“The world said, ‘You can’t open up a business in the middle of COVID-19,’ but God said different,” Hayes said. Agreed Epps: “Because it was God’s will, not ours, it had no choice but to succeed,” he said. Epps saw the vision for the business late last year and shared it with Hayes, as the two were already business partners on other ventures. They began building their business from the ground up, including securing the location, planning the menu and thinking about what they wanted the educational part of their business to look like. The café is named after the “Black Wall Street” areas of Black-owned businesses that flourished in many American cities in the first half of the 20th century. Two of the most notable ones were in Tulsa, Okla., and Durham, N.C., both referenced by Epps. Although the Tulsa race for beginners massacre in May-June 1921, in which hundreds of Black residents were killed, thousands more injured and many Black-owned businesses destroyed, often is referenced in regards to Tulsa’s Black Wall Street, Epps said more people need to talk about the success of that district, both before the massacre and after it was rebuilt. “People don’t talk about the success of Black Wall Street,” he said. A mural in Wall Street Café imparts some of this history to visitors and also recognizes notable entrepreneurs both local and nationwide. The atmosphere at Wall Street Café lends itself to business deals and political discussions, which are encouraged, Epps said.


Equipment must be inside the City right-of-way in order to be improved with federal money, which is being used for this project. The project will connect the majority of Hendersonville traffic lights through fiber optics so that someone at City Hall can control the signal, said Marshall Boyd, public works director. The synchronization will not stop all traffic problems, but it will improve the flow of traffic, he said. Mark Skidmore, Ward 1 alderman, said that there is no holdup from the City on the project. They have already bought the computer system and prepared a room at City Hall. The City has determined through an additional survey that only one location TDOT flagged was outside City right-of-way. Marshall Boyd, public works director, suggested that the City use its own money to improve that equipment rather than going through the process of acquiring the right-of-way in that area. After the TDOT signs off on the approved plans, the City will be given approval to bid the job out. Boyd said in a Public Works Committee meeting that he hoped the City would be able to bid the job out in six months. Skidmore said he believed the job would be completed next summer or fall.


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