What’s Cookin’? Jonathan’s Grille to Serve Up Two Locations in Madison

MADISON —  Jonathan’s Grille will be opening its first two locations outside of Tennessee with two restaurants in Madison.

The popular Nashville-area business is scheduled to open at Clift Farm on U.S. 72 late this summer and at booming Town Madison in December. They will create 100 jobs for the area.

Construction is underway at the Clift Farm site and the Town Madison location will be going vertical off the I-565/Wall Triana exit in May. The first restaurant to open on the west end of Town Madison, Jonathan’s will be next to the new Hilton Garden Inn.

Known for their diverse menu of pizzas made from fresh inhouse dough, fresh salads, tacos, sandwiches and mouth-watering prime rib, owners Curt and Mason Revelette believe the two sites are home run developments and excellent locations for their growing restaurant brand.

“We are thrilled to be joining the Madison community,” said Curt Revelette. “My brother and I started Jonathan’s in Franklin (Tenn.) and at the time, we were only the third restaurant in the Cool Springs community.

“We have been blessed that Nashville’s growth exploded in the manner it has, providing us with the opportunity to open restaurants in what used to be bedroom communities to Nashville. Growing up there, we have known Huntsville for years because it was where we came to visit the U.S. Space & Rocket Center.”

He said customers have been driving the 45 minutes to an hour from Madison to Franklin, so the move into Madison is a natural progression of their company growth.

“Now as we look at the big picture and see the growth of the greater Huntsville area and our proximity to Madison, and as we grow our own opportunities, we think focusing on Madison just makes a lot of sense, and we hope the entire community loves what we are bringing,” he said.

Jonathan’s Grille opened last year in the midst of the pandemic. (Photo/Kathryn Byrd for Jonathan’s Grille)

While COVID-19 has negatively impacted some restaurants, it has not slowed down Jonathan’s. They opened a location in Chattanooga right in the middle of the pandemic and Revelette said it is doing extremely well.

“We have 500 employees, and we promote from within, so many of our employees have been with us since they were 16 years old and have worked their way up to managers from servers and hostesses,” Revelette said. “As a family-owned business, we never laid off a single staff member. We brought them in during the shutdowns to clean the store and we were able to get a lot of projects done that had been needing to get done forever, so our staff is loyal.

“We knew we were going to get through it. Small businesses face bumps in the road all the time. We are just that type of company.”

In terms of making any changes in their restaurant design and operations, he said restaurants are cleaner now than they have ever been, and though they do not follow “trends,” one of the things that has come out of COVID-19 is the popularity of more outdoor patio space.

And, they are happy to oblige.

“We will be incorporating more front patio space at both new locations, but we are also going to have a back patio off the bar side that will be for ages 21 and over,” said Revelette. “That will allow people to spread out more.

“We have also seen our to-go business explode highlighted by people being at home, so they are using mobile apps more than they ever did before and they are great. We will continue to partner with (delivery) services to provide that. But overall, we will continue to stick with the basics that has helped us get to where we are now – provide great service and fresh, high quality food at a reasonable price.”

Construction Begins on 8,000-Seat Huntsville Amphitheater

Construction has begun on the long awaited state-of-the-art, 8,000-seat Huntsville Amphitheater at MidCity and the new West Huntsville Park. It also marks a 15-month countdown to an April 2022 opening.

The city’s amphitheater will soon rise from this red clay in Huntsville’s MidCity District. (Photo/Steve Babin)

The City of Huntsville and Venue Group, founded by Ben Lovett of the Grammy Award-winning rock band Mumford & Sons, made the announcement.

The project brings to life Huntsville’s long-time vision for an iconic major music venue that will serve the community and bring top music talent to the region. It is also a major contributor in the city’s Music Initiative to build a music and cultural-based economy throughout the region.

Huntsville Venue Group, a joint venture partnership led by Ryan Murphy, former CEO of the St. Augustine (Fla.) Amphitheater, will be operating the venue on behalf of the city. He will be assisted by leadership from the global Venue Group team including Lovett and his brother Greg, Graham Brown, and Jesse Mann, in partnership with industry veterans Mike Luba, Don Sullivan, Jeff Kicklighter and Al Santos.

