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Business Pulse - All smiles as Aspen Dental opens for business
Aspen Dental outside
Aspen Dental opened Wednesday at Cumberland Plaza. Pictured, from left, are local store owner and dentist Dr. Ashley Boling, Dr. Joshua Kaliher, and regional manager Brittany Hinman. To make an appointment, call (931) 450-7177.

The spot that used to bring smiles for cheesy calzones and 2-for-1 pizzas is now looking to bring smiles for an entirely different reason.

Aspen Dental has opened at Cumberland Plaza in the spot formerly occupied by Rafael’s Italian Restaurant. It makes the 29th Aspen Dental location in Tennessee.

Dr. Ashley Boling is the local owner and she’s also a practicing dentist at the new facility. She’s joined by Dr. Joshua Kaliher and a friendly staff of professionals designed to make your visit as enjoyable as possible.

“One of the things we offer is in-house financing for patients who need a payment plan,” said Brittany Hinman, who serves as regional manager. “It’s a great way for patients to get the care they need and not pay everything up front.”

Aspen had a soft opening Wednesday before having its first full day Thursday. When I stopped by Thursday afternoon, the office was opened wide with a lobby brimming with patients and exam rooms full of people getting cleaner teeth.

The folks at Aspen realize most people don’t enjoy going to the dentist and realize the thought can create tremendous anxiety. From my standpoint, a trip to the dentist ranks very high on my list of Things I Never Want to Do. It’s ranked right below stepping in a bear trap.

If you’ve been putting off dental care and want to find out what your mouth needs, Aspen has a $19 offer for new patients that provides X-rays and an exam. That will give you an idea of what to expect.

Aspen also touts its flexible hours with Brittany pointing out the office is open till 7 p.m. every Thursday and one or two Saturdays a month.

“We accept walk-in patients,” said Brittany, “because we realize if you have a toothache you’re not going to want to wait.”

Aspen Dental has an in-house lab at every office. This is a huge benefit, according to lab technician Steve Weldon, who has made dentures for 33 years. He says if dentures have to be sent off, as is common in many places, it typically takes three to four days for every step and every fitting. With an in-house lab, dentures can be made and properly fitted in one day if the lab is not busy.

The local office has a staff of about 10 so it’s providing employment as well as dental care. Call (931) 450-7177 for an appointment.


The hip, trendy thing to talk about when it comes to economic development is attracting tourism dollars.
Reggae at Smooth Rapids is a local event which is doing just that and it’s set for this coming weekend, Aug. 3-5.

Entering its fourth year, the musical festival is ready to blossom. It drew an estimated 800 to 1,000 visitors last year, including 350 campers. Organizers have intensified their marketing efforts this year and bolstered the lineup with some quality entertainers including Afroman, The Quasi Kings and Good Nature.

“In years past, we didn’t want to be overwhelmed,” said organizer Jeremy McMinn, co-owner of Smoke N Bricks. “But this year we’re ready in terms of volunteers, security and planning needed to handle a larger crowd.”

Smoke N Bricks organizers the annual festival with Smooth Rapids. In recent years, one of Jeremy’s duties has been to park cars.

“I’ve really been surprised with the number of out-of-county and out-of-state license plates I see,” said Jeremy. “There are a ton of people who travel from over 50 miles away to get here. We bring a lot of new faces to town.”
Jeremy says most local residents opt for a day pass, which is $25 per day. Music starts Friday at 6 p.m., and it begins Saturday and Sunday at noon. A three-day weekend pass is $75 and includes tent camping.

Food trucks will fill the campground to provide a wide selection of eats, and merchants will include Factory Connection. Jeremy says the community campfire is a great place for late-night jams and there will be a silent disco where visitors dance inside a tent while wearing bluetooth headphones. Jeanette Jordan will teach yoga on Saturday and Sunday morning.

One of the top selling points is the atmosphere with the Smooth Rapids campground nestled along the welcoming waters of the Barren Fork River.

