I was pedaling away on an exercise bike Wednesday at USA Gym when a Channel 4 News restaurant report appeared on TV. The report said 90 new restaurants opened inside Nashville city limits in 2016, with an estimated 115 new restaurants projected to open this year.
Those are eye-popping numbers when you consider those are just new restaurants. Think about how many are already operational. It makes you wonder how many restaurants one city can support, even a very large one.
The problem, according to the news report, is the restaurants are struggling to find workers. Apparently there are more restaurant jobs available with all these additions than there are people who want to work at a restaurant.
All this got me thinking about Warren County and it got me wondering about how many restaurants opened here in 2016. Fortunately, I keep all business licenses on file in what I often call the most comprehensive business library on the planet.
Here’s what I found. According to county business licenses, six traditional restaurants opened in Warren County in 2016. Of those six, one has already changed its name and two have gone out of business.
The remaining three restaurants to open in 2016 are Saki Japanese Steakhouse, Jalisco Mexican Grill, and Zaxby’s. From what I can gather, they all appear to be doing well.
The reason I used the term “traditional restaurants” is because I am not counting three food trailers which applied for business licenses last year. I also didn’t include an ice cream shop or two restaurants which applied for business licenses but never opened.
In case you’re wondering, the six restaurants which opened in McMinnville are slightly more, on a proportional scale based on population, than the 90 in Nashville.
This is all information that, for some reason, I thought you might find of interest.
Breakfast restaurant on verge of opening
All my talk about restaurants does have a purpose. It’s a great way to transition into the new breakfast restaurant which is scheduled to open next month on Main Street.
Topz owners Josh Baker and Matt Sands are putting the finishing touches on this restaurant, which will be called Cumberland Biscuit Company. It will be located across from the Park Theater in the old Main Street Bakery location. Opening day is set for Tuesday, May 16.
The menu will include all types of biscuits, pancakes, waffles, omelets, and even specialty dishes like eggs benedict.
“We really want to create a destination restaurant, the type of place that when someone visits McMinnville, people say ‘You have to eat breakfast at Cumberland Biscuit Company,’” said Matt.
The storefront is getting a complete facelift. People who are familiar with Topz Frozen Yogurt and Topz Metro Deli know how nice those restaurants look. Cumberland Biscuit Company will be much the same as I was granted a sneak peek Friday morning.
As for the food, expect it to be scrumptious.
“We think it will be the best biscuit you can get in town,” said Josh. “Everything will be made to order and made to eat.”
Josh points out that, with the exception of Hardee’s, you can’t get breakfast anywhere on Main Street. This is a terrible oversight which is about to be remedied.
The restaurant will offer some upper-end menu items like pancakes with fruit, whole wheat toast, muffins, and a delightful honey glaze syrup that brings a grin to Josh’s face.
There will be seating for 43. That includes some bar seating along the front window and a family-style table that seats 10.
This looks like another boost for Main Street. Next up, we need another restaurant to rejuvenate the old New York Grill spot. We also need a gift shop where you can buy sunglasses for $5 and two T-shirts for $8.99.
It’s fireworks for industrial board
You could call April 20, 2017 a sort of Independence Day for our Industrial Development Board. It may not go down in American history as having the same significance as July 4, 1776, but it’s important nonetheless.
On Thursday, during the monthly IDB meeting, board members unanimously voted to request no city and no county funding this year. The IDB has achieved financial independence. It has gained freedom, minus the whole Revolutionary War thing.
“This is a historic day for us as an Industrial Development Board,” said director Don Alexander.
Added IDB financial guru Gerlinda Rogers, “We have reached the point where we can self-fund ourselves.”
Gerlinda deserves much of the credit. IDB finances have always been in various stages of disarray – with disarray perhaps being too strong a word – until she was hired to handle the books. The results speak for themselves as the IDB can celebrate financial independence.
After voting to request no local government funding this year, Don did offer this caveat. “If we run into a big project down the road, we can always come back and request funds at a later date,” he said.
For those with long memories, this is a fairly big step for the IDB, which serves as the community’s economic development arm. At one point, the county gave the IDB a donation of $250,000 a year for four straight years.