According to Dennis Madsen, the city’s manager of Urban & Long Range Planning, who also oversees the Music Initiative, Lovett’s involvement is extraordinary because artists have a lot to say about the venues in which they perform.

“Artists themselves like to play in some venues because of the atmosphere and environment,” said Madsen. “I believe Ben Lovett’s motivation in starting Venue Group was driven by wanting to create more of those types of venues.”

Mayor Tommy Battle said the city has wanted to build more than an amphitheater. They want a facility that will help grow Huntsville’s music and culture economy.

“It will allow us to become a community of curators, where we can develop our own creative content that is unique to Huntsville that we can share globally,” said Battle. “In addition to arts festivals, markets, and world-famous musicians, we’ll be able to incubate our own talent, showing that our next great entrepreneurs don’t all have to be in space and missile defense.”

Murphy believes the main reason Venue Group won the contract for the Huntsville Amphitheater was because they had a shared vision of a year-round operation and of making it a community asset.

“When I saw Huntsville doing this Music Initiative, I was so impressed. They are putting the road map together. They understand the economics of it and the importance of it,” he said. “I have to say they stepped up to understand that music is not just a quality-of-life issue that adds to the culture and arts in a city.

“Huntsville understands music is an economic driver and that it creates jobs.”

He said having worked in local government for 15 years, it is often hard for local government to understand the benefits of a music and culture economy because there is not a lot of long-term vision.

“We are creating something that is not just your run-of-the-mill amphitheater stage and lawn,” Murphy said. “The uniqueness of the architecture and the uniqueness of how it will be operated makes it much more of a community asset.”

Part of that uniqueness will be the Amphitheater’s integration into the new West Huntsville Park. The city will be preserving much of the natural trees and wooded areas and will be creating nature and hiking trails throughout the surrounding area.

There has been some early criticism that so elaborate a venue may well bring in 20 major concerts a year, but what about the remaining 345 days a year?

“That would be the biggest waste of taxpayer dollars, even if 20 big names a year was an economic driver, brought more quality of life to the residents, and provided jobs,” said Murphy. “What we’re going to create is a community asset. The Huntsville Amphitheater will be an extension of the new West Huntsville Park so that on any given day there may be multiple stages set up with multiple areas of engagement, much of it free.”

From a gospel Sunday brunch with barbecue and great gospel groups, to local Saturday afternoon music showcases, Murphy said the aim is to create a venue the community will get behind because they know on any given day year-round, they will find something really cool going on there.

“It will attract major concerts that have never been seen in North Alabama, but it will also be scaled appropriately with plenty of flexible space and will be affordable for nonprofits and local events to lease space to fit any occasion from farmer’s markets and graduation ceremonies to small arts festivals,” he said.

Another unique aspect of the Huntsville Amphitheater is the result of Lovett’s vision to build a new era of world class music venues combined with significant community growth and amenities. Among those amenities is food – good food.

Huntsville Venue Group is in talks with regional chefs and local food vendors to bring to life its prized food village that will operate year-round. The village will provide food and beverage options to patrons of the Amphitheatre and also serve as an additional amenity and social space for MidCity.

“One of the biggest trends in the past 10 years has been an elevation of the quality and variety of food offerings, especially around music,” said Lovett. “We believe there is a huge amount of opportunity in the hospitality side of entertainment to deliver food and drinks of such excellence that they stand on their own two feet as an offering not simply as a way to ‘tide you over,’ quench the thirst, or satiate the hunger temporarily.

“We have to aspire for higher standards than that. One of the reasons that Huntsville is so appealing to me and the team is it feels like going the extra mile is in the DNA of this city and we intend to go the extra mile when it comes to not just the concert experience, but the restaurants and bars that lay adjacent and that will serve customers year-round.”

Murphy also said Huntsville Venue Group is going to be involved in the entire community.

