MARYVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) A Maryville restaurant owner says her sign to welcome gun owners has increased business, and saved her restaurant from closing its doors.
Sharma Floyd says owning her own restaurant is her American dream. She owns Shiloh Brew and Chew and Maryville and says the best parts of what she does is being her own boss and meeting new people every day.
And while she was able to realize her dream and open her own restaurant, keeping the doors open became a tough road. Expenses got to be too high, this past winter was especially hard with several pipes bursting, and maintenance costs. It got to the point where Floyd said it was time to shut down her dream.
"I was really emotional when I told my workers," Floyd said.
But before that happened, Floyd had seen a story about a store being robbed only two days after the owner put up a sign that said no guns were allowed inside the building. Having been robbed at her own place, Floyd decided to do the exact opposite.
She put up a sign in the front window of her restaurant, welcoming guns carriers inside. She never imagined the response she would get from that decision.
"Business exploded," Floyd explained. She's even received calls and emails from national news outlets about her decision.
"The Blaze, Glen Beck, Australia, Christianity.com. There's so many places I can't even remember how many of them there really are!"
She thought her sign would attract a better local crowd to help her business along. She said she never thought international news outlets would want to talk to her.
But more than that, she's happy that people have responded positively. She's met new faces who have never stopped by to try her food, and several groups have told her they are planning to have dinner at her restaurant on Tuesday evening to show their support.
"I'm overwhelmed. Overjoyed. Absolutely overjoyed," she said.
Floyd said she doesn't want her sign to be a challenge to anyone. She's simply standing up for what she believes in.
"My parents always taught me that if you believe in something and you're passionate about it and you open your mouth up about it, you better be able to back it up. And that's my stance on that."