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Center's Friday lunch comes under fire
Council, residents disagree if weekly buffet hurts local businesses
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Friday lunches at the Richmond Hill City Center in J. F. Gregory Park sparked a heated debate between the public and city officials at Tuesday night’s Richmond Hill City Council meeting.

One resident spoke against the center’s weekly lunch, claiming it creates unfair competition for other local businesses that haven’t been funded by local tax dollars, like the City Center. And though the council seemed split on the issue, no action was taken.

Instead, the council agreed to monitor the profit at the City Center to ensure it breaks even, or no longer needs tax dollars to operate.

Resident Gene Brogdon addressed the council about the lunches to say at least five local businesses in Richmond Hill were losing business because of the Friday lunches at the City Center.

Brogdon recalled debates from September 2010, when the council denied a proposed regular schedule of events at the City Center, such as Sunday brunch and evening cocktail hours – which they concluded would be in direct competition with restaurants in the city.

“Myself and the restaurant (owners) thought this was still the same competition debated last September,” Brogdon said

“Do you see it as the same issue, local restaurants versus the City Center lunches,” he asked.

Council members Van Hunter and Russ Carpenter said they were on the same page.

“I still see it as a public sector competing with a private sector,” Hunter said. “And yeah, as it stands right now from what I understand, it is the same. It is the same as what we voted on last September.”

However, council members Marilyn Hodges and Jimmy Hires disagreed.

“I really don’t see that them being open from 11-2 on Friday is killing someone’s business,” Hodges said. “In fact, I was out on Friday and I went to Plums and they were packed. I went by Pam Shores’ (of Southern Image) and she was packed. The Smokin’ Pig was packed. El Patros was packed.

“I mean, if you’re driving around the city, it’s not killing everybody on Friday because they’re (the City Center) open from 11-2.”

Read more in the July 23 edition of the News.

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