“Whether they are festivals downtown or smaller venues in town struggling to get back on their feet after COVID, we are going to help them, too,” he said. “The Huntsville Amphitheater will not open in isolation. We are watching the recommendation coming from the Initiative’s music audit, and we are going to help every step of the way.”


The Hummus & Pita Co. Opens in Times Plaza; Good Food that’s Good for you

The Hummus & Pita Co. is open daily from 11 a.m. – 8 p.m. and offers dine-in, curbside, takeout, and delivery. (Photo/Steve Babin)

Hold on tight and brace your tastebuds, The Hummus & Pita Company is delivering a fresh take on Mediterranean fare, here in the Rocket City. It’s great tasting food that’s also good for you.

Since 2011, Hummus & Pita Co. has been delivering guilt-free, homemade cuisine. The restaurant features a fast-casual Mediterranean-inspired concept, with nods to Greece, Israel, Morocco, and Middle East fare. All menu items are made from scratch onsite, using only the freshest ingredients.

“It’s a company based out of New York,” said General Manager Tiffany Jenkins. “They wanted to start franchising in the South, our first store is in Atlanta, in the Dunwoody area, where we trained. The next store is Huntsville, and we’re opening a store in Montgomery.”

There are eight locations, three in the Big Apple: Chelsea, Tribeca, and the Upper East Side. There are also Hummus & Pita Company franchises in New Jersey, Connecticut, Michigan, Georgia, and now, Huntsville.

Jenkins, a veteran of the Earth Fare stores, knows quality when she sees it. When Earth Fare shuttered its doors, she sought work in the food-service industry, in a place that offered healthy food choices and high quality eats.

Hummus & Pita was the perfect fit.

“We’re excited to be expanding The Hummus & Pita Co. further into the Southeast with the Huntsville opening,” said co-founder Dave Pesso. “The popularity of Mediterranean cuisine is rapidly growing in the Southeast and we look forward to introducing our fresh, innovative, and flavorful meals to this region.”

There’s a wide selection on the menu, including six varieties of hummus, eight sauces, and an assortment of vegetables. Menu items include gluten-free, dairy-free, and vegan options.

Upon arrival, guests can choose to “Quick it – Start it – Build it – Fill it – Top it – Sauce it.”

As one of the “Quick it” entrees, the Roy is a study in color. It consists of rice, hummus, eggplant, corn salad, red cabbage, tomatoes, cucumbers, and a choice of sauce to top it off.

The Chickpea Chiller is Hummus & Pita’s signature shake. To most people, this might not sound very appetizing right off the bat. The Chiller is all-natural vegan, dairy-free, and gluten-free and comes in five flavors: butter pecan, pistachio, chocolate, strawberry and vanilla. In addition to chickpeas, the frozen concoction includes tahini, frozen bananas, dates, almond milk, and a pinch of pure vanilla and cinnamon.

Business has been doing well, according to Jenkins. For those dining inside, there’s staggered seating and frequent sanitization. Although the dining area seems empty, the pickup, takeout, and delivery orders balance out the equation.

Hummus & Pita is open daily from 11 a.m. – 8 p.m. and offers dine-in, curbside, takeout, and delivery via third-party partners.  Customers also can download the app through the Apple Store and Google Play to order in advance and take advantage of loyalty features.

For more information, visit hummusandpitas.com.






It’s All Fun and Games for Kids (of All Ages): Main Event Coming to Bridge Street Town Centre

Remember the arcade from your days long ago, the big place with Galaga, Centipede, Pac-Man, pinball machines, Skee-ball and air hockey? Perhaps a pool table or two, as well, with a line of stacked “got next” quarters on the rail?

The Main Event is moving into the former Toys R Us/Babies R Us building.

Now imagine that for adults — and kids, of course — with much more space, bowling, laser tag, billiards and more than 120 arcade games, along with restaurants and beverages including cocktails and craft beer.

That’s what’s coming, with Main Event Entertainment opening a 50,000 square-foot complex at Bridge Street Town Centre.

