Newsletter: Doggone it — Lobrillo’s closes in West Rome. Housing x 3: More on the surge in new accommodations; some analysis on today’s market; and how a top metro builder is booming here. Politics & Popcorn: Busy day for no. 34. Peak: Rotary’s 9,000-mask donation.

Newsletter: Doggone it — Lobrillo’s closes in West Rome. Housing x 3: More on the surge in new accommodations; some analysis on today’s market; and how a top metro builder is booming here. Politics & Popcorn: Busy day for no. 34. Peak: Rotary’s 9,000-mask donation.

 

RANT OF THE WEEK

Lobrillo’s gone after two years in West Rome: Soon after the first of the year, we called Lobrillo’s Vienna in Rome to place a to-go order. There was a Polish sausage with peppers only, onion rings and a diet Coke in our future. It rang and we waited to hear Steve’s always pleasant voice on the other end. No answer; we assumed the phones were down.
As we were in the neighborhood anyway, we decided to go old school and order in person at the Shorter Avenue restaurant situated in the plaza that once was home to another old favorite, World Hi-Fi. The sign on the door said closed for a week of renovations. We know what that usually means but shrugged it off; the business had been doing pretty well despite COVID and staffing and other issues.
So Thursday (yesterday), in need of a little comfort food amid a busy day with news and business demanding more time, we tried again. We first went to Facebook to check on the daily special. What we found instead was the following:
“Dear Friends and Customers: We would like to thank you for your business and support the past 2 years. We have been able to push through two years of Covid, food shortages, price increases, supply chain issues and everything else small businesses like us had to go through to survive. Your continued presence and support made all the difference in the world, and we cannot thank you enough. The friendships and relationships we have gained through this experience has been amazing.
“Unfortunately, the new property owners have offered us a new lease agreement which we have deemed as unfit for the current location. So with great sadness, as of today, we have decided to close the doors at this location. It was a pleasure and privilege to serve Rome and everyone else that came to see us from NW Georgia. Again, thank you and with a little luck we will see you again in the future.” — The Lobrillo Family

 

We’re not getting into the contract hassle; that’s between the Lobrillos and the owners. But we will say this: Hurry back. Lobrillo’s was an oasis with a Chicago-heavy menu of hot dogs, brats, sausages, burgers, the one-third-pound Ditka, Rome’s most unique French fries and amazing onion rings. We could go on and on. Especially about that Polish sausage. Or Chicago dog. Even the fountain drinks tasted the way they used to and not what we get today from one of these “100 flavors-in-one” clunkers.

Lobrillo’s wasn’t a cheap lunch or dinner, and that’s fine. Each order was freshly prepared. The daily menu specials were great; the regular-priced items were just as tasty.

But not now, and at least for the immediate future. Sure, The Varsity is on the way and we’ll get there probably six months after it opens as the lines thin. Lobrillo’s was different; it was special; it was family almost with wonderful accidental meetings with friends not seen for a bit.

Sidebar: The other Saturday, we passed on a chance to try Italian beef from Chuck’s Curbside, one of the food trucks at the new Cartersville beer garden. We were waiting instead to go with what Steve and company had to offer at Lobrillo’s. Not now (and we never got to the meatballs, either).

Lobrillo’s is a loss, no matter what the reason. We hope they find a new place to call home. And soon.


WHAT’S ON RADAR: HOUSING

The Pearson coming soon to Crestwood in Rome: Three bedrooms, two baths, two-car garage, 1,701 square feet with a list price from $201,900. Details under Smith Douglas

 

A) The residential boom: Yup, 3,300 potential new homes are on Rome’s horizon. Some are coming out of the ground already; others are tied up in planning, zoning or other forms of review. We expect two thirds of them to make it; maybe more. But, as one longtime reader asked on Thursday: Who’s going to live there? We’re not seeing the growth in Census numbers.

Good point. But we do have a housing shortage, “affordable” or otherwise. A veteran Realtor on Wednesday said homes are still under contract on the day they go on the market (one near us had a contract pending sign the day the sign went up).

One push you might see is to lure more of the work-from-home set. The pandemic has accelerated the trend. Why live in metro Atlanta, with its mix of amenities and problems, when you can get a more laid back atmosphere here? Plus, with metro homes selling at such high prices, a relocating work-at-home person can pick up something here and still pocket a nice difference.

