• Charlie Leonard

Walk Down Main Street: Bessemer City's buzz, businesses and bakeries

As a part of our Walk Down Main Street series, our writers take you on a stroll down the beautiful streets that make up our county's down towns, sharing a bit of insider info along the way.

There’s an auspicious buzz growing around the town of Bessemer City. Just 12 minutes west of Gastonia on I-85, Bessemer City has adopted the humble bee as the town’s de facto mascot. A small animal, yet mightily important to the growth of an ecosystem, the humble bee is the perfect embodiment of the town’s past, but most importantly it’s future.

Evey McFadden - Gaston Outside

Hard work and dogged determination drove the town of Bessemer City from the beginning. After being granted land by Great Britain’s King George II in 1754, James Ormand founded the Ormand Mining Company to take advantage of a multitude of mining resources. The old Ormand Furnace processed iron and gold ore and has been rumored to have produced cannonballs for the newly formed United States in the Revolutionary War.

Officially incorporated in 1893 with the help of John Askew Smith, money from the mines diversified to mills, continuing the trend of what wasand still isa key industry for all of North Carolina. Osage Mill, spanning 260,000 square feet, was one of the most notable mills not just in Bessemer City, but in all of Gaston County. The mill stayed operational all the way until 1995, just shy of 100 years. Today, a mixed-use redevelopment is underway to transform the mill at the heart of Bessemer City into an economic driver.

Camille Renner - Gaston Outside

A town that couldn’t stand still is flying forward with the speed and strength of the bee, ready to face the future of the growing Gaston County and the ideals of a conscious country. Essential to the future of a fossil-free world and a new age of American jobs are electric vehicles. Electric vehicles need a strong, rechargeable battery, built from the mineral lithium. Lithium is essential for the new age for cars but is also important for products ranging from pacemakers to aerospace technology. The future will rely on lithium, and Bessemer City is sitting on lots of it. Companies such as Livent, Piedmont Lithium, and even Tesla have announced plans for investment along the Carolina Tin-Spodumene Belt, promising economic growth and jobs for the future of Gaston County.

This means big changes in store for Bessemer City. The town recently released the BEE Ready 2030 Vision Plan, essentially a restructuring of the zoning codes to better fit the town’s mission of economic growth, accessible services, opportunities for citizens, and ultimately a high quality of life. Evidence of this transformation can be seen right on Main Street. With a mix of old and new businesses, married together in a tireless effort to preserve and persevere.

The buzz is back in Bessemer City, and it’s only going to get louder.

Dining & Bakeries

It’s essential to know where the good places to eat are, especially in an area you’re planning on exploring. Bessemer City has a nice variety of restaurants and shops that serve the C’s: coffee, cocktails, cake, cheeseburgers, country cooking, and other classics.

Blossom Coffee Shop

Evey McFadden - Gaston Outside

101 E. Virginia Ave.

Tuesday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-4 p.m.; Friday 11 a.m.-8 p.m.

Gaston County loves its coffee shops, and Blossom just so happens to serve delicious cups of your go-to coffee order daily (not to mention its cool interior). Blossom is also part bistro and cafe, so there’s plenty of fresh-made sandwiches, salads, soups, and desserts to pair with what you’re drinking. If you get there early, try their breakfast food, or come later for a selection of wine and beer options.

Dino’s Italian Restaurant

Evey McFadden - Gaston Outside

610 Gastonia Hwy.

Monday-Friday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m.; Saturday 3 p.m.-9 p.m.

From the husband and wife duo of Dino and Meg Tsambouniery comes Dino’s Italian Restaurant, a Bessemer City favorite that’s revered for their wings, pizza, cheesecakes, and Italian food selection. Beyond the food, the service is always friendly, and the price is too. Dine-in or use their drive-thru to see what the hype is about.

Elo Sweets & Goodies

Evey McFadden - Gaston Outside

136 W. Virginia Ave.

Monday-Thursday, 12 p.m.-6:30 p.m.; Friday 12 p.m.-7:30 p.m.; Saturday 12 p.m.-6 p.m.

For dessert, check out Elo Sweets & Goodies. They’ve got a sugary selection that’s great for any sweet tooth, with a diverse selection of ice cream flavors, Mexican candy, cakes, brownies, and other snacks.

Grandma Hoyt’s Country Buffet and Catering

Evey McFadden - Gaston Outside

421 E. Virginia Ave.

Monday-Friday, 11 a.m.-8 p.m.; Saturday 7:30 a.m.-12 p.m.

Grandma Hoyt’s Country Buffet and Catering is a verified cult classic restaurant in Gaston County. With an all-you-can-eat buffet of country-style favorites like fried chicken, country-style steak, and the traditional sides that came from the late Grandma Hoyt herself, there’s little chance you’ll be leaving hungry. There’s a unique menu every week, and if you go on Saturday, show up early to try their breakfast buffet.

McDonald’s Family Restaurant

Evey McFadden - Gaston Outside

617 Gastonia Hwy.

Monday 11 a.m.-5:30 p.m.; Tuesday 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m.; Wednesday-Friday, 11 a.m.-5:30 p.m.

Another cult favorite is McDonald’s Family Restaurant. McDonald’s doesn’t take any shortcuts, and since 1965 they’ve been grinding their own hamburger meat for burgers and chili, both customer favorites. They’ve also got hot dogs and chopped and minced barbeque, and don’t forget their slaw.

Whiskey Mill

Chris Rodarte - Gaston Outside

201 Pennsylvania Ave.

Sunday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m.

Whiskey Mill offers two necessities for a good time: cocktails and a cool patio, making it another great place to grab a drink. Whiskey Mill is also home to Bessemer City Brewing Company, with signature beers such as their Lithium English Mild Pale A