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Posted Tuesday, March 20, 2012, at 1:03 PM

On our Facebook page, the news story about a new motel planned for North Main Street drew an immediate response along the lines of "we don't need a new motel, we need a new restaurant."

Actually, if you want a new restaurant to open up, the arrival of a new motel might be seen as good news. If the people who come for events at Calsonic Arena stay in Tullahoma or Murfreesboro, they'll eat some of their meals in Tullahoma or Murfreesboro and support the restaurant market in Tullahoma or Murfreesboro. If they stay in Shelbyville, on the other hand, they'll dine in Shelbyville. Increasing the number of motel rooms here is a factor (although probably a small one) in increasing the chances of new restaurants opening here. In any case, it doesn't hurt -- it's not an either-or situation.

Whether any given restaurant locates in Shelbyville is mainly up to the owners of those chains and/or people with enough money to open a franchise.

The biggest factor in what kind of restaurants open and close is consumer demand. There are other factors, sure; land availability, zoning, traffic and what have you. But (with the exception of a 40-year-old incident when the city fathers supposedly chased a shopping mall away to Tullahoma) city government, which depends heavily on sales tax revenue, is usually cooperative when there's the prospect of a new retailer. This is especially true if the site is already zoned for commercial use, leaving little chance of the neighbors complaining. In most cases, the doors are open; it's simply a matter of whether those retailers think it's worth their while to walk through.

By the same token, the city can't be too active in recruiting retail businesses the way it recruits industry. After all, any new retailer competes with existing retailers, who would be understandably upset to see their tax dollars being used to bring in competition.

When and if the management of a particular restaurant chain thinks it can make money in Shelbyville, and there's some franchise owner willing to take the risk, you'll probably see bulldozers in action. You won't see them until those factors are in place. Saying "we don't need another motel, we need a new restaurant" (or saying "we already have too many of *this* kind of restaurant, we need *that* kind of restaurant," another common complaint) misses the point entirely.

If there are several of a given type of restaurant in town, and all of them are making money, it's because there are apparently people in town willing to pay money for that type of food. That's supply and demand; people have the right to start a business, and customers have the right to choose from the available options.

A previous mayor once called the corporate offices of her favorite restaurant chain (it's one of mine, too) to try to persuade them to open in Shelbyville. It didn't work.

Every nationwide restaurant chain, and any other large retail chain, has its own business plan -- its own plan for how much it should cost to run a restaurant, how much business that restaurant needs to do to make a profit, and how large a nearby population (and/or volume of traffic, such as for a location near an Interstate exit) is necessary to make that level of business happen. The plans are different for every chain. They may take into account demographics like age and income levels as well.

Restaurants will show up in a community when they think they can make a profit according to their own individual business plan, when there's a good location available at a reasonable price, and (assuming that the restaurant is a franchise) when there's a franchise owner willing to take the risk. You can complain all you want, but they won't show up until a particular restaurant chain can check off all three of those boxes.

Showing comments in chronological order
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You're right John,we have been told many times when you city population hits thirty thousand we will be looking.

One bad thing is local people do not support local business. If they would there would be more mom and pop stores but moms and pops don't have revenue to set and wait for our citizens to finally decide to try them.

If our City and County only had the sales tax dollars that are spent in our neighboring towns our schools would be pretty near paid off by now and additional upgrading could be taking place. Back a few years ago, when the gas price first went up, people began trading at home and the sales tax dollars went up considerably but people got used to it and started going back out of town to eat and trade. You can see the results. Every penny in taxes really contributes to our students education and we really need to be educating our young people. We pay more for housing prisoners than we do educating children.

-- Posted by walrite on Wed, Mar 21, 2012, at 12:58 AM

We have more car dealers in town then people that can drive cars. Is there a limit of a certain type of business that can open up?

-- Posted by Evil Monkey on Wed, Mar 21, 2012, at 1:47 AM

I don't see the problem with a new motel opening up, but why on North Main? It's so crowded out there, and the turning lane isn't due to be installed until 2013-2014. I think that needs to be completed before any new business is put in.

-- Posted by candasons07 on Wed, Mar 21, 2012, at 10:05 AM

I think we need quality not quantity.....the restaurant food around here is so commercial or so meat and three cheap outta a can that folks in this day and age know the difference and get tired of it quick....many times i have eaten good food prepared bad around here as well....we should attract and promote quality and individuals in the business that know and are hands on....i have stayed at a microtel and it was the most claustrophobic place i have ever slept....the rooms only have enough room to barely walk around the bed and its the cheapest hard rest i have ever had.....if i was keeping a client as a corporate endeavor i would not book them in cramped quick cheap quarters.....just saying!

-- Posted by chefgrape on Wed, Mar 21, 2012, at 11:08 AM

As one who has travelled a fair amount, the first thing I ask a hotel clerk is for a good "locally owned" restaurant. I get more than my fair share to eat at the chain so when I get a positive response, I usually try it out.