“They looked at Huntsville and the growth Huntsville will have over the long-term,” said Nikki Columbo, senior vice president of Key Accounts for Bayer Properties, which manages Bridge Street Town Centre. “They’re projecting for 10 to 15 years and what they’re seeing is that growth (in Huntsville) will surpass other markets. They’re looking for long-term.”

This is the first location of Main Event in Alabama and it is slated to open by 2022 but no specific date has been given. It will be a family-friendly option for multiple age groups.

“We couldn’t be more excited about becoming part of the Huntsville community and bringing our unique family entertainment experience to the area,” said Chris Morris, president and CEO of Main Event. “Our brand promise is to provide guests an opportunity to make memories together while enjoying the best activities and games imaginable all in the comforts of one fun-filled location. We are committed to doing that every single day.

“The team at Bayer Properties was instrumental in making this a reality and we are thankful to be working with a top-notch group on our first-ever location in Alabama.”

Dallas-based Main Event has 44 locations in the United States ranging from 45,000 to 75,000 square feet. The company bills its centers as having state-of-the-art bowling, multi-level laser tag, gravity ropes adventure courses and more. It offers a variety of deals and specials, including happy hour, along with birthday, private and corporate parties/events.

Morris has a strong upper management background in the restaurant and entertainment industries. He has been with California Pizza Kitchen, On the Border Mexican Grill & Cantina, CEC Entertainment (owners of Chuck E. Cheese’s and Peter Piper Pizza), NPC International and Applebee’s International. Morris has opened more than 200 units with five businesses.

Columbo said the scouting for Huntsville began prior to 2020. But the pandemic impact didn’t stop Main Event from moving forward toward opening.

“We kept moving forward and they reorganized as well,” she said. “Coming out of the pandemic they’re moving forward with one or two leases in the country and Huntsville is one of them. I think it’s safe to say they’re not going to open five in the next year. They’re going to open one or two, maybe three, and Huntsville is one of them.

“The essence of Main Event Entertainment and Bridge Street Town Centre fits perfectly. Bridge Street really draws from a large area of the Huntsville market. It draws from 25 to 50 miles, and our core customer is coming from that distance 25-30 times a year for the Bridge Street experience. One of the reasons they planted their flag in Huntsville is they saw traffic patterns and (growth) and saw this as a good opportunity.”

Main Event joins The Cheesecake Factory in announcing a new location at Bridge Street. The Cheesecake Factory will move into the 7,350-square-foot corner location on the south side of the property that previously housed Cantina Laredo. It will be across from P.F. Chang’s and adjacent to Barnes & Noble. Opening is “Winter 2021,” with no specific date announced.

Columbo said Bayer has other projects in the works for Bridge Street but declined to offer specifics. A mixed-use outdoor center, Bridge Street has more than 50 unique or specialty stores, more than 207,000 square feet of Class A office space, the 232-room Westin hotel, 150-room Element by Westin, and a 14-screen Cinemark theatre that is the busiest in Alabama. New developments include Watermark, a 244-unit luxury apartment complex, and the 131-room Hyatt Place hotel.

Cheesecake Factory Coming to Bridge Street Town Centre

When officials with The Cheesecake Factory toured Bridge Street Town Centre in late 2019, they were sold on adding the state’s second location here.

All of what happened in 2020 didn’t change that decision, either.

“Our guests have been asking us to come to Huntsville for years, so we are very pleased to be opening a restaurant at Bridge Street Town Centre,” David Overton, founder, chairman and CEO of The Cheesecake Factory, said. “Bridge Street Town Centre is a wonderful property … and we look forward to opening  there.”

The Cheesecake Factory will move into the 7,350-square-foot corner location on the south side of the property that previously housed Cantina Laredo. It will be across from P.F. Chang’s and adjacent to Barnes & Noble. Opening is “Winter 2021,” with no specific date announced.

The Cheesecake Factory has been consistently named one of the Fortune magazine “Best 100 Companies to Work For.” It has garnered numerous awards for customer satisfaction, quality of atmosphere, food and presentation, workplace diversity, and menu options. Its large, diverse menu contains more than 250 items including more than 50 cheesecakes.