“Most music festivals you’re camping in the middle of a cow pasture,” said Jeremy. “The Smooth Rapids campground is probably 80 percent shade and you’re camping next to a beautiful river. It’s a much more relaxing atmosphere than most music festivals.”

If you’re looking for some great entertainment, you can find it right here in McMinnville next weekend. Remember the annual Reggae at Smooth Rapids this coming Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Tickets are available online or at the gate.

Stacked Bistro Going mobile

Anyone who reads this column regularly, and I would say my primary reader is my mom, has likely noticed I haven’t written about many restaurants opening in recent years. But I’ve written about all sorts of food trucks.
I’ve heard estimates that you can cut your overhead as much as 40 percent with a food truck and, if you don’t like your location, you can just move.

Rich Pikarz at Stacked Bistro is beginning to subscribe to that logic. He’s been operating at Plaza Shopping Center for the past 20 months and will be leaving his brick and mortar restaurant in favor of a food trailer.

“Everything will be the same we just won’t have a dining room,” said Rich. “Probably 80 percent of our business is pickup or delivery so this move makes sense.”

Rich says his phone number will stay the same, 474-2222, and free delivery will still be offered throughout the county. He says the only exception will be on Mondays when he is expecting to set up the food truck in Morrison to give employees at Yorozu, Bridgestone and other factories another option.

On the other days Rich says he will be located on The Strip in the area near Free Bird Bail Bonding. He estimates it will be around three weeks or so before the move is complete.

“I could go tomorrow if I wanted, but I want to make sure our customers are aware of the move,” said Rich. “I don’t want them to show up here and be surprised by a sign on the door.”

Look for the Stacked Bistro food trailer in the coming weeks.

Mystery theater offered downtown

Cumberland Biscuit Company has gained a reputation for its breakfast. Now it’s trying a new twist, a mystery dinner theater in conjunction with Warren Arts.

There has already been one showing with a second performance scheduled for next weekend, Aug. 4, at 6 p.m. The dinner features an entrée of grilled chicken or crab cakes, but the main course is the murder mystery that has one victim and seven suspects.

“We did a dress rehearsal for four tables and each table thought it was a different suspect,” said Kennette Dixon, who is directing the murder mystery. “It takes place all around the restaurant and involves audience participation so it’s a night people are going to enjoy.”

Kaylee Moore plays the role of Rosemary Saint-John, a loud, annoying hypochondriac convinced she is allergic to water. Celebrating her birthday at a restaurant with her four kooky sisters, Rosemary makes enemies with everyone around her. When she disappears and is presumed murdered, the only objective witnesses in the restaurant are the audience members, who must cast their vote.

Was it one of Rosemary’s sisters? The self-taught detective? The passionate French chef? The sarcastic waiter? No one is above suspicion.

The last time I recall someone in Warren County doing a dinner theater was at Falcon Manor. I went to one of those shows and enjoyed it for the most part.

It’s nice to see Warren Arts expanding its offerings and providing a dinner theater with Cumberland Biscuit Company. The restaurant seats 40 so seating is limited. For more information, call 474-ARTS. To buy tickets, visit

Unemployment Goes higher

After months of months of historic lows when it comes to unemployment, the downward trend came to a screeching halt Thursday. According to information reported by the state, unemployment increased in all 95 counties in June.

Overall, the statewide unemployment rate was 3.5 percent. That’s still lower than the national unemployment rate which is 4.0 percent.

In Warren County, the place we all know and love, unemployment climbed from 3.2 percent to 4.9 percent. That mirrors similar increases in neighboring areas.

In Coffee County, unemployment climbed to 4 percent, up from 3 percent the month before. In DeKalb County, the rate rose from 3.8 percent to 5.0 percent.

Only six counties had an unemployment increase of less than 1 percent. Hancock County had the highest increase with unemployment rising 2.7 percent.

That’s all folks

Activities are flourishing as summer comes to a close. Call 473-2191 with business tips.