New State Regulations Limit Gatherings, Ban Dining-in

The Public Health Officer for the State of Alabama released a new list of stringent containment policies for communities to follow to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

These include full school closures, senior center closures, pre-school and child care closures, nursing home restrictions, delayed elective-medical procedures, limited gatherings of no more than 25 persons, bar closures, and no on-premise consumption of food and beverages in restaurants.

Mayor Tommy Battle said the City of Huntsville will immediately follow these policies in the best interest of public health.

“This is a challenging time for our communities. I remain grateful for the way our residents and businesses have been working together to adhere to the public health guidelines and support each other in this time of need.

To our business community, as a former restaurateur, my heart goes out to you, and to all of our companies and residents who lives have been disrupted by this virus.  The Alabama Health Department has determined these precautions are necessary and we will follow their guidance.”

Battle said Huntsville residents should remain calm but must take coronavirus seriously.

“We’re a smart community, and we’ll be smart about stopping this virus,” he said. “Let’s continue to fully follow health recommendations for social distancing, to remain six feet apart, and wash hands regularly.”

‘To Go’ is the Way to Go for Dining During COVID-19 Emergency

With health agencies recommending against public gatherings, local businesses and restaurants have come up with new strategies and practices to stay in business.

“There are a lot of unknowns but I think people are doing a really good job trying to discern best practices that will keep the customers safe while also providing them with things they need like food,” said Downtown Huntsville Inc. President/CEO Chad Emerson. “I’ve been very pleased with seeing how everyone is willing to consider new approaches especially in the immediate term.”

Emerson spoke to the Huntsville Business Journal about what his organization is doing to keep the food and beverage industry apprised of current events surrounding the virus.

“We’re continuing to gather as much useful information as possible and to share it as efficiently as possible,” Emerson said. “We’re looking at what other cities that are further along in the process because they were exposed to the situation earlier than we were, are using that can help us develop some best practices.

“We have a lot of really smart people here in Huntsville that are resilient, and they are committed to trying new ways to serve the public.”

Go to https://www.downtownhuntsville.org/blog to find Best Practices information. It is updated regularly.

“Every Monday at 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. we’re having general updates and information via conference call,” Emerson said. “This is information we are gleaning both locally as well as from other downtowns.

“It is really an opportunity to try to give everyone a chance to be heard and to ask questions. We have designed it for downtown operators, mostly for food and beverage operators, but any of those establishments around Huntsville and Madison are welcome to call in. It is a team effort citywide.”

Emerson also wanted to stress that currently, all downtown restaurants are open for business. Many are increasing To-Go options to the point in which they will bring food out to your car; some are expanding their delivery options; and almost all are modifying their in-restaurant dining experience to increase the distance between guests.

“Even if the in-restaurant dining experience is limited or closed in the days ahead, most of the restaurants we are dealing with are continuing to operate,” he said. “So, if you have a favorite restaurant where you usually go out to dine, check their social media or call them and ask them what their options are including delivery and To-Go.”

Downtown Huntsville does not have any food truck events scheduled, but social media is the best place to find out whether some of them will be set up somewhere remotely. Emerson said no one has called a halt to food trucks right now but the Food Truck Corral at NASA has been postponed.

In terms of retail, Emerson said, “We’re finding that people have more time, and they may not be gathering as often at large public events but people are still interested in getting out of the house and keeping life going as normally as possible, and that includes buying new goods they need.”

 

South Huntsville Business Opportunities Revealed on Possibilities Tour

Dale Carnegie once said, “We all have possibilities we don’t know about.”

The South Huntsville Main Business Association hosted a bus tour for business owners interested in business in the southern end of town. (Photo/Steve Babin)

The South Huntsville Main Business Association showed off its potential this week with a “Possibilities Tour” of the upcoming Hays Farm development.

The organization welcomed business owners and potential business owners who may be looking to start a business or open a location on the busy south end of town.

