Category Archives: Foodservice

Restaurant Tax’s Future Up In Air

Restaurant Tax’s Future Up In Air

Columbus – Courtesy of The Dispatch

Robert Smith and Harry Sanders – Courtesy photo

The fate of the joint Lowndes/Columbus 2% restaurant tax is currently being hotly debated, as it is due to expire at the end of June. It normally brings in about $2 million per year in tax revenue from restaurants that make over $325,000 per year in prepared food and beverage sales. One of the primary issues that caused the tax’s renewal to die in committee a few weeks ago was the debate over whether the $325K floor should be in there at all; without it, all restaurants would be assessed the tax; another is whether the city of Columbus should simply go ahead and assess its own version of the tax, should the State fail to reinstate it sometime soon. The tax revenue goes primarily to fund tourism, parks and economic development.

“My thing is that if our legislators aren’t going to take out the ($325,000) floor, we’d be crazy to send anything down there that says otherwise,” Columbus Mayor Robert Smith said. “Two-million dollars is at stake here. That’s what we have to remember. So if the only way to get this tax back in place is to have the floor, that’s what we would have to do. If that means the county isn’t a part of it, that’s their decision.”

Should the city move forward with its own tax, it may mean changing how the existing Columbus-Lowndes Convention and Visitors Bureau’s is funded; the new tax, in this case, would provide said funding in lieu of the old one. Mayor Smith remarked that “[W]ith [CVB Executive Director Nancy Carpenter’s] contacts and experience, we’d be foolish not to use that. . . We’d have to do something about the board because if it were to be city only, we’d need a board with [only] city people on it. But as far as running tourism, I still think the CVB is the best way to do it.”

The county, in contrast, wants to remove the “floor” on the tax, but keep it the way it was – a joint county/city tax. Lowndes County Board of Supervisors President Harry Sanders said, “The county has as much interest in tourism as anybody. . . We want to keep it exactly as it is, with the tax in place like it’s always been. … The only difference is taking away the floor because having that floor doesn’t make any sense. That’s been our position all along and I don’t see any reason why it would change.”

As it stands, if the tax is allowed to die later this year, any reinstatements or changes will have to wait until the Legislature reconvenes next January; this would mean losing out on a year or more of tax revenue. While it is theoretically possible to get a short-term, one-year version of the tax added to an upcoming State special session, it seems that it is unlikely that a local tax would be able to get onto the agenda at such a meeting.

Please click here for the full article.

Please click here for a Dispatch editorial on this topic.

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6th Annual Restaurant Week Charities Announced

Starkville – Courtesy of The Dispatch

The Partnership revealed the three charities that will be eligible to win up to $5,000 from Cadence Bank during the sixth annual Restaurant Week later this month.

Jennifer Prather (courtesy photo)

Partnership Director of Tourism Jennifer Prather has announced that The Partnership has selected this year’s charities who will be receiving grants based on patronage during Restaurant Week, later this April: Christian World Missions, the Oktibbeha County Humane Society and the United Way of North Central Mississippi. These were selected from a pool of nominations sent in by the community. During Restaurant Week, patrons at certain restaurants will be given the opportunity to “vote” for one of the three charities; the winning charity will receive $5,000 from Cadence Bank; 2nd Place will receive $1,000; the last will receive $500.

Restaurant week is set for April 22-29. “During that time, we encourage the community and visitors to eat out as many times as they can,” Prather said. “Every time they eat out at a participating restaurant, they can cast their ballot for a participating charity of their choice . . .We encourage everyone to be ready on April 22-29 to eat out as much as they can and help these organizations share the message of the work they’re doing and to get everyone excited about them,” She went on to say.

Partnership CEO Scott Maynard said Restaurant Week stated that both local restaurants and local charities benefit from the arrangement: “I think it’s graduated to the point where people recognize it now and really look forward to not only participating in the nomination process, but also through the thousands of votes we receive from people dining out each year,” he said.

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Neighborhood Popup Soup Kitchen Helps Local Children

Neighborhood Popup Soup Kitchen Helps Local Children

Columbus – Courtesy of The Dispatch

A group of generous locals have recently begun handing out food to those in need at 14th Ave & 20th St, not far from the Boys & Girls’ Club. They set up shop on Monday afternoons at around the time school lets out; they try to have about 50 meals made each week, and it’s all paid for out of their own pockets, plus the occasional donation.

