Coffee beans and chicken wings
Java enthusiast Zack Hollar's favorite coffee drink is a tie between a standard latte and a caramel macchiato with an extra shot of espresso.
Zack has lived in Rutherford County for 14 years and is the new owner and operator of Village Coffee on Oak Street Extension in Forest City, along with his wife, Nicki.
The Hollars became proprietors of the shop on Feb. 28 and celebrated its grand re-opening on Saturday.
"I started working at Village Coffee when it opened in March 2008 and was the store's manager for three years," Zack said. "I left to pursue other things for a while and then came back to Rutherford County. This area is probably my favorite on the whole planet, and when we heard the coffee shop was going to close, we looked into owning it."
Zack said he and his wife had a desire to one day own a coffee shop, and Village Coffee was the perfect opportunity.
"I have always had a passion for coffee and the community, and that is the kind of atmosphere we are creating here — a place where the community is invited to come hang out, enjoy themselves and stay for a while," Zack said.
Among the coffee shop's new additions are a menu boasting additional pastries, desserts, smoothies and cold coffee beverages, as well as pastry and coffee combo deals. Zack said Nicki plans to freshly bake many of the shop's pastries.
Patrons can also expect to see more community events like Saturday evening concerts, game nights, open mic events and philanthropy opportunities.
"During our philanthropy nights, a percentage of the proceeds from sales will be given to an area school, non-profit or civic organization," Zack said. "Village Coffee is a franchise and philanthropy is something they do. We want to be active in the community and give back to others."
Village Coffee also intends to provide business catering and its on-site conference room for meetings, Bible studies and gatherings. The room will be available free of charge with the purchase of an item from the shop.
Zack has several additional promotions in the works and plans to have the coffee shop open seven days a week in the near future.
"We are the only place in the area that is an actual coffee shop, and still the only coffee shop with a drive thru," he said. "We have kept all of our Village Coffee recipes using 100 percent arabica coffee beans, and we have brought back a consistency to all of our products and our customer service. We want to see a lot of people continue to come back to Village Coffee again and again to hang out."
For more java happenings at Village Coffee, stop by the shop at 247 Oak Street Extension, call 828-286-3990, visit the Facebook page: Village Coffee-Forest City, NC or follow the shop on twitter: @village.coffee.fcnc.
Pizza eatery newly renovated
A few short minutes down the street, District Manager Jim Platia has already lost count of how many personal pan pizzas have been baked at Pizza Hut on South Church Street in Forest City.
Platia oversees five Pizza Hut restaurants and helped General Manager Richard Radloff and several staff members celebrate the grand re-opening of the chain's Forest City location on Monday.
"The response from the community has been tremendous," Platia said. "Many things are new about the restaurant, but there is still that hometown feel and atmosphere."
A native of New Jersey who later relocated to Rutherford County with his parents, Platia has been around pizza for most of his life.
"I grew up with pizza because my father was a Pizza Hut manager," said Platia, who has been with the company for 21 years and served as District Manager since May 2013.
Although the Forest City Pizza Hut has undergone upgrades and changes since opening in 1975, the most recent work is the first major renovation to the building, both inside and out.
"The dining room has opened up to provide more room for customers and there is a better atmosphere inside," Platia said. "The kitchen was also completely redesigned to streamline everything and to make things more efficient for employees as well as customers. The latest and greatest oven was installed, and now it only takes six minutes to cook most pizzas."
In addition to the renovated building and face-lift in the dining area, the Forest City location has added WingStreet wings, crispy fries and apple pies to its menu.
According to the company, WingStreet wings have been winning awards since 2009 when they first started entering competitions in Buffalo, N.Y. The wings are available bone-in, bone-out or traditional and come in a variety of flavors, from Buffalo Burnin' Hot to Honey BBQ to Spicy Asian. Or patrons can try the wings naked without any sauce.
Following the renovations, Pizza Hut provided jobs for 22 employees and Platia said the company is looking to hire additional workers.
"We are very excited about the changes, and are looking forward to welcoming our customers into our new dining room and giving them an opportunity to try our new WingStreet menu selection," said Radloff.
Despite the newer additions, in Platia's opinion the best thing the restaurant offers is customer service.
"The perfect pizza is one that pleases the customers and makes them smile," he said.
To check out the restaurant's new menu, stop by at 786 South Church Street, call 828-245-8697 or visit online at www.pizzahut.com.