Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

August 4, 2013

Tim Preston: Target; Trader Joe's; Sumburgers; Habanero's; and strong kung fu: 8/4/13

Tim Preston
The Independent

ASHLAND — There’s an optimistic note on the wind this week as local consumers and economic development officials alike are pulling together for a couple of projects that would certainly be welcome in the area.

Across the state line in Huntington, reports have surfaced about the Huntington Municipal Development Authority putting together a proposal for Trader Joe’s. And, while I’ve never shopped at a Trader Joe’s, I do remember the enthusiastic endorsement of friends in the Raleigh area who practically insisted we visit the grocery near them as part of our last vacation. If you want to support the idea, visit “Bring Trader Joe’s to Huntington, WV” on Facebook.

Closer to home, a Facebook page has also been created to help show local support for a Target location in the Ashland area. The page can be found at facebook.com/TargetInAshlandKy, and there is already considerable support for the concept. When I last checked, the page had more than 6,600 “likes” and was pushing toward the 7,000 mark.

And, to toss my own two-cents worth in the mix, we recently had our very first experience with Steak ‘n Shake during a visit to Lexington. I was a bit of a glutton and ordered a triple steakburger with a big chocolate shake, which I thoroughly enjoyed along with an order of shoestring fries. Speaking for my wife and myself, as well as everyone else I’ve mentioned Steak ‘n Shake to, it would be great to have one of those in our mix of area restaurants.

Not just any burger

From my most ambitious field agent, we have this report about an excellent burger and a truly interesting business model just a few miles away across the Ohio state line.

“I have not found any new places for burgers in our area, but did finally give in to find out what a Sumburger was as I was driving through Chillicothe,” our scout said. “I was not disappointed! I found it to be very close to what a Dairy Cheer burger lineup was as far as taste and size. The Sumburger restaurant is on north end of the main shopping strip at the U.S. 35 exit.

“The menu is also very similar to Dairy Cheer — malts, shakes, ice cream, etc. I can verify that malt is very good! My wife said the onion rings also were like homemade. One main difference is the service. You sit at a booth and do all your ordering by phone and your food and drink are brought to your table or booth by a high school student. The business hires mainly high school students to learn how to deal with the public, customer service and how a business is run.”

Our secret agent, who roams the region with a pack of burger lovers, also rated the restaurant with high marks for flavor, service, portion size and price. If you have a similar story to share about good places to eat while traveling through the region, let us know. I still receive notes from people who found themselves unexpectedly in, for example, Vanceburg or Paintsville, who recalled reading something (often months or years back) about good pizza, burgers or country cooking in those towns and tracking down a good meal while there.

Hart on Habanero’s

Fellow food enthusiast and reporter Ken Hart also gives us a field report this week.

“There’s a new taste of the Southwest in Grayson,” Hart wrote. “Habanero’s Southwest Grille opened about a month ago at 850 N. Carol Malone Blvd., in the space in the Shell station formerly occupied by Quizno’s. It’s owned and operated by John and Andrea Burchett.”

John Burchett said his wife, who’s a dietitian at Three Rivers Medical Center, wanted to open her own eatery for years. The menu items are based on her recipes, he said.

Habanero’s menu features the types of items one would expect to find at a restaurant of its type: burritos, quesadillas, nachos, rice bowls and the like. You can get them prepared with ground beef, chicken, steak or pork, or vegetarian-style. For dessert, there’s hand-dipped ice cream in a variety of flavors.

My esteemed colleague said he ordered a chicken quesadilla at Habanero’s during a recent visit to Grayson and tells me he was favorably impressed with it. He also raved about the restaurant’s made-on-the-premises salsa verde spiced with its namesake pepper.

Habanero’s is open from 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. seven days a week. For more information or to place an order, call (606) 474-7431.

Strong kung fu

My timing isn’t good on this next note, because the big day was yesterday, but I suspect the subject will remain of interest to many in the area.

Ashland Area Tai Chi & Kung Fu has moved to Suite 202 in the Putnam Building at 1527 Winchester Ave. Open enrollment began Aug. 1 for classes in children and adult kung fu and tai chi. There was an open house on First Friday, and the grand opening was Saturday.

The open house was kicked off with a Chinese lion dance (believed to bring good luck and fortune to the school and all the spectators), followed by workshops and demonstrations in wing chun, traditional shaolin boxing, wushu and tai chi. Visiting kung Fu masters in support of the event included Rusty Gray, David Gaw and Bruce Linville from Nashville, Gary Van Guelpen from Cincinnati and Hugh Samples from Henderson.

The event also offered a free introductory tai chi class for anyone interested in finding out more about the discipline, as well as hourly sessions of wing chun, traditional shaolin boxing, wushu and an introduction to sparring. For more information, call Master Nancy Compton at (606) 465-0317.

In Grayson

There are several exciting business-related events on the calendar for the city of Grayson in the weeks ahead, including a ribbon cutting for a new business. The  Grayson Area Chamber of Commerce will have a ribbon cutting Wednesday for new member-business Healthy Alternatives at 209 Robert & Mary Ave.

And, on Friday the chamber will host an open summit as Carter County Community Partners as part of a big-picture effort to make the county a better place to live, work and visit. The partners who’ve been quietly working on this effort for many weeks have already put a lot of time, energy and consideration into the project, with plans to further draw upon the ideas of summit participants before drafting a proposal to take action. Speaking for myself, I think Carter County is a beautiful place with lots of great people, and I believe they can do a lot to make it a place people from elsewhere want to visit, spend some money or maybe even establish or expand a business or industry.

The summit will take place at the Grayson Conference Center from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday with registration from 8:30 to 9 a.m.

The keynote speakers will be National Community Development specialists Vaughn Grisham and his wife, Sandy. The Grishams are with the McLean Institute for Community Development at the University of Mississippi. Refreshments and lunch will be provided. Admission is free and preregistration is not required.

With a little luck, I will be there in reporter mode, and will be able to follow the effort as it progresses in the often-east/west-divided territory.

TIM PRESTON can be reached at tpreston@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2651.