May 22, 2014 10:27:33 AM
Let's start in Starkville, where by the end of summer there will be a new barbecue restaurant and watering hole.
The plan is for Two Brothers Bar to open in late July. It will be located in the Cotton District at 103 Rue du Grand Fromage, the former home of Jean's Cafe, which closed in late March.
Two Brothers Bar will focus on barbecue -- smoked brisket, smoked pork tenderloin, smoked duck, pulled pork, smoked ribs -- delivered with upscale flavor in a laidback atmosphere, according to Barton Dinkins, the man behind it.
A recent Mississippi State University graduate with a bachelors degree in business, Dinkins is 24. He has always been around the food industry. He put himself through school working in restaurants, he said, "trying to gain as much experience as I could." Recently, after taking stock of Starkville's future and seeing an area expected to grow with young professionals, Dinkins put a business plan together.
He sees the restaurant, which will feature weekly drink specials and live music, being open on Wednesdays through Sundays. Nothing has been finalized, though.
Dinkins will also operate Two Brothers Smoked Meats, a catering business featuring the same barbecue that he cooks and prepares himself at the restaurant.
Back in Columbus, there is a Sprint Mart at 712 Hwy. 45 N.
Bobby Watkins owned the service station -- it was known as Watkins 45 -- for more than two decades before selling it late last year. He still owns the open lot to the north, however, and he's got tentative plans to build on it. Exactly what and when, he has not said.
But on the north side of the Sprint Mart, there is a tiny stretch of open parking lot that has always technically been part of 8th Avenue North. Earlier this month, Watkins asked the city council to grant him the property, which is roughly .04 acres in size. He had the area paved roughly seven years ago.
"My desire is to utilize the adjoining property for future development," he wrote in a letter he delivered to the council.
Watkins said the city ultimately decided to split the property in half and give him the north half, and the other half to the Sprint Mart property owners. That's fine with Watkins.
By the way, Watkins also owns a U-Haul business across the highway from Sprint Mart and he intends to tear that building down at one point and relocate the business. His goal in taking the building down is to expand the parking lot for Watkin's Washette, which is right beside the U-Haul business.
Family Dollar last month announced plans to close approximately 370 stores across the county. The closures will take place during the second half of 2014.
There are six Family Dollars within 25 miles of Columbus -- two in the city itself (one at 1412 Main St., one at 202 Alabama St.), one in West Point, one in Starkville, one in Caledonia and one in Aberdeen.
The Dispatch reached out to the North Carolina-based retailer's corporate headquarters to see if any of the local stores might close.
"The company is working to finalize the store closure plan and will disclose information on impacted locations at the appropriate time," Bryn R. Winburn, public & media relations manager with Family Dollar, said in a statement.
Winburn went on to explain that the decision to close stores came after the company conducted a review to "identify measures to provide customers with more value, increase operational efficiency and improve financial performance."
There are roughly 8,000 Family Dollar locations in 46 states. An interesting note: the company states that its "core customer" is a female head of household in her mid-40's making less than $40,000 a year.
William Browning was managing editor for The Dispatch until June 2016.
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