouth-watering chicken cordon blue. That’s chicken that has been breaded and cooked with mozzarella cheese and ham. It's served with mashed potatoes and sautéed mixed vegetables.
“We make everything from scratch and don’t take any shortcuts,” said Arcadio. “We make all our own sauces and do everything here.”
Other entrees include chicken piccata, chicken fettuccine alfredo, shrimp scampi fettuccine, herb-breaded tilapia, and a sirloin and ribeye steak.
As for sandwiches, there's a monte cristo, Philly cheesesteak, club, and monster burger. For dessert, Arcadio says be sure to try the rich Italian custard called crème brule and the homemade cheesecake.
Restaurant hours are Monday thru Thursday from 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Friday thru Sunday from 10:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. The editors of Business Pulse say give it a try.
Norment Barnes
Strikes back

When State Farm agent Norment Barnes talks, people listen. He’s like E.F. Hutton. So when Norment was ready to talk about Sunnyside Heights, you can bet I was ready to listen.
For those not familiar with this situation, Sunnyside Heights is the road in front of Norment’s business that is arguably the worst road in Tennessee, if not the worst road in the southeastern United States. There are goat paths in better shape.
The road is filled with rhinoceros-sized potholes the city has refused to repair because Mayor Jimmy Haley says the road is not city property. Haley says the road is essentially a driveway owned by the seven or eight people who own property at Sunnyside Heights. But Norment begs to differ.
“The city is making such a big deal about not owning the road and saying it belongs to the property owners,” said Barnes. “If that’s the case, I think I’ll put a big barricade there to prevent anyone from using my road. The city says it’s my property.”
Barnes makes a powerful point. It doesn’t matter who technically has ownership of the road. For all intents and purposes it is not a driveway but a city street that’s used by hundreds of motorists a day.
“People driving down that road have no idea who owns it,” said Norment. “They just come into my office and say, ‘When is the city going to fix that road?’”
Barnes says the road is heavily traveled and it’s in front of one of the major hotels in town. Norment says this is not the way to ingratiate tourists to our fine city.
“We’re hoping to bring more people to town, but if they have to drive down Sunnyside Heights they might be here only once,” said Barnes. “Everybody wants something done about this.”
After hearing both sides of this argument I’m going to encourage the city to pave Sunnyside Heights for the betterment of McMinnville. Driving down that street is about as pleasant as smelling a dead dog. Let’s get it paved for the children, the poor, hungry children.

Speaking of
Norment Barnes

In talking with Norment on Friday, he told me his 40-year career as a local State Farm agent is quickly coming to a close. He will be retiring in April and new local agent Leigh Holland will be taking over his business.
Norment came to McMinnville in 1974 after owning a construction company in South Florida. An engineer by degree, Norment said the construction industry dried up in the early 1970s and he was doing poorly in 1973. That’s when his father-in-law and State Farm agent Jim Short encouraged him to move to Warren County and join the company.
“He was the only State Farm agent in McMinnville at the time and he said they were looking to expand to two agents,” said Norment. “I decided it might be better to start dealing with people instead of dealing with numbers so I decided to relocate. This community has been really good to us. We’ve raised three kids here and they’ve all graduated from Warren County High School and all three have gone on to get their master’s degrees. It’s been a reward serving the people of Warren County.”
Among his retirement plans, Norment said he and his wife Paula will be looking forward to spending more time on their 42-foot yacht. He showed me a couple pictures and it’s an impressive boat that looks ideal for pleasure cruising.
Business Pulse wants to wish Norment and Paula happy sailing.

The birth watched
Across the globe

I don’t know if this is necessarily a business story for River Park Hospital, or a business story for Dr. Dawnmarie Riley. It might not be a story that fits neatly into the business compartment at all, but I’m going to tell it anyway because I find it interesting.
It’s the story of local resident Raven Celestino who found herself in childbirth Thursday morning at River Park. The problem? Her husband Matthew Elliott was on the other side of the globe performing military duties with the Marines in Bahrain, which is near Afghanistan.
Matthew’s military obligations prevented him from coming home for the birth of his first child, but he got to experience it nonetheless through the wonders of Skype.
“We tried and tried to get him home, but it wasn’t allowed,” said Raven. “This is something I felt like I had to do because he’s missed so much. He’s never even felt a kick and he’s the nurturing one of the two of us. He would have been devastated to miss it.”
Skype allows two parties to see, hear, and talk to each other from different parts of the country or the globe. It’s like being able to talk to your TV and have it talk back.
Raven’s sisters had two Skype cameras operating in the delivery room so Matthew had the benefit of two different views. One camera was focused on Raven while the other was focused on the baby.
“It was really comforting getting to see his face and his reaction,” said Raven. “I felt like he was here with me.”
It was also the first Skype delivery for Dr. Riley.
“It was very touching to see his reaction and to have him be part of the birth,” said Dr. Riley. “It was the first time I’ve had a request like that. It was very sweet and the family was very involved in making it all happen.”
For the record, the first child of Raven and Matthew was born Thursday morning at 9:18 a.m. She is Oakland Rae Celestino-Elliott. She weighed 6 pounds, 12.5 ounces and was 20 inches long at birth. Matthew is scheduled to return from his current tour in April.
Score one for technology.

That’s all folks

Be sure to tune in next week as I turn more business cartwheels for your reading enjoyment. Phone in business tips by calling 473-2191 or emailing