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Internet exploits: All-day Wi-Fi users a problem for some coffee shops

coverNowadays, coffee and wireless Internet go hand-in-hand; you can’t really have one without the other.

It is an expected amenity at coffee shops and bakeries. With the purchase of a coffee, tea or cinnamon bun, the customer is permitted to use the business’ Internet. It is so common that it has almost become a right — like free speech or the ability to vote.

Maggie seeks input from business owners on town’s future

A Thursday meeting with Maggie Valley business owners and area leaders will serve as the first test to see if the valley can successfully come together for the town’s common good.

Maggie leaders question the wisdom of holding out for tourism

fr maggieMaggie Valley is trying to figure out what exactly it wants to be.

Maggie once reigned supreme in the mountain tourist trade, witnessed by the row of restaurants, bars, hotels and gift shops that line the valley’s main drag.

Swain brings business training and education center online

After about 18 months of construction, the $1.5 million Swain County Regional Business Education and Training Center is officially open for business, or education, or training for that matter.

“This facility will wear many hats,” said Swain County Commissioner Donnie Dixon at a ribbon-cutting ceremony held last week. “It will be a meeting place. It will be things we probably haven’t even thought of yet.”

Tattoo parlor knocking on Canton’s door prompts likely repeal of 30-year-old ban

fr tattooCruso native Nathan Poston wants to open a tattoo parlor in Canton — the first in that town since at least the 1980s — but first must convince town fathers to change the law.

‘Last of the Main Street merchants’ Hometown department store owner calls it quits at 93

coverHis name is James C. Jacobs. His friends call him J.C., “but not like Penney,” he insists. For more than 55 years, Jacobs has owned a department store in downtown Franklin, its racks and shelves lined with standard housewares and wardrobe staples.

But, like so many Main Street stores in small town America, People’s Department Store will soon fold-up shop.

Old O’Malley’s building to get new lease on life

fr omalleysThe building that once housed the downtown anchor O’Malley’s On Main Pub and Grill in Waynesville has a new owner.

Military technology firm takes on national defense from Canton

More than a year after winning $5,000 in the Haywood County Chamber of Commerce’s annual Business Start-up Competition, Aermor, an engineering and technical services business in Canton, is still growing.

After sweeping the competition, owner Penny Morgan announced some lofty goals — to become a 100-person, $26 million outfit within five years. With about a year and a half under her belt since his announcement, Morgan still thinks that is feasible.

Some sushi with that pedicure? Suit pitted neighboring businesses over alleged ‘noxious’ fumes

A sushi restaurant in Waynesville lost a protracted legal battle last month after accusing a neighboring nail salon of driving away its diners.

Saki Sushi claimed fumes from Tweety Nails hurt its bottom-line. Litigation dating back two years culminated in a nearly two-week jury trial in March, ultimately exonerating the nail parlor as the sushi joint could not prove that the smell negatively impacted the restaurant — or even that the nail salon was the origin of the smell.

“It’s a relief. It’s indescribable,” said Steve Nguyen, husband of Tweety, who owns Tweety’s Nails.

The two businesses leased storefronts next door to each other in the K-Mart strip mall on Russ Avenue.

Janet Green, owner of Saki Sushi, which had been there first, claimed “noxious odors and chemicals” began emanating from the nail salon shortly after it opened in fall 2009.

The court-filed complaint by Saki Sushi claimed that the smell interfered with Green’s ability to enjoy the property, among other charges, and sued the salon for as much as $60,000. The restaurant also sued its’ landlord.

But, Nguyen said he believes the lawsuit was retaliation. He and his wife at one time expressed an interest in buying Saki Sushi from Green.

Nguyen said that there is no smell in the building now that Saki Sushi has moved to a location on Howell Street.

On at least a couple of occasions, Green called the police about the smell, and on more than several occasions, she asked employees from the nearby Radio Shack to come into her restaurant and tell her if they smelled anything.

During the trial, at least one witness stated that he noticed a strong acrylic-like odor while in the restaurant. Another witness said her coworker couldn’t eat at Saki Sushi with her because he was sensitive to the smell.

However, the witnesses did not know when the smell started and could not definitely connect the stench to Tweety’s Nails.

One witness testified that the odor was considerably less noticeable and possibly different from the fetor wafting from Saki Sushi. Although Green consulted others about the smell, including the Waynesville police, “Mrs. Green admitted that she never even complained to Tweety about the smell,” said Mark Melrose, attorney for Tweety’s Nails.

All sides attempted to settle the issue through mediation but gave up on resolving their differences early last year. The case finally landed in court last week.

After hearing the evidence presented in the case, Judge Mark E. Powell dismissed all of Saki Sushi’s claims, except for its nuisance claim against the nail salon. Within 20 minutes, the jury returned with its verdict, Melrose said. The jury found no validity to the claim and did not award Saki Sushi any damages.

