Tammy Pratt • DeMarco McClain • Angela Ford • Tim Singleton • Angelina Pettway • Will Alexander • Cynthia Webster • Barry Bryan
The STRENGTH of COMMUNITY At the heart of every community are the dreams, aspirations and goals of its people. Bank Independent is committed to helping our customers achieve their goals and make a positive difference in our communities. SERVICE Bank Independent has served the communities of North Alabama since 1947 and grown in strength to manage over $1.6 billion in assets. Now the seventh largest bank in Alabama, we have expanded into Madison County and continue to grow by helping our communities grow. CONVENIENCE With 28 physical locations to serve North Alabama plus our Digital Sales Office to serve customers anywhere in the country, our vision is to be the bank of choice in the communities we serve. Our team members are dedicated to offering the convenience our customers expect. COMMUNITY Bank Independent is committed to helping our communities grow by investing locally and sharing our success. We are proud to bring our financial strength to Madison County to help our customers make dreams come true, continue to aspire and meet their goals.
Banking with strength. Bank Independent.
BIBANK.COM | MEMBER FDIC | 877.865.5050
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HIGH CALIBER REAL ESTATE PROFESSIONALS
When a home is represented by Amanda Howard Sotheby›s International Realty®, it immediately begins a journey to high-quality exposure through innovative technology and unrivaled service. Amanda Howard is one of the newest brokers in the Sotheby’s International Realty network, and her affiliation illustrates not only the growth of the real estate market in Huntsville, AL, but also the high caliber of the realty professionals elevating business practices in the region. An influential business leader and mentor to young professionals in the area, Amanda leads her team to deliver unlimited possibilities and exceptional service.
AMANDA HOWARD SOTHEBY’S INTERNATIONAL REALTY 3005 L & N Drive, Suite 1 Huntsville, AL 35801 |256.799.9000 www.amandahoward.com
FACES FACES OF HUNTSVILLE/MADISON
8. SUMMER IN THE CITY
Things to do around town this summer
18. HUNTSVILLE ARTS:
REACH FOR THE STARS
Check out the vibrant arts scene. Thereâ€™s a little something for everyone.
28. 21ST CENTURY HUNTSVILLE Cool sophistication,dynamic spaces and diverse living. Written by Kimberly Ballard
36. THE FOOD SCENE
44. CIGAR LOUNGES
A touch of class for an ancient pleasure. Written by Michael Kelley
Excitement popping out everywhere Written by Michael Kelley
60. THE TRASH PANDAS
A whole new baseball experience Written by Brian Foreman
64. THE LAST WORD
The dream factory at Merrimack Hall Written by Ann Marie Martin
Restaurants you have to experience.
Where to get the best craft beer.
2 FACES OF HUNTSVILLE/MADISON
ABOUT THE COVER:
Jewelry Designer, Eva Ziegler. Her work can be found at Lowe Mill Arts and Entertainment or online at www.evaziegler.com.
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Daniel E. Rousso, M.D., is nationally and internationally renowned for his expertise in facial plastic and hair replacement surgery. “Natural” looking results are his forte. Board certifications include the American Board of Facial Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery and the American Board of Hair Restoration Surgery. Dr. Rousso has served as past president of both the American Academy of Facial Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery and the International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery. He is also an Assistant Professor in the Department of Surgery at UAB. He receives many invitations to speak to other physicians and has been published in journals and book chapters on facial plastic and hair restoration surgery. Elected by his peers as one of America’s Best Doctors since 2005, Dr. Rousso is also one of the Top Doctors, and is listed in Castle Connolly’s Top 100 doctors published in The New York Times. Dr. Rousso wants to welcome Dr. Austin S. Adams who recently joined his practice. Like Dr. Rousso, Dr. Adams practices exclusively in facial plastic surgery and hair replacement.
ROUSSO FACIAL PLASTIC SURGERY & AESTHETIC MEDICAL SPA The Mountain Brook Center | 2700 Highway 280, Suite 300 West 205.930.9595 | www.drrousso.com Dr. Daniel Rousso and Dr. Austin S. Adams
Amanda Howard Sotheby’s International Realty....1
Bank Independent....................Inside Front Cover
Bank Independent Madison..............................9
Berkshire Hathaway Home Services
Rise Real Estate ...........................................27
Bridge Street Town Centre .................Back Cover
Bridge Street Town Centre................................5
Dental Professionals on Whitesburg..................49
Fuqua and Partners Architects .........................15
General Surgery Associates PC.......................51
Huntsville Ballet Company..............................13
Madison Medical Associates..........................57
Magnolia Wealth Strategies...........................43
Matheny Goldmon Architecture + Interiors.........35
Randolph School .........................................25
Rene A. Talbot Dentistry..................................61
Rhodes and Creech LLC.................................59
Rousso Facial Plastic Surgery and Aesthetic
Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse....................................7
Ryan, Hicks, Cumpton & Cumpton LLP...............63
Stonecraft Construction/Imagine Inc.................31
Van Valkenburgh & Wilkinson REALTOR............11
4 FACES OF HUNTSVILLE/MADISON
FACES OF HUNTSVILLE/MADISON
CREATIVE DIRECTOR Robin Richeson Colter
PHOTOGRAPHERS Jennifer Tarkington David Phillips Billy Brown
Ann Marie Martin Kimberly Ballard Brian Foreman Joe O’Donnell Michael Kelley Faces of Huntsville/Madison is published quarterly by Professional Media Group, LLC, P.O.Box 22648 Huntsville, AL 35814 Phone: 256-701-2453 Printed locally at Colonial Printing Copyright 2019. All rights reserved.
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HUNTSVILLE’S PREMIER MIXED-USE DESTINATION
HALEY BUIE, BRIDGE STREET TOWN CENTRE MARKETING MANAGER With 80+ shops and restaurants, Bridge Street has more than 50 unique-to-market brands, including Apple, Athleta, LOFT, Kendra Scott, Anthropologie and The Westin and Element hotels. The center hosts more than 7 million annual visitors who enjoy its 14-screen movie theater, 40+ events and family-friendly amenities. Bridge Street’s newest additions, The Watermark apartments and the Hyatt Place hotel, will welcome residents and visitors alike. Check out Bridge Street’s calendar and follow them on social media to discover what’s happening next.
BRIDGE STREET TOWN CENTRE Huntsville, AL 35806 | www.bridgestreethuntsville.com
FROM THE PUBLISHER...
Welcome to our launch issue of FACES of Huntsville/Madison. We are excited to introduce to Huntsville, Madison and Madison County this new publication designed to cover “the Best of Life” in our fast-growing area. Our mission is to present profiles of business leaders, trend setters and style makers in our area, while also bringing feature stories about aspects of life that may not yet have caught your attention. Our cover story on the arts supports this theme. Written by former Huntsville Times arts and fashion reporter Ann Marie Martin, Huntsville Arts Reach for the Stars describes how our visual and performing arts add so much to the Huntsville experience. It includes a special exploration of Lowe Mill Arts and Entertainment, our local arts resource unmatched anywhere in the state. A vibrant and growing city, Huntsville has for years been lauded in national publications as a technology center, a great place to start a business, a great place to raise a family. What often goes unreported is how much happens here outside of the business side of life. Joe O’Donnell’s feature spread Summer in the City keeps our readers up to date on activities ranging from the 50th anniversary of putting a man on the Moon to visions of Woodstock at the Huntsville Museum of Art. He also puts the spotlight on some of Huntsville’s best eateries in The Food Scene, beginning on page 36. We follow that up with a rundown on Huntsville/Madison’s impressive craft breweries and some great places to enjoy a brew. FACES our ad_v2.pdf 2 4/25/19 The 11:34Cigar AM Noticed local cigar lounges? Scene takes you
inside five Huntsville cigar emporiums, each with its own flavor, atmosphere and feel. A Whole New Baseball Experience tells how team owner Ralph Nelson and his staff at BallCorps, the owner of the Trash Pandas, intend to add an entirely new dimension to the experience of watching a baseball game. No doubt about it, Huntsville is all about growth. With Huntsville and Madison both setting new growth records, you don’t want to miss Kimberly Ballard’s 21st Century Huntsville: Cool Sophistication, Dynamic Spaces & Diverse Living as she describes cool new developments happening downtown and at the former Madison Square Mall site. We take a somewhat different approach to Madison: Excitement Popping Out Everywhere by showing just how rapidly Madison County’s second city is growing, and some great new developments soon to appear. So sit back, get another glass of iced tea, and enjoy. We think you’ll like what you see between our covers.
PUBLISHER, FACES OF HUNTSVILLE/MADISON
Randolph School’s Class of 2023 will be: Prepared for college: with 4 years of dedicated college counseling and academic advising. Well rounded: 75% of the class participates in athletics, 100% in the arts. Known: with small class sizes and daily, individual mentoring.
Give your student the skills and support to be independent. RANDOLPH SCHOOL | 256.799.6100 | www.randolphschool.net 6 FACES OF HUNTSVILLE/MADISON
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720 G A LL ATI N S TRE E T AT T WIC KE NHA M S QUARE 2 5 6 .5 3 9 .3 9 3 0 For location details and private dining menus, visit RuthsChris.net
GET OUT AND EXPLORE THE WORLDS OF ART, NATURE, MUSIC AND MORE THIS SUMMER.
The Purdy Butterfly House at the Huntsville Botanical Gardens, the nation’s largest open-air butterfly house, opens on May 1 and through September is home to 1,500 butterflies, as well as turtles, button quail, and frogs. A series of butterfly releases are scheduled during the season (see dates below) during which visitors can take part in an environmentally safe restoration of the indoor butterfly population. 8 FACES OF HUNTSVILLE/MADISON
hsvbg.org/event/purdy-butterfly-house Butterfly releases: Saturday, June 8 at 10:00 a.m. & 1:00 p.m. Saturday, July 13 at 10:00 a.m. & 1:00 p.m.
Burritt on the Mountain debuts its new and original discovery program for children and adults this summer. Come explore Burritt’s Nature Trails, Historic Park, Barnyard Animals, and Dr. Burritt’s
Marvelous Mansion. Choose one of 5 cool adventure backpacks, complete with everything you’ll need for an exciting scavenger hunt, designed for fun and surprises. Each backpack comes with a special something that you can take with you. Burrittonthemountain.com
SUMMER CONCERTS AT THREE CAVES
Enjoy a night of music at a unique
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Bank Independent knows the dynamic growth potential in Madison County depends on building strong relationships. Our team of bankers has the expertise to collaborate with business innovators ready to capture the opportunities this area provides. Ranked the seventh largest bank in the state, Bank Independent offers over 70 years of experience serving the communities of North Alabama, backed by the financial strength of over $1.6 billion in assets and our exceptional team of bankers. Our commitment to collaboration can be seen in our relationships with business owners and development projects across Huntsville.