Local government donations have dwindled in recent years. Last year, the city gave $40,000 to the IDB, while the county gave $50,000. I suspect the shrinking donations are what prompted the IDB to make an effort to stand on its own two feet. It’s an effort which ultimately benefits every taxpayer and Business Cheetah congratulates the fine folks involved who made this happen.
Kidd Ford selling big vehicles
I like to chat with Kidd Ford owner Terry Kidd every year or so to see how sales are going at his dealership on Manchester Highway. New car sales are often a good gauge of a community’s economic health so I’m always interested in what Terry has to say.
“Our truck, SUV and crossover sales have been fantastic,” said Terry. “The automotive business right now is good. We’ve had an excellent first quarter. The only thing that’s stagnant is our car sales.”
Terry said demand usually goes in patterns. With the price of gas still relatively low, motorists are embracing larger vehicles like big pickups.
“The stability and price of gas has been key in keeping people involved in the market,” said Terry. “We’ve seen a slight increase in interest rates, but not enough to take a new car buyer out of the market. I think overall the economy is still moving in the right direction. We have plentiful employment and we have manufacturing employment. As a country, we have to produce something. We can’t survive merely as a service industry.”
Terry says technology continues to improve in every Ford and new models are plentiful at his dealership. Stop by and take a test drive if you’d like to see how you look in a new Ford.
Add Animals to your occasion
If you’re interested in taking your party or special occasion to the next level, think of how a kangaroo could help. Or a porcupine.
Teresa Hinds has roughly 125 animals in her mobile petting zoo called Party Animals. Teresa says a silver fox, giant turtle, miniature donkey, and a camel are all ways to bring spice to your event.
“When we walk in with a kangaroo, it certainly adds a wow factor,” said Teresa. “No party is too big or too small. We can bring just a few animals or we have a large trailer where we can bring the big zoo. It all depends on what you want.”
You can leave your cellphone in your pocket when talking about animals around Teresa because she’s like a Google search engine. She’s a wealth of knowledge.
Her red kangaroo is the largest of its species. While it’s small now, it will grow to six feet tall.
Her 75-pound turtle named Crusher is already 90 years old and has a life expectancy of between 150 and 200 years.
Her three porcupines are captivating, but if you look closely you will notice they look like giant rats and are in the rodent family. The porcupine’s quills point backward and Teresa says the critters are just as quick running backward as forward.
“People always worry about a porcupine’s quills, but their teeth will get you,” said Teresa. “Their teeth are as sharp as a beaver and will do some damage.”
Teresa wants satisfied customers and her experience has shown her that smaller children like smaller animals. The bigger animals work best with older children.
“The small children are intimidated by big animals,” said Teresa.
She says all of her animals have received heavy socialization so they are used to being around people. She has taken advantage of the mistakes of others to acquire some of the animals in her menagerie.
“Some people go to sales and buy animals without thinking it through,” said Teresa, who said that’s how she got two of her three porcupines. “A lady bought them and didn’t know what to do with them.”
I don’t see porcupines as making good house pets. And they probably don’t play well with kids. So what do you do?
Teresa said Party Animals does two, 10-day festivals each year and travels from Massachusetts to south Florida. Also available are tours of the farm located in the Shady Grove community near Morrison. Tours are great for Girl Scouts, church groups and other organizations at a cost of $6 per person.
If you’d like to take the happiness level of your event up a notch, think about adding animals. Party Animals can be reached at (931) 212-1211.
Unemployment down slightly
For folks who pay attention to facts and figures, the Tennessee unemployment rate released Thursday by the state shows statewide unemployment at 5.1 percent for March.
That’s a dip from 5.3 percent in February.
“This shows Tennesseans are finding work in a growing workforce,” said Department of Labor and Workforce Development Commis-sioner Burns Phillips.
Like flies on potato salad, jobs are everywhere in Tennessee. The national rate is impressive too with the U.S. unemployment rate at 5.0 percent.
That’s all folks
“You don’t get harmony when everyone sings the same note.” That quote is brought to you by Doug Floyd. Phone in business tips at 473-2191.