ELIZABETHTON — After weathering the economic slump caused by the COVID 19 pandemic, Elizabethton appears to be enjoying a strong recovery over the past few months.
Elizabethton’s director of planning and development, Logan Engle, was asked to list the new developments that have recently taken place in the town. She said one of the good things has been the filling of new developments into buildings that have been vacant for several years.
One such building is Fast Pace Health Urgent Care, which rebuilt the land and building at 414 N. East St. It is strategically located near the intersection of Broad Street with US Highway 19E.
Another big success in getting new businesses to fill empty lots was filling in all four sections of the old Wal-Mart building. The first was Big Lots, which moved to the site a few years ago. Engle said two other companies have followed Big Lots’ lead and located business in the empty former big-box retailer. The first was the Planet Fitness gym. Then came Goodwill Industries from Tenneva. Work has recently begun to renovate the last section of the big box store to convert it into a Harbor Freight Tools store.
Just down West Elk Avenue is another commercial facility divided into four sections. Engle said three of the four sections are now complete. The first to move into the new facility was the Great Clips hair salon. The next business to move into the mall was Freddiy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers. The third company to set up there is Java Juice House. Engle said there was still one slot available in the mall.
The nearby West Town Square has three restaurants that have swapped ownership. The Pizza Inn recently reopened under the ownership of Dion Firooznia, who had been the franchise business consultant before deciding to go all-in with Pizza Inn. At the opposite end of the mall, Beef ‘O’ Brady’s closed its Elizabethton location and the business became Black Olive Restaurant. A few doors down, the former Primo’s Restaurant has been transformed into a Tijuana Mexican restaurant.
The biggest change in business ownership in Elizabethton was the sale of the large multi-dealership on West Elk Avenue built by Steve Grindstaff. “Mr. Grindstaff started his business here in 1985,” said Josh Hartford, who continues to serve as General Sales Manager under the new owners. “After 37 years, he has decided to partially retire.” The company was purchased by ZT Motors of Houston. The company name was changed to Happy Valley Ford, Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram. ZT Motors has several dealerships in Texas, Florida and Georgia. ZT hopes acquire more dealerships in the Tri-Cities and Southeast.
Along with Hartford continuing to work in their old job at the dealership, most of the rest of the staff also remained in place. Hartford said one thing that has changed is that ZT’s large financial holdings will create even greater inventory for what Grindstaff once called “Little Detroit.”
At the smaller end of the scale, new businesses continue to open in downtown Elizabethton. Some of the arrivals include the Secret Garden Florist at 604 E. Elk Ave. and Simply Elegant Catering & Baked Goods at 528 E. Elk Ave.