A business expansion that will create new jobs, a new owner for a local motel, the re-opening of a popular restaurant, the relocation of a nonprofit and a beer garden for dog lovers is making business news.

Clarke Precision Machine Inc.

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced last week that Clarke Precision Machine, Inc., a full-service manufacturer of precision metal and non-metal tooling, will invest $750,000 to purchase new machinery and expand its manufacturing facility in Wythe County. The project will create 12 new jobs and position the company to handle future potential contracts in automotive, construction materials, industrial mixing, and other industries.

“Clarke Precision Machine is a valued contributor to our resurging manufacturing industry and continues to build on a long legacy of success in Wythe County,” Gov. Northam said in a press release announcing the expansion.

The company was founded in 1964 in Wytheville as Williams Manufacturing. Clarke Precision Machine acquired the company in 2015 and continued to operate as an engineered solution provider to consumers requiring custom machined products. Clarke Precision Machine is a build-to-order welding, machining, and fabrication shop supporting companies throughout Southwest Virginia and the surrounding regions. With more than 50 years of experience and expertise, Clarke Precision Machine is the preferred supplier of tooling to many of the industry’s largest Original Equipment Manufacturers.

“We congratulate Clarke Precision Machine on its expansion, and will continue to support the company as an important employer in Wythe County,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Brian Ball.”

“Clarke Precision Machine is happy to continue to invest in our hometown of Wytheville,” said Matthew Clarke, president of Clarke Precision Machine. “Wythe County is one of the best places to operate a business, in my experience. Our manufacturing community is collaborative, the employees are loyal, and there’s a genuine spirit of support. There’s been a great rebound in manufacturing after several years of stagnation, and our business has been on a significant growth curve since 2015. We aim to meet the needs of our customers while exceeding expectations for quality and customer service. Our experience in working with economic development authorities, including VEDP and the Joint IDA of Wythe County, has been quite positive. We appreciate the pro-business environment fostered by the Wythe County Board of Supervisors and the Wytheville Town Council, as well.”

The Virginia Economic Development Partnership worked with the Joint Industrial Development Authority of Wythe County on this project, and VEDP will support Clarke Precision Machine’s expansion through its Virginia Jobs Investment Program. VJIP provides consultative services and funding to companies creating new jobs or experiencing technological change to support employee training activities. As a business incentive supporting economic development, VJIP reduces the human resource costs of new and expanding companies. VJIP is state-funded, demonstrating Virginia’s commitment to enhancing job opportunities for its citizens.

According to the press release, Clarke Precision Machine is one of 12 companies that participated in the Virginia Economic Gardening Pilot Program, announced in September 2017. The VEGPP, administered by VEDP, targets second-stage companies that are growth-oriented and have moved beyond the startup phase by demonstrating a notable increase in revenue or employment. By addressing strategic growth issues, such as identifying new markets and industry trends, refining business models, raising online visibility, and offering access to competitive intelligence, the VEGPP enables high-growth companies to achieve the next level of success.

“The Wythe County Board of Supervisors applauds Clarke Precision Machine on its impressive growth,” said Tim Reeves, chairman of the Wythe County Board of Supervisors. “Through its talented workforce and management, the company provides world-class service to customers all over the country.”

“Clarke Precision Machine is a family-owned business that continues to invest in its employees and in our community,” said Wytheville Mayor Beth Taylor. “We appreciate the company’s commitment to Wytheville and applaud their success.”

“I am very excited about Clarke Precision Machine’s investment and the expansion of economic opportunity that it will bring to our local community,” said Sen. Bill Carrico. “Exciting things are happening in Wythe County, and I look forward to working with all parties to make sure we foster and encourage growth in our region.”

“I am excited by Clarke Precision Machine’s continued growth and commitment to Wythe County,” said Delegate Jeffrey Campbell. “CPM has been an important member of our community for more than 50 years, and this expansion is a testament to its quality of work, management, and employees. CPM is a superior company with a world-wide customer base. Its desire to stay in this community and expand their operations is a tremendous boon to the County and indicative of the skilled workers in the region. I applaud CPM for its commitment to Wythe County and wish the company continued success.”

