The flavor of New Orleans makes its way to Spanish Fort

Paul Drouant

Anyone who knows anything about New Orleans will surely appreciate the opening of Mandina’s Restaurant in Spanish Fort.

For those not so familiar with our Louisiana neighbor, history takes us back to 1898 when Sebastian Mandina of Palermo, Italy arrived in New Orleans. Mandina opened a neighborhood grocery on Canal Street. The business transitioned into a pool hall where sandwiches were sold during the Great Depression. By 1920, Italians owned an estimated forty-nine percent of grocery stores in New Orleans. Many became restaurants in the early 1900s, including Mandina’s Restaurant.

Sebastian’s two sons, Anthony and Frank opened Mandina’s Restaurant in 1932. Still owned by the same family 120 years later, Mandina’s is one of the most historic and authentic Italian New Orleans restaurants in existence. It is still going strong and continues to be owned and operated by the Mandina Family.

Hurricane Katrina resulted in a strong influx of Louisiana natives who have come to love and live in this area. Eastern Shore resident, Tommy Mandina is one of them. Since there are so many lower Alabama residents with Louisiana roots along with people and visitors that visit the Cresent city because of it’s proximity to this area, a Spanish Fort location seemed like and excellent idea. The mothership had long made a name for herself and a second location has proven to be very well received.

Paul Drouant and Frank Marcello are the partners who spearhead the day to day operations of both Mandina’s Restaurants. The Spanish Fort location is full of New Orleans flair. The dining room is adorned with artwork from well known artists and boasts a full bar with a daily happy hour from 3pm-6pm.

There isn’t much that you won’t find on the menu at Mandina’s of Spanish Fort.

Italian specialties, New Orleans staples like red beans & rice/shrimp creole, steaks, seafood, pork chops and chicken, sandwiches, burgers and po-boys. Appetizers include calamari, crab fingers and an incredible smoked crawfish spinach dip. Their regular soups are turtle and homemade seafood gumbo. Mandina’s House specialties include trout, catfish or soft shell crab prepared almandine or meunière style, a seafood platter and homemade lasagna. 

There are Daily specials that aren’t on the menu. On Monday it’s Pasta Jambalaya, Tuesday is Beef Stew, Wednesdays: stuffed bell peppers, Thursday: liver and onions and on Friday it’s Shrimp Mandina. Nightly specials include a shrimp boil & brew on Monday and Tuesday night is Steak night. The kids have a special menu and don’t forget dessert!

There is a lunch menu served daily from 11am-3pm and they also offer Sunday Brunch.

Mandina’s of Spanish Fort is located just north of the interstate in Spanish Fort Center just past Bass Pro Shop and next door to Fairways Indoor Golf. 

Mandina’s Restaurant • 25000 Bass Pro Drive, Suite 100 • Facebook “Mandina’s of Spanish Fort”

Fairhope’s The Mill transitions to new ownership

Cheryl and Kirk Dye both have traveled all over the United States with their former careers involving the military and defense contracting. Not being afraid to try something different, they decided that it was time to travel back to the South and focus on a business of their own.
Kirk actually grew up in Pensacola, graduated from University of South Alabama and has family ties to Fairhope. Cheryl’s experience in a management capacity, combined with legal and human resources is the perfect transition to being a successful business owner.
The couple discovered that The Mill was for sale and loved the concept. With two popular dining options (MaryAnn’s Deli and Ox Kitchen) that provide a firm foundation, the couple plans to simply build what is already in place.
They have changed the atmosphere only slightly with more large screen televisions and vintage signage. They are still very family friendly with plans to add more live weekend entertainment. Kirk and Cheryl see The Mill lending itself to a more adult oriented environment during evening hours.
While The Mill opens every day at 10am. The Bar – Southern Chill @ the Mill currently operates Thursday through Sunday. There are plenty of craft and domestic beers on tap along with  champagne, wine and even canned beer. Also available are non-alcoholic beverages such as coffee, hot tea and hot chocolate.
The generous amount of indoor and outdoor space makes The Mill perfect for large groups and/or social distancing. Kirk and Cheryl are also working on some enhancements to the third kitchen that will soon be available to occupy a third eatery. Make sure to stop by soon for a bite or a beverage!
The Mill • 85 Bancroft Street, Fairhope • (251) 333-0211 • www.themillfairhope.com

