Restaurant faces parking woes

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 22, 2010

NATCHEZ — Uptown Grocery may soon have to trade in its chalkboard full of catchy sayings for a few more inches of parking lot.

The Canal Street restaurant/grocery lost a sizable portion of its parking area recently when the owners of the adjoining lot roped off their property.

The 50-by-100-foot gravel lot previously used for overflow restaurant parking is owned by approximately 30 family members, part-owner Sharon Browning said.

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A few of the family members approached Uptown Grocery a year ago seeking to sell the lot to the business.

Uptown does not own the property or building it fills, and therefore was not interested in buying, owner Richie Walcott said.

“One day at the close of business, these five people came up and roped the parking lot off,” Walcott said. “We’ve asked to use it; they said no.”

Browning said a family meeting is schedule in the coming weeks to discuss the matter.

“We blocked it off for various reasons,” Browning said. “We’ve made another offer to the grocery, and they are considering it. It is a lease agreement that we have said we would take.”

Browning said liability concerns were one reason the family opted to rope off the lot.

“The last thing we want to do is hurt a small town business,” she said.

But Walcott said the new rope — after 14 years of free parking — is hurting.

“I’m a small business in a small town, and economics are bad enough,” she said. “It’s just unnecessary.”

Walcott said the owner of the lot of a former car wash to the south of the grocery has agreed to let her customers park in the lot temporarily, until another alternative can be found.