Local restauranteur re-emerges as the “Place to Meat”

IMG-6676When the staff at Buck’s Diner learned of the impending sale of the building that housed Fairhope’s beloved breakfast/meat and three spot, they spent the final few weeks celebrating the longevity and success of the restaurant with friends, loyal patrons that had become like family, vendors, and all of the regular supporters that made this Fairhope icon a popular dining spot for more than eleven years.
This notification necessitated the rethinking of future employment options for everyone affected.  Formerly the manager of Buck’s Diner, Daneen Buck, knew she wanted to remain in the restaurant business, but in what capacity? After taking a few months off, Daneen began pondering her options.
What frequently came to mind was an old “hole in the wall” eatery from days long ago known as Boo-Boo’s. Wildly popular with the locals, this bar and grill was family owned and operated and featured very simplistic dining options.  “If I remember correctly, the menu consisted of a ribeye steak, a hamburger, West Indies salad, and gumbo” says Buck, “Oh, and Marie Higginbotham’s peanut butter pie!”
After meeting with the owners of the Point Clear Tennis Club, Daneen knew that this would be the perfect venue for her next adventure in the restaurant business.  The building is considerably larger than Boo-Boo’s was, and she knew a heartier menu offering would be necessary. She decided on a classic steakhouse style menu.
The name of the new game in town is CHAR 32 – “The Place to Meat”.  The menu is still evolving but currently consists of smaller plates, or appetizers, such as a classic shrimp cocktail, sautéed crab claws, shrimp remoulade, stuffed mushrooms, South Indies salad (Daneen’s special version of the local classic), roasted pork belly over braised collard greens, and a petite Chateau with horseradish cream sauce. Entree choices include filet mignon, bone-in ribeye, boneless ribeye, and a strip steak.  The menu also includes fresh, wild caught salmon, and the Char burger is to die for!  All entrees are served with a baked potato or fries, and a house salad. Desserts are homemade and include her mother’s famous banana pudding.
CHAR 32 also has a full bar offering beer, libations and fine wines, and “local celebrity” bartenders to enhance your dining experience. In addition to the spectacular dining room, there is a comfortable lounging area with a fireplace adjacent to the main dining room, and also a beautiful patio area for outdoor dining as the weather permits.
Although the restaurant is located inside the Point Clear Tennis Club, CHAR 32 is open to the public, so make plans to experience CHAR 32 – “The Place to Meat”. The hours of operation are Monday through Saturday 5:30pm until 9pm.
Char 32 at Point Clear Tennis Club • 17107 Tennis Club Dr.  Fairhope • 251-517-7700

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Daphne’s Southwood Kitchen presents upscale cuisine in an approachable atmosphere

IMG_6615Chef Jeremiah Matthews’ education, culinary travels and experiences have allowed him to cultivate the kind of food experience that he not only shares with his customers but also with his entire staff. The creativity that flows through his kitchen embraces a philosophy of continuing education, ingredient appreciation and a never ending quest of progression.
Early last year, Matthews was presented with the opportunity to build a legacy of his own. It was an offer that he couldn’t pass up and the timing was right. He opened his restaurant, Southwood Kitchen, in August of 2017.
His back of the house team includes his son, Noah Matthews and Sous Chef Tyler Ales, both who are well seasoned and industry trained. General Manager, Steven Hall and Bar Manager, Robbie Dozier engage with customers front of the house with a professional hospitality, well stocked bar and a wine list that is constantly evolving.
Although there are no white tablecloths, that doesn’t mean the food is undeserving. Matthews strives for upscale cuisine in an unpretentious atmosphere. Fresh, local ingredients are used – seasonal vegetables, fresh fish, hand ground beef, hand cut fries, house made salad dressings and even pickles.
The menu descriptions share credit with the farms and purveyors of the ingredients allowing  the diner to recognize quality and appreciate the communities they represent.
The lunch menu is more constant but the dinner menu changes daily based on what Chef Matthews is able to procure.
Snacks/Starters are known to include buttermilk onion straws, hot crab dip, pimento cheese with house made pork rinds, fresh soup, oysters and pork belly. Salads are made of local greens, tomatoes and fresh mozzarella, in addition to other seasonal items. Seafood/Fish entrees come from local gulf waters in addition to other fresh catches from
around the world. There are a variety of tenderloins, filets and high end beef cuts that fall into the meat category.
Southwood Kitchen is open for lunch Monday through Saturday from 11am until 3pm with dinner service beginning at 5pm. Reservations have recently become an option for guests. Although they are accepted, they are not mandatory to enjoy a delightful dining experience.
Southwood Kitchen •  1203 US Highway 98, Suite 3D, Daphne • (251) 626-6676
Facebook “Southwood Kitchen” •  www.southwoodkitchen.com

