Troy’s Bar-B-Que, an institution in North Rome for nearly a century, is the latest victim of the COVID-19 pandemic in Rome.
Owner Mike Wendt will close the restaurant after breakfast Saturday morning.
Wendt, who has run the iconic restaurant for the last seven years, said his lease expires at the end of April and that it has become difficult to cook while trying to move some of his kitchen equipment out so he decided to pull the plug on the business two weeks before the end of the lease.
The original building, near the intersection of North Broad Street and Calhoun Road was bulldozed decades ago and the business moved into a building that was constructed behind the original shop, closer to the Norfolk Southern Railroad tracks.
Broadus Coker operated the business for more than 30 years before passing it on to his son, Frankie Coker in the early ’80s.
Coker’s daughter, Dr. Jenn Coker, who now lives in Colorado, said that she can remember going with her brother to the restaurant every day after school where they would sit at the counter and do their homework.
Frankie Coker ran it for a little more than a decade before selling the business to Mike and D.F. Williams. Marie Wesson was part of a group that acquired the business in 2004 and she sold it to Wendt seven years ago.
“I tried to be a good steward and I’ve paid everybody and I’m done, it’s just not a good time for me to be in this business,” Wendt said. “After COVID, maybe a year from now this might be a great thing to do but not right now.”
Attorney David Guldenschuh said he has regarded Troy’s as a satellite office for years.
“I’ve got to find someplace else for breakfast now,” Guldenschuh said. The attorney said his staple for breakfast is called “Eggs over David,” the whites are cooked, the yellow is runny and there’s no brown skirt around the edges.
Jimmy Brock, who’s been eating at Troy’s for longer than he could remember, said he hated to see Troy’s close, “because it’s just about the best place for breakfast in Rome.”
Wendt said COVID cost the restaurant so much business, but he hasn’t ruled out the possibly of reopening at another location in the future.
“For now I’ve got to recover from this financially,” Wendt said. “I still love cooking.”
While he doesn’t know whether there will be masks or social distancing in the next school year, Rome City Schools Superintendent Lou Byars said they are primarily focusing on “potential learning loss.”
“We feel like we’ve done a great job at keeping students engaged and continue their education, whether it be virtual or in-school,” Byars said. “We still want to make sure they’re caught up and take extra steps this year to help teachers and get more students into the summer school program this year.”
To help curb any learning loss, RCS will be expanding their summer school to a four week program and making it available to more students.
“Typically, our summer school focuses on students who might’ve been detained because of the milestone assessments or because they’re failing classes, but now we’re offering it to any student who might be falling behind,” Assistant Superintendent Dawn Williams said.
“They won’t just be focusing on the reading milestones and math milestones... it’s going to be what standards they didn’t meet during the year and that expansion will be the only thing that’s different.”
The summer school expansion will be paid for using the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act funds.
The board of education approved the fund allocation at their board meeting on this week as well as several other items such as:
♦ Expanding the Aspire after-school program
♦ Implementation of Saturday school for Rome Middle and High School students
♦ After school programs for Rome Middle and High Schools
♦ Adding an interventionist to both East Central and West End elementary schools
♦ Adding paraprofessionals to primary grades (kindergarten-2nd grade) school faculty (27-28 positions)
♦ Adding additional digital subscriptions
Going into the next school year, they will still offer the virtual academy, but there will only be one teacher per grade level for the entire school system.
For example, all virtual academy second graders, whether they’re at Main Elementary or West Central Elementary, will be in the same class.
This will only apply for kindergarten through eighth grade. For high schoolers, they will be enrolled in the Georgia Virtual School. Applications for the virtual academy will open Monday.
At the same meeting, board members approved a lease agreement with Harvey Given Company to help provide housing to any of their employees.
“Every year when we bring in new employees, especially if they’re not from this area, they struggle starting their year off and finding housing,” Byars said “Housing in this area can be very challenging.”
The board has been looking at housing issues for the past few years as part of their recruitment process.
To start off, the school system will lease four units from Midtown Alli Townhomes on Martha Berry Boulevard to their new employees and any current employees if they’re interested.
The units are all two-bedroom with electric washers and dryers and a standard kitchen.
If this is successful, the superintendent thinks they’ll expand the lease and include more units.
