Businesses rush to open ahead of solar eclipse - WSMV News 4

Businesses rush to open ahead of solar eclipse

Posted: Updated: Jul 10, 2017 07:16 PM

The big day is fast approaching. We're just weeks from the solar eclipse that's expected to bring huge crowds to Middle Tennessee and Southern Kentucky.

For new businesses, this is an opportunity that only comes around every couple hundred years. That's created a deadline for some.

"We're going to offer good, home cooked food," said John Edward of Hopkinsville, walking around the kitchen of his new business downtown. "Oh yeah, fried okra. We'll have some of that good ole goulash that we make here in Kentucky. We'll have that too."

For eight months, Edward has been working to bring the area a meal in the style of his grandmother's home cooking.

"The building's been here since 1960," he said, walking through a hallway. "Right here in this area's going to be a buffet-style meat, two vegetables. We'll have cornbread and butter beans and Kentucky wonder beans.

The sign in the window of his Hopper's Hotbox reads, "Open Soon." When that'll be, Edward still isn't sure. He wants his place to be part of the city, ahead of the event expected to bring tens of thousands.

"I do want to be open for the eclipse," he said.

Edward isn't alone in that goal.

"The problem being, the contractors are so hard to find," he said. "They're so busy with other businesses that's going on. It's a good and bad. It's very competitive."

"I've been here 20 years, and this will be the largest event that we've ever seen," said Cheryl Cook, executive director of the Hopkinsville Christian County Convention and Visitors Bureau.

"This is going to be our new home," she said, standing in front of a new building under construction.

Cook is planning to open the new visitor's center ahead of the eclipse.

Cook said new restaurants and a cafe have just opened in the city, and the Town Place Suites are also hoping to be in business ahead of next month's crowds. She said some other projects were underway before the excitement of the eclipse, but even some of those have been using it as a motivator to get done before Aug. 21. Cook also said some existing restaurants are considering staying open 24 hours during the days surrounding the eclipse to make the most of the event.

"We're thinking 50,000 to 150,000," she said. "This is a first for Hopkinsville to have this many visitors planning on coming."

"I feel like we're going to be very, very ready to go," said Edward, watching an electrician work.

The first or second week of August is when Edward hopes to be up, running and serving his grandmother's style of home cooking. He said the eclipse is an opportunity he can't miss.

"We're getting ready for everybody to come here," he said.

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