New Owners of Ed’s Seafood Shed will continue the tradition of fun Southern Classics

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Ed and Barbara Bridges created a loyal customer base during the seventeen years they owned Ed’s Seafood Shed on the Causeway. With no prior restaurant experience, the rookie restaurateurs did an incredible job serving their family recipes cooked the ‘Old Mobile’way.
This past October the Bridges were able to comfortably pass the torch to a group of new owners. They know that the business is in good hands and have been assured that what they built will always have a an “Ed” in it.
Pete Blohme, Nick Dimario and Robert Kabakoff partnered to refresh and relaunch the restaurant and offer their customers Southern coastal classics. Gumbo, fried oysters, fried gulf shrimp, a variety of fish, scallops, crab claws,  turnip greens, garlic cheese grits and the famous cole slaw with crackers are just some of what Ed’s Shed has offered and will continue to offer. They are dedicated to improve and enhance without changing what Ed’s is all about.
The gorgeous view of Mobile Bay could not be improved upon but some of the building’s features have. The spacious back patios have been redecked and freshly painted, new windows and state of the art heaters have been installed. An outdoor kid’s zone is in the works and lots of great live music is being scheduled.
Neal Hollingshead is the General Manager of Ed’s Seafood Shed and preceeded the purchase of the business. His commitment and dedication to this location and the industry is just one of the reasons that the PP Restaurant Group successful.  The passion that this group of guys displays is more than evident, not only in words but in actions
“Everything that Pete has talked about has happened” says Dimario “and more!”
The company’s brands (Panini Pete’s, Sunset Pointe and now Ed’s Shed) not only serve the public with great food they also share a commitment to develop and mentor their employees. “Food is a great way to make friends.” says Blohme, “Develop them, enhance their skills and launch them onto something that makes them better.”
In conjunction with helping others, the PP Group has created the PR Foundation. Through fundraisers, volunteer efforts and donations the foundation’s purpose is to do very special things for very special people giving back to individuals with special needs, Veterans of the Armed Forces, no kill animal shelters and other community causes.
Ed’s Seafood Shed • 3382 Battleship Parkway, Spanish Fort • (251) 625-1947
Facebook “Ed’s Seafood Shed” •  www.edsshed.com

Spanish Fort’s Fresh Healthy Cafe focuses on wholesome, good food that promotes optimal health

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Photography by Travon Gibbs

Everything that Nicole Shipman has encountered in her life has prepared her for this most recent journey that she has embarked upon.

This Georgia girl was born and raised in Atlanta. After graduating from college she taught kindergarten and married Jason Shipman. The newlyweds relocated to Dothan, Alabama where they started their family and lived for eight years. With a longing to be closer to water, the couple began researching potential places to call home. They found the Eastern Shore and after a weekend visit, were sold. “Everything about the area was attractive”, says Nicole, “it’s a little country and a little cutting edge.”
After their second child was born, Nicole began working out. She became a certified Zumba instructor and also a certified personal trainer. These accomplishments are what began preparing her for what was just around the corner.