The company also has consistently been nominated and acclaimed for community service and development of employees. Its other Alabama location is at The Summit in Birmingham. The Cheesecake Factory owns and operates 294 restaurants in the United States and Canada under three brands. It also has a bakery division that provides items for its restaurants and third-party bakery customers.

Nikki Columbo, senior vice president of National Key Accounts for Bayer Properties, said the company is opening “very few stores” in the next 18 months due to the coronavirus impact. Bayer Properties, based in Birmingham, manages Bridge Street Town Centre. Myriad factors contributed to the decision to open here, including the drawing power of the shopping complex to a large demographic.

“The Cheesecake Factory’s philosophy, pre-pandemic, was to not go into markets that did not have a set demographic draw,” Columbo said. “I believe that was something like 500,000 in 10 miles, which Huntsville does not have. But after looking at this project, and we’re the dominant project in the entire market until you get to Birmingham, given the way Bridge Street Town Centre trades in the market and attracts visitors from 25 to 50 miles, and looking at the core customer coming to Bridge Street 25 or more times a year, they looked at it as being able to draw in a market in excess of half a million.

“Then it was a decision of which (location) to choose, and when they toured 15 months ago it was clear to them that Bridge Street was their only choice. They’ve been great partners.”

The company’s history dates to the 1940s in Detroit when Evelyn Overton used a newspaper recipe to create her “Original” cheesecake. She opened a small shop but closed it to raise her two children, Renee and David. She still made cheesecakes at home for local restaurants, building a strong reputation. In 1972, with the children grown, Evelyn and her husband moved to Los Angeles to chase their dream.

She began making cheesecakes and quickly established herself in Los Angeles. In 1978, the Cheesecake Factory opened its first restaurant in Beverly Hills, Calif. Calling it “upscale casual dining” — today it’s known by influencers and others as “experiential dining” — the restaurant’s popularity took off. Its extensive menu covers a wide range designed for a variety of diners.

Columbo said other projects are in the works for Bridge Street. Dallas-based Main Event is opening in what was the Toys R Us/Babies R Us building on the corner of Governors Drive West and Eagle Drive Northwest. The 50,000-square-foot entertainment and restaurant complex will be the company’s first in Alabama.

Columbo said traffic and shopping patterns, demographics of outlying areas from Huntsville and Madison County, housing starts, known brands expressing interest and other factors are contributing to the flurry of projects here. Announcements about the FBI building a complex on Redstone Arsenal and Huntsville landing the Space Command headquarters also are impactful.

“We have a lot in the works, but obviously we don’t announce until things are signed, sealed and delivered,” she said. “But suffice to say we have a lot in the works. I like to say we cast a large net. It’s surprising that even in pandemic this (Huntsville) market is so strong. We’re seeing a lot of interest in this mini-economic boom the market is experiencing.”



Bubby’s Diner: Bringing a Taste of the ’50s to South Huntsville

For those hankering for the kind of comfort food that diners are known for, the wait is over.

There’s a new “kid” in town, located near the confluence of Whitesburg Drive and South Memorial Parkway. 

Serving up ’50s style American comfort foods such as hamburgers, French fries, and malts, Bubby’s Diner opens for business Feb. 9

In addition to time-honored diner fare, there’s also a few interesting twists. Menu items, such as the donut slider, make for a wide-eyed pick-me-up. The slider is served with a choice of bacon or sausage, along with the added options of cheese and egg. 

Sandwiches include the Tesla’s Philly cheesesteak sandwich; a fried green tomato BLT; and the Rocket Towne wrap, a spinach, cucumber, and tomato sandwich, all topped with homemade ranch dressing. 

For those seeking the “Big Easy” feel, there’s also a fully dressed fried crawfish Po Boy topped with remoulade sauce.

Diners have come to symbolize the period of post-World War II era prosperity, optimism, and hope in 1950s America. Bubby’s represents all of this and more for South Huntsville. 

