Steak ‘n Shake Offers a Halloween Treat to Make You Snicker & Shake

If the ghouls and goblins have you looking for a safe, healthy, and delicious place to trick-or-treat Saturday, check out Steak ‘n Shake on University Drive.

They have something that will make the whole family shiver and shake All Hallows Day, and into Halloween night.

Steak ‘n Shake welcomes the “Return of the Snickers Shake” – a frozen vanilla concoction blended with mini-Snickers candy bars and topped with whipped cream. It is an absolute horror for your waistline but a wickedly scrumptious Halloween treat.

For costumed trick-or-treaters under age 12, there is a special treat – a free kids’ shake. The little ghouls can choose from classic vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry, or opt for a specialty flavor filled with their favorite Halloween treats such as Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, M&M, and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup.

Have a Spooktacular Halloween by eating, shopping, and trick-or-treating in a safe, healthy, and candy-filled atmosphere of the Huntsville Steak ‘n Shake.  

Full Moon Bar-B-Que Opens Huntsville Restaurant; Drive-thru Only – for now

There’s a Full Moon rising in Huntsville.

Well, actually, it’s already up.

Full Moon Bar-B-Que has opened in Huntsville and, for the time being, it’s drive-thru only.

The store, at 1009 North Memorial Parkway, is the 16th “Best Little Porkhouse in Alabama” and the fifth owned by Ajlo Foods – co-owned by Naseem Ajlouny and Chase Ajlounhe.

The 7,000 square-foot restaurant will open for inside dining Nov. 9. In addition to the standard dining area, the restaurant includes a 60-person event space available for private gatherings as well as an overflow dining room to ensure customers are safely distanced within the COVID-19 parameters.

“We look forward to bringing Full Moon BBQ’s open pit style of ‘que to the city of Huntsville,” said Naseem Ajlouny. “We are grateful for the tremendous support the Huntsville community has shown Full Moon BBQ and eager and excited to be opening our doors to serve this new market.”

Full Moon BBQ Huntsville will offer a quick-service dining experience and serve a full menu featuring all of the BBQ restaurant’s fan favorites – including the famous Full Moon chow-chow and its baked fresh-daily Half Moon cookies – by dine-in or drive-thru, while also offering catering.

For information, visit or call 256-713-0070.

VBC Receives ConventionSouth’s Readers’ Choice Award

The Von Braun Center has received the 2020 Readers’ Choice Award from ConventionSouth, the national multimedia resource for planning events in the South. It is the third time the VBC has received the award.

“ConventionSouth readers and fans have voted to decide the best meeting sites in the South, and it is no surprise to us that Von Braun Center has been selected to receive our annual Readers’ Choice Award,” said ConventionSouth Associate Publisher Ashleigh Osborne. “The value in receiving this prestigious recognition is that it comes from the United States’ top meeting professionals who hold events in the South.

“These planners demand the highest level of customer service and quality facilities, and they have contributed in determining that Von Braun Center indeed displays the commitment to professionalism, creativity and service that they require.”

The Von Braun Center is among 380 convention and visitor bureaus, meeting facilities and hotels located across the South to receive this year’s Readers’ Choice Award, which originated in 2001. Throughout the year, meeting professionals nominated the meeting sites they believe provide exemplary service for group events. The nominated sites were then compiled onto an online ballot where meeting professionals and fans voted for the best of the best. With over 8,000 voters participating in the selection process and the highest social media interaction to date, this has been the most successful and engaging year yet!

“We are very proud to have been chosen as one of the best meeting sites in the South by the readers of ConventionSouth,” said VBC Director of Sales and Event Services Marie Arighi.  “It means so much to be chosen by our peers.  The VBC hosted over 487 events last year with over 675,000 people attending those events and we value each and every one.”

The VBC will be featured as an award recipient in the December 2020 Awards issue of ConventionSouth magazine.

Taste of Huntsville Holding ‘Dine on 9/29,’ an All-Day Eating-Out Celebration

For 40 years, hundreds of Huntsville-area restaurants and pubs have gathered at the Von Braun Center on a Tuesday evening in late September to enjoy The Taste of Huntsville, an event that has become known as “a spectacle for your taste buds.”

