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Merchants serve up meals, deals
Holiday rush brings 'lot of opportunities' for businesses
gourmet 1 jd
Rob Beardsworth flips a skillet of potatoes on a recent morning at Country Gourmet Cafe, which will be open Saturday morning for the steam engine parade in Cumming. - photo by Jim Dean

History teacher Tom Wolff performs in concert

By: Jim Dean

Sharon Corio is used to taking Saturdays off.

Her restaurant, Country Gourmet Café, is usually closed that day. Not this week. Not on July Fourth.

Shortly after sunrise, the restaurant will begin prepping for what Corio hopes will be a big holiday breakfast crowd.

“We’re looking at biscuits and gravy, grits, cinnamon rolls, banana nut loaf, carrot muffins, bottled water ... we’re opening for the early morning rush before the parade,” said Corio, who bought the restaurant about a month ago.

Like many businesses near the downtown area, the café likely will see increased traffic from the annual Thomas-Mashburn Steam Engine Parade.

The restaurant will be open from 7:30 a.m. until the parade begins at 10 a.m.

James McCoy, president and chief executive officer of the Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce, said the celebration can be a boon for local merchants.

“Particularly around the holidays, when people are not at work and they’re taking their families out, they’re much more likely to go out and spend a little more money on everything, [including] eating lunch out,” he said.

The parade ends at noon. In addition to the many area restaurants serving lunch, employees of the Sears appliance showroom on Market Place Boulevard will be grilling out.

Assistant manager Steve Cowart is hoping to “promote some customer good will” through hot dogs, hamburgers, drinks and snow cones.

Sears employees will also be at the parade, passing out bottles of water to patrons.

This is the appliance store’s first year in business during the July Fourth parade. Cowart, a county native, is no stranger to the large crowds the event can attract.

“The parade has been a tradition for years. I always try to go to it,” he said. “It’s always nice to be part of local traditions and we want to try to grow the business and let people know that we’re here by being part of the tradition.”

McCoy said in addition to family fun, crowds can probably also except to take advantage of many sales offered by local businesses.  

“I think it draws people close to home and drawing them close to home means ... people will be all over town,” he said. “Plenty of people are going to be shopping as well and there are a lot of sales going on and retailers have cut their prices back significantly to be more competitive.

"I think there’s going to be a lot of opportunities.”