In spite of the rain, a couple dozen people ranging from those interested in doctor’s offices to restaurants, retail stores and, even, office space took the tour.

At the post-tour luncheon, SHMBA Executive Director Bekah Schmidt laid out everything that is happening on the 850-acre Hays Farm development. Included in that is the former Haysland Square, renamed The Market at Hays Farm, and the Huntington shopping area.

“A lot of people know the daily traffic counts along the Parkway in that area are anywhere from 52,000 to 75,000 cars a day, making it very appealing,” said Schmidt. “But we wanted to show people there is much more coming, and there are additional benefits to opening a business on this end of town that people don’t know about.”

SHMBA Executive Director Bekah Schmidt said there are “additional benefits to opening a business on this end of town that people don’t know about.” (Photo/Steve Babin)

She said there will be retail, restaurant and office space surrounding the $3.6 million City Centre Park off the Parkway; and there are also outparcels of land available for purchasing and building.

At the Market at Hays Farm, there will be 1,000 square feet to 5,000 square feet of space available, some with kitchen space already set up for restaurants.

“We also want people to know that while downtown Huntsville is a hot spot right now for retail, that space may run you $30 per square-foot and up,” Schmidt said. “You can get the same amount of space in South Huntsville for $12 to $25 per square foot.

“And when you get in on the ground floor of a growing development like this, we can tailor the space to your specific needs, while later on, you will not have as many customizable options.”

The Market at Hays Farm is scheduled to open in late summer or early fall 2021.

Ready for Prime Time – Extreme Makeover: Hughes Plaza Edition

MADISON — As the area continues to grow by leaps and bounds, it’s hard to miss the unmistakable red clay and construction cones on any given road, on any given day.

Madison and Huntsville are on the fast track of redefining our communities, one slab of cement at a time.

Along with a host of brand-spanking new construction, there also has been significant redevelopment and extensive renovation on many existing structures. One property in particular is Hughes Plaza.

Hughes Plaza, across Hughes Road from Madison City Hall, was once a well-known retail destination. Over the years, the 59,071 square foot mixed-use property has fallen into disrepair and low occupancy.

Thanks to local physicians Jon and Alicia Krichev, the shopping center will soon be getting a makeover, complete with a newly upgraded façade and enhanced landscaping.

A business opportunity led the Krichevs to Hughes Plaza.

The Krichevs, along with Jon’s sister Jessica and her husband Chris Leven own Bicycle Cove in Hampton Cove. Last year, when Madison Cycles closed at Hughes Plaza, the Krichevs saw this as an opportunity to expand their business and set up shop in the same location in the Plaza.

However, the Krichevs were not happy with the plaza’s condition.

So, after a series of connections with mutual friends and business partners, the Krichevs became owners of the building and are fully dedicated to returning Hughes Plaza to its former glory.

Build it and they will come.

The revived Hughes Plaza “has the potential to become a beautiful and exciting development where people meet for bike rides, runs, lunches, and shopping trips.” (Rendering courtesy of Crunkleton Commercial Real Estate)

Currently, Bicycle Cove is the only tenant. Once renovations are complete, the Krichevs anticipate other health, wellness, and fitness retail concepts will follow along with perhaps, a restaurant and brew pub.

One exciting new tenant will be Fleet Feet, the running/walking specialty store.

Slated to open this summer, the 6,200-square-foot retail space will include an indoor running track. Fleet Feet has more than 180 stores in the United States with three Alabama locations — Montgomery, Birmingham, and Huntsville – making the Hughes Plaza location the fourth in the state.

Suzanne and Dink Taylor, owners of the Huntsville store in Jones Valley, are thrilled about opening a store in Madison.

“Our Huntsville location has been up and running for 16 years and we’ve loved every minute of it,” said Suzanne. “We’ve wanted to open a second location in Madison for a long time and everything finally came together.