Sugar, spice & everything nice

Rachel and Eric Knoll moved to Fairhope from Atlanta four years ago. They have always wanted to own a business of their own and spent quite a while researching options. Their results presented them the opportunity to visit St. Augustine, Florida and the headquarters of a company called The Spice & Tea Exchange. After some due diligence and conversation with other franchise owners across the country, the Knoll’s procured the rights to the territory that is now home to their cozy location in the heart of Downtown Fairhope.

A little more than a year ago Rachel and Eric opened The Spice and Tea Exchange on De La Mare Avenue. It is an extensive showcase of exquisite teas, spices, herbs, salts, peppers, sugars and more that are sourced from all over the world.

If you are a tea aficionado or foodie you will be impressed and amazed at everything that this shop has to offer. A high-quality, diverse assortment of products are offered in a sensory shopping experience. All of their blends are mixed and packaged on site by a knowledgeable staff that is eager to help customers find easy ways to create unique and flavorful food through the use of teas, spice blends, and various culinary techniques.

A variety of tea cups/mugs and accessories, salt blocks and spice sampler sets are available along with other prepackaged gift bundles and candles. You can browse their selection of complimentary recipe cards that highlight popular dishes using spices, herbs, salts and other ingredients that are available. They even have rice and pasta mixes. While browsing, go ahead and choose a tea to enjoy while you’re there. Freshly brewed in 12, 16 and 24 ounce sizes – hot or iced.

Whether you are entertaining, meal prepping or just need some quick flavor tips to add some diversity to your own recipes – The Spice and Tea Exchange of Fairhope has you covered. Stop by and see how they can kick it up a notch!

The Spice & Tea Exchange • 323 De La Mare Avenue, Fairhope • (251) 219-0339

Fairhope Rotary Youth Club continues to care for our community

Things are awful quiet at Fairhope’s Rotary Youth Club without the kids. Covid-19 has made sure of that. But nonetheless, generous sponsorship, community volunteers and dedicated staff at the center are doing everything in their power to make sure the children and elderly of the Fairhope community knows they are of utmost priority.

Feeding the Gulf Coast, a local food bank, works through the Fairhope Youth Club providing single-day distributions to hundreds of families in need. This location provides 200 meals (breakfast and lunch) each week day for children up to age eighteen. They have a drive up distribution and are happy to provide these meals. They want everyone to know that anyone is eligible to take advantage of this opportunity. Gallons of milk have also been donated and are also available at no charge.

Also on hand, are miscellaneous pantry essentials, dry goods and household supplies. If there is a need for cleaning supplies, hand sanitizer and masks during these uncertain times, those in need are encouraged to ask. They are happy to oblige.

On Fridays the focus is on providing a hot lunch to the elderly and shut in. Local churches participate by assembling and delivering and there is also drive up access.

Executive Director Tracey Miller is in the process of implementing A Virtual Summer Enrichment Program. Computers will be used to help keep children engaged and be able to access some of the benefits of enrichment and tutoring as it relates to reading and math. The costs associated with this process are considerably more than the traditional method. Each computer costs $328. They are looking at purchasing 100 computers and are accepting donations to help with the expense. Miller and her staff truly miss and worry about all of the Rotary Youth Families. They look forward to getting back to the way things used to be. In the meantime, they are doing their best to maximize efforts and provide services to Fairhope’s youth as we all proceed with this much different way of getting needs met.

