Super Chix to Open Its First Alabama Store in Times Plaza

Why did the Super Chix cross the road?

Well, that may not be the right question but the Dallas-based chicken and frozen custard restaurant is coming to Huntsville.

Super Chix is slated to open this summer in Times Plaza, the retail-office-dining development on South Parkway, adjacent to Arby’s, Crunkleton Commercial Real Estate announced.

“Super Chix is a premium, fast-casual dining experience that is devoted to quality offerings and great customer service,” said Nick Ouimet, the restaurant’s founder and CEO. “This will be our first location outside of the Dallas market and we are very excited to partner with local restaurateurs Kumar Patel and Rajesh Patel to bring the concept to Huntsville.

“The Times Plaza location will serve our delicious never-frozen tenders and fillets, hand-breaded or grilled chicken sandwiches, salads, fresh hand-cut fries and daily-churned frozen custard to a whole new market that appreciates high-quality fare in a fun and lively environment.”

All menu items are made-to-order and feature gourmet toppings free from MSG and GMOs. The fresh, never-frozen chicken is marinated in-store, grilled or hand-breaded and cooked in peanut oil free from additives. Even the toppings come from whole vegetables that are delivered daily and sliced by hand.

“This isn’t fast-food chicken—there are only six ingredients in our breading on our lightly breaded, high-quality tenders and fillets, and we believe simple is best,” Ouimet said. “We have no drive-thrus and our interiors have a cool, modern vibe that’s perfect for a casual lunch or dinner.”

In addition to its first-rate chicken, Super Chix also specializes in frozen custard, which is served as hand-dipped in cones or cups, or in milkshakes and fusions (concretes). Chocolate and vanilla are churned each morning and are always on the menu, but Super Chix also offers a special flavor of the day.

“Times Plaza is the perfect location for the new-to-market Super Chix thanks to its easy accessibility and prominent visibility from the parkway,” said Crunkleton Commercial Real Estate leasing agent Anusha Davis. “Nearby professionals will have another great option for a fast-casual lunch with both healthy and indulgent options and dinner crowds will discover a new excellent eatery they can enjoy with family and friends.”

Love by The Numbers: This Business of Valentine’s Day

If you were shopping for Christmas swag in hopes of scoring big post-season discounts, you might have taken notice.

In almost a blink of an eye, retailers moved quickly in preparation for Valentine’s Day. By the end of the first week of the new year, inventory on the shelves had magically transformed from tinsel and tree lights to pink and red hearts.

Valentine’s Day is a BIG deal in the United States. From all walks of retail, customers are faced with an endless array of love-inspired offerings to suit every taste and budget.

Each year, Valentine’s Day spending in the U.S. for sweethearts, kids, friends, coworkers, and even the family pet translates into billions of dollars. BILLIONS.

According to the National Retail Federation, last year’s Valentine’s Day spending contributed roughly $19.6 billion to the U.S. economy. Those numbers were the second-highest since 2013; topped only by a record $19.7 billion spent in 2016.  Given a stable economy, Valentine’s Day 2019 spending could easily match or exceed $20 billion.

Who’s Buying?

There’s nothing like the blush of young love. Whether it’s to impress a mate or to woo a potential one, 60 percent of adults between the ages of 18 and 24 and 67 percent of those between the ages of 25 and 34 celebrate Valentine’s Day with gusto, spending more than the older folks. In fact, just half of those between ages 55 and 64 and only 44.7 percent of those 65 and older celebrate Valentine’s Day.

Most Valentine’s Day gift purchases are for a spouse or significant other. The other top gifting categories include family members, kids’ classmates and teachers, coworkers, and pets.

The $19.6 billion spent in 2018 translated into an average of $143.56 per person.  All Valentine’s Day gifting is not created equal, however. Men spend almost twice as much as women do. On average, guys spend $196.39 on their beloved, while the ladies spend only $99.87.

Where Are They Buying it?

As the first gift-centric holiday of the new year, big spending on Valentine’s Day provides a hefty boost to the economy. Despite the ease and convenience of the Internet, only 29 percent of shoppers order Valentine’s Day gifts online.

For Valentine’s Day in particular, shoppers seem to prefer the in-store “brick and mortar” approach to gift buying: 35 percent visit department stores, 32 percent shop at discount stores, 19 percent prefer browsing specialty stores, and 17 percent will stop by the florist’s shop on their way home from work. Even if it means waiting in a line that circles the building.

What Are They Buying?

The top five categories of Valentine’s Day gifts are candy, greeting cards, dining out, flowers, and jewelry.

