West: Pin action
Early one February afternoon during a snowstorm that kept Watauga County schools closed for a week, 11 of 16 bowling lanes at Boone’s TEN High Country Lanes were filled with children and their parents, enjoying an indoor break from sledding and snowball fights. The renovated bowling alley has proven popular not only with kids but also with college students, retirees and tourists. When unseasonably warm weather closed ski resorts, the business was “overrun with people” looking for something to do, says owner Patric Zimmer.
In 2011, Zimmer and two partners bought TEN Park Lanes, an old-school Charlotte bowling alley built in 1960, and renovated it with a retro theme (“Picking up a split,” November 2012). “It’s been a great success,” Zimmer says, hoping to replicate the story in Boone, a town with about 17,000 full-time residents, plus about 18,000 Appalachian State University students. Zimmer, whose day job is running a real-estate site-selection company in Charlotte, in July bought the former Boone Bowling Center from a couple who had owned it for about 30 years. It had been for sale for five years, housed in a shopping center once anchored by a Winn-Dixie grocery store. “They were going to shut it down,” Zimmer says.
Now, TEN High Country employs about 25 people, or about 20 more than under previous ownership. Zimmer spent about $1.5 million on the property and renovations, putting in a maple-top bar and nine big-screen TVs and adding an expanded menu. The old alley had a small grill and didn’t serve alcohol. Bowling pins kept dropping while the work was being done; the business closed for only one day before a January grand opening.
General Manager Amanda Reed joined Zimmer after working for the same restaurant group for a dozen years. Though Reed was reluctant to leave her previous employer, she now has no regrets. A former employee of the alley’s previous owners once told Reed she would never go back after the business was sold. She gave it a shot, and after one visit, told Reed, “This is going to be my new favorite place to hang out.”
VALDESE – Aided by up to $2.7 million in state and local grants, Meridian Industries will invest $8 million and add as many as 25 jobs over five years at its local yarn-dying plant. The Milwaukee, Wis.-based textile manufacturer employs about 140 people in Burke County.
MOORESBORO – Pittsburgh-based Horsehead idled production at its local zinc manufacturing plant, laying off about 200 people. The company cited a depressed zinc price for the shutdown and last month filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
ASHEVILLE – Burial Beer, maker of beers including Skillet Donut Stout and The Remains, is investing $1.8 million in a second local brewery that will allow it to increase production to up to 16,000 barrels. The expansion, on 1.4 acres near Biltmore Village, will create 17 jobs.
In fall 2013, Wingate University’s then-President Jerry McGee approached local governments for a solution to house its rapidly growing Hendersonville programs. The school, which has its main campus 140 miles east in Union County, had outgrown the space leased in two downtown buildings. While McGee retired last year, the plan he set in motion is taking shape. In July, the first phase of a $35 million Health Sciences Center will open, with classrooms and labs large enough to accommodate 400 students and faculty. Future pharmacists, physician assistants and MBA grads from Wingate will work alongside students from Blue Ridge Community College studying nursing, surgical technology and phlebotomy. Also part of the 98,000-square-foot facility, Margaret R. Pardee Memorial Hospital, located one block away, will open a cancer center in September. Pardee and Wingate will lease the property from Henderson County, which paid construction costs. Part of UNC Health Care since 2012, Pardee hopes the new cancer center will allow patients in western N.C. to benefit from UNC’s research and clinical trials. “We want our patients to be able to access cancer treatments and medical care as close to home as possible,” Pardee CEO Jay Kirby said.