Local restaurant owner: group supporting local business is 'way - KLTV.com-Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville, Texas | ETX News

Local restaurant owner: group supporting local business is 'way overdue'

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The closure of local restaurants in the Tyler area has prompted one group to take action.

The "Keep It Local" group dines out at local restaurants every Tuesday night and aims to shift the focus away from restaurant chains to help keep independent local restaurants from closing.

It's a move Cedric Fletcher welcomes, saying this kind of group is long overdue.

"Being in a smaller town, people love chain restaurants," Fletcher said. "They love them and it's hard to keep people focused on you when they hear that a certain chain is coming to town."

Fletcher also owned Zaza's, an Italian restaurant that was forced to close because he did not have enough people coming through his doors. That is where Keep It Local steps in.

"We saw Zaza's close," said one of the group's organizer, Marshall Hanna. "We saw El Charro close, we saw several other local businesses close."

The idea to start the group actually began at Fletcher's Zaza's. When the organizers heard Fletcher would be closing his doors, they said they knew they had to do something to make sure other local businesses did not meet the same fate.

"I actually sent an email to about 17 or 19 of my friends that we all hang out and go to restaurants together with," Hanna said. "I shot the idea out and everybody jumped on it."

The group's first event had more than 35 participants.

"We've actually had a lot of local businesses start calling and asking us could they be on the list," Hanna said.

"For all of us to know that somebody out there cares about us enough to send business our way, it's an amazing thing," Fletcher said.

But will the program be able to help keep businesses afloat?

"I definitely hope so," said Fletcher. "Every time I see somebody that sticks their neck out, uses their life savings, retirement, whatever it takes, to follow their dream and open up a restaurant, it's hard."

Hanna said the group is not stopping at just restaurants. They plan to modify their events in order to also support boutiques among other types of local businesses.

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