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Restaurant quandary brings support

Pickett hopes to reopen MacGregor’s soon, pending mechanical fix

News editor

A week ago, EJ Pickett couldn’t have been more gloomy.

MacGregor’s, the restaurant she and her husband, Joe, opened in downtown Marion, was closed. A state fire marshal shut them down until kitchen ventilation and fire suppression systems were properly installed.

Spent physically, emotionally, and financially, uncertain they could marshal the resources to continue, Pickett was on the verge of throwing in the towel.

“I’m to the point of where if you don’t want it, we’ll walk away,” she said.

Pickett was singing a different tune Tuesday, hopeful that the restaurant would reopen soon thanks, in part, to an outpouring of community support.

“We’ve had people stop by I’ve never seen before,” Picket said. “We had people stopping by offering their own money. We had people stopping by asking to pray with us. We also had people stopping by just to tell us, ‘Don’t give up. Marion needs this. You guys need to fight.’”

Worried that there could be people who did not want to see the restaurant succeed, Pickett’s spirits were lifted by the well-wishers.

“It made me know that there really are good people, not that everyone is out to see us close down,” she said. “It let me know there are really good people out there who do care.”

The Picketts also have had more substantive help.

“We had a person stop and offer to bring his crew in and finish some of the things that aren’t finished,” Pickett said. “They’ve been doing a wonderful job on everything.”

Fixing kitchen ventilation and fire suppression issues has taken longer and makes it difficult to nail down a date for reopening.

“We’re actually still getting bids,” Pickett said. “Our hope is to get something installed by the end of the week or the first part of next week, but I won’t know that until they can get on the job. It depends on how busy they are.”

When the restaurant reopens, diners will see a few changes, beginning with breakfast.

“So that it doesn’t feel like it’s a 24/7, we’re going to do away with breakfast,” Pickett said. “We always knew it wasn’t going to be our money meal of the day. We’re going to try to make the right choices as to what makes sense, and opening for breakfast doesn’t make sense.”

Pickett said they’ve also made changes to the menu and hours.

“We took some things off that weren’t selling,” Pickett said. “It was a few sandwiches and one of the burgers. We’re actually going to open Mondays. Several other places are closed, so without serving breakfast I think we’ll be OK going seven days.”

Continued community support will be essential for the restaurant to prosper, Pickett said.

“It made us want to at least put forth everything we have to make this work,” she said. “I believe things happen for a reason, and I think we’re going to make a go with it.”

Last modified June 14, 2017

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