Shannon Scott gives Leon Brewer a sandwich on 14th Avenue Monday afternoon. A different member of the group supplies the food each week.
Photo by: Deanna Robinson/Dispatch Staff

“It’s free, baby,” Willie “Sweet” Scott assured a young girl and her two siblings as he and his friend Charles Clemmons saw to it they each had evertything they needed.

“It was set up kind of for the kids, but we don’t turn away (any)body,” Clemmons said. “I wouldn’t want to miss somebody, tell somebody, ‘No you’re too old.’ That may be his only meal. People (are) hungry sometimes coming through the neighborhood.”

The group sets up their stand on Mondays from 3-5 p.m. where they give away whatever they’ve prepared that week.

“I’m just happy to be out here doing what I can and kind of helping,” fellow volunteer Shannon Scott said. “Of course, you run into all sorts of characters. You got your ones who want something for nothing and then you’ve got people who come and you know they really need it. They make it all worth it.”

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WAUKAWAY SPRINGS BUILDING TO BE RENOVATED

COLUMBUS – Courtesy of The Dispatch

The Waukaway Springs Bottling Company is in the process of restoring its College Street warehouse building to as close to its original look as possible.

Jataune James sorts and cleans bricks at Waukaway Springs in Columbus Tuesday afternoon. Waukaway Springs is being restored to its former look. The building formerly housed Brown Buick Company. Photo by: Deanna Robinson/Dispatch Staff

Stephen Imes, Waukaway Springs president and owner, said, “Right now, we have the mindset of taking it back to what it looked like in the 40s. We really just want to bring it back to its former glory.” He stated that the interior wil lbe renovated and repaired, and some remodeling will be done to the exterior; in addition, extensive repairs will be done to the roof, which was beginning to cave in. Among the fixes will be structural reinforcements, such as replacing old wooden beams with steel ones.

He went on to say that they have been reclaiming as much of the original building materials as possible, and that they plan to re-use them as part of this project: “Several different types of brick have come out of this process,” Imes said. “We have seen a variety of manufacturers’ work, and we plan to use as much of it as we can.” He said that his  employees are sorting and cleaning every brick by hand in the warehouse for reuse.

“We did have a picture of the Brown Buick Company to base our renovations off of,” Jim Buck Vaughan, the project contractor said. “But it’s mainly making sure we update the building, without making it entirely too modern to where it does not match the other buildings in the area.”

The building is expected to reopen in about three months, or early summer.

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Cajun Food Place Coming Soon to Columbus

 

Cajun Food Place Coming Soon to Columbus

Developer Mark Castleberry confirmed a Cajun seafood restaurant is coming to old Chili’s site on Highway 45 – Photo by Deanna Robinson

 

COLUMBUS – Courtesy of TheDispatch

Hungry for some real Cajun food? Here’s hoping it will succeed where Chili’s Tex-Mex failed – literally!

Local developer Mark Castleberry, recently purchased the old vacant Chili’s property and building on Hwy45. He says that Umi owner Billy Wang will open up the new venue sometime in the next few months; the plan is to open for business by June. A formal press conference will be held in the future.

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Construction on New Burger King Underway in Starkville

Courtesy of the Starkville Daily News – STARKVILLE, MS

 

Starkville will soon be getting another place to get some good grub. A new Burger King location has begun construction at 409 Highway 12 East, next to a local Hardee’s restaurant.

A new Burger King is under construction on Hwy 12 next to Hardee’s – Photo Credit – Mary Rumore, SDN

City of Starkville records state that the building is owned by Cambridge Franchise Holdings out of Bartlett, Tennessee. The contractor for the project is Venture Construction Company out of Franklin, TN. The project’s value is estimated at about $950,000.

Construction for the project began Jan. 8. No opening date has yet been announced.

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Slim Chickens Coming to Starkville

Director of Operations for Slim Chickens, David Bagwell said. “We have had college towns on the radar ever since we started this plan to develop into Mississippi,” Bagwell said. “The reason we are developing in Mississippi is because we’re Mississippi native folks and we love the brand and what the brand stands for and we felt like it would do really well here.”