When considering a nuisance claim, Melrose said a jury must also decide if the business benefits the community.

“Every little thing that bothers you is not a lawsuit,” Melrose said.

For example, it would be extremely difficult to claim legally that the paper mill in Canton is a nuisance because is a crucial part of the town’s economy.

“If you ask people in Canton, they say it smells like jobs,” Melrose said.

Although the case is finally settled, Tweety’s Nails plans to sue Saki Sushi for the more than two years worth of court and attorney fees.

Business owners craft campaign to promote alcohol sales

A group of Cherokee business leaders will be a driving force in the campaign to permit alcohol sales on the reservation.

Members of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians will vote in April on whether to legalize alcohol sales on the currently dry reservation.

“Most business owners are saying the same thing — it would be a nice option,” said Matthew Pegg, executive director of the Cherokee Chamber of Commerce.

The chamber and the Cherokee ABC Board hosted a public meeting last Wednesday (Nov. 2) to gauge businesses’ opinions about the possibility of alcohol sales. About 20 people attended.

Several business owners said they had lost business because they are not permitted to sell adult beverages.

“It is imperative that our restaurants have alcohol,” said Morgan Owle-Crisp, a business owner and member of the tribe. Owle-Crisp added that potential customers travel to Asheville and other surrounding cities to eat and drink.

Beth Wolpert, manager of Yogi in the Smokies, a campground in Cherokee, said that she has had campers leave after finding out that they would have to drive 20 minutes to Bryson City to buy alcohol.

While tourism in Cherokee has improved over the past decade thanks both to the casino and cultural emphasis by the tribe, tourism overall on the reservation has been on the decline since its heyday in the 1950s and 1960s, business owners said.

Alcohol could bring back some of that lost revenue, agreed business owners in attendance.

“We don’t have John Wayne out there promoting the Indians,” said Collette Coggins, owner of the Cherokee Bear Zoo.

Even if the referendum passes, the tribal ABC board will have the final say regarding who receives an alcohol permit.

To qualify to sell alcohol, a restaurant or grocery store would have to get 30 to 40 percent of its revenue from food sales, said Bob Blakenship, chair of the Cherokee ABC Board. Blakenship projected that a tribal ABC store would sell $500,000 in alcohol each year.

One reason for the major push to approve the referendum is a similar vote slated in Jackson County in May. If the measure passes, gas stations a stone’s throw from the reservation in Jackson County could sell beer and wine from their shelves. Jackson County could also place an ABC store selling bottles of liquor as close to Cherokee as possible, said Don Rose, vice chair of the tribal ABC board.

“It is going to be at our doorstep anyway,” he said. “All we’re doing is making it more convenient (to purchase alcohol).”

The three-part ballot will allow voters to separately weigh in on where alcohol sales should be permitted.

• To permit a tribal ABC store to sell liquor to the public.

• To permit the sale of beer, wine and liquor drinks only in restaurants licensed by the Eastern Band.

• To permit the sale of beer and wine only in grocery stores and convenience stores licensed by the Eastern Band.

Tribe members can approve all, none, or one or two of these.

Attendees at the meeting talked about the wording of the ballot.

“You want simplicity in these question,” Rose said. “Otherwise, people won’t know what they are voting for.”

The Chamber of Commerce will hold its regular monthly meeting Nov. 15 and discuss funding for the campaign.

On Nov. 17, a campaign committee will meet at 9:30 a.m. at the Chestnut Tree Inn to begin formulating a plan, aimed at raising awareness and promoting the benefits of allowing alcohol on the reservation. The committee will discuss advertising in newspapers and on billboards as well as arranging an informational meeting for tribal members.

“People need to know it’s not going to be widespread,” said Steve Arch, owner of Big Bear Exxon Mart.

The committee will work under a tentative deadline of April 15 since it is currently unknown when or if the vote will occur.

A plan and funding for a campaign should be in place 90 days before the vote, Rose said.

Tribal Council approved the referendum regarding reservation-wide alcohol sales last month, giving tribal members a say in the historically controversial issue.

Nine out of 12 council members voted for the referendum. The other three didn’t exactly vote “no.” Two voted to table the measure, the third was out of town for the vote.

Chief Michell Hicks has until Nov. 23 — 30 days following the tribal council vote — to veto the referendum. As of Monday afternoon, Hicks had yet to make a decision.

Even if the chief shoots down the measure, tribal council can override his veto with a two-thirds majority, which they appear to have.

Tribal members have voted against allowing reservation-wide alcohol sales twice before. In 2009, however, voters approved a referendum to permit the sale of alcohol in the casino.

While proponents say alcohol will help Cherokee’s economy and attract tourists to local businesses, opponents of the referendum cite religious convictions and a long history of alcoholism among the Cherokee as reasons to continue its dry spell.

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