“The location, timing, and means all worked out and we can’t wait to create a home for our Madison-based clientele.”

Hughes Plaza is less than a mile from downtown Madison and the up-and-coming Avenue Madison mixed-use development.

The closest major intersections are Mill Road and Old Madison Pike. Madison Boulevard and I-565 are within easy access of the Plaza. Major grocery chains Publix and Kroger, along with Walmart are all in close proximity.

Krichev believes that the redevelopment of Hughes Plaza will benefit the Madison community by creating an exciting new hub for shopping, dining, and wellness.

“We want to renew what was once a vibrant focus of commerce for the surrounding neighborhoods,” said Krichev. “This center has the potential to become a beautiful and exciting development where people meet for bike rides, runs, lunches, and shopping trips.”

 

 

 

Rocket City Trash Pandas: As Much About Fun as Baseball

MADISON — Just weeks away from the Rocket City Trash Pandas throwing their first strike at Toyota Field in Town Madison, the Madison Chamber of Commerce heard from the “Voice of the Trash Pandas,” Josh Caray.

Josh Caray: “It’s about fun, whether you are a baseball fan or not.” (Photo/Kimberly Ballard)

Caray, the team’s Director of Broadcasting and Baseball Information, gave the Chamber a preview of upcoming attractions during its quarterly luncheon at the Best Western Plus on Madison Boulevard.

“Thank you for being the home of the Rocket City Trash Pandas. It’s been wonderful getting to know the community and we look forward to a very long and prosperous relationship,” said Caray. “It’s been a long journey … we are very excited about what we and this community have to offer.

“It’s going to be the talk of the town not just this year, but for the next several decades to come, so we’re excited about it and happy to be a part of it.”

The Trash Pandas make their home debut April 15 in Toyota Field against the Mississippi Braves. They open their inaugural season April 9 in Birmingham against the Barons.

Caray gave an overview of coming attractions for the Trash Pandas and, as odd as it may sound, he said Minor League Baseball is not so much about baseball as it is a carnival atmosphere with a baseball diamond as its crown jewel.

“The great part about Minor League Baseball is that fans will see the best of what the Minor League system has to offer not only in the Trash Pandas, but in the talent on opposing, visiting teams,” he said. “Double-A baseball is a must-stop if you are a big-time prospect.

“At some point, whether a player starts in rookie ball, Single-A, or High-A, they must stop at Double-A at some point [on their way to the Major League] because it’s such an important point of development.

“One day in two or three years, you will flip on the television and see them playing in the Majors, perhaps play in or win the World Series and say, ‘I remember when I saw him hit a ball out of left field in my ballpark’ or ‘I have an autographed picture of me with him’. It’s fun to watch how they are succeeding in their professional careers.”

Fans of the former Huntsville Stars saw that very scenario play out in Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire.

The other things to understand, he said is that Minor League Baseball is about the experience.

“It’s about fun, whether you are a baseball fan or not,” he said. “You want the Trash Pandas to win, but if they don’t, it’s all right. We want you to watch the game, but we also want you to get up and walk around.

“Baseball is a long game, three hours in most cases and you won’t be able to keep the kids still that long, so walk them over to the (Kids Zone) playground; visit the Team Store and buy some merchandise; go up to the Rock Porch and have drinks with friends; visit the stadium restaurant. And if, at the end of the game you forgot who won or what the score was, so be it.”

Toyota Field will be open year-round and host concerts, weddings, parties, business meetings and the like.

One of the unique aspects of Toyota Field is that it will be open year-round. Caray said there will be concerts and festivals in the ballpark and there will be a hospitality area for weddings and wedding receptions, bachelor parties, company outings, holiday parties and a place for team-building sessions.

The Trash Pandas just hired Executive Chef Ryan Curry, recently named one of the best chefs in Minor League Baseball and there will be a wide variety of great food at the stadium. Panera Bread Company, Outback Steakhouse and The Hub will all be within walking distance of the stadium.

