The newly renamed Greg May Hyundai hosted a grand opening on Thursday.

Staff photo— Jerry Larson

Fans of Blue Bell ice cream, take heart.The Brenham-based company, forced to pull its products off shelves four months ago because of a deadly listeria outbreak, soon will launch test production runs at its plant in Sylacauga, Alabama.

The trial will begin on July 20, but when Blue Bell will again have a place in retail stores remains undetermined, though published reports suggest they could arrive before the end of summer.

“We have been working diligently to prepare our facilities to resume test production and our focus throughout this process has been to ensure the public that when our products return to market, they are safe,” said Greg Bridges, vice president of operations for Blue Bell, in a statement on the company website.

“We are excited about taking these important first steps as part of the process of getting high-quality Blue Bell products back to consumers.”

Jenny Vandorf, a spokeswoman for Blue Bell, said in a phone interview that crews continue to clean and upgrade Blue Bell facilities in Brenham and Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, in anticipation of holding production tests at those plants.

“We continue to take steps to do what is best for our customers,” Vandorf said.

She said safety is a greater priority than setting a date for resuming sales.

End notes

Backstage Pass Music Center, 1300 Lake Air Drive, one of the few remaining locally owned music shops, will close next month. An illness in the family of owner and founder Greg Klepper prompted the decision to cease operations.

Manager Chuck Lambert confirmed the closing and referred to his Facebook post, which said the center will close Aug. 15.

“We would like to tell all of our customers and the Waco community how much we have enjoyed serving you and building relationships throughout the 61/2 years we have been open for business,” the message said.

David Doran, who has taught guitar at Backstage Pass since it opened, said he’s “sad to see it go.”

He said Klepper gave him a chance to teach guitar at a critical time in his life and he will never forget the gesture.

Doran said he will open his own place to provide guitar instruction at 6600 Sanger Ave., Suite 20.

Backstage Pass sold musical instruments and sound equipment and also served as a venue for buying tickets to events.

Klepper could not be reached for comment.

Grand opening

Greg May held a grand opening Thursday for his Hyundai dealership, which he had purchased from Sam Nay III and his daughter, Holly Dunham, who had served as general manager since it opened in 2006.

The dealership is located at 1501 W. Loop 340, next to Greg May Honda on Waco’s “Motor Mile.”

May also owns Greg May Chevrolet in West. He has named his three properties Greg May Auto Group.

Former Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty attracted the most attention at the opening. Petty, fourth-round pick of the New York Jets, greeted fans and signed autographs for two hours.

Nay and Dunham will retain possession of the building that houses Greg May Hyundai, with May leasing it from them.

Carino update

On June 17, an elderly couple slammed their Crown Victoria into the side of the Johnny Carino’s restaurant at 1411 N. Valley Mills Drive, burying three-quarters of the vehicle into the building but avoiding serious injury.

Work crews placed a temporary patch over the hole, but beyond that, the site has seen no further repairs. Readers sent email messages to the Trib wanting to know when the restaurant might reopen. Calls to the restaurant’s corporate headquarters Friday were not returned.

City of Waco inspection services department confirmed that a permit has been issued for repairs to the structure.

Fired Up Inc., the Austin-based franchisor or operator of about 100 Johnny Carino’s locations, including Waco’s, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last year. One of its secured creditors was Independent Bank of Waco, to which it owed $600,000.

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