The Huntsville-Madison County Hospitality Association is calling for an all-day “Dine on 9/29” celebration this year. The event is a show of community support for the area’s restaurant and hospitality businesses, which have taken the COVID-19 pandemic like a pie in the face over the past few months. 

“Dine on 9/29” calls on residents to enjoy socially distanced indoor dining, patio dining, take out, or delivery from restaurants across the Tennessee Valley. Folks are urged to enjoy breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert and even before-and-after cocktails from area restaurants.

“In my more than 15 years in the hospitality industry, I never could have imagined a pandemic that would devastate our industry like COVID-19 has,” said Desirea Stewart, president of Huntsville-Madison County Hospitality Association. “Our industry may be hurting, but we are strong and open for business. It is important now more than ever, to show our support for our local restaurants, hotels, attractions, and venues. 

“We look forward to our entire region dining on September 29th to support our hospitality family.”

Taste of Huntsville 2020 Chair Lindsey Pattillo Keane said local restaurants are a joyful respite during a stressful and challenging 2020. 

“Canceling our Taste of Huntsville 2020 on September 29th was for the best; however, we are thrilled to support our hospitality industry in an impactful and different way,” she said. “We invite all of the Tennessee Valley to ‘Dine on 9/29’, to offer a surge of support for our restaurant community.”

Rather than including only those venues able to cater food into the VBC, “Dine 9/29” will include every restaurant in North Alabama, and patrons are encouraged to tag the restaurant location and share photos from their dining experience utilizing the #dineon929 hashtag on the Facebook Event Link

The HMCHA will award nine gift cards for $29 each to participants who tag #dineon929 throughout the day on their Facebook page.

With more than 50 restaurants and beverage vendors participating every year, Taste of Huntsville draws more than 1,000 attendees to the fall event where they feature food, desserts, beverages, and novelty snacks from across the Tennessee Valley. 


Construction of Mixed-Use Development on Governors Drive Set for Early 2021

Developers of a mixed-use “I-565 gateway” to Huntsville’s Westside have released a preliminary rendering of the project and anticipate a “first quarter 2021” construction start.

Preliminary rendering of the planned mixed-use development on Governors Drive in Huntsville’s Westside. (The Beach Company)

The property, some 13 acres of land on Governors Drive near the intersections with 13th and 14th streets, will be developed by The Beach Company, a Charleston, S.C.-based development company.

The multibuilding community will feature 342 multifamily units, including 14 townhomes; 9,000 square feet of retail/restaurant space; and 48,000 square feet of Class A office space.

Residential amenities will include a pool, a fitness area, a clubhouse and ample green space with a dog park.

The planned project will complement the neighboring Stovehouse complex and will feature pedestrian walkways between the two developments.

“This community addition will help continue the momentum of growth along Governors Drive through increased walkability and connectivity,” said Ned Miller, development manager with The Beach Company. “The project was thoughtfully designed to enhance the experience of the growing number of residents and businesses expanding to Huntsville’s flourishing Westside.”

Church Street Family Recruits Executive Sous Chef from Miami

It is a strategic move resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Executive Chef Kannon Swaris

Huntsville restaurateurs Matthew and Stephanie Mell of the Church Street Family Group worked with New York-based celebrity chef Jimmy Canora to conduct a nationwide search for a new executive chef who can help them navigate through unprecedented times for the food and beverage industries.

Officially stepping into the position this week, Executive Chef Kannon Swaris has moved to Huntsville from Miami where he was most recently the Executive Sous Chef at Nobu Miami. He opened Nobu as a junior sous chef, working under Nobu Chef Thomas Buckley. 

He was senior sous chef of Terra Mare at the Conrad Hotel and opened Isabelle’s, an Italian-American restaurant at the Ritz Carlton.

Swaris will oversee all culinary aspects of Church Street Family’s six Huntsville restaurants, supervise menu and restaurant development and direct the hiring and training of the culinary staff at all six venues.

The Church Street Family owns the Church Street Wine Shoppe, Purveyor at the Avenue Huntsville, Mazzara’s Italian Kitchen and Pourhouse at Stovehouse. They are also planning to open two venues: Catacomb435 in September and The Corner Pour in October.

