Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Restaurant Industry In Bowling Green Is A Tough Gig

In the event of the recent shutdown of three of Hitcents Park Plaza's concept restaurants located in the bottom of the BG downtown parking structure and the layoffof 30 employees according a newspaper article in today's Bowling Green Daily News posted below, I only have this to say-

"The restaurant industry in Bowling Green is a tough gig all around because of the sheer high volume of competition. Anytime you open an eating establishment in this town these days, you are taking a risk because of the stiff competition and the tough economy. I always thought Hitcents was taking a rather bold step with five concept restaurants in one location (parking structure). Not only were they competing with other restaurants in BG, they were competing with each other."-Galen A. Smith Sr.

Three out of the five restaurants in Hitcents Park Plaza have closed to undergo renovations and move in new restaurant concepts. (Miranda Pederson/Daily News)

Former staff dissatisfied with layoffs

Posted: Tuesday, September 30, 2014 11:05 am

By MONICA SPEES The Daily Newsmspees@bgdailynews.com 783-3246| 2 comments

In the wake of three restaurants shuttering Saturday, employees say they didn’t see their layoffs coming.

Candace Barbee began working at Mariah’s 3 1/2 years ago and stayed with the restaurant when it moved to Hitcents Park Plaza. Barbee was eventually promoted to assistant manager of Brick & Basil Pizzeria, Tres Molinos and Pagoda Asian Cafe, all three of which closed Saturday.

“I knew there was a meeting scheduled for Saturday, but nobody was told why,” Barbee said. “Everybody was just really nervous. We weren’t told anything. We were kept completely in the dark.”

Rick Kelley, consultant for Hitcents and former owner of Mariah’s, delivered the news to the approximately 30 employees at Saturday’s meeting that the restaurants were closing, Barbee said.

Barbee, a Western Kentucky University student, said Kelley thanked the employees for their hard work and said that though the fast-casual concept is a popular trend in the nation, regrettably, it hadn’t succeeded at the plaza. If the employees gave about three hours of their time to help clean up the restaurants, they would receive a severance package.

“It could’ve been handled a different way,” Barbee said. “I cared about (my employees) ... and that’s why it was so hard that everything happened. ... It just seemed like a community injustice.”

Barbee said she feels that she and the other employees worked to promote the restaurants and drum up business. However, Barbee said she thinks the restaurants’ overall marketing campaign was poorly executed. Barbee said she often had to explain to people where she worked because they had never heard of the restaurants.

Natasha Patterson, a WKU student, was formerly a cashier at the restaurants. She was among the first employees working at the restaurants when they opened earlier this year. Patterson wasn’t scheduled to work a couple days before the Saturday meeting, but she felt that something was wrong after seeing signs posted in the restaurants about a mandatory meeting.

When Patterson arrived at the meeting Saturday morning, she said she could tell by the way Kelley was talking that the employees were about to lose their jobs. Patterson knew business was slow – an issue she partially attributes to sparse marketing.

“I loved working there. ... I just wish we could’ve been let go a little more tactfully,” Patterson said.

Clinton Mills, co-founder of Hitcents, said after the closure Saturday that they plan to open full-service restaurants in the fast-casual restaurants’ place in the coming months. Mills reiterated this morning that Hitcents would invite former employees back when the new restaurants open.

Mills said Saturday that Hitcents had underestimated parking challenges, because most customers, after taking the time to drive downtown and park in the parking garage, were going to Mariah’s or 6-4-3 Sports Bar.

Mills said this morning that 30 employees were let go and 15 employees were kept on at the plaza because they were cross-trained. All the restaurants at the plaza employed about 200 people.

“To only lose 30 people, it shows that we tried to retain and repurpose as many people as we could,” Mills said.

While Mills said he can understand the former employees’ frustrations, he thinks most of them probably “knew it was coming.”

“It’s nothing against them,” Mills said. “It’s just unfortunate that the restaurants weren’t profitable.”

Mills added that Kentucky employers can let employees go at any time for any reason.

“If they think they were let go unfairly, that’s the opinion of a couple people because (Kentucky is) an at-will state,” Mills said. “We thought we were very nice and very fair to everyone and went above and beyond what most employers would” by providing severance pay.

— Follow business beat reporter Monica Spees on Twitter at twitter.com/BGDNbusiness

Friday, September 26, 2014

Bring Elivs Back To Life In The Form Of A Hologram While He Performs On Stage At The Mid-South Coliseum in Memphis, Tenn.

      "I just thought of a way that the citizens of Memphis could pay for the renovation and all of the attractions and exhibits that everyone is currently talking about in regards to saving and remodeling the Mid-South Coliseum. Bring Elvis back to life in the form of a hologram while he performs on stage at the MSC. Also, he could perform with a mock up band that resembles his old band and they would be performing everyday year around to tourists and fans from all over the world.  Of course, there would have to be money to be loaned up front to get the MSC up to par and to pay for all of the extras such as the hologram and everything else that would be involved.  But I feel strongly, that people would pay good money to see Elvis perform live again, in my opinion. I know I would!
Inside The Mid-South Coliseum
Elivs Performing Live
"-Galen A. Smith Sr.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Memphis Cannot Afford To Lose The Mid-South Coliseum

"When I was growing up there in the 60's and 70's, Memphis had the original WWII Memphis Belle B17-F Flying Fortress bomber at the fairgrounds for years. Later it sat on display at Mud Island for years I understand. Then somehow it was taken away from Memphis which was a great loss to the city I feel. The Mid-South Coliseum is a permanent structure with a unique history like the Memphis Belle. But the MSC cannot be uprooted and moved up north like the famous aircraft was. However, Memphis cannot afford to lose another incredible piece of its iconic history through demolition either."-Galen A. Smith Sr.