Caray said the field has a 360-degree open concourse so if you have seats behind home plate, you can still get up and walk around the entire complex and still see the game.

“Go sit out on the berm and get a suntan; go watch from the outfield or the (Inline Electric) Rock Porch next to the video gameboard ….,” he said. “When it’s hot, there is an air-conditioned suite area with an outdoor patio, so you have the best of both.”

The stadium holds 7,500, including fixed seats and standing-room. There is a party area beyond the bullpen along the left field wall; hospitality suites that seat 75 to 90 people, perfect for group meetings and parties; and a picnic area for large groups of up to 400.

There are also six single-game suites seating up to 25; and the SportsMed Stadium Club along the first-base line that can be booked as well for non-game day events.

Next season, the Hotel Margaritaville should be up and running and the ballpark will be integrated with it, a lazy river, and a swimming pool.

“We are building a year-round revenue-generator with the baseball park as its crown jewel and fun built up all around it with apartments, homes, high-rises, brewhouses, restaurants, and retail outlets,” Caray said.

“I swear we will have a parking lot!” he said to laughter. “If it stops raining, we will have a parking lot with room for about 2,000 cars; plenty of lighting and a live sound system.”

Caray said single-game tickets go on sale March 14 and will range from $8 to $20. There are still some season tickets available and sponsorship and business opportunities available to get involved with the team.

Since the Trash Pandas’ store opened at Bridge Street Town Centre in November 2018, they are closing in on $3 million in merchandise sales (at the store and online) with customers from as far away as Bora Bora, Paris, Ireland and Alaska.

Furthermore, the Trash Pandas have more than 10,000 Twitter followers and they haven’t thrown a single pitch!

For Caray, broadcasting baseball is a family tradition as he comes from a long line of famous baseball broadcasters.

Josh’s grandfather was Harry Caray, a 53-year Hall of Fame baseball broadcaster best known as the voice of the Chicago Cubs during the 1980s and 1990s when the Cubs aired nationwide on Superstation WGN.

He is the son of the late Skip Caray, the longtime Atlanta Braves broadcaster. His brother, Chip Caray is a TV broadcaster for the Atlanta Braves and Fox Sports.

“My dad was behind the mic when Sid Bream slid across home plate to win the 1992 National League Championship Series on Frank Cabrera’s big hit, and when Marquis Grissom made that winning catch in the 1995 World Series,” said Caray.

All Trash Panda games will be carried live on WUMP 730 AM and 103.9 FM. They will also be streamed online using the TuneIn app, and all home games will air via video streaming on MiLB.com (https://www.milb.com/live-stream-games/subscribe).

“First pitch will be at 6:35 p.m. giving people time to get off work, go home, pick up the kids, and go to the game,” said Caray.

Friday games will begin at 7:05 p.m. Saturdays are Fireworks Night beginning at 6:05 p.m. Sunday games will begin at 2:05 p.m. from April through June and move to 5:05 p.m. July through September to help with the heat. For information, visit trashpandasbaseball.com.

 

 

T-H Marine Lands Maurice Sporting Goods Marine Division

Huntsville-based T-H Marine Supplies has acquired First Source, the marine accessory division of Maurice Sporting Goods, one of the largest sporting goods distributors in the United States. First Source will operate as a standalone division of T-H Marine in Fort Myers, Fla.

“We’re thrilled to complete our largest revenue acquisition to date,” said T-H Marine CEO Jeff Huntley. “Our new First Source division will allow T-H Marine to expand into new product categories and continue to grow our product portfolio that we offer to both our OEM and Aftermarket customer bases.

T-H Marine CEO Jeff Huntley

“The First Source expertise also greatly strengthens our capabilities in aftermarket retail and e-commerce channels for our customers. We have built a strong platform for the past 45 years that is rooted in deep relationships with our customers, who depend on us for quality boating and fishing accessories. We look for great acquisitions like First Source that can really help us bring more value to our customers and continue to provide more awesome products for the boating and fishing enthusiasts that love our brands.”

