In about a month, Bland County residents will have a new place to at which to dine. DownShift Diner owner TJ Hicks hopes to start serving up meals in early August.
It’s fitting that the restaurant, located at 46 Indian Village Trail across from Love’s at the Bastian exit, should be next to a garage. Hicks races at Wythe Raceway and even named his first business in Bland after his #81 race car. Located at the Bland Square, 81 Solutions offers everything from large decals and custom t-shirts to oddities and antiques.
The diner and store are not Hicks’ only jobs. By day, he is a manufacturing engineer at Somic America. A 2015 graduate of Bland County High School, he holds a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering technology and an associate degree in electrical engineering from Bluefield State College.
Inside his diner, Hicks plans to play up the automotive/garage theme with checkered flags, racing stripes, etc. He said that opening a restaurant seems like a good idea to him “because there’s not a good family restaurant to go and have a meal at.”
Bland County Supervisor Adam Kidd, who represents the Bastian District, said he’s excited to see continued growth at the Bastian exit.
“It is encouraging to see local businesses growing organically, providing additional goods and services to community members,” he said. “Mr. Hick’s diner will serve both citizens and travelers along the I-77 corridor. I want to wish Mr. Hicks and his team the best as they work to get established, and I look forward to dining there soon.”