With COVID-19 shuttering the doors of many small businesses and dining establishments, the new restaurant is a welcome addition. Bubby’s Diner is one of several small businesses setting up shop in South Huntsville, thus enhancing the area’s overall “curb” appeal and viability. 

For more info: facebook.com/Bubbys-Diner

Get the Inside Scoop Out in the Yard; Milkshake Bar to Open at Town Madison

MADISON — Freak /frēk/ noun – to behave in a wild and irrational way.

Featured last fall on Shark Tank, The Yard Milkshake Bar is opening its first location in North Alabama in early April. It will be at 503 Town Madison Boulevard, across from Toyota Field. 

Dessert and ice cream lovers will have to see it and taste it to believe it.

Known as Freak Shakes, these milkshakes are wilder than Tim Tebow’s college football Freak of the Week. They are too deliberate to be a freak accident; so delicious they have been called freaks of nature; and served to overflowing in pint, quart, and half-gallon iced souvenir mason jars that freaking defy gravity.

“The first time we experienced the Yard in Gulf Shores, we knew we had to bring one to Huntsville and Madison,” said franchise owner Rodney Cottingham. “We called The Yard corporate office as soon as we left the store and we both knew our next business venture would be bringing The Yard Milkshake Bar to North Alabama.

“And it didn’t take long to choose Town Madison, right across from the new Trash Pandas’ stadium as the perfect location.” 

He and his wife and business partner Shanen are Huntsville residents and entrepreneurs who have owned businesses in the area for several years.

“We are both so excited about breaking ground in the coming days and being open by early April in time for baseball season, if everything goes as planned,” said Shanen Cottingham.

The Yard Milkshake Bar will be a lesson in indulgence.

There are menu choices such as Donut Touch My Coffee & Cream; Monkey Meets the Moose; the Cereal Killer, the Mermaid, and the Unicorn with its cotton candy ice cream. 

And, there are more than 100,000 possible combinations for The Yard’s Build Your Own Specialty Milkshake, including 35 ice cream flavors and some 50 toppings.

The Yard will offer seasonal and monthly specials such as February’s Super Bowl Fundae Sundae with chocolate and birthday batter ice cream and chocolate drizzle; a dessert nacho waffle bowl filled with whipped cream, mini chocolate chips, sprinkles, and chocolate sauce, all piled into a chocolate iced jar and rolled in sprinkles. Or the Yardi Gras with its Graham Central Station ice cream with purple, green, and yellow marshmallow cream, Mardi Gras sprinkles, and topped off with a slice of King Cake.

Other menu items include 10 mix and match edible cookie dough flavors made with heat-treated flour and no eggs.

They also make ice cream bowls and cones; hot chocolate, coffee and specialty sundaes and floats; ice cream cakes and pies; cookie dough pops; and Grab & Go ice cream pints.

The Yard Milkshake Bar was started in 2017 by Logan and Chelsea Green. There are shops in Gulf Shores and Fairhope in South Alabama; and in Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Texas and Virginia.

To quote the legendary Crash Davis in the movie “Bull Durham: “See ya at the Yard …”

Construction on Constellation, the City’s ‘Front Door,’ is Underway

After decades of planning and dreaming, Constellation Huntsville is finally under construction.

Constellation is a mixed-use development right at Huntsville’s “front door.” (Photo/Steve Babin)

Located on about 11 acres sandwiched between Memorial Parkway, Clinton Avenue and the Von Braun Center, the mixed-use project has sparked numerous questions and much speculation over the years.

Developer Scott McLain never lost faith, although it may have been shaken a bit over the last 12 years after two recessions, a pandemic and other natural bumps in the road of developing such a large project.

On the site of the old Heart of Huntsville Mall, which was demolished in 2007, Constellation Huntsville will feature 219 apartments, about 25,000 square feet of retail space, about 20,000 square feet of small office space, multiple restaurants and a parking deck.

