Tuesday, 07 April 2020
Written by Earl Vaughan Jr.
Hope Mills town manager Melissa Adams has had to deal with two hurricanes as a member of town staff, one of them after she was serving as town manager.
But that experience was only a small taste of the challenge she and the rest of town staff are facing now as they try to navigate the variety of challenges all of us face from COVID-19.
“It’s unprecedented for many managers, I’m sure,’’ Adams said of the current situation. “It’s been very trying and very difficult throughout.’’
As much a part of trying to deal with all of the problems COVID-19 causes, Adams said, is the official face the town puts on when deciding how to react. “You want to do it in a calm, reasonable manner and not panic people,’’ she said. “You have to maintain your composure.’’
That’s why Adams is applying some advice she got from a friend when she first took over the town manager’s job in Hope Mills.
“They told me flow like water and you’ll be fine,’’ Adams said. “That’s kind of what I’ve tried to do.’’
Adams said her biggest concern in the current situation is making sure what she and the town are doing it best not only for the citizens, but for the various members of town staff who are on the job while still trying to keep themselves safe from being infected with COVID-19.
She called the safety of staff and citizens paramount.
“Virtually everyone’s job has been disrupted by this event,’’ she said. “People have lost their jobs and their livelihood. For self-employed people it’s been extremely difficult trying to manage.’’
In the meantime, Adams has been trying to keep town services running uninterrupted while at the same time having the proper amount of concern for the safety of all those people who have to be out in the field or in the office.
When news first started to develop about the safety precautions that might be put in place because of COVID-19, Adams began having regular staff meetings with her department heads to try and assure all contingencies were covered. This was long before the official order came down from North Carolina governor Roy Cooper that the state was declaring its citizens needed to stay at home as much as possible.
“We already had things in place,’’ Adams said. Many steps have been taken to cut down on public interaction. The town took a major one last Monday when it decided to close the Hope Mills Lake park to the public but still allow boaters and kayakers to use the lake for recreation. Adams hopes the citizens will be cautious using the lake and not force the town to take more drastic measures.
If people have specific needs or concerns, Adams said they can visit townofhopemills.com or any of the town Facebook pages for updates. There are also contact numbers there. The main town number is 910-424-4555. In the event of a life-threatening emergency, people should still call 911 to reach the police or fire departments.
“We are a strong community,’’ Adams said. “We are small but pretty good at backing each other up and supporting each other. I would ask that people continue to do that.’’
Monday, 30 March 2020
Written by Earl Vaughan Jr.
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 downtown 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 different 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 currently 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 continue 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 pandemic 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.’’