Alabama Tourism Department News July 15, 2014

  • Tourism speakers, award winners named for conference
  • Alabama Restaurant Week participation more than 100
  • Eateries invited to participate in Restaurant Week
  • State tourism chief expecting big celebrations for Shelby County’s 200th birthday in 2018
  • National Geographic Traveler features Alabama’s Steel Magnolia – Birmingham
  • U.S. Space & Rocket Center prepares for Space Exploration Celebration
  • Alabama tourism site is one of TripAdvisor’s top space-themed attractions
  • Antonio Sabato Jr., Chef Jeff Henderson starring in new syndicated shows
  • Historic markers to greet Civil War visitors in Selma
  • The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute will present exhibition “Yesterday”
  • Whitewater Express presents new regional training academy
  • Outdoor Alabama announces its 2015 photo contest
  • Mrs. B’s Restaurant brings home cooking to Montgomery
  • Alabama Tourism Department (ATD) upcoming events


Tourism speakers, award winners named for conference

Chick-fil-A executive Ryan Magnon and international business consultant Patrick McGaughey will headline the Alabama Governor’s Conference on Tourism being held July19-22 at The Hotel at Auburn University, officials announced.

Southern Living publisher Greg Schumann and managing editor Claire Machamer will also be at the conference to give attendees an inside look at the magazine’s operations and its social media strategy.

“More than 250 tourism professionals from across the state will be attending this three day educational conference,” said state tourism director Lee Sentell.  “This is our opportunity to bring in nationally recognized experts to present the latest trends in tourism marketing. Tourism is an $11 billion industry in Alabama and has shown an increase of more than 67% over the last 12 years,” he said.

Tourism industry awards will be presented at an awards banquet during the conference.

Olympic athlete and coach Reita Clanton will be one of the conference’s keynote speakers. Back Forty Beer founder Jason Wilson and hotelier Hans van der Reijden will present a session on the economic impact of craft beer on the local economy.  Central Alabama Mountain Peddlers president Philip Darden will speak on how destinations can create attractions.

Opelika Main Street director Pam Powers-Smith will conduct a training session on creating new events in local areas.  Hospitality management professor Alecia Douglas will speak on how to manage Millennials in the workforce.  Media company founder Don Crow will discuss best practices in social media. VisitSouth editor-in -chief Laura Holloway will host a training session on online content marketing.

The staff of the Alabama Tourism Department will present an annual update Sunday afternoon.

Ten award winners announced

The conference includes an awards banquet Monday evening where 10 tourism awards will be presented.

Mary Ann Neely from Montgomery will be inducted into the Alabama Tourism Hall of Fame.  As an educator, author and tour guide, Neely has been a longtime advocate for preserving Montgomery’s heritage.

The USS ALABAMA Battleship Memorial Park in Mobile has been named as the 2015 Attraction of the Year.  The USS ALABAMA is one of the state’s top tourist attractions and will celebrate its 50th anniversary next year.

Gadsden Riverfest will be acknowledged as the Event of the Year. It started in a shopping mall parking lot 30 years ago and has grown into a two day event drawing crowds of more than 25,000 per night.

Florence/Lauderdale Tourism which opened a new state-of-the art 7,500 square foot visitors center will be named the Tourism Organization of the Year.

Hans van der Reijden will receive the Tourism Executive of the Year for his leadership role in the state’s tourism industry and his work with the Hotel and Restaurant Management program at Auburn University.

Birmingham based travel writer Larry Bleiberg will receive the Media Award for his coverage of the Alabama tourism events and attractions in national publications including USA TODAY and Delta Sky magazine.

Bob Baumhower will accept the Tourism Partnership Award for his continuing work with the promotion of the Alabama Food campaign and The Year of Alabama Parks.  Baumhower operates 13 restaurants in Alabama under the brands of Baumhower’s, Bob’s Victory Grill, Compleat Angler and Bimini Bob’s.

Montgomery Mayor Todd Strange will be presented with the Government Advocate award for his leadership in the redevelopment of downtown Montgomery and his work preparing for the 50th anniversary of the Selma to Montgomery March in 2015.

Pam Smith of the Alabama Tourism Department will receive the Employee of the Year award for her work as editor of the Calendar of Events and as the chief statistician for state tourism.

The Lanett Welcome Center will be named Welcome Center of the Year. The Lanett center welcomed more than one million visitors and promoted the east Alabama region through several special events during the year.

Alabama Restaurant Week participation more than 100

The number of restaurants signed up to participate in the Alabama Tourism Department’s Alabama Restaurant Week promotion has now topped 100.

Restaurants in 23 Alabama countries are part of the tourism campaign as of July 14; with Madison county topping the list with 30 restaurants.  The counties by number of restaurants participating are:  Madison, 30; Baldwin, 14; Mobile, 11; Tuscaloosa, 8; Jefferson, 6; Morgan, 6; Clarke, 4; Marshall, 4; Montgomery, 4; Cherokee, 3; Fayette, 3; Shelby, 3; Colbert, 2; Bullock, 1; Butler, 1; Calhoun, 1; Cleburne, 1; Dallas, 1; DeKalb, 1; Lauderdale, 1; Lawrence, 1; Lee, 1; and Marengo, 1.