A 200,000 square-foot office tower could be the tallest in downtown, McLain said, and “only limited by physics and economics.” A hotel will join Springhill Suites on the site.

The project is being developed by Constellation LLC, which consists of Heartland Real Estate Services (Heartland Development Services LLC of Chicago) and Coldwell Banker Commercial McLain Real Estate.

The second hotel will be developed by Yedla Management Co. which owns the hotel site. Yedla lists 17 hotels in its portfolio including the Springhill Suites, AC Hotel, Aloft Hotel, Homewood Suites, TownePlace Suites, Hampton Inn, and DoubleTree Suites in Huntsville; as well as hotels in Florence, Decatur, Foley, Atmore, Charlotte and Lake Mary, Fla.

The site has the highest traffic count in the city, with Memorial Parkway, Clinton Avenue, Governors Drive and I-565 within a mile. (Photo/Steve Babin)

“Constellation is fully under construction at this point and we are excited,” McLain said. “Constellation is part of downtown Huntsville’s exciting, new mixed-use projects and is strategically located at what some say is the front door of downtown. I am exceedingly proud to see this project executed.

“The site is very important and demands a high-quality and exciting project. Being at the front door to downtown on Memorial Parkway is a responsibility to ensure that the property is fully utilized and developed to its fullest purpose to the benefit of our community.”

The site has the highest traffic count in the city, with Memorial Parkway, Clinton Avenue, Governors Drive and I-565 within a mile. The City of Huntsville has pledged $3 million for upgrades to the intersections near the site along with access to parking. Asked about potential changes to access roads on South Memorial Parkway, which are stressful at rush hours, McLain said none were planned and “it’s a U.S. highway, so the ramps are as they are.”

A 200,000 square-foot office tower is planned for this site along Memorial Parkway. Its height may be “only limited by physics and economics.” (Photo/Steve Babin)

The four-story apartment building will feature courtyards, a heated swimming pool, 1- to 3-bedroom apartments, gym facilities and meeting facilities along with other amenities. McLain said the apartments will not be completed until at least April 2022.

Retail and restaurant leasing “is in full swing, but they decide when they want to announce so we have no announcements at this juncture,” McLain said.

Total investment for Constellation will be close to $100 million, McLain said. His father, the late Gene McLain, purchased the site in the 1980s and demolished the one-story Heart of Huntsville mall in 2007. McLain died the day he and Scott were to meet with then-Mayor Loretta Spencer about the development.

A year later the worst recession since the Depression hit.

“It certainly is a highly complex project,” McLain said, “and between two recessions, two partnership deaths and the pandemic it has taken quite some time to get to this point.

“But we are extremely excited to be underway and fully under construction.”



Shaken, not Stirred: Oscar Moon’s Milkshake Bar Opening at Stovehouse

In a year when we’re all yearning for simpler, sweeter, times, Oscar Moon’s milkshake bar will serve up
frozen treats and a nostalgic experience straight out of a Norman Rockwell painting.

The shake shop/vintage soda fountain/milkshake bar is slated to open in the spring in Stovehouse, the company announced Monday.

With names such as “The Oscar Moose,” “Wake & Shake” and “Chocolate Horsejackery,” you can tell they’re putting a modern spin on the old classics.

“These are definitely gourmet recipes,” said Jonathan Barnette, who dreamed up the venture with Stovehouse partners Steven Jackson and Patti and Danny Yancey. “But they begin with a commitment to old-fashioned shake-making and putting smiles on faces.”

In fact, there are no big machines with over-mixed shakes auto-pouring into cups.

The Oscar Moon’s apron-wearing “soda jerks” begin by hand-dipping, Alabama-made, Blue Bell ice cream. They add a dizzying array of carefully concocted ingredients, then dish out hand-spun shakes, malts, floats and novelties which can be enjoyed belly-up to the bar or anywhere on the 12-acre Stovehouse campus.

Oscar Moon’s will occupy the space, and expand on the offerings, of The Company Store which was built as a temporary campus amenity until all restaurants got up and running, Jackson said.

