Newsletter: The anatomy of researching a rumor too good to be true. Changes for a dining favorite. Absent this year (almost): Absentee ballots. On radar this week. Peaks & Valleys.

Newsletter: The anatomy of researching a rumor too good to be true. Changes for a dining favorite. Absent this year (almost): Absentee ballots. On radar this week. Peaks & Valleys.

A key spot in front of the Tractor Supply in Cartersville, just a few hundred feet away from the top development corner in the area, could have a tenant soon. The question is: Exactly ‘what’ll it have?’ Hometown photo.


The anatomy of a rumor (especially when you hope it is true): The email popped in around 6 p.m. Oct. 1, after traditional business hours for most as the weekend was well under way. The tip came from one of our most reliable sources, a trusted colleague and friend for easily more than a decade.

A regular at Cartersville businesses, she picked up an incredible tip from someone perhaps in the know. A storied dining experience could be planning to open nearby and with a specialty theme at that, embracing an adjoining establishment.

So we went to work even as most of the critical contacts were scattered for the next 48-plus hours. Given how we live so much of our lives on the Internet these days, we figured there would be some digital clues behind this tip. Nope.

So Monday morning, after our regular early updates, we began drilling:

  • Nothing was on file, at least not yet, with Cartersville’s planning department. The director, Randy Mannino, says representatives from the restaurant had not been in touch with his office.
  • Our calls and emails to restaurant’s marketing director have gone unanswered. Email, text, Facebook Messenger. Zero.
  • Our calls and emails to the real estate firm with the property were never returned. Odd for a major regional Realtor trying to make a name in a sizzling market. Also odd: The tract in question is no longer listed on the company’s website as being available, at least from what we’re seeing.
  • We checked with the entity on which this particular restaurant hoped to emulate, if just a bit. A very helpful receptionist took our name, number, etc., and promised to share it with two related executives, both of whom were in meetings. No response — or else that is the world’s longest meeting.
  • We even chased a related sighting in Cartersville involving this elusive restaurant later in the week.

Eleven days later, we’re still drilling. We’ll start a second round of calls, emails, texts, etc., later today mostly because we trust the tipster and her source. And then there’s the age-old reporting rule: If no one’s talking then something indeed is up.

So what is the rumor? It is exactly that: A historic Atlanta-based restaurant in front of Tractor Supply in Cartersville. But for now, the only answer we have to “What’ll y’all have .. what’ll y’all have?” is… a rumor.

From six years ago: Johnny and Jill Mitchell at their new restaurant at 650 Henderson Drive in Cartersville after moving from Euharlee.


Changes for Johnny Mitchell’s: We can count maybe four or five memorable restaurants we’ve enjoyed in our nearly two decades in Northwest Georgia. Among them: Johnny Mitchell’s Smokehouse, especially the original spot near the covered bridge in Euharlee. Never mind that it was an easy commute along a winding Chulio Road from our garage to the unpaved but perfect parking lot. The Redneck Reuben was always there as well as great sides and desserts. So, too, great customer service and usually a chat with Jill or Johnny Mitchell.

They eventually migrated to Cartersville’s West End Commons, first with a restaurant and later focusing on events and catering. Johnny and Jill battled through it all — the move, added competition, health issues and a pandemic.

But now more change. As shared by the “Lunch Bunch” orchestrated by Parnick Jennings Jr., a final dining experience for that group at Johnny Mitchell’s at West End is set for Tuesday, 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. The networking group established in 2017 invites all and bills this event as follows:

“We are excited for Johnny and Jill that they have sold their restaurant. This will be the last Lunch Bunch that they will host. So if you have ever attended a Bartow Business Connection, Chamber Event, or a Lunch Bunch please join us as we thank Johnny and Jill for all they have done for our community. We are going to set up part of the restaurant to have a mini business expo. Bring cards, brochures and flyers so you can let everyone know the services you provide. You will be provided a table top. Then a delicious buffet lunch for only $10.”

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Absent this election season: All the clamor over absentee ballots (and drop boxes).

You knew it was too good to last: Customer-friendly access to upcoming ballots, mailed to your home and giving you more time to research your votes online before dropping the completed ballots (and paperwork) into the mail or, better yet, at a sanctioned, modified, secured and 24/7 monitored drop box. It was a huge hit last year.

What happened since the surge in pandemic-fueled absentee ballots (initiated by the Secretary of State, by the way) and the spread of drop boxes throughout the state chills you. Following huge turnout in November and a very contested double U.S. Senate runoff in January, the scramble was on to roll back voter turnout. You see, people did turn out — legally, sanctioned and in force. The Democrat won Georgia’s presidential electoral votes; Democrats won both Senate seats and control of that chamber.

State lawmakers, predominantly Republican, couldn’t stop gleeful efforts to limit absentees again, to drop many drop boxes and to clamp more restrictions on voting. The feds are investigating.

But for now, we’re seeing the aftermath as we prepare for advance voting to start Tuesday in the Nov. 2 municipal elections. You’re hearing very little about where and how to get absentee ballots; perhaps because the rules changed. All those drop boxes around the region? Well, there’s one in the elections office still based in downtown Rome but with restricted times and access.

What was the rage 12 months ago is yesterday’s news. We’ll see what that means to advance voting and total turnout numbers in the city of Rome and other elections as votes are counted Nov. 2.

And we’ll wait for voters’ response to all those legislative changes in the 2022 races.


Real estate: It looks like new tenants are coming to a major piece of property. We’ll have calls out on it first thing Monday …

By the numbers: We’ll be checking on advance voting totals for the Rome City Commission and School Board races starting Tuesday evening …

Your commute should be easier in Rome and Floyd County with both school systems on fall break …

Hype alert: Kentucky at Georgia, 3:30 p.m. Saturday on CBS. Both undefeated and leading the SEC East. (No popcorn jabs, please).

PEAKS & VALLEYS: The highs and lows of Northwest Georgia.

Peak to the Rome/Floyd chapter of the NAACP: Amid the high emotions and stunning images from Coosa High last week (and last spring), the community group has preached calm, respectful and insightful responses. Members are urging parents to organize, students to listen and respect school resource officers and other police, and for the community as a whole to investigate more. Some action has been taken by the Floyd County Schools’ system — an explusion last year, a teacher fired last week — but a more defined and public response already is late.

Peak to Trinity United Methodist Church’s ‘Service Sunday’ set for Oct. 31: From 1 to 3 p.m. that day, the Rome church will help care for “the church’s neighbors who are struggling financially, hungry for a meal, homeless, in need of resources for food, etc., to find assistance and to let the church know how members and staff can serve their community better.” (Background)

Valley to the continued carnage on our highways: By our count, 22 people have died on Rome and Floyd County roads since the start of the year; the most recent case was on Ga. 101 last week.  Except for a spike in 2018 (24 deaths), that’s at least seven above our “average” dating back to 2015. Floyd County and Rome Police have urged folks to slow down and pay attention but that’s about as effective as recommending someone get a COVID vaccine shot. With 2.5 months left — including the dangerous Thanksgiving,  Christmas and New Year’s holidays — we’ll easily top 2018. Speeding and distracted driving are primary causes; we need to ease up and look up from our phones.

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