“This is a way for us to see if this is something teachers are interested in,” Byars said. “Their neighbors would be other teachers and they would know who they are.”
After a few bouts of heavy rain, the first part of the runway extension project at Richard B. Russell Regional Airport is scheduled to begin next week.
Having dry ground is crucial since the first phase of the project is grading and drainage work. Airport Manager John Carroll said he expects the phase to be completed by late summer or early fall.
Bartow Paving of Cartersville was awarded the grading and drainage portion of the project in August 2020. Construction was delayed several times awaiting approval from the Federal Aviation Administration and Georgia Department of Transportation.
Voters approved the $5.7 million project in the 2013 special purpose, local option sales tax.
The purpose of the project is to extend the runway past 7,000 feet to accommodate larger aircraft. A point of pride, local officials have said Rome would have the second-longest runway in North Georgia excluding Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.
The original plan was to complete the project in one phase, but when it went out for bid in July 2018, the few responses in bid applications were all over the available budget.
County officials then split the project into three phases: grading and drainage, paving and finally electrical work.
County commissioners also recently approved the purchase of components for a new gate project at the airport.
Carroll said the project is to make the airport more secure and almost completely fenced in, save for the northern part.
Owens Security Solutions of Calhoun was chosen for the project at $68,539 to move Gate 10 to a gap in the fence on Capitoline Drive on the outside perimeter.
Once concern was how to accommodate a Redmond EMS unit on the site. The hospital leases out the unit in order to rapidly respond to that portion of the county.
Carroll explained that their current solution is to have a “hot button” access the EMTs can utilize to open the gate and exit the site quickly.
The status of the 2021 Schnauzerfest remains a mystery this weekend as organizers scramble to find a solution for not being able to hold a portion of that event in the Forum River Center.
The inaugural Schnauzerfest in 2019 brought close to 1,200 people, and some 630 dogs to Rome from all over the country.
Organizer Hugh Tyner, in a text response to a RN-T article Thursday, said “I intend to fight the county on this ... even if it means taking them to court. We had an agreement and were on the calendar ever since October of 2019.”
The Schnauzerfestrome.com website still indicates the event is on for Oct. 22-23. Tyner did not return texts or phone calls to the RN-T on Friday.
The event venue is currently being used to help the Floyd County Superior Court deal with a backlog of cases that resulted from the inability to conduct jury trials for most of the past year.
Georgia’s Rome Office of Tourism Executive Director Lisa Smith has been working with Tyner to keep the event in Rome, suggesting that the Mather Payne Special Events Building and Palladium at the Coosa Valley Fairgrounds could easily meet Tyner’s needs and be just minutes from downtown.
As badly as she’d like to have the Forum River Center open to special events again, Smith said she understands the county’s position with respect to handling the court backlog and security concerns.
“The quicker we work through this (backlog), the faster we’ll get it back,” Smith said.
Another event that downtown leaders expressed concerns about relative to use of the Forum, the Going Caching Mega Event in October, is going to take place in Rome as scheduled.
Organizer Andi Beyer said that past events have utilized the Forum for a big Saturday night dress-up event that only a facility as large as the Forum could accommodate.
“I get it that the county needs it (The Forum) as a court,” Beyer said. “I know we’re not being singled out.”
The event has become a fall vacation for families across the country and Beyer said they have just decided to plunge forward with the event after missing a year due to COVID.
As to what will happen with her Saturday night event?
“We’re working on a couple of things,” Beyer said. “But it just won’t be the same.”
The event has been held in Rome five times and brings between 800 and a thousand people to town for most of a week.
Another event that will be held at the Forum this year is the Georgia Fire Service Conference on Sept. 7-11.
Rome was scheduled to host the conference in 2015 but had to cancel because the host hotel, the Courtyard Rome Riverwalk, wasn’t anywhere near finished at the time.
Rome was able to get the conference in 2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in cancellation last year.
Rome-Floyd County Fire Chief Troy Brock said that one reason he is able to hold the conference in the Forum this year is that it is not an event that is open to the general public, removing any security concerns for the event.
Everyone who participates has to register in advance, and all of the participants are public safety personnel from all over the state.
The conference will culminate on Sept. 11, the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks against the United States.
That commemoration will take place at the Firefighters Memorial Plaza adjacent to City Hall, and Brock said he thinks bleachers may have to be brought in for the Saturday morning event.