BANK INDEPENDENT MADISON 7564 Hwy 72 W. | Madison, AL 35758 132 Holmes Avenue NW | Huntsville, AL 35801 256-386-5000 | www.bibank.com
PEACE, LOVE, ROCK & ROLL: ELLIOTT LANDY’S VISION OF WOODSTOCK outdoor venue, while benefiting the Land Trust of North Alabama. Kenny Neal performs on Saturday, August 10. One of the strongest modern proponents of Baton Rouge swamp blues, Kenny Neal is a second-generation southern Louisiana bluesman. The opening act is Microwave Dave and the Nukes. Three Caves is located within the Land Trust’s Monte Sano Nature Preserve and has become one of the most unique event venues in North Alabama. Parking is at Huntsville Hospital lots at Adams Street & Lowell Drive. Free shuttle service will begin at 5:30 p.m. Tickets are $35-$45 for Land Trust members and $45$55 for non-members. 10 FACES OF HUNTSVILLE/MADISON
Enjoy art, wine, culture and cuisine, every Thursday night from 5 to 8 p.m., when admission to the Huntsville Museum of Art is only $5. For your added enjoyment, a glass of wine will be available for $5! Live music will also be included, so be sure to check the museum’s Facebook event pages to see who’s performing.
PEACE, LOVE, ROCK & ROLL: ELLIOTT LANDY’S VISION OF WOODSTOCK
In celebration of the 50th anniversary of Woodstock, Peace, Love, Rock & Roll
captures and preserves Elliott Landy’s vision of that influential event. His iconic photographs of Dylan and The Band during the years they resided and recorded in the small arts colony of Woodstock, NY, and his coverage of the 1969 Woodstock Festival, for which he was the official photographer, captured the attention of a new generation seeking spiritual and artistic freedom. His imagery has become synonymous with the town, the famed 1969 Festival and the Utopian spirit of the Woodstock Generation. Get out your bell bottoms and love beads for an evening of Peace, Love, Rock & Roll at the Lecture & Preview Party,
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The house may be a Twickenham mansion, a Five Points cottage or suburban rancher, but we only have one kind of client – you. Tailoring a plan for each unique property, Van Valkenburgh & Wilkinson helps you navigate the buying and selling process. We use generations of area knowledge, real estate expertise, and industry networks to serve you at the highest level, whatever your budget or needs. Find out what keeps our clients coming back decade after decade. Call us – you’ll be glad you did.
VAN VALKENBURGH & WILKINSON, REALTORS® 204 Gates Avenue | Huntsville, AL 35801 | 256-539-0505 www.historicandfinehomes.com
ROCKET CITY SUMMER FEST MOON LANDING CONCERT
Thursday, July 18 from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Lecture by Elliott Landy: 6 p.m. Reception with Full Bar and catering by Chef Narvell: 7-8:30 p.m. Live music from the ’60s. Tickets available on June 20th. Member Tickets: $50 | Non-member Tickets: $75
APOLLO: WHEN WE WENT TO THE MOON JULY 24TH DAILY THROUGH DECEMBER, 2019
The world-premiere exhibition, ‘Apollo: When We Went to the Moon,’ chronicles the timeline from the beginning of the Space Race – a time when the U.S. and 12 FACES OF HUNTSVILLE/MADISON
Soviet Union competed over their accomplishments in space exploration – to the collaborative culture of the International Space Station program and beyond. Experience the best of technology and exploration through the eyes of the engineers and in the boots of the astronauts who took us to the moon 50 years ago. Enjoy an Apollo 11 launch experience and explore artifacts and media memorabilia highlighting the turbulent nature of this pivotal era in our history.
ROCKET CITY SUMMER FEST - MOON LANDING
Celebrate the anniversary of the day Neil Armstrong took his historic first step on the Moon at the Rocket City Summer Fest Concert on July 20 at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center. We will join with celebrations around the world to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the Apollo 11 Mission with a concert in the shadow of Huntsville’s iconic Saturn V replica. The Black Jacket Symphony presents “Party of the Year,” playing hits from the 1960s to today. This is Black Jacket Symphony’s answer to the party band, and the concert experience includes videos, full concert lighting and a high-energy performance.
THE FACE OF BALLET IN THE TENNESSEE VALLEY
Ballet has always been a mark of sophistication in the arts. As the Tennessee Valley premier organization for creative dance and the only professional company, Huntsville Ballet Companyâ€şs mission is to use the power of dance to inspire and nurture the art of classical ballet through artistic excellence, performance experiences, while providing both education and outreach activities in the community. Our Vision is to continue to strive for excellence, to become the finest ballet company in Alabama, offering the highest quality of performance opportunities along with performing a wide range of choreography.
HUNTSVILLE BALLET COMPANY 800 Regal Drive SW | Huntsville, AL 35801 | 256-539-0961 www.huntsvilleballet.org
FOOD TRUCK ALL STARS PARTY LIKE IT’S 1969! #APOLLO50
On July 16, 1969 at 9:32 a.m. at NASA’s Launch Pad 39A, Apollo 11’s five F1 engines on Nasa’s Saturn-V AS-506 rocket ignited to slowly lift three Americans and humankind’s dreams aboard the historic mission to the Moon. On the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11, Huntsville will be dancing in the streets, toasting Apollo workers and moonwalkers, and leading a rocket launch of thousands around the world as part of its celebration. The U.S. Space & Rocket Center will attempt to break Guinness World Record by launching 5,000 model rockets simultaneously. Throughout 2019, plans to commemorate the Apollo 11 anniversary events and Alabama’s Bicentennial are underway, highlighted by Panoply 2019’s Alabama Bicentennial and Lunar Landing themes, a Guinness World record attempt at the most simultaneous rocket launches, an Apollo Homecoming Dinner at the U. S. 14 FACES OF HUNTSVILLE/MADISON
Space & Rocket Center and dancing in the streets on Courthouse Square. The Apollo 11 mission anniversary week in July 2019 also includes a Celebration Car Show, and a concert on July 20th, moon landing day.
FRIDAY NIGHT LIVE
Friday Night Live presented by Buffalo Rock Company will be every Friday night from 5 to 8 pm May - October on Northside Square! Come enjoy free music in #DowntownHSV and kick off your weekend right! Performers announced each week on the Friday Night Live Facebook Event page.
FOOD TRUCK ALL STARS
Food Truck Season in Downtown Huntsville starts back on May 4th!! The Food Truck All Stars 2019 presented by valleymls.com features two amazing food-centric events every month. The first Saturday of every month from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. the All Stars will be on Southside and Eastside
Square serving brunch. The 3rd Friday of each month from 5 to 9 p.m. they will be on Church Street for dinner. The All Stars are coming better than ever this year with top-notch ingredients, delicious and creative menus, and superb customer service.
Every August, eateries throughout Madison County participate in Huntsville Restaurant Week, a 10-day celebration of our diverse local cuisine. During this event, participating restaurants offer specialized menu items at fixed prices for lunch and/ or dinner, designed to showcase their unique offerings and encourage visitors and locals alike to explore the delectable side of the Rocket City. Various special events also hosted throughout the campaign make for an immersive culinary experience. Huntsville Restaurant Week occurs simultaneously with the statewide Alabama Restaurant Week.
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Fuqua & Partners Architects (FPA) was founded in 1983, and from our beginning, we have dedicated ourselves to providing our clients thoughtful and responsive Architectural Design. Master Planning and Interior Design have been hallmarks of the firm since its inception and reinforce our ability to deliver projects that are well conceived, innovative and responsive to the needs of our clients. We are proud of our heritage, but as we look to the future, we are thankful to our friends and clients for the opportunities they provide, which allows our work to contribute to the great community that we call home.
FUQUA & PARTNERS ARCHITECTS 100 Church Street, Suite 700 | Huntsville, AL 35801 | 256-534-3516 www.fuquaarchitects.com
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EXCELLENCE IN CHRISTIAN HIGHER EDUCATION
The forward-thinking Dr. Leslie N. Pollard frames the future of Oakwood University through its longstanding holistic approach to student development, expansive musical heritage, strong theological perspectives, and rich cultural foundation. As a result, Oakwood ranks fifth nationally among the producers of African Americans attending medical school. The Ambassadors Men’s Basketball team touts four USCAA Division I championships and a coach who focuses on perfecting one’s character above perfecting one’s shot. The Honda Campus All-Star Challenge team has brought home three championships in this annual academic competition and one best coach award. Under the direction of the Conductor of the World, The Aeolians won three gold medals at the 2018 World Choir Games. Their artistry harnesses the power of music to testify of God’s love to thousands around the globe.
OAKWOOD UNIVERSITY 7000 Adventist Boulevard | Huntsville, AL 35896 256-726-7000 | www.oakwood.edu
Pictured: Timothy Culberson, Coach Simon Jacob, Edmen Stewart, Marquise Hudson, Dr. Leslie N. Pollard, Crosby Harley Lambert, Ross Adam Parkinson, Danielle Celia Honore, Dr. R. Rennae Elliott, David Ricardo Reid, Dr. Jason Max Ferdinand, Malik Mchayle, Zaren Bennett, Aleigha Durand, Holland Sampson
Caught a good story lately? They’re plentiful as stars in our night sky. Love, hatred and death strode on stage with Huntsville Ballet Company. Honor, cowardice and injustice took their bows at Theatre Huntsville. An Alabama girl turned her love of singing into an international opera career. The Huntsville Symphony Orchestra played its part in her true-life story of talent, ambition and success. 18 FACES OF HUNTSVILLE/MADISON
All the dreams, doubts and discoveries that connect us to our neighbors across the street and around the globe? They shine in galleries and studios around town every day. If you’ve experienced our vibrant arts community, you’re enjoying stories aplenty. If not – if the bright lights of your busy life block those stars – you’re missing one of the best reasons to call Madison County home.
LOWE MILL ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT
You fall in love with a work of art at a gallery. You buy it, take it home, and it becomes part of your life. But what about the story of that work of art – and the story of the artist who created it? If you found that artwork at Lowe Mill Arts & Entertainment, you probably heard those stories straight from the artist - even saw the work as it was being created.
