Female business owners thriving in downtown Cairo

CAIRO, Ga. (WALB) – New businesses continue to pop up in downtown Cairo.

Emilee Connell Umanzor, Cindy Long, Whitney Brown are new downtown business owners. All three are women and opened their doors in 2021.

Long, the owner of Punky’s, opened her doors in April 2021. She is from Central Florida. Long wanted to help recreate what she loved about her hometown.

“Where I come from, everyone feeds off of each other. The more you have going on downtown, the more people that come, and if they don’t stop in here, they’re stopping somewhere else, but at least they know where we’re at,” Long said.

Long has billiards and food for parents and kids.

Brown owns a smoothie/bakery downtown called Cairo Nutrition. She said being in a small town, it’s important to support each other, and that’s exactly what all the businesses opening are doing.

“We’re involved in the community. I know a lot of people here, they know me. They come in and they shop with us. They share their business with us just like we share our business with them,” Brown said.

Brown was a culinary teacher a year ago, now she’s employing her former students. She says newer businesses like hers expand options that small towns don’t usually have. She has things for diabetics or gluten intolerant people who don’t necessarily have places they can go otherwise.

Umanzor is the owner of another new business. Through her nonprofit work in Honduras, she brings in art and shares it with Cairo.

Umanzor opened her doors because of a loan she got approved by the city. She was able to redo the store’s facade with the money too.

First and Broad Pizza is rebranding from Home Slice, but they're staying in Cairo.
First and Broad Pizza is rebranding from Home Slice, but they’re staying in Cairo.(WALB)

“There are a lot of things I didn’t know that was available for small business owners in Grady County. So that was a great opportunity that they were able to give us the ability to do this,” Umanzor said.

She’s optimistic about her business and other businesses succeeding.

The newest one is going to be a throwback.

First and Broad Pizza is a new restaurant coming to downtown Cairo right where the old train depot used to be located. The owners are taking their smaller shop called Home Slice, and expanding it to the train depot.

Shelly Searcy, the tourism director in Grady County, said the building carries history for Cairo.

“The train depot is why Cairo even exists. Because historically speaking, we are city because we had a train depot,” Searcy said.

That’s why it was important for them to keep the same building. First and Broad has its eyes on opening in October. Searcy said this is yet another example of a success story in Cairo.

“People just want things to do. People want to shop, people wanna eat, people want to go out and have a nice dinner and maybe have a drink,” Searcy said.

Grady Central, a dance studio,, and Gate 16 Pizza are two other new stores that have popped up.

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