To donate to the Fairhope Rotary Youth Club, please contact Executive Director Tracey Miller at 251-928-9148 email: tmiller@rotaryyouthclub.org

Local couple forms business to promote a Southern staple

Any time is Tailgate time according to Paige and Jimmy Dill. This cute couple started baking their cheesestraws just for the fun of it and have turned it into a thriving business.
Jimmy Dill has taken a recipe that was given to him by a beloved friend, made a few tweaks and has come up with his version of a popular Southern entertaining staple. 
The Dill’s, who both enjoy baking, started out in the kitchen of their home under the Cottage Law and quickly realized that they needed a larger space. They moved their operation to the kitchen at Camp Beckwith in Fairhope. Because of the equipment they were using, the couple was producing small batches and putting in a tremendous amount of hours. Within a short amount of time, they realized that they just couldn’t keep up and it was time to step up their game. They relocated to their own commercial kitchen in Fairhope, upgraded their equipment and are now capable of producing multiple batches of thousands of cheese straws.
Tailgate Cheesestraws are made with quality ingredients. They are crispy, savory and pair perfectly with a nice glass of wine. They can be served as an appetizer or just simply eaten as a snack. They contain just the right amount of seasoning but, if you prefer, a spicier version is available for those who “like it hot”. 
Paige and Jimmy are thankful to all their friends whom have supported their endeavor and spread the word (and their product) throughout the community. The Dills also appreciate local vendors like B&B Pecans, Hazel’s, Greer’s, Piggly Wiggly and Rouses who have also embraced their business by offering Tailgate Cheese Straws for sale in their locations.
This past Christmas season they participated in a Christmas Market (Merry Little Market in Point Clear) showcasing not only their cheese straws but other family favorites;  cheese cake cookies, oatmeal craisin cookies and poundcake! Because of the shelf life of those items, they are not sold in stores but available as a special order. For more information on Tailgate Traditions Cheese Straws, special orders or shipping contact Jimmy Dill at (251) 278-9600 or email jimmy.dill@tailgatecheesestraws.com.

Featured Foodservice Distributor

Delivery Driver Beau Porter, Ben E Keith District Sales Representative Brian Injaian and Customer Horace Sledge of Market by the Bay

Bryan Injaian has been worked in and with restaurants his entire career. This native Mobilian attended the University of Southern Mississippi on a music performance scholarship. After deciding to hang up the violin, he hopped a bus and took off for California. Bryan worked at Yosemite National Park in Food and Beverage. He camped out in a tent for a year before deciding to head back home and finish his schooling in Mobile. He graduated from the University of South Alabama with degree in Hospitality Management.
Over the past twenty plus years, Injaian has worked his way up the restaurant operations chain.  His experiences have taken him from breakfast cook at Cracker Barrel to Area Director of Restaurants for Ruby Tuesday and Wintzell’s Oyster House. During his time in restaurant management, Bryan was also recognized by the Alabama Restaurant Association as Restaurant Manager of the Year. Bryan now serves as a District Sales Representative for broadliner Ben E. Keith servicing and cultivating accounts in Mobile and on the Eastern Shore. In addition to supplying restaurants with product, he assists his customers with ways to increase sales, improve operations and maximize profitability through a host of multiple resources that are available through the company. His knowledge of restaurants and the Hospitality Industry is quite the  recipe for success.
Ben E. Keith Company is a distributor of food and beverage products founded in 1906.  Headquartered in Fort Worth, Texas, Ben E. Keith is one of the largest broadliners in the country. The Elba division services our Gulf Coast area and supplies a full line of produce, frozen foods, meats, dry groceries, refrigerated foods, paper goods, equipment and supplies to restaurants, hospitals, schools, nursing homes and other institutional businesses.  Ben E. Keith is expanding their footprint into the Southeast. A state of the art warehouse and test kitchen is currently under construction in New Brockton, Alabama to better service their growing customer base. For more information about Ben E. Keith and how they can assist, feel free to contact Bryan at (251) 895-2332 or email:bdinjaian@benekeith.com