LOWE MILL ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT FACES OF HUNTSVILLE/MADISON
thology themselves. Established in 1900 as a textile mill, Lowe Mill was converted into a cotton warehouse in the late 1930s. It became a shoe factory in 1945 and a heating systems warehouse in 1978. Jim Hudson, founder of Research Genetics and co-founder of HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology, bought it in 2001 and set it on the path to becoming the largest privately owned arts facility in the South. With more than 150 studios filled with painters, jewelry designers, woodworkers, sculptors, photographers, culinary artists and more – plus concerts and other performances and events – Lowe Mill is now a center for the arts in Huntsville.
HUNTSVILLE BALLET COMPANY
HUNTSVILLE BALLET COMPANY Metal/clay artist Cindy Miller has her Cindy Miller Design Studio at Lowe Mill. She enjoys working in a place where people can find her and talk to her about her work. “It’s part of the magic of the creative process every time I pull something out of the kiln,” she said. “It adds value for people to see the process.” People want to see how it’s done, agrees Wallace Turman of Turman’s Pottery. For his cell phone amplifiers shaped like the space shuttle, he went online to study photos of the actual shuttle and then designed 20 FACES OF HUNTSVILLE/MADISON
his clay shuttle’s open bay doors to look like the real thing. He also checked with a guy from NASA about the position of the thrusters. Like several of the Lowe Mill artists, Turman and his wife, Jackie, offer classes at their studio. Caroline Wang, a watercolor artist with an Asian flair, appreciates the interaction among Lowe Mill’s creative community. “We can share ideas,” she said. “Art is not right or wrong. Every piece of artwork is a piece of story.” The Lowe Mill buildings form an an-
The audience already knew the story that unfolded on stage at Huntsville Ballet Company’s final performance of the 201819 season. It’s been popular for 500 years. The star-crossed lovers die in the end. But the way Huntsville Ballet and its artistic director, Phillip Otto, revealed the story of Romeo and Juliet brought a fresh poignancy to the familiar tale. Romeo finds Juliet in the crypt. He doesn’t know she’s in a drugged sleep. He drinks poison to join her in death. Romeo is almost gone when Juliet revives. He sees her returning to life as he is leaving it. He reaches out his arm but cannot touch her. Juliet stretches and rises, unaware of Romeo’s presence as he falls. Otto’s choreography and the dancers’ performances paint a heart-wrenching scene of the chasm between life and death, the tragedy of lost chances. No words needed. Talented, trained human bodies moving in graceful, athletic forms tell many stories at Huntsville Ballet Company. It’s been around since the mid-1960s when Community Ballet Association was incorporated to inspire a love of dance in the Tennessee Valley through the ballet company and Huntsville Ballet School. Otto has been Huntsville Ballet’s artistic director for about 10 years. As he builds on the past to energize the present, his eyes are fixed on the future. “In the last five years, I started adding
FACES OF HUNTSVILLE/MADISON
HUNTSVILLE SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA
on paid professional dancers,” he said. “Four of those dancers are from our school. That’s what my vision is – to create dancers here in the school and then they can go on and be paid by the company to perform. “I’m trying to align ourselves with the Huntsville Symphony; those people are professionals. Huntsville deserves a professional ballet company. People shouldn’t have to drive to Nashville or Birmingham to see quality performances.” Otto admits it can be a challenge to grow audiences beyond the ballet faithful. Some people say, “I don’t understand ballet.” Not an obstacle, says Otto. “In some cases, even I don’t understand what I’m watching. But that’s OK. Going to the ballet sometimes is like going to the art museum and looking at a beautiful painting – only our paintings are set to music. Going to the ballet is almost like the museum coming alive. Appreciate what you see out of that.”
To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee’s novel of racial injustice and loss of innocence, hasn’t been around as long as Shakespeare’s play, but it’s almost as famous. It proved about as popular when Theatre Huntsville produced the stage version in January. The show was practically sold out before it opened. When they added anoth22 FACES OF HUNTSVILLE/MADISON
er performance, it sold out, too. “Theater is, at its heart, storytelling,” said Leslie Gates, Theatre Huntsville’s executive director. “Storytelling is a basic human need. We share stories of the fantastic and the mundane because they are ways we can share the meaning in our lives and explore what it is to be human. “Theater provides insight into different cultures and ways of life that we may not be able to experience otherwise. The arts hold up a mirror to our society, reflecting how and why we interact. Performances create conversations about current events and teach us about our history.” A live theater experience cannot be imitated, she says. “It has such an energy between the actors and the audience, and it’s different every night. I think that’s what makes it such a unique experience. We always say, ‘You never know what’s going to happen. It’s live theater.’” If you include its artistic roots, Theatre Huntsville has been telling stories since the 1950s. Huntsville Little Theatre was founded as Huntsville’s first theater company and second performing arts group after Huntsville Community Chorus Association, founded in 1946. HLT merged with Twickenham Repertory Company to form Theatre Huntsville in 1997. While Theatre Huntsville focuses on
plays, other organizations fill different niches: Fantasy Playhouse Children’s Theater & Academy presents stories for younger audiences, featuring young performers. Independent Musical Productions – now rebranded as IMPHuntsville – made a big splash when it joined the scene in 1993 with its inaugural production of Sweeney Todd. Broadway Theatre League has brought touring Broadway shows and other professional theatrical productions to Huntsville since 1959.
HUNTSVILLE SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA
“We live in one of the most outstanding small cities in the United States,” said Dan Halcomb, Huntsville Symphony Orchestra CEO. “The presence of the orchestra is both a cause and an effect of that.” HSO’s growth trajectory has largely followed Huntsville’s. When Alvin Dreger, a cellist from Huntsville, founded HSO in 1955, many of the participating musicians were members of the German rocket team led by Wernher von Braun. The orchestra’s second concert in 1956 featured the first of many collaborations with Huntsville Community Chorus. As HSO expanded its artistic reach over the decades, the orchestra invited
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FINE ITALIAN DINING
Nestled in quiet south Huntsville, but easily accessible on Bailey Cove Road, Nick’s Ristorante “The Hidden Gem of Fine Dining in The Tennessee Valley” presents the finest in Italian cuisine away from the hustle and bustle of busy city life. A Northern Italian Steakhouse known throughout The Valley for its quality service, atmosphere, cuisine, and cocktails, Nick’s opened in 2010 and is the only VA Certified SDVOSB (Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business) Restaurant in Northern Alabama. Try our top of the line, Certified Angus Beef - specially aged 21 days, cut and individually wrapped to Nick’s and Chef Tom’s specifications. Inspired by Nick’s Delmonte Family recipes, our Northern Italian Cuisine matches the quality of our steaks along with the highest quality in seafood. Come visit Nick, Kaye, Chef Tom, Lounge Manager Kenny, Service Coordinator Joey, and the Staff!
NICK’S RISTORANTE 10300 Bailey Cove Rd SE. | Huntsville, AL 35803 | 256-489-8280 www.nicksristorante.com
BROADWAY THEATRE LEAGUE world-renowned talent to share its stage. Concertgoers lucky enough to have tickets remember the thrill of hearing our symphony perform with opera legend Beverly Sills, folk legend Judy Collins, British pop-rock band The Moody Blues, and the incomparable violinist Itzhak Perlman. Today HSO is led by an international classical music star, music director and conductor Gregory Vajda, who was born in Hungary. HSO’s performing constellation still sparkles with locally grown stars. The orchestra ended its 64th season on May 4 with a concert honoring Alabama’s bicentennial and featuring two former Huntsvillians: soprano Susanna Phillips, recipient of The Metropolitan Opera’s 2010 Beverly Sills Artist Award, and Matthew McDonald, principal bassoon, Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra. Phillips and McDonald come home to Huntsville on a fairly regular basis. A few years back, they founded Twickenham Fest, a summer chamber music series that also includes some of their friends from the wider classical music world. With classical concerts, a pops series, and educational programs, HSO will take 24 FACES OF HUNTSVILLE/MADISON
you to artistic heights, but you’ll always have a down-home welcome. “Absolutely anyone can attend an HSO performance and expect to be awed and moved,” Halcomb said. “The HSO belongs to everyone: skilled musicians, generous patrons, concertgoers, and thousands of children who benefit from outreach programs and music education. A symphony is so many things. It’s when all these different elements come together that we get something truly special – the Huntsville Symphony Orchestra.”
Imagine paintings and sculptures as stories. See the Huntsville Museum of Art as a library of artistic expressions. HMA’s mix of local, national and international art is reflected in this year’s exhibits: “Our Shared Heritage: Alabama Artists from the Collection” in the Chan Gallery is part of Alabama’s bicentennial celebration. The long-running Encounters series, which focuses on local and regional contemporary artists, welcomed Memphis painting prodigy Jared Small to the Grish-
am Gallery. Small, who says he tries to capture other people’s fading memories in his art, discussed his work during a lecture and reception on Feb. 1. The 32nd annual exhibition for Youth Art Month presented artwork by local students in kindergarten through grade 12. Everywhere you look, art’s falling on Huntsville like the famed Leonid meteor shower when stars fell on Alabama. You don’t need a telescope to observe these stars. If you have trouble finding them, check in at Arts Huntsville. For almost four decades, Arts Huntsville (formerly The Arts Council) has presented Panoply of the Arts, now the Southeast’s premier arts weekend, in Big Spring International Park in the spring. Concerts in the Park happen throughout the summer. In the fall it’s time for the Monte Sano Art Festival. And if you see giant, illuminated white rabbits in the park – or something else shockingly delightful – don’t fear an invasion from another planet. It’s just the folks from Arts Huntsville showing the community that art is for everybody, at any time, in any space.
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SEEKING TRUTH | BUILDING CHARACTER | NURTURING ALL Stated simply, there is no other place like Randolph School. As the area’s only K-12 college preparatory school, our educators are committed to creating a balanced and nurturing environment for students to excel in academics, the arts and athletics. Greengate School at Randolph is one of only 17 schools in the nation accredited by the Academy of Orton Gillingham Practitioners and Educators to provide specialized instruction for students with dyslexia and related language learning differences. At Randolph, we provide an exceptional school experience where a student’s curiosity and thirst for knowledge can flourish.
RANDOLPH SCHOOL 256.799.6100 | www.randolphschool.net Pictured Here :The Drake Campus Academic Leadership Team
FACES FACES FALL 2019
OF HUNTSVILLE MADISON THE FACES OF
HEALTH SPECIAL SECTION
Look for the next issue of Faces of Huntsville/Madison this fall. You’ll find stories that go right to the heart of health and wellness with the great writing and photography that make one of our issues something special. We’ll be looking for the Faces of Health and Wellness.
OF HUNTSVILLE MADISON
Contact Mike Kelley at mike@FacesofHuntsvilleMadison.com to secure your position in this next issue.
DEADLINE: AUGUST 10TH!