First Source was founded in 2004 as a turn-key direct import source, with deep overseas relationships, that helps to design, manufacture, package, test, and supply companies with marine and paddle sports products. Their expertise is highly valued by their customers, particularly with co-founder Read Samples leading and utilizing his more than 30 years in the marine industry.

“We are blessed to be joining longtime customer T-H Marine, a solid and rapidly growing company that truly knows the marine and fishing accessory markets,” said Read Samples, General Manager of First Source. “T-H will allow our team to expand into more product categories becoming more meaningful to our customers, including more OEM product opportunities. The T-H Marine team shares our passion for bringing awesome, innovative products to market and for really taking care of our customers.”

First Source provides customers access to a broad range of design capabilities, procurement resources, products, packaging vendors, and logistics management services in a single source provider. T-H Marine has been a customer of First Source for many years along with many other manufacturers, distributors and major retailers.

This was T-H Marine’s eighth acquisition in the past decade contributing to its annual growth of 20 percent over that time, Huntley said of the 45-year-old family-owned company.

“We will continue working on more acquisitions and more organic product development to continue growing our stable of brands and our breadth of awesome products,” he said. “We have such great customers who continue to buy and believe in us and our brands … We hope we can keep this up and continue to find great products and brands that are ready to be launched or taken to the next level.”

J. Alexander’s Restaurant Coming to Town Madison

 

J. Alexander’s has been announced as the first restaurant for Town Madison.

Mark A. Parkey, President and Chief Executive Officer of J. Alexander’s Holdings, said the new J. Alexander’s restaurant will be on a 2.8-acre site at the entrance to Town Madison on Town Madison Boulevard.

Town Madison is a 560-acres mixed-use development focused on residential, office, retail and entertainment.  The Breland Co., one of the largest commercial and residential developers in the Mid-South, is the developer and Minneapolis-based Shea Design is the architect of the restaurant.

Parkey said plans for the new restaurant will include approximately 7,350 square feet with seating for more than 200 guests.  Approximately 100 full- and part-time professionals are expected to be employed.

“We are extremely pleased to announce plans for our newest J. Alexander’s restaurant,” Parkey said.  “The signing of this lease follows extensive research to identify the most desirable site in this premier community.  Town Madison boasts a superb business climate and quality of life.

“Over the years, we have earned a loyal following of guests from the greater Madison County region at our J. Alexander’s restaurant in Franklin, Tenn., and our Redland’s Grill in Hoover.  As such, we are excited with the opportunity to be in Madison and bring discerning guests the finest in classic American cuisine created by culinary professionals and a concept that spans nearly 30 years.”

Parkey said construction is expected to begin this spring with an opening scheduled for the fourth quarter of 2020.

Known for its wood-fired cuisine, the J. Alexander’s menu will feature a wide selection of American classics – hand-cut steaks, fresh seafood, prime rib of beef roasted on the bone, and premium sandwiches, along with a large assortment of interesting salads and homemade desserts.  J. Alexander’s restaurants also offer an outstanding selection of award-winning wines by the glass and bottle.

The Nashville-based company operates 47 restaurants in 16 states.
 

Rocket City Trash Pandas are Hiring

MADISON – If you’ve wanted to work for a professional sports team, here is your chance.

The Rocket City Trash Pandas, the Double-A affiliate of the Los Angeles Angels, are holding a job fair Saturday, Jan. 25, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Bob Jones High School cafeteria. The school is at 650 Hughes Road in Madison.

“We are building a team of passionate, energetic, and driven individuals to deliver the best experience in Minor League Baseball,” the team said in a statement.

The Trash Pandas will be hiring for more than 100 positions in more than 30 game-day roles. Positions include ticket takers, ushers, servers, bartenders, vendors/hawkers, concessionaires, warehouse, cooks, housekeeping, production room, camera operator, concessions stocker, parking lot attendants, promo team member, game-day runner and more.

