Restaurant owner reacts to Bessemer mayor’s plans for big changes in the city

Published: Feb. 3, 2023 at 8:21 PM CST
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BESSEMER, Ala. (WBRC) - Revitalization was one of the highlights of Bessemer Mayor Kenneth Gulley’s State of the City Address this week.

He touted dozens of new businesses coming to town, and hundreds of blighted buildings torn down.

One local business owner is reacting to all the change happening in his community.

Bob Sykes Bar-B-Que is a staple in the City of Bessemer serving the community for more than 66 years.

Owner Van Sykes said in that amount of time, they’ve seen plenty of change.

“The last I would say 8 to 10 years, there’s just been a drastic uptick in positivity,” Sykes said.

Sykes said that’s due in part to the work Mayor Kenneth Gulley and city leaders are putting into the city.

“We first came here in 1966 and promptly had to weather the closing of Pulman Standard and dealt with some high unemployment and had a couple of other lean years and when Mayor Gulley got into office things really changed,” Sykes explained.

Change, and a renewed commitment to move the city forward, was a big part of the mayor’s State of the City Address Tuesday, touting a number of businesses coming to the area, an unemployment rate of 3.8%, hundreds of guns off the street, and blighted buildings coming down.

“I feel like a prayer has been answered because the blighted buildings were not good for anyone and for years we would drive by and say gosh we should get this done and then it just started happening,” Sykes said.

He said the revitalization is an investment in community pride and said he’s happy to be a part of it.

“When things start looking cleaner, and better, and neater, and ready for the next thing to be built on this property or whatever, it causes this positive community feel. I’m really enjoying the resurgence, the vitality, and just we’re thrilled to be a part of it,” Sykes said.

The mayor also gave Bob Sykes Bar-B-Que a shout out during his address saying he’s thrilled to see the return of the Blues and Bar-B-Que Festival.

Sykes said they’re already working on the event that happens in April.

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