THE FACE OF
A TRUE LEGACY FIRM
Experience – little else compares to it. For more than 36 years Rise Real Estate has helped bring thousands of north Alabama buyers and sellers together in transactions that benefit everyone. We’ve sold more homes than any other Huntsville-area brokerage firm . . . a record we’re proud of. It’s that experience – and our consistent high level of service – that led Berkshire Hathaway to choose us as their exclusive north Alabama affiliate. Now we can offer the same great level of service you’ve always expected from Rise Real Estate, backed up by the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Technology Platform. It’s the winning combination for your residential buying and selling needs.
BERKSHIRE HATHAWAY HOMESERVICES RISE REAL ESTATE 3603 So. Memorial Parkway | Huntsville, AL 35801 | 256-882-0304 www.bhhsriserealestate.com
COOL SOPHISTICATION, DYNAMIC SPACES AND DIVERSE LIVING BY KIMBERLY BALLARD 28 FACES OF HUNTSVILLE/MADISON
FACES OF HUNTSVILLE/MADISON
AREA 120 AT MIDCITY
Huntsville is accustomed to winning national recognitions for its friendly and welcoming business environment: Kempler Industries named Huntsville the Best City for Manufacturing Jobs; 24/7 Wall Street ranked Huntsville 6th in the Nation for Job Growth; and our city is #3 on the Wall Street Journal’s list of Where You Should Move to Make the Most Money. However, in recent years, Huntsville has been receiving significant praise for its pulsating local economy and extraordinary quality of life. For instance, U.S. News & World Report recently named Huntsville #11 on the 2019 Best Places to Live. This acknowledgment is no surprise as our city has become a diverse, energetic, 21st century technological city with an ever-expanding skyline stimulated by a $100 million downtown revitalization project at its CityCentre; and a $350 million redevelopment project at MidCity Huntsville. These added conveniences–a vibrant nightlife; diverse choices in cuisine; eclectic arts and entertainment venues; and access to hotels throughout the city and Madison– offer big city amenities without losing traditional Southern hospitality! And guess what? There are no signs of it 30 FACES OF HUNTSVILLE/MADISON
slowing down anytime soon!
DOWNTOWN HUNTSVILLE’S CITYCENTRE
As the sun sets over downtown Huntsville’s Big Spring Park, thousands of points of light begin their shimmering dance in response to Frank Sinatra’s jazz-infused refrain, “My heart beat just like a hammer, arms wound around you tight, while stars fell on Alabama, last night.” The music drifts on a dusky breeze from the new AC Hotel patio every night as the sun goes down. A constellation projector rains down laser stars while hotel guests and local romantics partake in the hotel’s beverage ritual–a lavender and blue swirled concoction sprinkled with stardust called a Starry Night. The hotel’s signature Huntsville cocktail captures perfectly the intermingling of the city’s artsy-side with its fiery passion for space exploration. The AC Hotel by Marriott is the first installment of a $100 million mixed-use development known as CityCentre at Big Spring. Developed by Doradus Partners in partnership with RCP Companies, the hotel
is a global joint venture with Spanish hotelier Antonio Catalan. When completed, CityCentre will consist of 30,000-square-feet of retail and restaurant space, an artisanal food hall, and 277 luxury apartment units modeled after the Artisan Twickenham Square, located a few blocks away. The European-inspired luxury boutique hotel has six floors and 120 rooms with large flat screen smart TVs, platform beds, glass front refrigerators and stand-up residential-style showers. The hotel also has four extra-large corner suites overlooking downtown, Monte Sano Mountain and Big Spring Park. The second floor consists of event space, an exercise gym, business services space known as the AC Library, and what will be known as The Veranda rooftop bar opening in June 2019. The Veranda will be open to the public via a winding street-side ramp for concert goers and sports fans strolling the sidewalks of Big Spring Park after events at the Von Braun Center, the Huntsville Museum of Art and other downtown entertainment venues.
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BEAUTIFUL, ENERGY EFFICIENT, FORTIFIED HOME CONSTRUCTION
Stonecraft Construction, a division of Imagine, Inc and its owners, Navid, Diana and Danesh Foroughi stay at the forefront of energy efficient and fortified residential construction in north Alabama and southern Tennessee. We utilize innovative building systems such as Insulated Concrete Forms (ICF) and Structural Concrete Insulated panels (SCIP) and Structural Insulated Panel (SIP) construction to build the most energy efficient and more resilient home possible. These proven method combines poured concrete forms with super-insulating styrofoam, creating a strong, airtight home that is not only beautiful but can cut your utility bills by 40-60%. Thinking about your â€œforeverâ€? home? Let us show you why a Stonecraft home is quieter, more structurally secure, drier, and more mold resistant than a traditional wood framed home.
STONECRAFT CONSTRUCTION/IMAGINE, INC. 314 Cahill Drive NW | Huntsville, AL 35811 | 256-509-3800 www.uimagineit.cok
THE ADRENALINE ZONE AT MIDCITY
Also opening Summer 2019 is the firstfloor Gemini Kitchen & Cocktails featuring Atlanta chef and restaurateur, Marc Taft. The menu will tout fresh ingredients sourced from local farmers, ranchers, and artisans. Guests of the AC Hotel won’t find your traditional breakfast of scrambled eggs, bacon and jam, but instead, experience petit déjeuner with a European flair. “Even though the Gemini isn’t yet opened, we still offer hotel guests a unique European-style breakfast,” said Michael Owenby, director of sales. “It consists of two types of quiche, open-faced toast, a delicious baked egg dish known as cazuela, freshly baked croissants daily, and hot and iced coffee and expresso.” The bar also offers tapas type fare for heading out into the city including freshly sliced prosciutto and chia seed pudding. “Gemini’s going to be a great place to come for a drink before a show at the VBC 32 FACES OF HUNTSVILLE/MADISON
or it’ll be a great place to stop in when you’re taking a stroll through Big Spring Park,” said RCP Companies project coordinator, Nadia Niakossary, “It’s designed to be very inviting and it will be a place for everybody to come.” “Our corporate management company is based here in Huntsville and is a homegrown company,” Owenby continued. “We’re a huge component of the CityCentre project and we’re excited to be involved with the community and expect to be a really big part of all the great things happening downtown.”
A SIGN OF THINGS TO COME
Across the park in the shadow of the PNC Bank building, a new Autograph Collection by Marriott boutique hotel will eventually add to the projected 1,000 hotel rooms coming soon to downtown. Another mixed-use development will be
taking shape in the months ahead on Clinton Avenue across from the VBC. That 13-acre former Coca-Cola plant property will be developed by Rocket Development Partners out of New York City. They cite the growing popularity among young couples and empty nesters for pedestrian communities with plenty of activities, a variety of eateries, and close proximity to retail stores and shops, as a hint at what might be coming to that space in the coming months.
While Downtown Huntsville is focused on cool, sophisticated urban living - social interaction, challenging outdoor activities and just plain fun are the focus at the sprawling 100-acre MidCity Huntsville development off University Drive. Located near the University of Alabama at Huntsville (UAH) campus on the former Madison Square Mall property, the $350
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SOLVING PROBLEMS AND DELIVERING RESULTS PROJECTXYZ is a technical solutions company that uses is expertise to solve problems and deliver results for federal and commercial customers at a wide variety of both domestic and international locations. Headquartered in Huntsville, Alabama, we provide expertise in the research, design, development, integration and sustainment of innovative solutions in engineerting, logistics, information technology, and alternative energy. Founded in 2002 by Kim Lewis, PROJECTXYZ is a women owned small business.
PROJECTXYZ 1500 Perimeter Parkway Ste. 426 Huntsville, AL 35806 256-721-9001 www.projectxyz.com
million MidCity Huntsville redevelopment project, when finished, will consist of 345 square feet of specialty retail space, 200,000 square-feet of high tech office space, over 900 square feet of residential, and a 150-room boutique hotel. According to the developer, RCP Companies, MidCity Huntsville promises to deliver a one-of-a-kind regional destination designed to become a social and economic focal point for a diverse and dynamic community. Where CityCentre offers quiet, sophisticated living, MidCity promises enough action and expendable energy to, well … launch a rocket into space! Instead of sipping Van Gogh-inspired stardust potions under the constellations to the sound of Frank Sinatra favorites, visitors to MidCity will get an introduction to Huntsville’s versatile food and beverage scene, outdoor concerts, and activities and entertainment for every age from one to 100. Located at The Point in the heart of the MidCity development, visitors enjoy food trucks on the event lawn; brewery festivals and wine tastings at Jake’s Mews; diverse artisan food creations from experimental concept restaurants at The Camp; and celeb34 FACES OF HUNTSVILLE/MADISON
rity-inspired burgers, Sloppy Joes and tater tots from a 4,000-square-foot Wahlburgers. According to RCP Companies, a 26,500-square foot Dave & Buster’s will open in July 2019 at the intersection of University Drive and Old Monrovia Road providing “The only place to eat, drink, play and watch sports all under one roof.” If you have the urge to climb a mountain, no need to find a real one! High Point Climbing & Fitness has added an $8 million climbing gym and a 2,700-square-foot Kid Zone with climbing elements designed for ages three to twelve. If climbing isn’t your thing, TopGolf offers 72 climate-controlled batting bays, an indoor driving range, a full-service restaurant and multiple bars, as well as private event space and meeting rooms, a rooftop terrace with a fire pit, and hundreds of HDTVs with free Wi-Fi. Those focused on a fit and healthy lifestyle will find a 38-acre public park with walking, jogging, and bicycle trails, alongside a functional lake system and The Adrenaline Zone with its kayak center for water adventure activities. Beyond the park, a grand event promenade transitions east through a series of tree-
lined commercial avenues featuring niche shops, restaurants, and residential-above-retail apartments, which gives way to a large new residential district. If you are thinking Sinatra’s croon is a little too old-fashioned for your musical tastes, MidCity will offer plenty of alternative music venues when the new $40 million amphitheater is built. Designed by Matheny-Goldmon Architects, the Amphitheatre is one of the most unique additions to MidCity – and to Huntsville overall. According to RCP Companies, the 8,500-seat venue will feature live performances of all kinds, including world-class concerts and cultural shows featuring local, regional and national talent. Furthermore, The Stage at The Point will showcase musicians, artists and dancers from within the Huntsville community and surrounding area. Yes, it’s always fun and even a bit fascinating to think back on 20th Century Huntsville as a hidden gem, tucked away from prying eyes in the early days of the space program, but the city’s pride in innovation and fearless pursuit of the future has elevated it to one of the most diverse and cultured cities of the 21st Century!
