The debate is over about whether a church should be allowed to move into a ground-level building on Main Street.
Instead, the former Meriwether’s restaurant at 617 Main Street will be reborn as Jay and G’s Mountain Side Grill, a family style establishment focusing on steak and seafood. The building’s owner, Bob Frady, executed a long-term lease with James McNorrill Jr. of Bryson City, according to a news release issued by BCNC Investments, which brokered the deal.
McNorrill has been managing Jimmy Mac’s restaurant in Bryson City for several years. He expects to open Jay and G’s Mountain Side Grill on Aug. 1.
The deal kills plans by The Father’s House of Prayer to use the building, though the church had several hoops to jump through before that could happen. A town ordinance limits churches in Sylva’s commercial district to “on-site” (stand-alone buildings) or on the second and third floors of other buildings.
The town planning board on June 27 turned down The Father’s House of Prayer’s request for a zoning change that would allow the church to move into 617 Main Street. Town board members were expected to make a final decision this month.
Doug Rowe, pastor of The Father’s House of Prayer, said Wednesday morning that he’s disappointed but that the church will continue meeting at the old Woodland Restaurant on U.S. 441 while it “waits for another door of opportunity to open.”
Rowe had said that the church would be a positive force for the downtown. The pastor said The Father’s House of Prayer planned on showing family friendly movies and serving as a community art gallery.
Some business owners, however, circulated a petition opposing the church’s plans to setup shop on Main Street, saying the buildings there needed to be reserved for commercial uses only.