Olde Towne Daphne’s newest nightly dining venue… Kitchen on Main

Dorothy Overstreet, Kitchen on Main

Dorothy Overstreet was Bayou la Batre born and raised amoungst a family of incredible cooks. She remembers her Mom and Dad participating in all the Bayou Tasting events and preparing their seafood gumbo and more for the masses of people that would attend each year. Overstreet enjoys feeding folks and finds cooking very cathartic. She is also a talented singer and songwriter, and lived in Nashville for a while before honing her cooking skills at Le Cordon Bleu in Atlanta. After returning to Baldwin County, Dorothy focused on offering catering services. Opening a restaurant of her very own has been a dream of Dorothy’s for some time and she knew it was now or never. When a spot on Daphne’s Main Street came available this past July, she knew the timing was right and this was her opportunity. She
admired the industrial feel and clean lines of the small cozy space.
It reminded her of places she had frequented in Nashville with just the right feeling of a intimate, yet approachable, neighborhood restaurant. In addition to the main dining area, there is a side deck that is used for outdoor seating when the weather is conducive.
In October the KITCHEN ON MAIN opened its doors to the public with a menu of Dorothy’s recipes that she has perfected over the years. Everything is hand crafted using the freshest of ingredients. The menu of American fare is comprised on small plates, sharebles, add-ons, large plates and desserts. The seafood selections change more frequently and the other selections are subject to change based on seasonality. There is a full bar and a wine list that compliments the dinner menu. Kitchen on Main is currently open for dinner only Tuesday through Saturday from 5pm until 9pm. Reservations are accepted but not required. Be sure to follow “Kitchen on Main” on Facebook to see what’s cookin’.
Kitchen On Main • 1716 Main Street • Daphne •  (251) 307-5350

Buster’s Brick Oven prepares for November Bourbon Dinner

Tucked just to the side of the ever famous Manci’s Antique Club is a quaint, cozy spot that has blossomed within the bussle of it’s big brother’s shadow…with a personality all of it’s own.
Buster’s Brick Oven originally opened in May of 2017 and is emerging as one of the Eastern Shore’s go to spots to relax and unwind with an adult beverage.
Managing Partner, Garrett DeLuca has embraced his position, fostered the business and built his back of the house team in a manner that completely personifies what Buster’s was intended to accomplish. DeLuca’s accomplished kitchen staff is comprised of Judon Price, Marian Titlestad and Ben Flores. He credits them with the creativity and passion that has pushed – and continues to push – Buster’s menu to the next level.
The food menu at Buster’s consists of small plates/irons, charcuterie boards, freshly prepared brick oven pizzas and a small selection of savory entrees/seared selections. Buster’s offers a nice selection and variety of wines in addition to a full bar with a specialty cocktail menu. They have also recently added draft beer and serve craft and local brews.
The week begins on Wednesday at Buster’s. Every Wednesday they feature
a $5 house wine and a $10 pizza. The current days/hours of operation are Wednesday through Saturday from 5pm until with plans of reintroducing a Sunday Brunch by the end of the year. Be sure to like them on Facebook (Buster’s Brick Oven) to keep up with their “pizza of the night” and their Friday & Saturday Dinner “special of the night”.
On November 14th, Buster’s will host an Old Forester Bourbon Dinner. The culinary team will debut their three course menu that will pair an Old Forester Bourbon that complimenting each course. There will be an Ambassador from Old Forester on hand to educate and enhance the experience. The menu and price will posted online and reservations will be taken via email at bustersbrickoven@gmail.com
Buster’s Brick Oven • 1711 Main Street • Daphne •  (251) 264-2520
www.mancisantiqueclub.com/busters