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BRINGING PASSION TO EACH DESIGN CHALLENGE Creativity in building design requires inspiration and passion. Matheny Goldmon Architecture + Interiors is a firm focused on the art and discipline of design.
Regardless of scale, type, or budget, we believe that every project is a design opportunity – an opportunity to inspire, soothe, and delight the lives of those who encounter the buildings and spaces we help to create. Each client’s needs are different, and transformational spaces don’t emerge from the application of a formula. From gestural hand-sketches to elaborate computer-generated models, we invest creative energy throughout the design process, ensuring a custom result every single time. While we strive for beautiful and inspirational design solutions, we also recognize that projects can only be considered successful if they meet the needs of the client, are responsive to their budgets, and result in sustainable facilities. Careful consideration of these principles throughout the creative design process results in timeless buildings which enrich the aesthetics, character and experiences of the communities we serve.
MATHENY GOLDMON ARCHITECTURE + INTERIORS 108 Woodson St. | Huntsville, AL 35801 | 256-532-0909 www.mathenygoldmon.com
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1892 EAST RESTAURANT & TAVERN
www.cantinalaredo.com (256) 327-8580
This unique restaurant is defined by the notion of local--the food, farmer, neighbor relationship. Located in the Five Points Historic District with its charm and character, 1892 East is one of the many local businesses dotting the streetscape. Chef Steve Bunner directs the creative, sustainable cuisine. For dinner try: stuffed trout pan roasted with bacon and pecan butter, roasted acorn squash, spicy garlic-braised greens and local honey butter. 720 Pratt Avenue NE Huntsville, Alabama 35801 www.1892east.com 256-489-1242
CONNORS STEAK AND SEAFOOD
The Bottle, an upscale eatery that features Southern cuisine with a French influence, specializes in steaks, chops and a variety of the freshest fish available. The changing seasonal menu includes raw oysters, jumbo lump Maryland style crab cakes, veal chops, lamb racks and Hereford Choice Beef. For dinner try: the mixed grill of New Zealand venison and spicy Italian sausage with fingerling potatoes, sweet corn, carrots, English peas, and port blueberry sauce. 101 Washington Street Huntsville, AL 35801 thebottledowntown.com 256-704-5555
Cantina Laredo serves authentic Mexican dishes in a sophisticated atmosphere with daily fish specials, grilled chicken and steaks complemented by signature sauces such as chipotle-wine with portobello mushrooms or sauteéd artichoke hearts and roasted red bell peppers. It is the modern side of Mexican food. For dinner try: Relleno de Camarones with shrimp, monterey jack, vegetable and mushroom stuffed roasted green chili, with avocado, roasted red pepper and poblano sauce, on charred street corn and cilantro lime rice Bridge Street Town Centre 300 The Bridge St Suite 110 Huntsville, AL 35806
Influenced by turn of the century style and classic cuisine, Jimmy and Suzan Boyce opened the doors to Commerce Kitchen in December 2010. Each restaurant within the Boyce Restaurant Concepts’ portfolio offers guests unique tastes, and together a compelling destination dining experience for downtown. For dinner try: Gulf shrimp and Falls Mill grits with crispy bacon, and parmesan cream sauce. 300 Franklin St SE Huntsville, AL 35801 thecommercekitchen.com Phone: (256) 382-6622
This second location of this steak and seafood restaurant opened its doors in Huntsville at Bridge Street Town Centre. Connors quickly became a hit with the locals, earning numerous awards. Connors specializes in fresh seafood and premium aged steaks, as well as gourmet salads and pastas. The restaurant has an extensive wine list, craft cocktail menu, and craft beer menu. For dinner try: Parmesan encrusted Alaskan halibut baked with lemon wine sauce, couscous, and asiago creamed spinach. 345 The Bridge Street Huntsville, AL 35806 www.connorsrestaurant.com (256) 327-8425
On the southwest corner of the Courthouse Square, the three-story brick building that houses Cotton Row Restaurant was built in 1821 along the cotton exchange. Comfort, elegance, Southern hospitality and modern American cuisine defines Cotton Row Restaurant. Twenty-year industry veteran James Boyce, worked at Le Cirque in New York as well as Las Vegas and Southern California, before moving with wife Suzan and family to Huntsville. In 2008 they opened Cotton Row featuring fine American cuisine with strong Southern influences. They also opened Pane e Vino Pizzeria, which offers rustic-chic Italian fare in a beautiful
artistic setting just below the Museum of Art. And in December 2010, they opened the doors of the Commerce Kitchen, influenced by turn of the century style and classic cuisine. For dinner try: braised black angus beef short ribs with creamy yellow grits, balsamic-portobello mushroom, arugula, and provencal tomato. 100 South Side Square Huntsville, Alabama 35801 cottonrowrestaurant.com (256) 382-9500
Open since 2007, Grille 29 has become one of the most popular places in the city from its location in the Village of Providence. This is a sophisticated yet casual steak and seafood restaurant. There is an additional location in Birmingham. For dinner try: firecracker shrimp to start, crispy petite shrimp tossed in a sweet and spicy chili sauce. The Island Ribeye is a 12oz textured cut, marinated in soy, ginger and pineapple, finished with sesame butter, and served with sticky rice and bok choy. 445 Providence Main St NW #101, Huntsville, AL 35806 grille29.com (256) 489-9470
Kona Grill has a passion for fresh ingredients, ideas and experiences. The global menu features contemporary American favorites, award-winning sushi, and specialty cocktails - all made from scratch using only the freshest ingredients. For dinner try: macadamia nut chicken with shoyu cream, pineapple-papaya marmalade, house mashed potatoes, and sautéed broccolini. 435 The Bridge St #150 Huntsville, AL 35806 www.konagrill.com (256) 808-2540
NICK’S ITALIAN RISTORANTE
This Italian restaurant specializes in steak, seafood and Northern Italian cuisine. The restaurant features a cigar room. Nick’s Ristorante’s roots come from the Delmonte Family from a small town just outside of Naples, Italy by the name of Montaguto. FACES OF HUNTSVILLE/MADISON
For dinner try: The ribeye is a USDA Prime 16 oz. cut, well marbled for peak flavor, and deliciously juicy. 720 Gallatin St SW Huntsville, AL 35801 www.ruthschris.com/restaurant-locations/huntsville/ 256-539-3930
TEXAS DE BRAZIL
Ruth’s Chris Steak House
After 44 years with the Army, Nick along with his wife Sherry, and brother Dave opened Nick’s Ristorante in Huntsville September, 2010. For dinner try: veal saltimbocca, lightly floured, sautéed, layered with prosciutto, fontina cheese and sage cream sauce. 10300 Bailey Cove Rd SE Huntsville, AL 35803 nicksristorante.com (256) 489-8280
Purveyor provides local craft beers, unique bourbons, and exclusive wines, many not found anywhere else in Alabama, in a comfortable setting and friendly atmosphere. Located in The Avenue, downtown Huntsville’s newest addition. Stephanie Kennedy-Mell and Matt Mell are the couple behind the Purveyor as well as Church Street Wine Shoppe. At Purveyor they are teamed up with chef Rene Boyzo, who brings creativity to the kitchen. The menu changes quite often. You can find creative small plates as well as entrees in a fusion of Latin American and Asian flavors. 201 Jefferson St Huntsville, AL 35801 purveyorhuntsville.com (256) 419-2555
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Ruth’s Chris Steak House is conveniently located in the upscale Twickenham Square development. Whether you are looking for the perfect restaurant to enjoy a meal before a show or sporting event, unwind after a day on the links or celebrate a great day in the Rocket City, you will find an unforgettable dining experience. Nightly happy hour in the bar and lounge areas are famously popular, and sizzling style awaits in the dining room. Private dining room can accommodate up to 50 guests. Nick’s Italian Ristorante
At Texas de Brazil, traditions of Brazilian cuisine blend with generous Texas hospitality to create a lively atmosphere in an upscale setting. Enjoy the rodizio-style dining that has made Texas de Brazil famous. An endless parade of gauchos visit your table with skewers of freshly grilled meats carved directly onto your plate. Choose from perfectly seasoned beef, lamb, pork, chicken and Brazilian sausage, cooked over a wood charcoal fire the way cowboys of Southern Brazil have prepared it for generations. It’s all served with authentic side dishes of garlic mashed potatoes, Brazilian cheese bread and sweet fried bananas. To complement your meal, select from an award-winning collection of wines or traditional Brazilian bar creations. 350 The Bridge Street, Suite 124 Bridge Street Town Centre Huntsville texasdebrazil.com (256) 327-9113
HUNTSVILLE AND MADISON HAVE ONE OF THE MOST EXCITING CRAFT BEER SCENES IN THE STATE. HERE ARE SOME GREAT SPOTS TO EXPLORE AND ENJOY.
CRAFTY BJ’S RESTAURANT & BREWHOUSE
A chain of restaurants and brewhouses with a local outlet at Bridge Street. Come here for the Southern California twist put on Chicago-style pizza, as well as a signature dessert, Pizzokies. 401 The Bridge Street Huntsville, AL 35806 (256) 684-8080
THE BAR AT 805
The Bar at 805 is a bar located across the parking lot from Yellowhammer Brewery at Campus #805. Hand crafted cocktails, 16 taps, domestics, and over 30 bottles of wine. Live music every weekend. 2500 Clinton Avenue, Suite D., Huntsville, AL 35805 www.facebook.com/thebarat805/
BELOW THE RADAR BREWHOUSE
American grub and 32 rotating taps of craft beer in a laid-back setting with live music on weekends. 220 Holmes Ave NE Huntsville, Alabama btrbrew.com (256) 469-6617
BLACK PATCH DISTILLING CO.