According to the Mells, the challenges of the pandemic on the restaurant and entertainment industries require teamwork and exceptional leadership in order to not only move their company forward, but to raise the hospitality bar and increase tourism and travel to Huntsville during these challenging times. 

“We are extremely excited to introduce Chef Kannon,” said Stephanie Mell. “One of his first undertakings is the redevelopment of menus at all locations where he will infuse his own style and talents into each dish. We feel honored to have him on our team.”

In the meantime, Canora will continue to work with the Mells to further develop the CSF brand. An award-winning cookbook author and corporate consulting chef at Delmonico’s Wall Street, Canora honed his skills at the Tribeca Grill in Manhattan, owned by actor Robert DeNiro. Canora’s latest cookbook Italian Family Traditions with a Twist is due out in October.

Sit Down with Success: Restaurateur Stephanie Kennedy-Mell

After she spent more than 20 years in the fashion and apparel industry, Stephanie Kennedy-Mell and her husband Matthew Mell opened the Church Street Wine Shoppe in Huntsville.

Now their Church Street Family owns Purveyor at the Avenue, Pourhouse at Stovehouse; Mazzara’s at Stovehouse; and, in spite of the uncertainty of COVID-19, they are about to open Catacomb 435, a speakeasy in the basement of Downtown Self Storage at the corner of Jefferson Street and Clinton Avenue.

Four restaurants and a fifth on the way – aren’t you facing unprecedented challenges?

I look at it as a time to work on your bobbing and weaving skills. The alternative is to get overwhelmed by it and it’s easy enough outside of COVID for small business to get overwhelmed. We take things as they come at us. Adjust, ask questions, prioritize, and handle things as they come at us. Bobbing and weaving all the time and repeating our mantra #keepmovingforward.

How are you getting through it?

We live in an amazing community. It is so supportive of small business and we feel very lucky for that.

We are extremely cautious with our customers and our employees, thanks to relationships we have with people at the hospital.

They have guided us on how to sanitize our restaurants properly and thoroughly; how to deal with positive cases, and how to follow protocols so we can stay open and keep people safe.

They provide us with quick testing, so all our employees are tested for the virus before they are hired on at the Church Street Family. It must come back negative before they can start.

What advice would you give someone getting into the hospitality business right now?

I’m not sure it’s the best time to start a new business, so if you are not already established, I would advise them to hold off.

If they are already established, I say giving up is not the answer. Go slow, be cautious, do your due diligence, and market yourself using social media to reassure people you have survived and are following protocols and guidelines.

How are things at Stovehouse?

It is a great socially distanced space, mostly outdoors, and the tables are socially distanced. It is a comfortable place to go right now to eat and drink, play bocce ball and enjoy music. It is very popular and still growing. The tenants talk to each other daily and have conversations about what is working and what is not; and what we can do together.

And the future?

It is all about attitude. This too shall pass, so keep your chin up. Have a plan and execute your plan. You may have to alter that plan but stay with it.

Full Moon Rising: “Best Little Pork House” to Open in Huntsville

Full Moon Bar-B-Que is coming to town – and in a big way.

The “Best Little Pork House in Alabama” will open in the fall on North Memorial Parkway near the University Drive intersection.

It will be the largest Full Moon Bar-B-Que – 7,000 square feet – of the 16 franchises.

“Entering into the Huntsville market is one of our most exciting and anticipated openings to date,” said co-owner Naseem Ajlouny. “We look forward to serving the Huntsville community with our great food and superior service.”

Full Moon BBQ Huntsville is the fifth location to be opened by Ajlo Foods, co-owned by Naseem and Chase Ajlouny.

In addition to the standard dining area, the Huntsville restaurant includes a 60-person event space available for private gatherings as well as an overflow dining room to ensure customers are safely distanced within the COVID-19 parameters.

Full Moon BBQ Huntsville will offer a quick-service dining experience and serve a full menu featuring all of its fan favorites by dine-in or drive-thru (including its chow-chow and fresh-baked half-moon cookies), while also expanding catering offerings to the area.