To view individual participating restaurants, go to  This is the same website that restaurants can use to sign up for the program.

For more information on Alabama Restaurant Week, contact Grey Brennan, Alabama Tourism Department 334-242-4459,

Eateries invited to participate in Restaurant Week, July 11

Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Tourism (GSOBT) invites local eateries to take part in Alabama Restaurant Week, an Alabama Tourism Department (ATD) initiative that celebrates Alabama restaurants and is part of the department’s Alabama Food campaign. This year’s event takes place from Aug. 15-24, and the deadline to sign up is July 15.

Baldwin County restaurants already signed up are Bill’s by the Beach, Original Oyster House, Wintzell’s Oyster House in Fairhope, Spanish Fort and Orange Beach, Devoni’s Pizzeria and Voyagers Restaurant in the Perdido Beach Resort.

“Alabama’s beach communities are home to a variety of eateries serving up culinary masterpieces that can satisfy just about anyone’s palette,” Joanie Flynn, vice president of marketing for GSOBT, said. “We encourage restaurants of any size, location or price range throughout the area to show pride in the State of Alabama and participate in this great event.”

The set price structure for meals is $5, $10 and $15 for lunch and $10, $20 and $30 for dinner excluding tax, tip and drink. Restaurants may offer all three pre-set prices for lunch and dinner, just one or any combination. Also, restaurants do not have to participate in both lunch and dinner.

Eateries wishing to participate must submit their fixed price meal offerings by July 15 and must be locally owned and operated and/or serve as an important business to the tourism industry and located in Alabama.

For more information and to sign up, visit Alabama Restaurant Week online. If a restaurant participated last year, first email or call ATD’s Grey Brennan at or 334-242-4459.

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State tourism chief expecting big celebrations for Shelby County’s 200th birthday in 2018
By Martin J. Reed,, July 10

With major celebrations planned in honor of Alabama’s bicentennial in 2019, Shelby County can expect recognition at the same time about its own related history.

“Shelby County is going to be spotlighted rather dramatically in a couple of years,” Alabama Tourism Department Director Lee Sentell said at today’s South Shelby Chamber of Commerce luncheon in Columbiana.

Alabama became a state in December 1819, but Shelby County officially formed almost two years earlier in February 1818. Sentell promised that Shelby County is “going to be showcased in a significant way” for its bicentennial celebration.

Already, the Shelby County Historical Society with its president, Bobby Joe Seale, has been commemorating the county’s birthday. The last celebration for the county’s 196th birthday happened in February.

Sentell used today’s appearance at the chamber meeting to tout tourism in Shelby County, which he said offers a rich history and attractions for tourists. He also recognized Seales’ ongoing work with the county’s museum and archives by presenting a framed map of Alabama as depicted in 1833.

“You are all so lucky to live in not only a historic county, but a beautiful county,” Sentell said. “The fact that you are so close to attractions — historic attractions — makes you feel a real connection to the land.”

He pointed to the American Village in Montevallo as a prime tourist destination in Alabama.

“I hope a lot of you take advantage of your proximity to American Village,” he said, noting the institution boasts the state’s largest Independence Day celebration with about 10,000 people attending last week.

Sentell expects a funding boost for tourism-related projects around the state in the next fiscal year thanks to the Alabama Legislature providing $1 million to his department for grants.

“We will be sending out notices to everybody that they can apply for $1,000 grants” for tourism projects, he said.

In Shelby County, Seales is getting ready for the Alabama Historical Association’s annual pilgrimage in Montevallo and Columbiana happening Oct. 11-12. There will be a series of events and tours planned for the pilgrimage in both areas.

“Shelby County is one of the hottest counties other than down on the coast” for tourism, Seales said.

For more information about the pilgrimage in Columbiana and Montevallo, contact Seales at (205) 669-3912.

National Geographic Traveler features Alabama’s Steel Magnolia – Birmingham

By Bruce Schoenfeld, National Geographic Traveler, August/September

I find Niki’s West on Birmingham’s industrial north side, maybe a mile from an old pig-iron foundry. It’s a windowless room with linoleum floors that has been serving meat-and-threes—an entrée and a choice of sides—since before George Wallace first ran for Alabama governor. I join the cafeteria-style line, which is jammed tight for a Tuesday lunch, feeling as if I’m stepping back half a century. I emerge with heaping plates of chicken, turnip greens, black-eyed peas, butter beans, corn bread, and cherry pie. Halfway through my meal, I finally look up and realize this can’t be 1963 because I see roughly the same number of black customers as white.