In 2008, Master Distiller Gary Cooper’s son Clayton was severely injured during a night raid. Clayton’s Task Force Unit wore sterile uniforms and a single black patch. Gary choose to name his distillery Black Patch Distilling Company in honor of his son’s service. Passion is in the bottle, not on the label. 500 Lanier Road Madison, AL 35758 (706) 315-6819
BLUE PANTS BEWERY
Blue Pants Brewery was founded by Mike and Allison Spratley in 2010. After a brief time living in Seattle, the husband and wife team developed a passion for great craft beer. Soon Blue Pants Brewery was proud to be Madison’s first brewery. Blue Pants Brewery beers can now be found in Alabama, Tennessee, Mississippi, and Georgia. 500 Lanier Road, Madison AL 35758 bluepantsbrew.com (256) 325-1131
CHURCH STREET WINE SHOPPE
Downtown’s Wine Shoppe has daily wine & beer tastings, a tapas menu, gift baskets, and an exclusive wine club. Church Street Wine Shoppe boasts an inventory of over 1,000 wines from every corner of the globe. 501 Church Street NW Huntsville, AL 35801 (256) 970-4097 FACES OF HUNTSVILLE/MADISON
More than a wine store, Domaine South houses a tasteful collection of home goods with a funky vibe that reflects its owner and shop curator’s sensibility. Discover wines, artisan cheese, art, jewelry and treats by local artists. 103 North Side Square Huntsville, AL 35801 www.domainesouth.com (256) 808-8860
DAS STAHL BIERHAUS
Das Stahl Bierhaus is South Huntsville’s go-to destination for craft beer. Build your own 6 pack and try a bit of everything. Bring some friends and play some board games or enjoy your beer in private and read from a library of beer books. Das Stahl Bierhaus features 32 beers on tap. 7914 Memorial Parkway S. Huntsville, AL 35802 dsb-hsv.com (256) 858-1495
GREEN BUS BREWING
Green Bus Brewing is a downtown Huntsville neighborhood brewery, featuring small 40 FACES OF HUNTSVILLE/MADISON
batches of beer and a diverse, changing tap list. It is located in a 150-year old building just off the historic square. 206 Eustis Avenue SE, Huntsville Alabama 35801 greenbusbrewing.com Phone: (256) 990-2477
INNERSPACE BREWING COMPANY
This family-owned and family-friendly nanobrewery featuring space-themed decor and games for the kids is located in the Butler Green Arts & Entertainment district. 2414 Clinton Ave., Huntsville, AL 35805 innerspacebrewing.com 256-489-5599
IRONS ONE WHISKEY
Irons ONE is the small batch, single-hand crafted whiskey for those who savor a rich, smooth flavor–served neat, with a little water or over ice. Lowe Mill Arts & Entertainment Huntsville, AL 35805 ironsone.com (256) 536-0100
MAD MALTS BREWING
This local brewery has 19 craft beers that you can find in numerous restaurants and bars across the region, as well as in their own tap room. 109 Maple Avenue Huntsville, AL 35801 madmaltsbrewing.com (256) 503-2233
The Nook features over 500 beers, 80 on tap, and 36 local. There is also a premium whiskey bar with 200 choices and growing. The food menu features sandwiches and pizzas, with special theme nights such as German night on Tuesdays. 3305 Bob Wallace Huntsville, AL 35805 thenooktavern.com (256) 489-0911
OLD BLACK BEAR BREWING COMPANY
Founded by Todd and Dawn Seaton, Old Black Bear has grown into a craft beer destination in Madison.
THE FACE OF THE STORYTELLERS
Spinning tall-tales. Sharing adventures. Divulging secrets. We are fascinated by the inner life and like to see ourselves reflected in the stories we hear. Theatre tells those stories on a stage, night after night. Our stories start in the mind of a playwright, pass thru the hands of directors and designers and eventually evolve into a conversation between actor and audience. Theatre reveals the differences and nuances of other cultures and people; crafting understanding and creating empathy. We are building bridges. Bridges between people so they can share their experiences of what it is to be human.
THEATRE HUNTSVILLE 3314 Long Avenue SW | Huntsville, AL 35805 256-536-0807 | www.theatrehsv.org
ROCKET CITY CRAFT BEER
Opened in March of 2018, Rocket City Craft Beer offers a rotating selection of craft beers on draft, as well as a selection of cans and bottles. Come enjoy a delicious craft beer on draft in a comfortable, relaxing environment, and don’t forget to take home your new favorites in bottles, cans, or a growler. 1079 Balch Rd. Suite F Madison, AL 35758 www.rocketcitycraftbeer.com (256) 489-0807
RONNIE RAYGUN’S ARCADE
The combination of beer and pinball and arcade games is hard to beat. 2610 Clinton Ave W Huntsville, AL 35805 (256) 426-6725 212 Main Street Madison, AL 35758 obbmadison.com (256) 850-4639
ROCKET REPUBLIC BREWING
Old Town Beer Exchange is a beer and wine retailer downtown. 301 Holmes Avenue Huntsville, AL 35801 otbxhsv.com (256) 270-7825
Eric and Tatum Crigger joined with John and Lynn Troy to create a brewery in Huntsville and Rocket Republic Brewing Co. was founded in September of 2013. Today you can visit the steampunk-themed tap room to enjoy the beer. 289 Production Avenue Madison, AL 35758 www.rocketrepublicbrewing.com (256) 325-4677
SALTY NUT BREWERY
OLD TOWN BEER EXCHANGE
Newly opened on North Side Square in the heart of downtown, The Poppy is the first truly authentic British pub in the area. Home to four “Beer Engines” pouring the traditional English style cask-conditioned ale, along with a selection of 10 rotating imported draft beers, and a large selection of British and domestic cans and bottles. 117 North Side Square Huntsville, AL 35801 (256) 715-8098
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One of Huntsville most well-respected downtown breweries. 2406 Clinton Avenue West Huntsville, AL 35805 (256) 713-8877
THE STEM & STEIN
The Stem and Stein is a wine cellar & bar located on the corner of County Line Road and Palmer Road in Madison. The Stem and Stein offers over 25 wines by-the-glass. They offer over 800 wines and over 300 craft beers. Each week we have an impressive line-up of musicians to go along with our weekly wine tasting, first Friday beer tasting, and occasional tap takeovers. 10871 County Line Road, Suite B Madison, AL 35758 thestemandstein.com 256-325-3779
STRAIGHT TO ALE
Straight to Ale uses bold flavors and innovative brewing techniques to enrich community, build long-lasting friendships, and make great beer. Founded by local home brewers in 2009, Straight to Ale has quickly grown to become one of Alabama’s largest production breweries, distributing in eight states throughout the Southeast. The company has expanded to include cider and mead production along with distilled spirits (Shelta Cavern Spirits), a scratch made kitchen (Ale’s Kitchen), a pinball arcade and pool room (Ronnie Rayguns). 2610 Clinton Avenue Huntsville, AL 35805 straighttoale.com (256) 801-9650
WISH YOU WERE BEER
Located in the heart of Huntsville’s “Brewers’ Row” at the Campus 805 Entertainment District, Wish You Were Beer brings the wide world of craft beer to the Rocket City with 40 taps from local, regional, national, and international brewers. 2500 Clinton Ave W, Suite H Huntsville, AL 35805 www.wishyouwerebeer.net Phone: (256) 715-7148
Yellowhammer Brewing opened in West Huntsville in 2010 dedicated to creating premium ales and lagers, drawing on Belgian and German brewing traditions with a Southern interpretation. Their signature brews are Yellowhammer Belgian White, Rebellion Red Lager, Midnight Special Black Lager, Hops Fell Hop Lager, and Cheatin’ Heart IPA. Their new space at Campus805 includes a event space Bierhall and Biergarten, as well as room for a new distillery. 2600 Clinton Ave West Huntsville, AL 35805 www.yellowhammerbrewery.com (256) 489-3510
THE FACE OF
CARING FINANCIAL PLANNING
A personal touch – that’s the strength of Magnolia Wealth Strategies. It’s that special personal financial service touch that allows us to give our clients the sound personal advice they deserve, with continuous customer care, as we guide them toward their financial goals. We stay in touch while our clients maintain total control of their money. Kathleen focuses on creating holistic financial plans that reflect our clients’ desires and best interests. Luke focuses on helping millennials protect themselves from life’s events while assisting them with long term strategies that can help to provide a lifetime income stream. Let us at Magnolia Wealth Strategies help you achieve and live the lifestyle you desire.
MAGNOLIA WEALTH STRATEGIES 1101 McMurtrie Dr., Suite B3 | Huntsville, AL 35806 Kathleen Sanford-256-604-8191 | Luke Bound 256-654-0805 Securities and investment advisory services offered through qualified registered representatives of MML Investors Services, LLC. Member SIPC. www.sipc.org 3838 N Causeway Blvd., Suite 3400, Metairie, LA 70002. (504) 613-2000. CRN202103-244836
CIGAR LOUNGES WRITTEN BY MICHAEL KELLEY 44 FACES OF HUNTSVILLE/MADISON
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Cigar Room Lounge Cigar Room Humidor
Don Waddell loves the smell of tobacco. It’s early on a sunny spring afternoon, and the owner of The Cigar Room on University Drive pauses to trim his Cohiba. He lights up and leans back on the outdoor sofa. Life is good. The Cigar Room has been open since 46 FACES OF HUNTSVILLE/MADISON
10 a.m., but only a handful of aficionados can be found in either the expansive inside smoking lounge or the outside patio lounge. It’s quiet now, but Waddell says by 4 p.m. it will be packed with an assortment of cigar and pipe smokers representing a cross section of the Rocket City. He calls
his cigar lounge a social leveler. “We get all types in here: government employees, Army guys, police officers, firefighters, lawyers and businessmen. It’s a social thing.” He says they congregate to talk politics, the military, guns, golf and sports in general. And, of course, cigars. To the uninitiat-
ed, the complexity and variety of cigars can be astounding. Across town, on South Parkway, somewhat inconspicuously tucked along the service road just south of Bob Wallace, The Humidor enjoys the distinction of being Alabama’s oldest cigar shop and lounge. In business since 1960 when Huntsville’s small but blooming population consisted largely of the military, the smaller, cozier Humidor has a reputation of being the lounge where everyone feels welcome, a true neighborhood melting pot, like the 1980s TV sitcom Cheers “where everybody knows your name.” The Humidor has always attracted an eclectic clientele. “Our clients range from those making millions each year to those barely making ends meet,” says manager Chuck Facemier. “We get some lively conversations going here. We save the world several times a day.” Cigar smokers vary almost as much as the cigars they enjoy, says Facemier, “but you have two basic types. You’ve got those who just want something to puff on while cutting the grass or playing golf. But the connoisseurs want to really enjoy the smoking experience. They want a cigar to challenge the palate.” But more than anything else, it’s all about the camaraderie. Robert Salinas knows that well. The semi-retired ex-military PR specialist, who does freelance audio work and serves on the board of the Huntsville Ballet, frequents the Humidor and several of Huntsville’s other cigar lounges around town. “Cigar smokers will talk about almost anything, but most really love to talk about cigars. You see someone smoking a cigar and the first question asked is ‘what are you smoking?’ There’s a socialization aspect of it. Cigar smokers will often offer you a cigar you’ve never tried. I’ve even had women come up to me and offer me a cigar.” Women are, by the way, showing up in increasing numbers in local cigar stores and lounges. The percentage of women smokers is still very small – only about 2% of U.S. women – but has grown rapidly from the fraction of a percent that smoked as recently as the 1990s. Perhaps celebrity smokers such as Demi Moore, Claudia Schiffer, and Angelina Jolie have had an influence.