Candidates are urged to bring a completed application to the job fair. Applications can be found at www.trashpandasbaseball.com.

Anyone looking for an internship can also interview at the job fair and are encouraged to bring resumes.

Representatives of the Trash Pandas will be on hand to provide information and answer questions.

The Trash Pandas’ home Opening Day is April 15 against the Mississippi Braves at Toyota Field. Season tickets, mini plans and group outings are on sale now. Visit www.trashpandasbaseball.com or call 256-325-1403.

Rocket City Trash Pandas Pass $2M Mark in Merchandise Sales

MADISON — The Rocket City Trash Pandas today announced the team surpassed the $2 million mark in merchandise sales Friday – in just more than 13 months of operating.

The team began selling official licensed merchandise in October 2018 following their logo reveal event at Dublin Park in Madison. Since then, the Trash Pandas have sold merchandise in the Trash Pandas Emporium at Bridge Street Town Centre in Huntsville.

The team’s original store proved too small to handle the crowds, so the Trash Pandas moved into double the space in their current location, at the foot of the bridge June 29.

Through Dec. 22, the organization sold $2,031,660.25 in licensed Trash Pandas
merchandise, including $492,157.14 in online sales and $1,5439,503.11 at the Bridge Street location.

“This surpasses even our wildest expectations,” said Trash Pandas President and CEO Ralph
Nelson. “We are grateful to our fans throughout North Alabama and the entire Tennessee Valley,
as well as those around the world, for support that is simply unprecedented in Minor League Baseball. As I’ve said repeatedly, I do not believe any fan base has ever embraced a new team
like ours has.

“We are truly humbled by this … and it is only the beginning.”

The Emporium at Bridge Street is the only location in North Alabama to purchase official Trash
Pandas merchandise, season tickets and mini-plans. Merchandise is also available in the online
store: https://trashpandas.milbstore.com/.

The Trash Pandas make their Toyota Field debut April 15, 2020 against the Mississippi Braves.

South Huntsville Businesses Receive Facade Improvement Grants

There will soon be a new look to some South Huntsville businesses.

Nearly a dozen small businesses will be able to improve their storefronts, facades and even landscaping thanks to Façade Improvement Grants, the South Huntsville Main Business Association announced.

Business owners applied for the grants, sponsored by Redstone Federal Credit Union. The businesses demonstrated how the improvements to their storefronts would affect the overall appearance, quality, growth and vitality of the South Huntsville district.

The grants provide up to two-to-one in matching funds for 11 projects ranging from $800 to $4,000. The total economic impact is $184,000 in the South Huntsville community.

“The Façade Improvement Grants are contributing to a positive business environment in South Huntsville,” said Bekah Schmidt, executive director for the South Huntsville Main Business Association. “Through the grant, we are encouraging the revitalization of buildings and supporting business improvement. We look forward to seeing these projects completed over the next six months, and greatly appreciate our presenting sponsor, Redstone Federal Credit Union for making this all possible.”

The grant program is part of South Huntsville’s participation in the Main Street Alabama, a statewide effort to build stronger communities through effective downtown and neighborhood commercial district revitalization. South Huntsville was designated a Main Street Alabama community in June 2018.

The following businesses and or shopping centers will be utilizing the matching grant funds to complete façade renovations, building enhancements, or landscape improvements.

  • Angel’s Island Coffee Shop
  • Apollo Animal Hospital
  • Bubby’s Diner
  • Das Stahl Bierhaus
  • Earth Touch Garden Center
  • Eleanor Murphy Library
  • 8200 Memorial Parkway
  • Off the Rack Boutique
  • Main Street South
  • Sabghi’s Jewelers
  • Village Center

For information, call 256-701-2290, email bekah@shba.biz or visit southhuntsvillemain.org/façade.