We do have a recommendation for our elected folks: Switch gears from the Special Committee on Housing to a Special Committee on Growth. If all these projects are indeed rushing toward reality, we might not be ready. As we’ve heard from our neighbors off Chulio Road, the proposed 1,000-plus home community will tax an already-taxed winding, two-lane country road. We’ve got an excellent planning department and planning commission but they’re going to need help if this continues.

B. Another look at the housing boom — and booming prices: During the run-up to the creation of Rome’s Special Committee on Housing, area governments brought in some guest speakers, among them Frank Norton Jr., the CEO of The Norton Agency based in Gainesville. We’ve known Frank since 1990 and attended several of his “Native Intelligence” briefings each year even after we arrived in Rome. Norton plays it straight: He presents exhaustive data on national, state and local trends, and explains what it means. His latest presentation was last week and you can view it (above) or read it here. Or you can read a news digest of the report courtesy of longtime broadcast partners WDUN in Gainesville. There are indeed takeaways that apply here, including the high prices of some of the 3,300 residences projected for our area.

C) Smith Douglas, the prolific home builder in Floyd and Northwest Georgia, ranked fifth in review of Atlanta’s Top 25. The listing, posted by Atlanta Real Estate Forum and courtesy of MarketNsight, shows Smith Douglas as fifth in 2021 and 2020. According to the post:

“Atlanta homebuilders included in the list are ranked by percentage of market share for the number of homes closed in 2021 in the metro Atlanta real estate market… It is interesting to note that four of the top five homebuilders are large national builders. The only large privately held building company to make the list is Smith Douglas Homes. Other locals on our list include Liberty Communities, Rocklyn Homes Inc., McKinley Homes, Capshaw Development, The Providence Group, Silverstone Residential and Trademark Quality Homes, to name a few.”

The company’s latest project, Crestwood, features 51 new homes off Ga. 53 and the Bypass, and is the first new subdivision in Rome in two decades. Look for the model to open soon.


POPCORN & POLITICS:

More Herschel on the way: Already due in town for a private fund-raiser that night, U.S. Senate candidate Herschel Walker will be among the guests at the Greater Rome Board of Realtors’ membership luncheon on Feb. 8. Registration begins at 11:30 a.m., lunch at noon. Site: Coosa Country Club.  (Members and guests only). To avoid clashing with National Association of Realtors’ policy, the event is billed as a speech recalling the Republican hopeful’s dazzling football career.

Craton for Congress? It seems some of the collateral “damage” from the Marjorie Taylor Greene/Coosa Country Club membership piece in The New Yorker (which really dealt more with Charles Craton) has a new twist. How about Craton running for Congress? A few folks in the community have circulated the idea, enough to perhaps launch a trial balloon. It won’t happen but then again, all election rules got toasted in the 2020 aftermath (see Matt Gaetz) so we’ll keep an eye on the Federal Elections Commission filings just in case.
Stunt of the week:  The AJC reports that Labor Commissioner hopeful Bruce Thompson “has filed legislation to fight a decision by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration allowing those with a prescription to obtain the abortion pill through the mail. SB 351, filed Monday by state Sen. Bruce Thompson, R-White, would require pregnant women to see a doctor in person before being able to obtain mifepristone, the abortion pill. The legislation … also says pregnant women would have to sign an ‘informed authorization consent form’ that tells a patient, among other things, that medication abortions can be reversed. Medical groups have said the science does not support assertions made in recent years by anti-abortion activists that medication abortions are reversible.”  AJC

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

Peak to Rome Rotary and the donation of KN95 masks: Several times this week, Pete McDonald and others with Rome Rotary have joined local governments in presenting donations of KN95 masks, which are now preferred in the battle against spreading COVID (see what Piedmont Cartersville now requires to visit the hospital). That’s a proactive step by the Rotarians in keeping our public servants — and the community — even safer. We asked Pete about the donation. What he said was amazing:
“… The Rotary Club has donated 4,500 masks to the City and 4,500 masks to the County for a total of 9,000. These are KN95 masks made available to us from our Rotary District 6910 which covers all of North Georgia above metro Atlanta. The District is made up of 70 local Rotary Clubs….
And one more key item:  “I also would like to share the other donations our District makes. We recently sent $10,000 to Kentucky to provide relief from the tornadoes.”
Both steps definitely meet one of the key testaments in the club’s Four-Way test: “Will it be beneficial to all concerned?” Absolutely.
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