After a family trip to California, Nicole personally witnessed the abundant amount of quick-casual, healthy dining options available on the west coast, She began investigating business opportunities related to healthy eating. She was in search of a proven business model that was small but yet customizable. On the “up and coming” list she discovered FRESH, a Canadian based company that appealed to her personal requirements concerning nutrition.

She chose to support the local business community by using other local business folks when it came to needed services. She also personalized the interior to reflect the characteristics of our area describing the feel as “Southern Coastal Industrial Chic”. After the 19 month process, Nicole, with the support of her family, were thrilled to share her passion with the public.

Fresh Healthy Cafe opened this October in Spanish Fort. The restaurant sources and serves the freshest, highest-quality ingredients they can procure. All menu items completely customizable and include paninis, wraps, salads, power and protein bowls and even seasonal specials. An extensive line of freshly squeezed juices and pure and super smoothies are also offered. Their menu is quite extensive and includes vegetarian, vegan, dairy and gluten free options. Proteins include chicken breast, turkey breast, un’chicken, tofu and hummus. There are no beef products on the menu nor will you find mayonnaise, ketchup or mustard. They will also do their best to accommodate individuals with food allergies. With the start of the new year you might want to consider “reFRESH” – a fresh juice program designed to reset eating habits, support the body’s natural detoxification and kick start a healthy diet. More details are available in-store. Catering, platters and big salads are available for parties and special events. Make
plans to stop by and experience Fresh and see what every ”body” has been missing!

Fresh Healthy Cafe • 10184 Eastern Shore Blvd.• Spanish Fort • (251) 444-7170
www.freshrestaurants.com
Facebook “Fresh Spanish Fort” • Instagram “FreshHealthyCafe”

Southern Italy meets Lower Alabama at Spanish Fort’s La Dolce Vita Italian Bistro

BarrettThis is a tale of two Guisseppes who initially met years ago in Rome, Italy. Guisseppe Formica and Guisseppe Spadaccini were more recently reunited, strictly by coincidence, while they were both in New York.
In 2015, Spadaccini opened an Italian Restaurant in Downtown Miami that has since become incredibly popular. With an interest in expanding his footprint because of his success in Miami, Guisseppe Spadaccini suggested to his long time pal, Guisseppe Formica, that he spearhead the new location that was chosen and slated to open in Spanish Fort, Alabama. He agreed and around this same time last year, a former restaurant space in Spanish Fort’s Eastern Shore Centre was transformed into La Dolce Vita Italian Bistro.
Barrett Thompson, a Mobile native, joined the family not long after the restaurant opened as a server and has since moved into management.
This authentic offering of classic Italian dishes is a celebration of many regions in Italy. Homemade pasta is featured in classic dishes such as spaghetti, linguine, fettuccine, gnocchi, ravioli, lasagna and risotto. There is a variety of antipasto/appetizer and salads that are offered. You may also order a piccata, marsala, cacciatore or parmigiana with your choice of chicken or veal. Their gourmet pizzas are a popular choice and several combinations are highlighted on the menu. You can also choose the “build your own” option and design one to your liking. Daily specials are offered and there is also a
childrens menu. Top off your meal with dessert and coffee. They offer a homemade tiramisu and are equipped with an espresso machine and a staff that knows how to use it! A full bar is available with an expansive wine list that was compiled to compliment each and every menu item. La Dolce Vita is open daily for lunch and dinner. Take a break from Holiday shopping and treat yourself to some authentic Italian while you are out and about. Gift certificates are also a idea for the foodies on your list.

 

La Dolce Vita Italian Bistro • Eastern Shore Shopping Centre
30500 US Highway 181, Suite 710, Spanish Fort • (251) 929-9333
Facebook “La Dolce Vita – Spanish Fort” •  www.ladolcevitabistro.com