Now when I go at 6-7 in the evening and no one is there, the restaurant is dying or not as good as the hotel said. Local support is the "bread & butter" of a restaurant, unless you have a famous name attached to it.

Once established, by locals, the reputation spread and THEN you pull people from all around. We had one in Haley like that for many years

-- Posted by stevemills on Thu, Mar 22, 2012, at 7:12 AM

Dearest Heather...have you ever tipped the salad and spaghetti bowls up at Bocelli's and drained the quarter cup of water out of them before consumption or held a slice of Rafael's pizza up to let the oil from the processed cheese drip on the Styrofoam plates you have to eat off of....such easy things to fix for the prices...I do not even consider it Italian....country comfort Italian maybe....however...I will visit the Sweet shop this week and try it for lunch...I'm talking quality and hands on ownership to improve at least the dining experiance......for whats available I have to agree Bocelli's comes closer in town to any other and It is always my first choice for pizza.....Maybe I am just picky and have to fix it before I eat it!....just saying!

-- Posted by chefgrape on Thu, Mar 22, 2012, at 7:14 AM

chefgrape, your blog handle does suggest a closer tie to cooking than many of us might have, but being truthful can only be helpful if they hear it constructively.

-- Posted by stevemills on Thu, Mar 22, 2012, at 8:03 AM

I am with chefgrape on this one as well, I am from the city and the restaurants I am used to going to, everything is made fresh. Yes, the prices reflected that, but it was so good and I didn't feel bad afterwards.

-- Posted by Evil Monkey on Thu, Mar 22, 2012, at 9:56 AM

There is a fairly new restaurant up on the hill by Walmart called Mike's All American Diner. The owners/operators are locals. Their food is prepared fresh, and it's very good. I've been there on several occasions, and I've been pleased with every meal I've eaten there.

-- Posted by onenamil on Thu, Mar 22, 2012, at 10:34 AM

"I am with chefgrape on this one as well, I am from the city and the restaurants I am used to going to, everything is made fresh. Yes, the prices reflected that, but it was so good and I didn't feel bad afterwards."

This comment reeked of elitism which is kind of sad. I guess city folks must know more about food than simple country folks. LOL

My favorite local place to eat is Bell Buckle Cafe.

-- Posted by jaxspike on Thu, Mar 22, 2012, at 11:18 AM

I do have to say the food at Bell Buckle Cafe is consistently good....the meatloaf especially vary consistent and topped with ketchup just like my moms and they are the only restaurant in the south that still fries potatoes (without throwing them in a deep fryer)....so as a country home cooked meal it's great...the desserts are okay...that oatmeal spice cake with caramel sauce is an eye catcher however I found it to over spice my palette so much I could not finish it....(I was getting a bitter bite of nutmeg or allspice) so for this discussion on food the BBC gets 3 1/2 stars with a few tweaks and a hand patted bigger burger It could easily hit 4+

-- Posted by chefgrape on Thu, Mar 22, 2012, at 11:50 AM

I just wish the Shelbyville Inn was still here.Fresh oysters and seafood and a steak that would melt in your mouth.The pecan and apple pie were wonderful.

-- Posted by mytaxesaremine on Thu, Mar 22, 2012, at 5:27 PM

I agree that we do need more small-town restaurants as well as other attractions. But BEFORE anything new gets added, we need Main Street to be widened! I am so tired of trying to drive down Main and try to turn in some place with someone zooming up behind, like we are on the interstate or something. The hotels would be better for those who come into town for the horse shows but otherwise, what is the need? We really do not have anything big that people will travel across the country to see.

I would love to eat out at local restaurants if there was a way that the word could get out about them. I very rarely travel up around the square, so we don't experience any of the great local restaurants. We haven't been to the BBC yet, but hopefully we will soon.

-- Posted by PrpleHze on Thu, Mar 22, 2012, at 5:28 PM


Yeah, if you read that in a certain way, it would. In a city there is more variety of choices you tend to pick the healthier ones, correct?

If that is elitist, then whatever.

-- Posted by Evil Monkey on Thu, Mar 22, 2012, at 7:34 PM

I welcome a new motel to the City for many years we have had an excellent city park system with Little League, Babe Ruth, Church Leagues and soccer fields that can be utilized to hold tournaments but we haven't had enough rooms for the participants to stay. Hopefully with more rooms these things will come to pass and our facilities will be used.

Sports enthusiast have wanted this to happen for years.

-- Posted by walrite on Fri, Mar 23, 2012, at 1:45 PM

Chefgrape . . . if you are looking for great desserts then check out Millers Groceries in Christiana. It is a restaurant inside of an old grocery store that has the feel of a Bell Buckle Cafe but they have some of the best desserts that I have ever eaten . . . all made from scratch.


-- Posted by jaxspike on Mon, Mar 26, 2012, at 8:50 AM

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