Drive to Fallston and you will notice several new businesses cropping up in the decidedly rural community. Recently, a new pharmacy, doctorâ€™s office and car wash have opened, as well as a Dollar General store.
Also new to the area is a restaurant called GiGiâ€™s. John and Carol Miller, owners of the Italian-American establishment, live in Lincolnton. They decided opening their business in Fallston would only add to the communityâ€™s current growth spurt.
John and Carol Miller, owners of Gi Giâ€™s, live in Lincolnton but chose to open their restaurant in Fallston. Their belief it would add to the communityâ€™s current growth spurt has been validated. Allyson Levine / LTN Photo
â€œWe just liked the area,â€ John said. â€œThere seems to be some growth happening up this way.â€
Located near the intersection of N.C. 182 and N.C. 18 in a three-story building that was originally home to a Ford dealership, the restaurant is a bit of a departure for the Millers. While John is no stranger to owning his own business â€“ he used to own Allstate Insurance in Boger City â€“ the Millersâ€™ only experience working in restaurants was in high school.
John says he always liked the food industry, so when he was ready for a career change, opening a restaurant seemed like the way to go. According to Carol, settling on a location was harder than deciding on the menu.
â€œWe had originally thought about doing it in Lincolnton,â€ said Carol. â€œBut the space would have been much smaller. We knew it would be Italian. We eat Italian food a lot.â€
Open since June of 2006, GiGiâ€™s has slowly grown into a popular place to dine. Considering that the options for eating out in Fallston are limited â€“ a few small burger joints and a Subway are the other choices â€“ it isnâ€™t surprising that the Millers have had some success.
The menu at GiGiâ€™s includes over 20 different subs and salads, as well as eight different pasta dishes. Of course, they also have pizza.
The Millers also say they have some items on the menu that people may not find other places, including pizza subs, spaghetti subs, cheeseburger subs and BBQ subs and pizzas.
Another thing that makes GiGiâ€™s different is the fact that the Millers play Christian music in the dining room.
â€œWe donâ€™t say itâ€™s a Christian restaurant,â€ John said. â€œBut weâ€™re not ashamed of the gospel either.â€
Wife Carol echoed that sentiment.
â€œWe play Christian music,â€ said Carol. â€œWe donâ€™t mind others knowing what we stand for.â€
So far, feedback on the music has been positive. In keeping with a Christian message, the Millersâ€™ restaurant is smoke-free and, being located in a dry community anyway, serves no alcohol.
But the Millers do serve plenty of food. In addition to the regular menu, GiGiâ€™s has daily lunch specials, as well as an all-you-can-eat pizza buffet on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from five to eight.
The Millers are hoping to attract business not only from Fallston and the surrounding area, but also from their own town as well. So far, theyâ€™ve had some success.
â€œWeâ€™ve had several people from Lincolnton try us out,â€ John said.
Some have come from a bit farther away. The Millers have had a few returning customers from Iron Station and Dallas.
Carol says she is hoping word-of-mouth and the coupleâ€™s having lived in Lincolnton so long will work to their advantage in building a customer base.
â€œWe know a lot of people in Lincolnton,â€ said Carol. â€œA lot of people in town know about us, but a lot donâ€™t.â€
As far as advertising goes, the Millers have put ads in the Shelby Shopper and have also had coupons in the Shopwise mailer. They say they have had good feedback from the neighbors in Fallston and business only seems to be getting better.
â€œWeâ€™ve had a steady traffic of new faces,â€ John said.
Currently, the Millers are employing about eight people, all from the Fallston area. Their children, son Hampton, 14 and daughter Hannah, 9, help out a little as well.
Both Millers do some cooking, although John handles most of the kitchen duties. He says he is really enjoying his new responsibilities as a chef.
â€œI like the kitchen work,â€ said John. â€œI had no culinary aspirations, although if they want to put me on the Food Network, thatâ€™s okay.â€
Dreams of being the next Wolfgang Puck aside, John is happy where he is and is glad that GiGiâ€™s is providing Fallston with a restaurant that is very nice, yet casual at the same time. He says the place is really pretty at night, with lighting that might make it a nice romantic spot for a date.
Groups are also welcome at GiGiâ€™s and the Millers say they are more than happy to reserve tables for groups that call ahead. In addition, people who feel like enjoying GiGiâ€™s food from the comfort of their own homes are invited to place call-in orders.
The Millers hope that people will come from near and far to enjoy the food at GiGiâ€™s. The restaurantâ€™s presence in Fallston gives folks in the rural area a new and different choice for a meal out. Hopefully, it will also give people in Lincolnton a chance to get out of town, take a drive through the country and support some fellow Lincoln County residents.
Want to go?
GiGiâ€™s is located on N.C. 18, near the intersection with N.C. 182. Hours of operation are Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. – 8 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. – 9 p.m. The restaurant is closed on Sunday. You may call the restaurant at (704) 538-3232.
by Allyson Levine