Small businesses keep Dustin Howard hopping

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With his family’s seasonal flower business finished for the year, Dustin Howard has a little extra time in his schedule as he juggles the needs of three small businesses, numerous civic and volunteer duties and the demands of being a husband and father of two.

He enjoyed a quiet moment Wednesday, tending to minutes from a recent Grayson Area Chamber of Commerce meeting, notes for the Carter County Fair board and details for an incoming crowd from First Baptist church with bowling party plans underway within minutes.

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“Look at how good a job KCU did on my new menus. They just re-did it all and they did a great job,” Howard said, offering the first party guests a glimpse at the new menu for ZZ’s Grill, the restaurant tied to Dixie Lanes, which also shares space with Howard’s other business, Kentucky Kutz, where he cuts hair alongside his cousin, Brandon Cox.

“I cut hair every chance I get when I am not at the restaurant or here,” he said. He laughs when he says he has tried to step away from the bowling alley business, but has found the specialized knowledge of the lanes, and the equipment behind the scenes in particular, is best handled personally. “There’s just so many moving parts back there. It is a dangerous job in the back of the bowling center,” he said.

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The restaurant, ZZ’s Grill, named for his children Zayden and Zylee, is Howard’s confessed favorite small business. “That is where my passion lies,” he said, adding he recently decided to stop serving “hard liquor” at ZZ’s and has restricted alcoholic beverages to beer only. “We were excited to get into the bar business at first, but it was not the atmosphere we were looking for,” Howard explained.

The restaurant’s salad bar, which is loaded for Taco Tuesday each week, continues to attract new guests, he added.

Howard said he had been considering plans to reduce the number of lanes at the bowling center, freeing up space for a new attraction such as roller skating, laser tag or mini bowling. With the closing of Ashland’s Blue Ribbon Lanes, however, those plans have been put on hold in hopes of bring regional bowling action to Grayson.

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“I am in the process of contacting all of the league bowlers. We’re making the calls,” he said, noting Grayson and Ironton, Ohio have the only open bowling centers remaining in the area.

Howard, whose own bowling handicap is 23, says he has never bowled a perfect game at his own lanes or anywhere else. He has, however, bowled as a roster member with every league at Dixie Lanes.

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Nodding toward an old sign painted on the left-hand wall inside the bowling center, Howard said he chose the name “Dixie Lanes” in honor of founder and longtime operator Dixie Everman. “A lot of people think it is named for Dixie Park over here,” Howard said, indicating an adjacent neighborhood.

When he is not working, Howard said he gets his greatest pleasure from time with his family including camping adventures at Greenbo Lake, as well as with large family gatherings such as the one they enjoyed July 4 weekend.

For more information about Dixie Lanes, ZZ’s Grill or Kentucky Kutz call (606) 474-5750. Check out Dixie Lanes and ZZ’s Grill on Facebook and be sure to give them a LIKE.

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