By Randy Bell
The owner of a Clinton restaurant which recently closed is being allowed to serve food from a trailer as he looks for another permanent location. The Board of Aldermen voted 5-2 at its January 3 meeting to grant a six-month conditional use permit to Eddie Holmes, who ran The Country Kitchen in the Springridge Village Shopping Center for more than four years. Holmes says his troubles began with the COVID pandemic.
“It was kind of rough, and I couldn’t find help,” said Holmes. “Business just fell off, and the rent kept going up. And it just pushed us out.”
Holmes will now operate as The Country Kitchen on Wheels at 1104 East Northside Drive, hoping to satisfy his loyal clientele hungry for his soul food.
“They’ve been wanting us to stay in Clinton,” he said. “That’s what they’ve been asking us to do.”
As he waited for the City’s approval, Holmes had been taking his trailer on the road.
“We, unfortunately, had to go to Jackson.” And he says it’s been a hassle making that daily trip “to make a nickel and a dime,” when customers in Clinton were ready to buy his food.
Now, he’ll be parked full-time in Clinton at least for six months.
“As long as they allow us to be here, we’ll be here,” Holmes says.
Ward 2 Alderman Jim Martin voted against the permit, saying food trucks and food trailers have an unfair advantage over traditional restaurants.
“Our brick-and-mortar restaurants have higher overhead,” Martin says. “And that’s what restaurants struggle with. We also constantly have citizens asking ‘when are we going to get new restaurants?’ And the easy answer to that is, ‘let’s go to the restaurants we have now.’ That encourages more to come. And if we start doing food trucks, it’s going to hurt our brick and mortars.”
Alderwoman-at-Large Ricki Garrett expressed concern that granting the permit would set a precedent, resulting in more food trucks scattered around the city.
But Ward 3 Alderman Robert Chapman, who represents the area where The Country Kitchen on Wheels is located, welcomes the food trailer.
“This family has done a really good job of serving the community when they were in a permanent structure over on Springridge,” Chapman says. “Why would we not want to grant some sort of ability for them to serve the citizens in our city and to give sales tax and the two per cent [restaurant tax] to our City?”
Mayor Phil Fisher says he’s working on a project to create a centralized location for food trucks in Clinton, but he’s not ready to provide any details yet.