The owner of a Columbus restaurant plans to expand into Parsons.
Nick Fetahu is seeking a $5,000 retail recruitment grant from the city to open Parsons Diner at 1827 Crawford Ave. City commissioners likely will approve the grant during a regular meeting on Monday evening.
Fetahu spoke to the commissioners during a Thursday work session about his plans. The new diner will be located in the building most recently occupied by Deb’s Corner Cafe, which closed in early 2017. Fetahu said the restaurant will serve breakfast and lunch from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. six days a week, but he eventually he wants to add Italian fare for dinner.
“I think it’s something that the town needs, honestly,” Fetahu said.
He said he and his business partners at first thought about opening an Italian restaurant here, but they didn’t think there would be enough demand given the town’s population.
Fetahu and his family own Norma’s Diner in Columbus, and he said some Parsons residents are regular customers. Norma’s sells American food, but has owned Italian restaurants in the past.
Parsons Diner entered into a lease for the building in September, but Fetahu said they ran into some obstacles. They are still trying to find someone who can fix a leaking roof. Fetahu hopes the business can open in late February or mid-March.
“I really like what I hear. I think it would be a very welcome addition to the community. I’m glad to hear about it,” Commissioner Tom Shaw said.
Fetahu said he moved from Europe to Utah to go to school and then he moved to Fort Smith, Arkansas, and opened Joe’s Pizza and Pasta with his uncle in 2009. That restaurant is still opened, but he and his uncle parted ways, and Fetahu found a new business partner. The two opened Tuscany Italian Restaurant in Blue Springs, Missouri, about five years ago and recently sold it. They have owned Norma’s in Columbus for about two years.
“I’m hoping that I’ll give you guys the flavor that the city is missing,” Fetahu said.
Fetahu must prove that he has matched the $5,000 grant with $25,000 of his own money. He already has completed that requirement, has submitted the necessary business plan and has been in contact with the Small Business Development Center at Pittsburg State University for any additional assistance.
In another matter during Monday’s meeting, the commissioners will consider a request to close downtown streets for an annual St. Patrick’s Day parade organized by the local Elk’s Lodge. There was some talk on Thursday that some businesses may take advantage of the city’s new common consumption ordinance to serve alcoholic beverages to people who could take the drinks outside and watch the parade.
The Elks are requesting the streets to be closed from 12:30 to 4 p.m. March 14, the Saturday before St. Patrick’s Day. The parade would begin at Crawford Avenue in front of the Elks Lodge, head south on Central Avenue to Main Street, east on Main to 17th Street, south on 17th to Broadway Avenue and head west, continuing on to Katy Drive and around the loop, ending at Central.
Jim Zaleski, economic development director, said the Elks changed the route this year to allow people in the high-rise apartment buildings to watch the parade if they are unable to go outside.
Under the common consumption ordinance the commission approved in December, businesses can apply for permits that allow people to take alcoholic drinks from business to business and onto sidewalks and closed streets in the downtown area during special events.
City Attorney Ross Albertini said he doesn’t know what businesses will apply for a permit, but there has been talk about it. While the Elks Lodge is planning the parade, the Parsons Chamber of Commerce is organizing other activities downtown, City Clerk Gaye Swanwick said. Swanwick is the past president of the chamber. Albertini said if the Elks Lodge plans to sell drinks, it would have to set up a booth in the common consumption area, which is bordered by Washington Avenue, Broadway Avenue, Central Avenue and 17th Street. Zaleski said the Elks hadn’t decided yet if they would sell drinks.
Businesses getting common consumption permits will have to serve drinks in cups that identify their business. No one would be allowed to bring drinks into or take them out of the barricaded area.
Also Monday the commissioners expect to hear an update on the Kansas Combined Anti-Drug Task Force. KCAT is a collaboration among the Parsons Police Department, the Labette County Sheriff’s Department and the Labette County Attorney’s Office.
The commissioners will meet at 6 p.m. Monday in the commission room at the Parsons Municipal Building.
In other business, the commissioners will consider:
— Approving a Community Development Block Grant from the Kansas Department of Commerce in the amount of $272,500. The city would match that amount for a project that will remove two deteriorated access walkways at the north and south pump stations on the Labette Creek levee. The work also would entail attaching existing discharge pipes and sluice gate operators, providing electrical upgrades and installation of generators at both pump stations. The city also must pay engineering costs, and the commissioners previously approved a $68,000 contract with BG Consultants Inc. The stormwater fund will pay for the city’s share of the project.
— Approving a change in zoning for 3624 Main St., the former location of Kansas Mobile Homes, from single-family residential (R-1) to service commercial (C-3). The mobile home business, which closed after the death of its owner, Larry Williams, was allowed to operate in the residential zoning because it was in place before the property was annexed into the city and zoned residential. The Planning Commission has recommended the change after a hearing on a request from Dave Mattox, Williams’ son-in-law. The commissioners on Thursday expressed interest in what two neighbors had to say during the hearing and also what businesses can locate in C-3, and city staff will have that information on Monday.
— Authorizing the purchase of a 2017 Ford Explorer from the Kansas Highway Patrol for use as a school resource officer vehicle. The SUV has 49,298 miles and is being sold for $24,250. The SRO’s 2010 Ford Crown Victoria is suffering from wear and tear and has maintenance issues.
— Setting 10 a.m. Feb. 27 as the time to receive bids on a 2020 self-leveling slope mower.
— Approving a request from the Labette County Archery Club for use of Tolen Creek Park for 3D archery shoots from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 4, May 3, Aug. 2 and Sept. 6.