Drink to your Health at Eastern Shore Nutrition, now open in Daphne

Chris Clark is a Mississippi guy who discovered the Eastern Shore while working in medical device sales. His job caused him to spend a considerable amount of time in the Mobile/Eastern Shore area and he was looking for a reason to make a move to this area. He was exposed to the Nutrition Club concept last year and chose the Eastern Shore as his ideal location to launch his new business. He procured a spot in May and opened three weeks ago in Daphne.
Eastern Shore Nutrition offers healthy and meal replacement shakes that are low in calories (200-250) packed with protein (24-27 grams), low in carbohydrates, filling and delicious! They come a large variety of flavors such as Cookies & Cream, Butterfinger, Wedding Cake, Nutter Butter, Lemon Shortie, Chocolate Caramel, French Vanilla, Key Lime Pie, Peanut Butter Cup, Salted Caramel and the list goes on – not to mention all the fun seasonal flavors!
These shakes are packed with all the vitamins and minerals you need in
a meal so they appeal to the health conscious or maybe even the less active individual who is trying to find a way to get everything their body needs. They also offer Post Workout Extreme Rebuild Shake Options.
Loaded Teas are also an option. They are loaded with Vitamins B & C, Ginseng, Guarana, also, Green, Black and Oolong tea but NOT a lot of calories – only 24! They do contain caffeine however (175-200mg) but they are low in carbohydrates (4 grams) and full of flavor! Try a Captain America, Cucumber Watermelon, Pink Flamingo, Pineapple Punch or some Jaguar Juice. You can even show your school spirit with the Trojan Potion, Tangy Toro or a Perky Pirate. And don’t forget the kids! Keep them healthy, hydrated and caffeine free for all their extracurricular activities. They have fun menu items too – Peppa Pig, Wonder Woman, Iron Man, Little Mermaid, Aqua Man just to mention a few.
Chris and his staff are gearing up for their Grand Opening Celebration that is scheduled to take place Friday October 18th. Stop by see what Eastern Shore Nutrition is all about. Register to win door prizes to be given away during the Grand Opening.
They are located on State Hwy 181 on the right going North near Champions Way (near Daphne High School) next to Infinity Bicycles.
Their hours of operation are Monday through Friday, 6am until 4pm and
Saturday, 7am until 2pm. They are closed on Sundays.
Eastern Shore Nutrition • 28396 Hwy 181, Daphne • (251) 367-8200

It’s a good old fashioned family affair at the Punta Clara Kitchen

L to R: Susan Harvison, Kim Pacey Clay, Sarah Pacey, Susan Pacey

Kim Pacey Clay’s Grandmother, Dot Pacey, started their family’s business in a little brick building in the back yard of her home in 1952. She and her husband started out making pralines and preserves for friends and then added cakes and other treats. Her products spoke for themselves and word of mouth spurred a successful business. A business that would keep this family occupied for many years to come. The Punta Clara Kitchen has stood the test of time and honors old fashion, homemade small batch candies, fudge, preserves and cakes.
In the mid 1970’s the candy kitchen was moved to Miss/Aunt Colleen’s house (after her death). This has sentimental significance in that this house was constructed in 1897 and was originally the home of Edward and Rosina Brodbeck, (Kim Pacey Clay’s great great grandparents). The family transformed the residential kitchen to meet commercial codes/standards and have been in operation in the historical, Victorian home ever since.
Their pralines, fudges, divinity, pecan driftwood, polliwogs, goober pies, and other candies are all made from their very own recipes. You will also find pickled okra, watermelon rind pickles, fig preserves,
old-fashioned apple butter, pepper jelly, scuppernong jelly, red raspberry jam, peach preserves and many others. Old fashioned pound cakes are available in a variety of flavors. Those are baked to order, so make sure to call and place your order in advance. Cheese straws are also an option – classic, hot and blue cheese! The products at Punta Clara are made from scratch and preservatives are not an option so be sure to enjoy them promptly. And for the person that has everything… Give the gift of goodies! Ask them to put together an assortment of items in a gift box or basket – they also offer shipping and gift certificates. Mosey on down to the road to Point Clear where you can watch them in the kitchen making theses candies and other specialties daily. You can even enjoy samples of their most popular treats.
Punta Clara Kitchen • 17111 Scenic Highway 98, Point Clear, AL • (251) 928 – 8477 • www.puntaclara.com