VINA | Rodney Brown told a group gathered in Vina Thursday morning that it was a blessing the town’s only gas station was destroyed by fire in January 2019.
“It may not seem like it now but the best thing, in my opinion, that’s ever happened to this community was this store burning down, or we wouldn’t have gotten a brand-new store,” Brown said. “So, we’re getting a brand-new store now and it will be run right. I promise you.”
Brown, Special Projects Coordinator for Mountain Express Oil Company, was on hand to break ground with Vina town officials on an approximately 3,200-square-foot convenience store and gas station on Hwy. 19 at Cherry Street. More than 50 people gathered outside on the grounds where the town’s only store had previously stood, to hear the details and celebrate the event.
Mayor Michael Moomaw conveyed his and the town’s thanks for Mountain Express committing to building again in the community.
“Let me extend a thank you to Rodney and Mountain Express for having faith in bringing the store back to Vina,” Moomaw said. “We appreciate it and we’re grateful to them for that and we just can’t wait for this start.”
More than fuel and food
Brown said construction is expected to begin in January with a mid-spring completion date, and what will be built on the block will be far better than what was there previously. With the previous gas island sitting on state right-of-way on Hwy. 19, Brown said Mountain Express was required to move the store building back on the property, and that also required them to purchase additional land. That led to the acquisition of the rest of the lot, all the way back to Pecan Street, and a grander idea of what the project could encompass overall.
There are a couple of plans still in play for the development, with one calling for a covered pavilion on one end of the building with tables and a stage to allow for gatherings, community singings and such. If that plan doesn’t work a larger building will be built farther back on the property to allow for a covered space for concerts and community events.
“This is my brother-in-law’s idea,” Brown said of Lamar Frady, co-owner of the half-billion-dollar company based in Acworth, Ga. “He wants this to be the focal point of the community and if we just did that and did it well, it probably would be. But we’re looking at a place where you could park a hundred cars and have a real music park because I don’t think there’s one within a hundred miles.”
The main building will have a country store themed façade and will carry name-brand gasoline. Brown said plans also call for food options all day, from biscuits and other breakfast items in the morning to a “meat-and-three,” pizza and chicken fingers on the menu the rest of the day at what will be a “top-of-the-line store.”
Brown said it is not yet known whether the store will be company-operated or leased to a qualified operator, but he said it will be run better than the previous store.
The turnout for Thursday’s event was an encouraging sign to Brown and town officials.
“I don’t know if the mayor called each one of you, but thank you for coming,” Brown said. “It’s a privilege for us to be a part of this town. We’re an invited guest at this at this point, but we want to be a part of the community and that’s what we’re working toward.”