“We know Huntsville has been asking for a milkshake bar for years,” he said. “So we looked at the campus as a whole and realized it would be a perfect complement to the restaurants, coffeehouse, brewery and bars, event spaces, shopping and nightlife that is ramping up here.”

Oscar Moon’s will also sell classic candies, craft sodas, Stovehouse swag and more.

The physical space was important to the founders as well.

“Since this room is part of an adaptive reuse project, we used reclaimed materials that were part of the Martin Stove building that was built in 1929,” says Danny Yancey. “From the weathered metal ceiling to vintage lighting and decor, it feels like an authentic, but updated, small-town soda fountain.

“Add to that our turquoise counter, cushy yellow bar stools, Chuck Berry on the radio … and it feels like stepping back in time to your happy place.”

Patti Yancey said Oscar Moon’s is another option that Stovehouse’s unique atmospher offers.

“Stovehouse is a family-friendly destination for community and culture, so we’re excited to offer up yet another way to treat yourself,” she said “After all, we turned the hard-working Martin Stove factory into a company that’s now ‘Manufacturing Leisure.’

“And I can’t think of many better ways to relax than slow-sipping the best milkshake in town.”



Big Bad Breakfast CEO Says Huntsville Off the Menu, for Now

Orders for a Big Bad Breakfast in Huntsville are not on the menu for now, according to the popular restaurant’s chief executive officer.

Travis Grappo, CEO of the restaurant founded by famed chef John Currence in Oxford, Miss., told Huntsville Business Journal that Big Bad Breakfast has “nothing scheduled in Huntsville at the moment.” Local news and social media outlets have reported that a new location was coming but cited no sources other than the restaurant’s website.

Along with its home location in Oxford, Big Bad Breakfast’s website currently lists “Coming Soon” locations of Huntsville, Memphis, Little Rock and a second in Nashville. It also shows its current cities of Inlet Beach, Fla.; Cool Springs, south of Nashville; Greystone and Homewood, south of Birmingham; and Florence.

Expansion of Big Bad Breakfast is booming despite the myriad issues in 2020 with the pandemic and recession. Grappo indicated a search and discussions for a site have been ongoing.

“Thanks for contacting us, but we have nothing scheduled in Huntsville at the moment,” Grappo said via email. “While we love that market, I think our marketing team may have made a mistake in putting it on the website. My apologies.

“We have been working diligently over the last 18 months to procure a location, but simply are not there, yet.”

Currence is a native of New Orleans who worked his way through kitchens on a Gulf of Mexico oilfield tugboat and in Virginia, North Carolina and New Orleans before opening City Grocery in Oxford in 1992.

It found an overwhelming following thanks to its robust dishes, superbly stocked bar and wine cellar, and discerning guests. City Grocery is on the square in Oxford just doors from the popular Square Books and across from the iconic Lafayette County Courthouse.

Big Bad Breakfast opened in Oxford in 2008 on North Lamar Street just a few miles from downtown, and immediately became a hit. Standing in line for seating is to be expected.

The restaurant is part of Currence’s award-winning restaurants including City Grocery, Bouré and Snackbar oyster bar. His team also runs The Main Event, handling event planning and coordination. Currence was nominated from 2005-08 for “Best Chef South” by the James Beard Foundation and won the award in 2009. 

Currence, on the Big Bad Breakfast site, explained his concept for the restaurant as offering from-scratch childhood comfort foods with elevated flavors

“Things don’t taste the same now with the degree of processing and preservatives/stabilizers added to food,” he said. “I wanted people to taste the flavors of my grandfather’s patty sausage and my great grandmother’s biscuits. So that’s exactly what we did.

“We wanted to make everything we could from scratch, our biscuits, jellies, bacon, sausage, etc. We had our grits ground especially for the store. For our bacon we sourced the leftover pepper mash from Tabasco that we blended with dark brown sugar for the cure before we smoked a perfectly sweet, spicy, smoky strip of the best bacon ever. We would carry a simple egg plate to a new level and create dishes that would challenge and excite our guests who wanted more.”