Fox Mountain Inn

The Fox Mountain Inn in Max Meadows has a new owner. Sukhi Mehta took the keys to the 10-room motel on Feb. 28 when previous owners Curtis and Carnella Hopkins retired. The Hopkins had owned the motel for nearly four decades.

Mehta comes to Fox Mountain from Prince George County, Maryland, where he worked in law enforcement corrections and owned several businesses, including an Indian restaurant and a window replacement company. He recently retired, but wants to stay active.

“I like to work,” he said. “I’ve always wanted to move to Virginia; it’s beautiful here.”

Mehta said the motel is small enough that he can busy himself with making improvements. He’s already scrubbed and cleaned half of the rooms and has started in on the other half. He’s also working hard to create an online presence for the inn on sites like Travelocity, Trivago and hotels.com.

“I’ve scrubbed this place like there’s no tomorrow,” he said. “I’m fanatic about cleaning.”

Mehta also plans to renovate and rent out the motel’s restaurant, where Papa Tasos is now located. Restaurant business owner Tasos Gogos announced in September that he plans to move his restaurant to 1965 E. Main St., Wytheville. The restaurant will close March 31. Gogos hopes to reopen on Main Street in late April.

“I need to clean up and update the restaurant,” Mehta said. “What is the saying - If you build it, they will come – but you must do it the right way.”

Metha and his wife, Neela, have one daughter, Jyoti, an Air Force captain.

Old Stage Restaurant

It’s back. Old Stage Restaurant, a popular restaurant for more than a decade before closing in 2011, is re-opening at the former Smokey’s barbecue location at 1090 E. Main St., between Thompson Tire and Enterprise Rent-a-Car.

Owner Lisa Meredith hopes to open the restaurant the first week in April.

In the years since closing the original restaurant, she has stayed busy catering.

“But, I’ve had so many people asking about the restaurant that I decided to open it back up,” she said.

Old Stage will be open for breakfast and lunch, from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, and also for dinner on Fridays from 4 to 9 p.m. Saturday hours are 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. for breakfast only. The restaurant will be closed on Sundays and Mondays.

The restaurant will feature menu items along with a country style lunch buffet on weekdays, stocked full of southern favorites like homemade meatloaf, potatoes and green beans. There will also be a Saturday morning breakfast buffet with home sausage and gravy, biscuits, scrambled eggs, hash browns and more.

Meredith will continue to cater on site and off site.

The restaurant has kept its previous phone number, 228-8990.

Grace Point Center

Grace Point Center Thrift Store is moving to a new and larger location. Now located near Rural King, the store is relocating to 455 E. Spring St. beside H&R Block in the former Williams Supply building.

“It’s a bigger building, and it’s cheaper rent,” said clerk Judy Zinn. “And we need the room.”

The nonprofit business accepts quality donated clothing, furniture and other usable goods to generate money for programs that benefit disadvantaged families and those in need in Wythe County. Angela Akers owns the business.

Grace Point plans to be out of its current store by March 29 and is having sales to liquidate merchandise. The store hopes to re-open in the new location during the second week of April.

Drop-off days are Tuesdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturdays 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Normal hours are Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Closed Wednesday and Sunday.

7 Dogs Brewpub

When the weather warms up, customers can enjoy a beer and play some corn hole at the new beer garden at 7 Dogs Brewpub. Leashed dogs are welcome there, too.

“It will be to the side of the restaurant,” said Chief Financial Officer Jamie Chapman. “We will build a little fence there. If you are looking at the front door, it will be on the right hand side.”

The garden will have table, chairs, corn hole boards and maybe shuffleboard.

Chapman said there will not be wait staff assigned to the garden area. Customers can order food and beverages, and carry them to the garden to enjoy.

To reach Millie Rothrock, call 228-6611, ext. 35, or email mrothrock@wythenews.com.

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