“I really don’t know,” said Duke. “It’s a toss up. It’s so close to Christmas that if we don’t do it Dec. 13, we could probably do it the next week but we don’t want to open the Monday of Christmas. If we don’t, we’ll probably push it to the following week and it’ll be Jan. 3.
Duke, who is partnering with his stepfather Truman Webb Jr. of Calhoun in the new restaurant, said corporate officials with Mellow Mushroom have advised him to hire 80 people for the opening weeks. The final number of employees may settle in a little less than that.
“It’s just according to how much business Rome gives me I guess, we might keep 80,” Duke said. The hiring process has not started yet.
Work on renovating the interior of the building is still under way, and Duke says the cost of renovation has been extensive. Figures from the construction permit issued by the city of Rome indicate Duke and his father plan to spend close to $200,000 on the project. “A lot,” said Duke, when asked about the cost of renovations.
Duke said that it was obvious former property owner Walt Adams had spent a lot renovating the building for his City Market project, which never materialized.
“If you had seen the building when we walked in it and the deal we got, it was hard to pass up,” said Duke. “Everybody acted like they wanted us in Rome, but they wanted us to pay top dollar (for a property).”
Adams planned to develop an upscale City Market in the building for several years before United Community Bank in Rome finally foreclosed on the property earlier this year. JAMAC Properties LLC, listing Webb as registered agent, bought the building from the bank for $795,000.
Duke said speculation that the second floor of the building would be used for Mellow Mushroom corporate training is completely unfounded.
“That second floor definitely has potential for banquet-style parties or something that somebody could rent out,” Duke said. “It’s got the capability of seating 100 people up there. It could be the nicest thing on Broad Street for doing parties like that. Walt (Adams) did put a lot of money up there.”