Candy

More than 80 percent of consumers love their chocolate and it’s not surprising that candy is the No. 1 Valentine’s Day gift of choice.

The great thing about candy is that it can be purchased practically anywhere, at any price point – from grocery stores to high quality confectioneries – yet it’s still inexpensive when compared to flowers, fine dining, or jewelry.

For the past six years, sisters Caitlin Lyon and Michelle Novosel Pennell have owned and operated Pizzelle’s Confections at Lowe Mill.

“Valentine’s Day is literally a line of guys, lined up at the door,” said Lyon. “It’s also the one time of year where we can pre-box a variety of candy and it will sell.”

Pennell said, “Valentine’s Day is one week of craziness! We hope that people will come out and enjoy.”

Cards

Valentine’s Day cards are still popular and represent close to 45 percent of sales. Greeting card purchases include fancy romantic cards for one’s sweetie, as well as those packs of cards parents often buy for their kids’ teachers and classmates.

Despite being a high-volume item, Valentine’s Day cards are very inexpensive, thus generating a mere $1 billion in revenue.

A Night on the Town

Valentine’s Day dining translates into 35 percent of purchases and approximately $4 billion in generated revenue.

Tastes and budgets may vary, but most couples will spend a romantic evening out on Valentine’s Day, whether it be savoring fine wine and a fancy meal at an upscale restaurant or a sit-down meal without the kids at a fast food establishment.

Flowers

With close to $2 billion in revenue generated from domestically cut flowers, bouquets represent 38 percent of Valentine’s Day sales in the U.S.

“Valentine’s day is probably the busiest single day of the year for us. Men buying for their wives or girlfriends; if there’s a child, they buy a valentine for them, too,” said Karen Bowers, longtime sales clerk at Albert’s Florist in Huntsville. “People often wait until the last minute, so it gets pretty hectic.”

Co-worker Carol Moore said, “The phones ring off the hook, there’s a line out to the street. If Valentine’s Day falls on a weekend, it’s even busier.”

Jewelry

Despite representing only 19 percent of Valentine’s Day purchases, jewelry generated nearly $5 billion in revenue in 2018.

“Valentine’s Day is a big day for us,” says Karen Boehme, co-owner of Meyer and Lee Fine Jewelry. “But it’s not an anniversary gift purchase, where thousands might be spent on a special piece of jewelry, like a diamond necklace or ring. It’s usually less expensive, like a pair of earrings, a bracelet, or a necklace.”

Jewelry remains mostly a traditional, gender-based purchase –a man buying jewelry for his lady love.

“Men will often tell us that their wife doesn’t like jewelry,” Boehme said. “This is where we might suggest more traditional ‘staples,’ pieces that have timeless appeal and can be worn as part of an everyday look or for special occasions, such as a strand of pearls or diamond studs.”

To dispel the bad rap of husbands being last minute shoppers, she said there is a strategy to their purchase habits.

“Wives often manage the household budget so, to avoid suspicion, men will come in beforehand to place the order, then make the actual purchase closer to the date.”

Don’t Forget Fifi or Fido

In 2018, Valentine’s Day statistics show that man’s best friend is getting even more love over the past decade. According to a recent NRF survey, about 20 percent of US consumers plan to give their pets a Valentine’s Day gift.

It’s no secret that pets are already a big business 364 days of the year. Add $6 million in heart-shaped squeakies and dog treat sales on Feb. 14 and that’s a significant heart-shaped boost to the economy.

Stovehouse to Offer Mediterranean Fare al “Fresko”

An all-new, fast-casual restaurant will add Mediterranean flavor to the food garden of the Stovehouse development on Huntsville’s Westside.

Fresko Grille, created by local chef Abrahim Hassan, will open a 760-square-foot space in the development and serve dishes such as beef and chicken shawarma, falafels, baba ghanoush and much more, made with traditional Mediterranean ingredients and preparation methods. The eatery is scheduled to open early this spring.

“Fresko Grille is a family business where guests can see the food being cooked and prepared right in front of them,” said Hassan. “Thanks to its open-kitchen concept, Fresko will give patrons the option of choosing their desired protein, fresh veggies, sauces and sides so that each order is customized to their liking. Vegan and vegetarian options are readily available, and the menu will include rotating specials so you can always come back and try something new.”

The menu features a list of Mediterranean favorites such as falafels, beef and chicken shawarma, Kafta kebabs, baba ghanoush, fresh veggies, homemade hummus, tahini and tzatziki sauce. The restaurant will also have vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options.

