A partnership between a planned, new takeout restaurant and Thrive Longview could help the nonprofit’s future sustainability.

Regina Phillips this month asked the city’s planning and zoning commission to approve a zoning change that will allow her to operate a new restaurant, The Spud Hut, in a building owned by Paula Martin Jones’ Charities at 1230 S. High St. The building also is home to the Longview Child Development Center, but it is not affected by the restaurant’s plans to renovate and use a kitchen that’s in the facility. The zoning change still must be approved by the City Council.

“I am an entrepreneur and just look for business opportunities that allow me to give back. I have a heart to serve,” Phillips said.

Thrive Longview is a character development program for students in sixth through eighth grades that focuses on nutrition, fitness, fellowship and life skills. The organization also works with the Just Keep Livin program at Longview High School.

Phillips has a child who attends Thrive Longview and a teenager who is an intern there working as the office manager. She said the restaurant was a “God idea” that came to her in August. She helped Thrive Longview Director Clent Holmes with another project and they talked about the unused kitchen in the building at 1230 S. High St. He told her Thrive wanted to find a way to use it as a source of income for the nonprofit and asked her if she had any ideas, Phillips said.

“I said, ‘Oh my gosh; do I,” she said. “I shared the business plan and, honestly, what God had given me. We decided to partner and agreed on a percentage of receipts that will support Thrive financially. It’s a pretty significant amount.”

She’s owned several other businesses and worked at a restaurant as a teenager, but she’s never owned a restaurant.

“But I do get a lot of compliments on the food” she prepares, Phillips said. Many friends and family members have suggested she open a restaurant.

The restaurant will serve stuffed potatoes, for takeout only, at breakfast and lunch. The potatoes are layered with toppings not typically used on potatoes and flavored with a signature seasoning, she said.

The menu will feature a spud of the day: Italian chicken layered potatoes on Monday; Taco Tuesday potatoes with seasoned ground turkey, black beans, corn and pico de gallo; Cajun shrimp layered potatoes on Wednesday; meatball layered spud on Thursday; and barbecue flavored chicken spud on Friday.

The restaurant’s signature potato will be a ranch turkey burger potato that can be purchased any day of the week, along with veggie stuffed potato options.

“Later on, after we get up and running, we’ll probably bring on someone that can do desserts,” she said.

Thrive Longview plans to expand to other communities, and Phillips said she would expand the partnership to each new location as well.

Holmes said the restaurant project connects with his organization’s three core values — community, mentorship and stewardship. It will provide life skill training opportunities for older students who have gone through the Thrive program. It also fits into the fitness and nutrition aspects of Thrive Longview.

“When I heard (Phillips’ proposal), it was an easy connection,” Holmes said.

He said about 25% of the proceeds will come back to Thrive Longview, which helps the organization “work in the direction of sustainability.” Most of the program’s funding comes from Paula Martin Jones Charities and local churches. One Hope Presbyterian Church, located behind the building where the restaurant will be located, provides space free of charge to Thrive Longview.

Phillips and her husband have plans to raise money to renovate the kitchen, which will add value to that building and the surrounding community. That’s important, he said, because of the stigma associated with parts of South Longview.

“We believe it to be safe,” Holmes said, and it’s an area ripe for growth.

“If it succeeds and does well economically, it’s bringing business to that area,” he said.

Phillips said she’s hoping the restaurant can open in the fall, although it could be later, considering the fundraising and renovations that must take place at the kitchen.

As the business grows, “it just adds value to what we do,” Holmes said.

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