Local business owners rallyto Princess Theaters' rescue

JAMES TURNER/The Mayfield Messenger

Fristoe's Grocery and Restaurant in Hickory is a bustling truck stop off U.S. 45 North, and it had added incentives Friday to help the Princess Theaters of Mayfield, with a portion of the sales that day going toward the cinema. Chris Fristoe has owned and operated it for three years since his father's death. His father was a local business owner for 63 years, so Fristoe was ready and willing to help someone in need.

Two local business owners have answered the call to aid after reading about the Princess Theaters' plight in a news article this week. Several others have pledged to follow suit and offer financial support.

Chris Fristoe, owner of Fristoe's Grocery and Restaurant off U.S. 45 North in Hickory, was discussing with local restauranteur Howell Carr about an article in Wednesday's Mayfield Messenger about the recent financial struggles of the Mayfield icon and a local fellow business owner, Joe Smith, who was in danger of losing his livelihood.

Fristoe, who has operated the restaurant, store and gas station for three years since his father's death, said, "I always went there as a kid. If I can have a part in keeping another man's dream alive, I'm all for it. I think everyone has a right to have a dream."

He planned to donate 50% of what his restaurant brought in Friday to help Princess Theater owner Joe Smith keep his dream alive. Carr's Barn was also planning to donate a portion of its Saturday sales.

A social media post Fristoe made about it seemed to snowball the movement. Elmore J. Todd's Mayfield law firm called Fristoe's Friday and ordered 25 fish plates, totaling $250, in order to help out. Soon after, Ace Compressor Parts & Service called and ordered 20 fish plates, also to help with donations.

Fristoe estimated he would have approximately $2,000 to donate.

"All of us are just small businesses," he said. "It's hard for any small places to make it with big corporations around."

Deanna Taylor, the owner of The Dinner Bell, had also read about Smith's situation.

"Some things weigh a little heavier on the heart than others, and this just weighed on my heart," she said.

She and Fristoe are friends. When she learned what he was going to do, it inspired her to do the same. Today (Sunday), The Dinner Bell is donating 50% of its total Sunday sales to help keep the Princess Theaters in business.

Taylor said that a lot of small family businesses aren't around anymore, and Princess Theater is one of the last. It's a place that she cherishes and takes her kids.

"I have a lot of childhood memories there. That's a personal place," she said. "I can't see it go down, not if we all pull together."

She said she's anticipating a busy Sunday.

"That's what we do, we help each other," Taylor said. "We need that theater. It's good for everyone."