Although there will be no tables within the restaurant, guests can take their meal to the many areas of the Stovehouse food garden to enjoy indoors or outdoors around live entertainment and games.

“Stovehouse’s food garden will be a place where everyone in the family can enjoy an assortment of food options, outdoor games and entertainment,” said Stovehouse developer Danny Yancey. “Even more important than the variety at the garden is the quality of restaurants that it houses. We invite everyone to experience the incredible talent behind the many eateries at the development.

“They are a showcase of some of the best restaurateurs in and around Huntsville.”

The decor will draw inspiration from Mediterranean prints and patterns while incorporating wood furnishings and warm colors.

“When leasing a project like Stovehouse, it’s important to consider not only what works well within the development but also what the people are asking for,” said Anusha Davis, leasing agent at Crunkleton Commercial Real Estate Group. “Mediterranean food was a popular request, and Abrahim is delivering a product that stands out when it comes to flavor and authenticity.”

For information, visit www.freskogrille.com or follow on Facebook and Instagram.

Champy’s World-famous Blues, Brews, & Bird Comes to Madison This Spring

MADISON — An old Down in the Delta family recipe for fried chicken is coming to Madison in April.

Champy’s Famous Fried Chicken will open in the renovated Bison’s Bar & Grill building at 8020 Madison Boulevard, in front of Publix near Zierdt Road intersection. It will be Champy’s fourth location in Alabama. There are restaurants in Daphne, Alabaster, and Muscle Shoals; two locations in Chattanooga and locations in Murfreesboro, Tenn., and Athens, Ga.

“I am a world-traveled foodie and Champy’s World Famous Fried Chicken is among the best fried chicken recipes in the world,” said managing partner Eugene Jung.

Jung, his brother-in-law David Harris and co-partner Michael Creekmore are refurbishing the building, replacing the floors and removing the booths to make more room for tables. They are expanding the dining room, the bar and the front and side patios, adding roll-up tarp awnings as protection against weather events.

“There will be a small outdoor bar on the front patio facing Madison Boulevard,” said Jung. “We can close it off for private parties or family gatherings of up to 80 people. Eventually, we will have live music off the bar patio.”

The menu includes salads, Southern favorites such as fried green tomatoes, buttermilk-fried pickles, and Mississippi Delta homemade hot tamales with coleslaw and crackers.

Champy’s won two Best of Southern Living awards, and several citywide awards in Chattanooga for its chicken.

“I know good food, so when I saw an opportunity to open a restaurant, I knew this location, right across from Town Madison and the new baseball stadium, was the place to do it,” said Jung.

Jung’s daughter and her family live in Huntsville, so Jung has relocated from Atlanta and bought a home in the nearby Lake Forest community.

“I am excited about introducing Huntsville and Madison to Champy’s this spring …. oh, and wait until you taste the tamales!” Jung said.



  

The Dessert Fork: A one-of-a-kind experience with one-of-a-kind creations

MADISON — Using cake as a canvas with frostings as her medium, Pauline McFarlin’s artistic creations are always sweet, inspired and one-of-a-kind.

More people now have an opportunity to experience McFarlin’s made-from-scratch baked goods at the Dessert Fork, in the Medical Park Station shopping area off U.S. 72 in Madison. It’s between the Beef Jerky Outlet and Hollywood Feed.

“People will come here for something to eat out of the case, ready made,” McFarlin said.

That will include brownies, lemon bars, cookies, gourmet caramel dipped apples, and pies, to name a few.

Then there will be off the menu seasonal or exotic items from time to time.

“I may decide to do a bread pudding one day or I may wake up and want to poach some pears,” McFarlin said.  “There will always be the possibility of a surprise in store when you come here.”

She knows she has to have to have people’s favorites, but also offer some variety.

“There are two types of people,” McFarlin said. “There are those who love what they love and they always get the same thing. Then, there are those who always want to try something new.”

Now that she has an established bakery, more people will get to know McFarlin’s specialty — artisan cakes. She will have a small staff to help with baking, but decorating cakes is McFarlin’s passion.

“I like cakes that give me a challenge,” she said. “If you’re looking for simple and plain, I’m not your girl. I can do it, but I like to tell a story through the cake and make it really special.”

Getting a custom cake from McFarlin is not as simple as filling out a piece of paper with cake and icing type. She likes to get to know the person or situation.

For example, one of her most memorable cakes involved a photographer who was celebrating her 40th birthday. McFarlin said she had the client provide a picture of her camera and send her four of her all-time favorite photographs. The result was a square cake topped with a smaller cake, which was crafted into a replica of the camera. The four photos were place around the bottom layer, connected by a sugar string that resembled a darkroom string with each of the four photos hanging off it.

