By Brie Handgraaf
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Increased construction costs have caused the planned WhirliDogs café to pivot from a spot on Tarboro Street
to the 200 block of Goldsboro Street. “Jimmy (Miller) and I were on the Flynn Home board when we first started talking about needing a space for WhirliDogs, and he said, ‘I have a space,’” WhirliDogs co-organizer Wesley Trump recalled.
Co-organizer Martha Wrenn commended Miller’s family, the Wombles, for offering WhirliDogs a location on Tarboro Street. Trump noted the family also has been understanding, knowing “how much construction costs have gone up.”
The plan to locate the hot dog café and training center on Tarboro Street was announced a year ago, but
the WhirliDogs board met in the spring to talk finances. Transforming the Tarboro Street storefront into a restaurant proved costly, so board members considered other downtown spaces.
Developer Tom Corbett pitched in and eventually introduced WhirliDogs volunteers to Mazin Saleh, who
has owned the shuttered Worrell’s on Goldsboro Street for about a decade.
“Saleh Properties is proud the WhirliDogs have selected their property for its new home,” Saleh said in a
statement. “In conjunction with their construction starting after the first of the year, Saleh Properties will be
placing a brand-new facade and awnings on the property at 213 through 219 Goldsboro St.”
Saleh said he plans to remodel the popular seafood eatery and reopen Worrell’s following renovations.
“The two restaurants will have an outside seating area in the rear of the property with all new landscaping
to enhance outside eating experience,” he said.
Wednesday night’s fire at B&S Wholesale Tire Center down the block from the location didn’t appear to damage the property in initial assessments, so remodeling plans are moving ahead.
“We were very lucky,” Wrenn said. “I think the fire department did an amazing job. It could have been so much worse.”
Once the shell is complete, WhirliDogs will invest roughly $175,000 to upfit and equip the café.
“Tom Corbett is representing Mazin, and he’s done all the negotiating for us. He’s working for us at no charge, which is another amazing thing,” Wrenn said. “He has an attorney who will work for us at no charge, too. People continue to give in so many ways, and we want to be good stewards of their money.”
WhirliDogs is all about providing job training for disabled teens and adults, but Wrenn and Trump said they want
the café to be financially self-sufficient within a year.
“We don’t want to fundraise forever,” Trump said. “The goal is to go into a place we can afford and start small with several small soft openings because this is brand new for us and for the industry, especially around here.
There will be some trial and error.”
If construction goes according to plan, WhirliDogs will open in mid 2022. Visit www.whirlidogs.com to learn more,
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