They plan to make minimal changes to the building’s layout, leaving it as a “plain and simple” design. They anticipate whitewashed oak slats on the walls, with a white interior and an exposed ceiling: “It’s very open and airy feeling,” Bagwell said. “It’s just a nice easy going environment to enjoy.”

He went on to say that “We’re local people, we’re going to hire local people and try to affect a positive change in their life and our customer’s lives by being here each and every day providing that good hospitable service that people want.” Bagwell said. “That’s what we look to do when we go into a community.”

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The Latest News On Businesses New and Old…And New Again!

The Latest News On Businesses New and Old…And New Again!

COLUMBUS/STARKVILLE – Courtesy of The Dispatch

Old 82 Restaurant in downtown Columbus has announced that they are planning to reopen as Old 82 Restaurant and Steakhouse. They will be located at the prior location of the Front Door/Back Door restaurant, located at Catfish Alley & Main Street. Permits allowing, they hope to be open early next week.

Planet Fitness has opened a new location in Leigh Mall.

In Starkville, BlackFish Exotics (formerly Starkville Pet Store) is in the process of revamping in order to cater more to tropical pet fans, including tropical fish and reptiles, among others. Chris Rego, the new owner, said, “Really our only ‘rival’ is in Tupelo . . . We want to be the best we can be in our market.”

Walmart Neighborhood Market has now opened a new location in Starkville, bringing a hundred jobs to the area.

 

In sadder news, Starkville’s On Fleek Eyebrow Threading will only take clients on an appointment basis. The sister-store, Tiara Eyebrow Threading was located in Leigh Mall in Columbus, and is closed until further notice. To make an appointment at the Starkville location, call 662-213-1037.

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Back Yard Burgers is on its Way Back, Baby!

Back Yard Burgers is on its Way Back, Baby!

COLUMBUS – Some info courtesy of the Dispatch

City building official Ken Wiegel reports that Back Yard Burgers is planning to reopen its Columbus store just off of Hwy 45 in front of Wal-Mart. While the location shut down in October of 2016, there is currently no formal re-opening date announced. However, Wiegel says that inspections of the property have been conducted. The company has dozens of locations open in the US, mostly in Tennessee, Mississippi, and the Midwest.

Originally founded in Cleveland, MS in 1987, the Back Yard Burgers chain has seen its ups and downs. A deal with Yum! Brands, owners of Pepsi and Taco Bell, in 2002~2004 ultimately fell through. Since going public, the company has passed through multiple hands, and even entered Bankruptcy reorganization in 2012; however, they emerged from this temporary setback and kept on going, thanks in part to investors who believe in the brand and want to see it thrive.

To this day, the company uses only Black Angus Beef in its burgers, and offeres a wide variety of optional sides (including vegetarian choices) for its more selective customers. Their menu also includes salads, turkey and chicken sandwiches, chili, potato soup, shakes, desserts, and a number of french fry and baked potato dishes.

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Traditional Italian Restaurant “Gondolier” Coming to Starkville This Summer

Traditional Italian Restaurant “Gondolier” Coming to Starkville This Summer

Gondolier Italian Restaurant & Pizza has announced that it will be opening a new location next to The Mill, right in Downtown Starkville, and that it plans to do so in June or July of this year. The family-owned chain began in Cleveland, TN in 1974, and all of their food is made from fresh ingredients in-house; they currently have about thirty other locations. They specialize in traditional Italian and Greek foods, pizza, and desserts.

“They make everything in the restaurant – nothing is frozen,” Castleberry, the owner of the property where the restaurant will be located, said. “One of their specialties is lasagna and pasta. It’s a traditional Italian restaurant, and they serve pizza and calzones. They also make a great tiramisu.”

The building will also house a Mugshots location, as well as two floors of condominium space – four units per floor.

“They [Gondolier] are a very community-minded company,” he said. “They are going to be very active in the community, and well within our vision of The Mill and that area to have a lot of buzz to it and being a nice community congregating place. They are going to fit in well, and their meals are in a good price point.”

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