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New Salon is Right in The Avenue’s Wheelhouse

The Rocket City’s bustling downtown will soon get a hip, new business addition.

“It’s a cool story and there’s a methodology to our madness,” said Johnny Grimes II, owner of the Wheelhouse Salon soon to open at The Avenue.

“We always wanted to open multiple locations. The Huntsville location will be our fourth salon.”

Five-and-a half years ago, the Wheelhouse Salon opened in Homewood with only two stylists and a front desk receptionist. The salon later expanded operations to downtown Birmingham to meet the needs of the medical district and other businesses.

“We now have three locations, 44 employees, and it’s grown pretty quickly,” said Grimes.

Their secret to success?

“We have the administrative component and an incredibly talented staff – all the qualities that it takes to run a successful salon,” Grimes said. “Our business plan is based around people.”

This extends beyond their clients, it’s how they treat their staff, as well. 

When one of their senior stylists moved to Austin, Texas, Wheelhouse took the geographic leap. It was an easy decision to make.

“We had the core components already in place, we already had one of our top stylists there, and Austin was an ideal market for our services,” said Grimes.

The move to Huntsville came into play when senior stylist Jessica Wass and her husband relocated here.

“About a year ago, Jessica came to us and said that her husband was transferred to Huntsville,” said Grimes. “Jessica loved working with us and at the Wheelhouse and planned to make the commute to Birmingham 3 times a week. I told her that she could do it, but it wouldn’t be sustainable over time.

“(His wife and co-owner) Courtney and I started talking about opening a Huntsville location. Huntsville is an exciting, growing market. We have dear friends who live there, and we already had everything in place.”

The targeted opening date is in July.

“The lease has already been signed,” Grimes said. “So, it’s full steam ahead and we’re really excited.”

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.”