“We already feel very welcomed by the city of Huntsville,” said Operating Partner Jeff Donaldson. “At Full Moon BBQ, we treat our customers like family, and we cannot wait for this brand to become a staple in the Huntsville community.”

Full Moon BBQ Huntsville will be hiring 70 employees. To apply, send resumes to

Alabama Goods: Distinctive Food and Gifts Made in Alabama

When looking for the perfect gift or gift basket, look no further.

Alabama Goods features art, jewelry, pottery, crafts, and food items from around the state. (Photo/Steve Babin)

Homewood-based Alabama Goods has expanded northward to the Valley Bend shopping center, next to Fleet Feet.

“We’ve been wanting to open a location in Huntsville for a couple of years,” said owner Sherry Hartley. “We would go to Huntsville and ride around, looking for the right spot. When we found this one, we just thought it was a good match for the customer base that will be shopping there.”

What’s so unique about Alabama Goods is the merchandise they carry. It’s all handmade by Alabama artisans.

Alabama Goods got its start in 2008 when Hartley and her business partner Beth Staula teamed up to create their online corporate gift basket business. While serving on a committee with the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce, Hartley and Staula discussed potential business opportunities.

Staula had been in the business of corporate baskets and Hartley was in website development.  So, the pair began their business venture as a website and a corporate gift company.

There’s a lot of thought that goes into assembling the perfect corporate gift basket.

“Our main thing is that we want our customer, the company to look good,” said Hartley. “We put together pottery, food, all types of gifts. We will put together gift concepts that are not just gourmet foods. We will put together a pottery item and a food item. A lot of times, it’s going to be artwork, a wide variety of things for companies.”

When Hartley and Staula were looking for vendors, they often would come across awesome products that were just not quite “corporate material.”

“We kept finding these really cool items from Alabama but didn’t really qualify to be on the website,” said Hartley. That’s when they decided to open a store.

Alabama-made sauces, spices, jams, jellies and the like will please your palate. (Photo/Steve Babin)

“We opened the Homewood store eight years ago and doubled our space three years ago,” said Hartley. “We decided that we need to be somewhere else in Alabama. I was reading articles all the time about the growth of Huntsville and that’s why Huntsville had been on my radar.”

Along with assorted gift baskets, Alabama Goods boasts one of the largest selections of Alabama-made pottery. The merchandise in the store is highly curated before it reaches the sales floor. Hartley and Staula search far and wide throughout the state for just the right art, jewelry, pottery, crafts, and food items.

“We have so much talent in Alabama,” Hartley said. “it’s just a matter of finding it.”




Stone Age Korean BBQ Opens at Times Plaza

Beef Bulgogi, spicy pork belly, lemon chicken, and Cajun shrimp — you’ll find all this and more at Times Plaza’s newest restaurant, Stone Age Korean BBQ. The eatery invites guests to sample unique Korean flavor while taking part in the cooking process. Best of all, it’s all-you-can-eat, so come with a big appetite.

Stone Age Korean BBQ’s setting has brightly colored booths, fun lighting fixtures, and giant television screens that showcase the latest Korean pop music videos.

“Stone Age offers a new kind of dining experience in Huntsville,” said General Manager Sung Rose. “Our food is incredible, the atmosphere is friendly and energetic, and we try to make each visit an unforgettable outing.”

Guests can choose from specially prepared beef, pork, chicken, and seafood (during dinner hours) that bring Korean cuisine to life. Diners cook each meat on a circular grill at the center of the table. While the meat is sizzling, servers bring the table as many sides as they can eat such as rice, kimchi, salad, Bibimbob, dumplings, ramen, and even french fries.

“We have had a wonderful response so far,” said Sung. “At the moment, our lunch crowds are bigger than the dinner crowds. But our dinner menu comes with more options, so we encourage everyone to try us out after work. Our restaurant is designed to deliver an experience, so be prepared to spend some time at the table savoring the different meats and sides.

“At 2 p.m., we stop serving lunch and go straight to dinner. If you join us then, we recommend trying the shrimp or filet mignon. There’s even spicy squid for our more adventurous eaters.”