Vinatge Cigar Lounge
As the female market has grown, cigar makers are marketing flavors such as honey and mocha, designed for the feminine palate. They make up a growing percentage of Vintage Cigar Lounge’s clientele, says Vintage general manager Alka Chain. “It’s a new experience for women who want to enjoy the finer things of life,” she says. “They come in here and find a new, non-intimidating experience.” Smoking a cigar is a sensory experience, and Madison County’s array of cigar lounges offer a variety of ways to enjoy it. The Humidor, a Huntsville icon, long ago staked out the neighborhood lounge position. Vintage Cigar Lounge in Bridge Street anchors the higher, “clubbier” end of the spectrum. The other three - the Cigar Room in Madison, Nick’s Ristorante, and SIP Bar downtown – each have their own unique offerings. Cigars vary widely in price. Smokers can choose from low-priced smokes in the $2-$5 range all the way up to premium cigars selling for $35 or more. Facemier does a lot of business in the $6 to $9 range. Local aficionados seem to agree that very good cigars can be had for $10-$20, with smokes
that carry exotic Latin names like Arturo Fuente, Partigas, Macanudo, Cohiba, Hoyo de Monterry, or El Rev de Mundo. The price, Facemier explains, depends on the quality and scarcity of the tobacco used, how well it has been primed, and how long it has aged. Cigars can be flavored with fine liqueurs, brandies, and whiskies, added to enhance the smoking experience. Cigar enthusiasts wax eloquent over the vast and subtle differences of their favorite smokes. Phrases like “hint of wood and coffee, delicate spice and nutty core” roll off their lips as easily as the phrases used by drinkers of fine scotch or bourbon to describe the alcoholic objects of their affection. In practical terms, says Facemier, the more expensive the smoke, the higher the quality of the tobacco. “There’s almost no similarity between cigar tobacco and cigarette tobacco. Fine cigar tobacco is primed and aged, and there is always a scarcity of the very best tobacco.” “Cigarettes are a habit, but cigars are an experience,” says Nick’s Ristorante owner Nick Mikus. “It’s an experience to be shared with a drink or a fine meal.” And unlike cigarettes, cigar smoke is almost
never inhaled. He demonstrates what cigar smokers know as retrohaling: “You don’t inhale the smoke, just taste it and let it out through your nose. You want to enjoy the taste.” In a hurried world, the cigar lounge
thing that can’t be hurried.” Central to every cigar lounge is the humidor. To be maintained for maximum smoking pleasure, a cigar must be stored at a constant 70 degrees and 70% humidity. “We call it the 70/70 rule” says Waddell.
CIGAR ENTHUSIASTS WAX ELOQUENT OVER THE VAST AND SUBTLE DIFFERENCES OF THEIR FAVORITE SMOKES. PHRASES LIKE “HINT OF WOOD AND COFFEE, DELICATE SPICE AND NUTTY CORE” ROLL OFF THEIR LIPS AS EASILY AS THE PHRASES USED BY DRINKERS OF FINE SCOTCH OR BOURBON TO DESCRIBE THE ALCOHOLIC OBJECTS OF THEIR AFFECTION. offers a place to relax, unwind, and get to know the person sitting next to you. The very act of smoking one requires slowing down and relaxing. “When you light a cigar, you’re looking at spending anything from a half hour to more than an hour smoking it,” Salinas says. “It’s just some48 FACES OF HUNTSVILLE/MADISON
Just walking into The Cigar Room’s large humidor, or the ones at Humidor or Vintage or SIP, can be a sensory delight. You find yourself surrounded by sights and smells of thousands of cigars worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. But it doesn’t require a large humidor
to make a great cigar lounge. The humidor at Nick’s Ristorante occupies only a small space at the end of the bar, but it’s central to the atmosphere of the restaurant’s cigar image. “Our patrons will come in here and keep a dozen or so of their favorite cigars here, so they know they them when they come,” Mikus explains. “You’d be surprised just how often they offer one to someone else, especially a smoker they’ve not met before.” Salinas makes the rounds to all of Huntsville’s cigar lounges, often showing up at Nick’s. “The experience of being able to sit in the bar while enjoying a great cigar is just wonderful,” he says. Nick’s bartenders will often recommend a particular scotch, bourbon or wine with a cigar. “It’s called pairing,” says Salinas, who explains that from time to time Nick’s will hold a pairing event, charging a small fee for particular cigar and liquor combinations. Among all of Huntsville’s cigar lounges, the Nick’s Ristorante Mafia Club offers a unique way to prepay for various levels of food, drink and cigars. Club members buy memberships ranging in price from $300 to $2000 and lasting from 60 days to a year.
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SiP Fine Spirits and Cigar Lounge
All club members get a 25% premium: for example, a $1000 Red level membership for six months gets a member $1250 in club credit. “It’s a unique way to pay yourself forward,” says Mikus. Clubbiness can be part of that experience. For those wanting an almost country-club experience, Vintage in Bridge Street strives to offer customers a premium smoking environment: not only selling cigars and designer drinks, but offering customers a luxurious venue in which to smoke them. A walk through the cigar lounge or the expansive humidor is an encounter with fine leather chairs and dark burnished wood. Patrons can choose between a large outdoor smoking area or the large indoor smoking lounge. It clearly caters to smokers who want to spend several hours with their favorite cigars. Located in the heart of downtown and styled like a 1920s speakeasy, SIP offers both a general cigar lounge, and an executive lounge for members only. The Silver level $450 annual memberships provides the opportunity to smoke while hanging out with an exclusive group, while the Gold level $525 membership adds the use of one of twelve Spanish cedar-lined cigar lockers. Bar manager Patrick Brisco knows most of the executive group members by name. “It’s a small, congenial group where all members love the cigar experience. It’s an experience they love to share,” he says, adding he’d 50 FACES OF HUNTSVILLE/MADISON
like to be a fly on the wall when some of the conversations get really spirited, like late at night. He says it’s common for one of the members to bring in a box of premium cigars and offer them to all members of the club. Clients come to places like SIP and Vintage not just for the cigars but also for exotic drinks. “We’re known for our mixology,” Vintage’s Chain
says, “such as our craft cocktails that we pair with certain cigars.” SIP is also into exotic drinks, and boasts perhaps the best assemblage of spirits. Vintage strives to maintain high standards – there is even a dress code. “I would term it business casual,” says Chain, “but we do allow jeans, but no tank tops or halters. We want our members to respect each other.” For those wanting to avoid the tinge of cigar smoke when going home, Vintage also offers smoking jackets. Annual membership fees range upwards from $550, getting members various levels of cigar and beverage privileges. But regardless of the membership level, each member gets access to the lounge, with its leather chairs, card tables, three TVs and other amenities. So there you have it. Ready to light up in Huntsville? There is a wide selection of places to go to get out of the house and share your cigar experience with others of like-mind.
In a hurried world, the cigar lounge offers a place to relax, unwind, and get to know the person sitting next to you. The very act of smoking one requires slowing down and relaxing.
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From what started more than 150 years ago as a sleepy cotton town on the western edge of Madison County, the City of Madison has mushroomed into perhaps the fastest growing city in Alabama and eighth in population of all Alabama cities. Madison Mayor Paul Finley takes pride in peeling off the statistics. “When you think that as recently as the 1990 census we were only some 14,000, it really makes you 52 FACES OF HUNTSVILLE/MADISON
stand up and take notice. We doubled to 29,000 in the 2000 census and jumped to more than 43,000 in the 2010 census. We estimate we’ll top 52,000 in the 2020 census.” Looking out just over 20 years, Finley foresees a city of 75,000 by 2040, which would make Madison the sixth or seventh largest city in the state. Most cities yearn for growth, but not all are prepared for the challenges growth
brings. Madison’s can-do attitude has allowed it to step up to the challenges of growth rate in an exciting way. Infrastructure needs must be met, and a drive anywhere around Madison today brings one into contact with road construction, sewer or drainage projects. Subdivision developers eye every parcel of undeveloped land, with commercial development not far behind. Madison has added more than a
BY MICHAEL KELLEY Image by Schoel Architecture
thousand new homes since 2010, a number that will increase dramatically by 2025. This burgeoning suburban population with high disposable incomes feeds a strong current of retail sales. Finley points to sales tax growth that has averaged a compounded 7.5% growth rate over the past ten years. Madison draws families. Hundreds gravitate to the city each year, drawn by the City’s proximity to Redstone Arsenal
and Cummings Research Park, with their burgeoning technical and aerospace industries. And of course, they come for the city’s excellent school system, a system that consistently wins top honors for quality of education and associated programs.
TOP SCHOOLS, LOWEST CRIME
It was just over 20 years ago, in 1998, when city leaders decided to break away
from the Madison County school system and go on their own. Now among the 10 largest school systems in Alabama with 11,300 students and more than 1200 employees, Madison City Schools now boasts two high schools, two middle schools, seven elementary schools, and a stand-alone Pre-K center. It’s the quality of education that makes the system such a powerful magnet. Like FACES OF HUNTSVILLE/MADISON
THIS BURGEONING SUBURBAN POPULATION WITH HIGH DISPOSABLE INCOMES FEEDS A STRONG CURRENT OF RETAIL SALES. FINLEY POINTS TO SALES TAX GROWTH THAT HAS AVERAGED A COMPOUNDED 7.5% GROWTH RATE OVER THE PAST TEN YEARS. a championship football team, Madison schools now take top awards in all rankings of Alabama schools. The December 2018 Alabama Unified Report on the state’s schools awarded an A to every school in the Madison City System. Madison High School scholars consistently rank among the state’s best, with Madison City Schools producing more National Merit Scholars 54 FACES OF HUNTSVILLE/MADISON
in 2017 than any other Alabama system regardless of size. Bob Jones High School produced five U.S. Presidential scholars for 2019, while across town three young scholars helped James Clemens High School win the 2019 Alabama Scholar’s Bowl competition. While right at the top in educational rankings, Madison is near the lowest
in violent crimes. 2018 rankings by the SafeHome.org, which uses FBI data from more than 13,000 U.S. cities with population of 22,000 or more, ranked Madison 5th in the state in overall safety. Madison joined Vestavia Hills, Daphne, Pelham and Alabaster in having overall safety scores in excess of 80, considered “extremely safe.” A city that owes its growth to the rise of technology has embraced technology to improve the quality of life for its citizens. For example, Madison is among a relative handful of Alabama cities using unmanned aerial vehicles (drones) for a multitude of purposes. With nearly 30 miles of streams and major drainage ways within its city limits, flooding can be a problem. City Engineer
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Madison schools now take top awards in all rankings of Alabama schools. The December 2018 Alabama Unified Report on the state’s schools awarded an A to every school in the Madison City System.