Lartigue’s Seafood now available at Fairhope Piggly Wiggly

IMG_5940Lartigue has been a name synonymous with seafood in the Mobile/Baldwin Counties for almost 40 years. The family business started in Mobile in 1978 and nine years later put down roots in Baldwin County when a second location was opened in Gulf Shores. The west beach location eventually outgrew its original location and the business was moved to Orange Beach. In addition to selling seafood to the public, Roger Lartigue’s focus includes calling on retailers and restaurants in a wholesale capacity supplying businesses throughout the southeast, from Mississippi to Panama City, Florida and as far north as Nashville.
Lartigue prides himself in going straight to the sources – from the boats, to the docks and seafood houses and even seeking international outlets to expose customers to a variety of seafoods. His enthusiasm for the industry comes from being born and raised in the business and witnessing the evolution and the unexpected attrition that occurred after the Deepwater Horizon incident.
Years of relationships with family fishing and shrimping businesses have continue to fuel Lartigue’s passion for seafood and provided him with a recent opportunity to showcase his talents within a local Baldwin county grocery chain. Manning’s Piggly Wiggly approached Lartigue about operating a seafood market within their Fairhope
location. Roger and his staff on now on hand daily to offer their expertise and suggestions on an expansive offering of fresh seafood with plans to duplicate the seafood market in Manning’s other locations.
The cases and freezers at Lartigue’s Seafood Market are stocked with shrimp, royal reds, oysters, crabmeat, grouper, catfish, snapper, tilapia, pompano, salmon, sea scallops, sushi grade ahi tuna, poke cubes, suku blocks and so much more. Specialty items include gumbo, jalapeño stuffed peppers, crab pie, crawfish boudin, oyster dressing, seafood stuffed potatoes, etouffee, crabmeat stuffing, tuna dip, salmon dip and homemade cocktail sauce. They will also steam your seafood purchase with their original seasoning that is available in spicy or mild.
As a purveyor of international imports, Lartigue’s will continually be seeking and adding new and different products. Be sure to stop by and see what products are available for sample.

Lartigue’s Seafood Market • 100 Plantation Pointe Shopping Center, Fairhope
(251) 928-0239 • Facebook “Lartigue’s Seafood Market at The Pig”
www.myshrimpcompany.com

El Camino Taco Shack arrives in Downtown Fairhope

AlissaAlissa Johnson has been in and exposed to the restaurant industry for the majority of her adult life. She and her husband Harry, opened Rosie’s Grill in 2010 as a joint venture. They enjoyed being part of the Daphne community for a number of years. The menu highlighted a few favorites from previous restaurants that are no longer in existence in
addition to paying homage to two, very special, long time employees.
Mama Rosie and her daughter Little Rosie infused their Mexican influence and created some of the dishes that carried over and were a favorite among patrons who dined at previous restaurants under Johnson ownership.
When a relocation opportunity presented itself, Alissa chose to take part of the Rosie’s menu (including the fish and shrimp tacos) and transition into what is now El Camino Taco Shack in Fairhope.
Fresh, simple and fun is the focus with an emphasis on authentic. Tacos, burritos, quesadillas, bowls and salads serve as a vehicle to feature proteins that include beef, chicken, barbacoa and chorizo.
They are enhanced by various combinations of street corn, pico, black beans, poblano rice, cilantro, chipotle and other related ingredients that Alissa refers to as “fresh Mex”
El Camino hosts a full bar that includes a variety of tequilas, Mexican beers and specialty margaritas in addition to the domestic beers and other libations.
The restaurant now occupies the dwelling that was formerly The Gumbo Shack, which was part of Fairhope’s restaurant scene for many years. This was a popular spot for a crawfish throw down during the ever popular season and still will be according to Johnson.
El Camino Taco Shack is a little off the beaten path but yet still right in the middle of it all providing a great family atmosphere with inside and outside seating.
Alissa and her staff are looking forward to being a part of all the upcoming events for which Downtown Fairhope is known.
Join them for lunch and dinner Tuesday through Saturday. Happy Hour is Monday through Friday from 4pm until 6pm with daily specials in addition to live music every Friday evening.
El Camino Taco Shack • 212 Fairhope Ave, Downtown Fairhope • (251) 928-8108
Facebook “El Camino Taco Shack” • www.elcaminotacoshack.com