There was a groom’s cake that looked like piano keys. A 21st birthday party cake that looked like a gift box and featured a martini glass filled with Jell-O. She’s made a Mine craft cake. And a baby shower cake that featured a map with pinpoints marking the baby’s geographic heritage, complete with a baby on an airplane over Alabama carrying a banner saying “Hello, World!”

“I don’t like to do the same thing twice,” McFarlin said. “I’ve done it one time when someone saw a cake on my website that they really wanted but that doesn’t happen too often.”

To McFarlin, each cake is as individual as the person.

“I like to interact with them, I take a lot of time to get to know them and what they want,” she said. “A lot of times, after they receive the cake they are so happy they give me hugs and we have a relationship that was built with the common thing being cake.

“This is what I do. Cake is my canvas.”

Over the past 10 years, McFarlin went from baking cakes for church gatherings, which lead to church members asking her to bake a cake for their family’s different special occasions. It got to be a regular thing.

Alabama’s Food Cottage Law came about in 2014, allowing her to get training and start a business out of her home. More training, business coaching, and guidance from other local bakers helped her step out and open The Dessert Fork.

“Well, it’s the only fork you’re going to need,” McFarlin said with a chuckle as she explained why she chose the name. It represents her cakes but other treats she’ll offer as her business grows.

McFarlin, 44, said her husband and three kids moved to the Huntsville area from Maryland in 2008. She says her family has been supportive as she left real estate to become an artisan cake designer.

She wants The Dessert Fork to be a nostalgic place to create fond memories.

“People used to bake a lot and enjoy eating something made from scratch,” she said. “Here, they can have a seat with a friend in a place with a happy atmosphere … a good, feel good place.”

So out of all of the delicious treats coming from the oven, what is McFarlin’s favorite?

Believe it or not, I’m a pie person,” McFarlin said. “Apple pie is my favorite.”

The Avenue Will be ‘Melt’-ing in the Spring

Birmingham-based restaurant Melt will open a location at The Avenue in downtown Huntsville.

Specializing in classic comfort food with a modern twist, Melt will be in a 3,628-square-foot site on Jefferson Street with a full bar offering cocktails, Huntsville beers, wine and liquor to go along with its signature menu. The restaurant is tentatively scheduled to open in late March.

Founded and co-owned by Paget Pizitz and Harriet Despinakis, Melt began as a food truck in 2012 that quickly gained a large, dedicated following. After years of success, the duo opened the first brick-and-mortar Melt in the Avondale neighborhood of Birmingham in 2014.

Melt’s menu ranges from unique appetizers to sandwiches, salads and other healthy fare. With the goal of being an inclusive culinary destination, Melt has selections for everyone in the family, including gluten-free and vegan options.

According to Despinakis, downtown Huntsville has a vibe that they believe supports the concept.

“When we explored the downtown Huntsville area, we immediately noticed that it appealed to young professionals, families and many different lifestyle groups,” said Despinakis. “Melt is all-encompassing—a place that’s perfect for families, date nights, business lunch meetings, solo dining and more. The Avenue location will have its own distinctive atmosphere because it’s part of a larger development, which is something we’ve yet to experience.

“However, there will be no question that it’s Melt when you walk inside and enjoy your meal. We welcome guests who have already visited us in Avondale and can’t wait to introduce ourselves to new friends in Huntsville.”

Chuy’s Opening First Huntsville Location

A Southwest-based restaurant is bringing its Tex-Mex fare to southwest Huntsville.

Chuy’s Tex-Mex Restaurant will open its first Huntsville location this spring in the Shops at Merchants Square at the intersection of South Memorial Parkway and Bob Wallace Avenue.

Founded in Austin, Texas, in 1982, Chuy’s features fresh made-from-scratch Tex-Mex recipes in a fun, eclectic atmosphere.

“We’re so excited to bring Chuy’s to Huntsville,” said Gil Minor, local owner and operator for Chuy’s in Huntsville. “Since opening stores in Birmingham and Tuscaloosa, we’ve received so many requests to open in the booming Huntsville area and we are thrilled to give Huntsville their own home for fresh Tex-Mex.”

The eatery is known for its funky décor including an Elvis Shrine, metal palm trees, and a hubcap-covered ceiling. In fact, the Chuy’s motto is “If you’ve seen one Chuy’s, you’ve seen one Chuy’s!” because each restaurant’s décor is unique and no two restaurants are the same.

Visit www.chuys.com