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Gary Chynoweth uses drones to check city streams for blockages after major rain events. The Police and Fire Departments are exploring the use of drones to inspect burning buildings from the air, or to search wooded areas for fugitives or missing children. “This is still in the experimental phase,” explains Madison Fire Chief David Bailey, “but the results have been promising and we’re on the cusp of launching this for 2020.” The Board of Education has begun to educate children in community risk reduction. Taking advantage of the growing fascination among kids for virtual reality, a new
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A city that owes its growth to the rise of technology has embraced technology to improve the quality of life for its citizens.
school program begins with kindergarten children and moves forward in a stepped fashion to educate them on fire awareness, how to escape from burning buildings, and situations that could arise in modern suburban life. “We take advantage of kids’ tendencies towards being digitally focused,” says Bailey.
TRASH PANDAS STADIUM KEY FEATURE OF TOWN MADISON
Madison’s big story, of course, is luring the Trash Panda and the return of major league baseball to the Tennessee Valley. That’s been the big news for the past year, as excitement has swirled around the minor league baseball team moving to Madison. What has been known as the Mo58 FACES OF HUNTSVILLE/MADISON
bile Bay Bears decided in 2018 to pull up stakes and relocate to the glitzy new sports complex currently under construction near I-565 and Zierdt Road, where they’ll play their first home game in April 2020. The team’s new stadium, clearly visible from I-565, will anchor the nearly 500acre development along Highway 20 and Zierdt Road called Town Madison. The stadium will be the centerpiece of, as Finley describes it, a “work-play-live area that will grow for the next ten years.” Joining the Trash Panda stadium will be Margaritaville, the latest in a string of fun dining and entertainment venues launched years ago by singer Jimmy Buffet. A new 150 room hotel will soon be under construction, and will be joined by condominium complexes, shopping areas, and other entertainment
venues. It will also host a convention venue for the City of Madison. “At present we have no place in Madison to have a meeting of more than 100 people,” says Finley. “But this will give us a place to support major events for Madison and the entire Tennessee Valley.” Plans call for a club room with seating for up to 400, breakout rooms, executive suites, and a concert venue. Outdoor areas will be arranged to host outdoor concerts, movies, car shows and similar events. New developments planned for historic downtown Madison and continued residential and retail growth will continue to propel Madison on its growth trajectory, making it one of the top draws in Alabama.
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BY BRIAN FOREMAN
What can you say about of city of 50,000 that’s able to attract a minor league baseball team? Professional baseball returns to the Tennessee Valley next year, with the Rocket City Trash Pandas set to play their first game next Spring. The excitement is building toward the season opener on April 15, 2020. Media coverage has been extensive, and the grandstand seating is plainly visible soon after you pass the Wall Triana exit heading into Huntsville on I-565. What’s even more exciting is how the Trash Panda’s complex forms a sort of anchor tenant for a whole entertainment complex known as Town Madison. The game may be the same, but having a Margaritaville hotel and resort next to the field is certainly not what old line baseball fans 60 FACES OF HUNTSVILLE/MADISON
are used to. Team owner BallCorps, Inc. aims to bring a sports experience the likes of which Alabama, and most other states, has never seen. It all goes to the heart of what baseball has morphed into over the past twenty years. Rocket City Trash Pandas Director of Community Relations Emo Furfori has a lot to say about that. In his former role in economic and community development for the City of Madison, Furfori felt Madison had what it takes to be in the running. With planning for Town Madison already well underway in early 2017, he reached out to Minor League Baseball and was lucky enough to get contacted by Ralph Nelson, President and General Manager of newly-formed BallCorps. Nelson came, looked and liked what he saw. Subsequent meetings with
the City of Madison and the developers ultimately led to the decision that Madison would be the Mobile Bears new home. Nelson decided to relocate to the gleaming new sports complex currently under construction near I-565 and Zierdt Road, where they will play their first game in April 2020. But they could have gone to any of dozens of U.S. cities vying for their own professional sports team. Several other southeastern cities, all of them larger than Madison, were in the running for the team, but Madison had five prime sites available. And in a larger sense, Madison County had so many of the success factors sought for in an exhaustive search of new markets. “We knew the factors of success,” says BallCorps Managing Partner Ralph Nelson, “and they included the willingness to build a new stadium, a
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city that had a minor league team that got away, and an area of real growth.” “I’d like to say I kind of swerved into this,” Furfori says. “Several years ago I decided to relocate from Chicago, and knew that wherever I went the town had to have baseball.” It’s taken some time for fans to get used to the team name, the result of a 2018 “Name The Team” contest that exceeded all expectations. “We expected a good response from the community, maybe a few hundred suggestions, but we were blown away by what happened,” says Furfori. “No one has ever seen the response we got from the naming process.” From literally thousands of suggestions “Trash Pandas” was chosen and then embraced by the community. Nelson attributes part of the excitement to their unusual name. Not long afterward, the Trash Pandas Emporium opened in Bridge Street Town Centre. From its opening day the Emporium, says Furfori, merchandise and season ticket sales have exceeded all expectations. “We had people lined up to buy season tickets. We had people camping out overnight.” The store has hosted buyers from every U.S. state and more than 20 other nations. “We tell them to wear their Trash Panda’s gear and take a picture, then post it on social media. We’ve gotten pictures from Ireland, Bora Bora, France, and Australia just to name a few.” Heightening that experience is important to Nelson. “This may be a minor league team, but we intend to give this area a ma62 FACES OF HUNTSVILLE/MADISON
jor league sports experience,” he says. It’s not an idle boast. Nelson learned a lot in his 25 years in major league baseball management about what it takes to make a successful club. When events led to leading an investor group to decide to move the Mobile Bay Bears out of Mobile, he had a clear vision of what he wanted that team to be. “I wanted to build the best minor league team in the U.S. “ That new ball field and stadium under construction forms part of the Trash Pandas’ new look and feel. Up to 7,500 fans per game will be able to choose from eleven types of seating arrangements, from outdoor seating on a grassy berm to luxurious viewing from the Stadium Club. Four premium seating areas will be available primarily to season ticket holders, and Box Seats and Reserved Seats will always be available to fans wanting game-day tickets. Those wanting to bring blankets or lawn chairs can plop down in the berm seating area, while spectators who like to mill around will feel at home viewing from the Rock Porch. “It’s the closest thing you have to Chicago’s Wrigley field bleachers,” says Furfori, a lifelong Chicago Cubs fan. Another major feature will be the Stadium Club, an enclosed hall seating up to 400 for sit down dinner and similar events. In addition to being the premiere area for viewing the games, it’s designed to host parties,
balls, graduations and other large events. Perhaps the most unique aspect of the sports complex will be Alabama’s first Margaritaville Hotel and Restaurant, complete with a Lazy River, which will be under construction just beyond the center field wall. Baseball fans will also be able to watch a Trash Pandas game while lounging in the Center Field Pool. You might actually nab a home run ball while in the pool,” Furfori laughs. “How’s that for an experience?” Leaning back in his chair, Nelson flashes a big smile. “We’re going to present one huge sports experience. The interest in the team has been like nothing we’ve ever seen before, and we’re just thrilled to be here.”
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THE DREAM FACTORY AT MERRIMACK HALL BY ANN MARIE MARTIN
Don’t you love watching a dream come true? It happens just about every day at Merrimack Hall Performing Arts Center. “Happy Headquarters” started in 2008 with one weekly dance class for 10 children with special needs. Now it overflows with the active dreams of more than 500 children and adults, plus more than 200 volunteers, plus staff members, plus founder Debra Jenkins. Debra and husband Alan Jenkins got into the dream business in 2007 when they opened the arts center in the building that once housed the company store for Merrimack Manufacturing Company. The building also served as the community hub for the surrounding textile mill village built in 1900. “I didn’t know anyone with special needs before we opened Merrimack Hall,” Debra says. “When I found out children with special needs couldn’t take dance classes, I had to do something.” Anna Chilton is one of Debra’s star dreamers, and she’s getting ready to take one of her biggest dreams on the road. For Anna, a veteran of cool road trips, it’s not such a huge leap. She and her Merrimack teammates have performed in Tuscaloosa at the University of Alabama and in Los Angeles. This time, Anna’s signed up for an extended run.
Dreamer Anna Chilton
64 FACES OF HUNTSVILLE/MADISON
In August, the 2015 Grissom High School graduate moves into her dorm room at Clemson University as a ClemsonLIFE freshman. The program offers academic coursework and career exploration to students with intellectual disabilities. Anna can’t wait to go to pep rallies and concerts – classes, too. She’s eager to study art, first aid and nutrition. Health care interests her. She’s already had experience in that field. She graduated in 2016 from Project Search, which gave her the chance to work at Huntsville Hospital for Women and Children, where she put her organizational ability and people skills to good use. For the past two years, she’s worked at Total Sports and Family Care, but she quit recently to get ready to go to Clemson. Anna’s mom, Alisa Chilton, had college hopes for her daughter when she was born with serious health issues and Down syndrome. Anna had her first surgery, open heart, when she was just a baby. “For the first year and a half, she was fragile,” Alisa says. “But when we got that oxygen flowing, she turned pink, and she never stopped. She was fast and stealthy.” “I was big trouble,” Anna says with a grin. The little girl needed an outlet for her energies. At age 10, she found it at Merrimack. She still studies art, hip-hop, calisthenics, yoga and acting. Hiphop’s her favorite. She’s a member of the competition and performance teams and the choir. “Anna and all of her friends take care of each other,” Debra says. “They build each other up. It’s such a beautiful support system.” Merrimack has been Anna’s backbone, her mom says. “They’re giving these young adults a voice in a world that’s told them ‘no.’” Merrimack Hall’s a dream factory. New visions keep popping up. Debra and Alan’s son Austin and his fiancée Hollie are preparing to open a coffee shop, Charlie Foster’s, in the redeveloped Stovehouse. The shop’s name honors a real worker from the early years of Merrimack Mill. Ten-yearold Charlie was photographed going to work at the mill in 1913. The photo aided efforts to end child labor practices. Austin and Hollie plan to employ individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. When Anna’s home on breaks from Clemson, maybe she’ll join the crew. Austin’s already requested her time and talents. He knows you’ve got to have good fuel to drive strong dreams.