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Restaurant dreams coming to fruition

Restaurant dreams coming to fruition
A set of young, ambitious citizens have worked together to create a new restaurant for Martin that hopes to diversify late-night dining for locals and students alike.
A 24-hour Huddle House will be opening up in Martin just off University Street at Hawks Road. The popular restaurant chain – with an all-day menu consisting of breakfast, lunch and dinner – was brought to Martin by Debbie Enterprises Incorporated based out of Selmer, Tenn. The owners aren’t strangers to Martin, however. Sammie Linton – who is owner along with brother Scottie Linton and sister Corrie Linton – is currently a college student at UTM.
Currently a junior, Linton was elected President of the Student Government Association last Spring; sister Corrie is studying at the UTM satellite campus in Selmer.
“Martin is my home,” Linton says. “I came here as a freshman three or four years ago … I love this place and as far as I’m concerned, there’s hopefully more to come in the future. Martin’s just a great place to be.”
While this group of college students may be the first to successfully bring a Huddle House to Martin, many attempts have been made in the past by other business leaders in the area. Meanwhile, groups on Facebook showing demand for such a restaurant have been prominent in the Martin network for years.
When attempts to bring the business venture to fruition fell through, however, Debbie Enterprises was called to action.
Linton says. “I told my sister ‘We need to see what we can do.’”
The siblings then met with business leaders at Huddle House headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia to see how they could bring the restaurant chain to Martin.
“We went on to an investor’s meeting at the Huddle House headquarters in Atlanta and they just told us the process, contractor’s to call and what we can do for the community,” Linton says.
“It’s not as difficult to open up a business in Martin as you might think. The Chamber of Commerce and the people that run this town were very open and very welcoming. The biggest complication we had was just the bureaucracy itself.”
Linton says that the Huddle House – currently under construction – should be ready for business by the end of the summer or the beginning of the fall; timed for the influx of university students.
The 24-hour restaurant will have a full menu, television, wi-fi access and possibly a delivery service – a feature that would be exclusive to the Huddle House in Martin.
“About a month-and-a-half, two months in we’re going to start delivering to the university and the town within a 3 to 4 mile radius,” Linton says. “We’re going to be [delivering] from lunch to midnight.”
The restaurant – which Linton says will create roughly 60 jobs for the area – will also feature ‘greener,’ more energy efficient equipment and lighting.
Linton adds that the restaurant will work closely with community leaders to be involved in Martin events.
“Martin’s all the time looking for brand new ways of innovation,” Linton says. “The university is going to recycle for us and every single light fixture outside and inside this building will be using compact fluorescent lighting. We encourage everyone in the community with an event going on to come to us and let us know. We’ll be more than happy to get involved in any way we can.”
The Huddle House chain was founded in Decatur, Ga. in 1964 to service locals after Friday night football games. When the idea caught on, the company began franchising to other communities in the area until eventually becoming what it is today: a chain with over 400 locations in 17 states.
Menu items include waffles, omelets, cheeseburgers, steak and a variety of other breakfast and lunch platters.
Linton believes the Huddle House tradition is a perfect fit for Martin.
“Huddle House actually came into existence a couple of decades ago where you ‘huddle in’ after a football game on Friday night and enjoyed some good quality hometown fun,’ Linton says.
“That’s what we’re trying to provide. We want a good atmosphere for everybody; college kids and residents alike.”
For locals worried about how college students might respond to a new 24-hour restaurant in Martin, Linton closes by saying that anyone is welcome as long as they’re civil.
“It’s not going to be a wild party out here, it’s not going to be unruly and there aren’t going to be crazy things happening,” Linton says.
“If people are going to come here, they’re going to come here to eat, enjoy themselves and have a great time. If the town has a problem I’d be glad to hear comments.”
WCP 7.27.10

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