Up & Coming Weekly

March 31, 2020

Up and Coming Weekly is a weekly publication in Fayetteville, NC and Fort Bragg, NC area offering local news, views, arts, entertainment and community event and business information.

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Page 13 of 24

WWW.UPANDCOMINGWEEKLY.COM APRIL 1-7, 2020 UCW 13 EARL VAUGHAN JR., Senior Staff Writer. COMMENTS? EarlUCWS- ports@gmail.com. 910-364-6638. Hope Mills News & Views Hope Mills Mayor Jackie Warner said the town remains open for busi- ness for the most part, but like every- one else, she is adjusting to the safety restrictions put in place statewide and nationwide in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. All official town commission and committee meetings have been can- celed through April 6, including the next scheduled meeting of the Board of Commissioners. Essential person- nel of the town remain on duty at Town Hall and the police, fire and pubic works departments, but with some limitations to prevent direct interaction with too many people. Except for the front door, Town Hall is closed, and when people enter the building, they will interact with town staff from behind a glass enclosure. The front office is open at the police department for people who have to go inside. One of Warner's biggest concerns during the pan- demic is the large number of local restaurants that are closed to everything but takeout service to prevent the spread of COVID-19. She's particularly concerned for restaurants that traditionally don't do takeout service, adding she's noted a serious decline in their business even though they are advertising that they're open for takeout only. "The lights are on but I see very few cars,'' she said, referring to one such business. She noted some businesses are trying to stay viable by using social media to advertise they are open. The problem, she thinks, is many Hope Mills residents don't have access to social media for whatever reason. One local concern is that, ini- tially, too many people were con- gregating at Hope Mills Lake when the shutdown for COVID-19 first began. Warner said there are still a lot of people going to the lake, and she is hopeful most of them are observing social distancing. The one popular business located on lake property, Big T's, has barred custom- ers from using the picnic tables beneath its shelter and is now allowing customers to come and order but not stay on the grounds. Warner hopes the community will continue to sup- port charitable causes locally that benefit the area's dis- advantaged, especially the elderly and school children, the latter having lost access to school lunches since all schools are closed for the foreseeable future. She is especially concerned about ongoing donations to the ALMS HOUSE in Hope Mills, which supports a program that provides regular lunches for children in need of food. "The people that make donations to them aren't in church,'' Warner said. "They are also missing the churches that collect at the church and take it to the ALMS HOUSE.'' Warner also expressed concern for senior citizens who are in local retirement and assisted living facilities who are currently denied visitors because of the lockdown. "You need to take stuff to the door and drop it off,'' she said. Warner said the biggest item on the town agenda moving forward is preparation of the budget for the new fiscal year. It would normally be presented to the community in early June. Work is continuing on the budget, she said, with some members of town staff involved able to work from home. She said the town may need to figure a way it can present the budget to the community either by a live Facebook feed or by recording the meeting as usual and posting it online as soon as possible. Warner said citizens can keep up with the most current info at the town website, www.townofhope- mills.com, the Facebook page at Town of Hope Mills Administration or by calling Town Hall at 910-424-4555. Hope Mills braces for COVID-19 challenge by EARL VAUGHAN JR. NEWS It's said in comedy, timing is everything. It's also important in the restaurant business, and Glenn Garner has run into a challenging timing problem in Hope Mills as he tries to relocate his popular down- town eatery, The Diner, to a more spacious location. For the last three months, Garner, who goes by the professional name of Chef Glenn, has been looking to move his South Main Street business in the old Becky's Cafe to the recently-vacated Buckhead Steakhouse on Camden Road. Garner plans to keep the old location, closing it temporarily once he completes the move to the new location and later reopening it with a differ- ent theme. But the arrival of COVID-19 and all the headaches it has created has slowed his plans for getting things started at the new home of The Diner. "We are still pushing for that April 6 date,'' he said, referring to when he had originally planned to roll out his new business location. As of the writing of this article, North Carolina restaurants were shuttered by order of the governor save for takeout business. Garner, who operates two food trucks through his other business, A Catered Affair, has both trucks cur- rently in operation, one at the original location of The Diner and the other at the new location. The kitchen at the original location is also open for takeout orders only. Garner said it's looking more and more like the planned April 6 opening won't take place, so he'll con- tinue with the takeout options via the food trucks and the kitchen at the Main Street business. He won't start takeout at the new location, preferring to roll out the new business with its 1950s decor, only when he can open to regular customers. The main reason he decided to relocate The Diner was to grow the business, he said. The old building had room for only 32 customers. At the new location, he's got 200 seats and will have ABC permits that allow him to stay open as late as 10 or 11 p.m. and serve a full line of adult beverages. While the current location of The Diner emphasizes what Garner calls Southern comfort food, the menu at the new place will be expanded. "I can do steak,'' he said. "I can do pasta dishes. I can do French-style cooking, a lot of sauces, upscale dining at a fair price.'' Like many small, local businesses, the current pan- demic is hurting him and his small staff of employees in the pocketbook. "I've got employees that need to work and they've got families they need to feed,'' Garner said. That's why he's cranked up the food trucks to daily business for now. He's open from 11 a.m. until 8 p.m. at both his locations, but he'll stay as late as he's got customers. At the Camden Road location they recently were still serving as late as 9 p.m. he said. "I love the community and I appreciate everything they've done to support me and help me get to this point,'' he said. "I hope they continue to support me.'' Relocation, pandemic cause headaches for Chef Glenn by EARL VAUGHAN JR. Jackie Warner It's looking more and more like the April 6 opening won't take place, so Chef Glenn will continue with takeout options via food trucks. The main reason Garner decided to relocate The Diner was to grow the business. The old building only had room for 32 customers.

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