That checkerboard of faces reveals how far Birmingham has come. Once so committed to segregation that it was called America’s Johannesburg, Birmingham has loomed large in my consciousness. Throughout my Connecticut childhood, its name served as code for racial intolerance. Now, five decades after the civil rights movement’s most galvanizing events—Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “Letter From Birmingham Jail,” the Children’s Crusade, and the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church—I’ve come down to see how much has changed.

I’ve found a modern city that has retained its pace and charm, one with many of the accoutrements and attitudes of the New South but without the shiny facelessness common to too many cities around the region. You can do a billion-dollar banking deal in Birmingham. But you can also still eat at Niki’s.

I ask my waitress whether Niki’s started off serving the white or the black community when it opened in the ’50s, since at that time it wouldn’t have been possible for them to gather together. Eyes wide, she runs off to fetch one of the owners, then returns to say that they’re both working the line. She scrawls a phone number on a scrap of paper place mat. And that’s the last I see of her.

When I call that evening, a woman tells me that both Teddy and Pete Hontzas, who inherited the restaurant from their father, are too busy to talk. They won’t be able to talk in the morning, either, or the next afternoon, or anytime in the foreseeable future. Today’s business and civic leaders have made their peace with the city’s past. But that doesn’t mean they want to discuss it.

It’s impossible to visit Birmingham, with a population of some 212,000, and not confront the struggle for racial equality. Civil rights is living history here. The city doesn’t let itself forget.

Walking around downtown, I’m never far from one of the seven-foot-high Heritage Trail markers, more than 200 of which are spread throughout the city. One on 19th Street between Sixth and Park has a photo of King getting arrested at that spot. “Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering and struggle,” it quotes him as saying.

Turning a corner, I see the 16th Street Baptist Church. The staging area for marches and protests over the years, it’s where the Ku Klux Klan planted bombs that killed four girls on September 15, 1963. This is a national historic landmark, built of sturdy stone more than a century ago, and—as much as any inanimate structure can be—a major protagonist in the civil rights movement. Yet for decades it has been hidden in plain sight. I don’t recall ever seeing a picture of it.

At the Civil Rights Institute across the street, I spend two hours immersed in old news footage. There’s a replica of King’s jail cell, and interviews with participants in the city’s protests and boycotts, mostly ordinary people who were living and working amid the tumult. Especially poignant is a display of the shoes, doll, purse, and other belongings of 11-year-old Denise McNair, the youngest of the four church bombing victims.

I step out of the museum into a far different place: a thriving metropolis with a black mayor, dozens of black corporate executives, and a list of accomplished native sons and daughters that includes Carl Lewis and Condoleezza Rice. Birmingham’s university hospital is now a leading center for health care and medical research. The city has the region’s largest public art museum, manicured public parks, and small but significant communities of Latinos and Kenyans and Russians.

As in other American cities, race relations here remain a work in progress. Fifty years on, Birmingham’s challenges are anything but unique. But in part by memorializing its past and in part by transcending it, the area has refashioned itself into a place both livable and relevant, part of the national conversation in unexpected ways. “You’ll be surprised by what you find,” Scott Mowbray, the editor of Cooking Light magazine—which is based in the city—told me when I said I’d be visiting.

One night Mowbray drives me to Ona’s Music Room.  It’s part of a commercial complex in a renovated Dr. Pepper plant, the kind of repurposed development that’s usually home to the same national chains as any shopping mall. Here, though, there are local boutiques, small businesses—and Vittoria, a new Italian salumeria that cures its own charcuterie. When we arrive at Ona’s, a jazz quintet is playing for an audience of young and old, well-dressed and grungy, attentive and distracted. “You probably don’t think of Birmingham this way,” Mowbray says, “but some of the music that passes through is amazing. And the crowds that go hear it are as eclectic as you can get.” I see his point.

What would have been radical, even sometimes illegal, in the early 1960s is taken for granted today.

I have the same feeling at Highlands Bar and Grill, renowned as the city’s best restaurant since the 1980s. Chef and owner Frank Stitt worked at Berkeley’s Chez Panisse and in Europe. Then he returned to raise the level of fine dining in his home state. Dishes like braised duck with chicory and pork chops with roasted sweet potatoes and escarole bring French sensibilities to familiar southern flavors. “The restaurant still remains the best reason to move to Birmingham that I can think of,” author Pat Conroy once wrote.

With white tablecloths and waiters in semiformal dress but a warmth that I’m finding most everywhere I visit around the city, Highlands is classy without feeling unapproachable. Mayor William Bell eats at Highlands nearly every Tuesday night when he’s in town. Sitting at the bar, I meet politically connected attorney Michael Choy, the son of a Chinese father and an African-American mother. Over braised rabbit and Pinot Noir, we start to discuss race, but the conversation soon strays: to wine, southern politics, and then the University of Alabama football team. We end up debating the merits of country club golf versus public courses, and, finally, the consummate artistry of Highlands’ signature stone-ground grits, which we contemplate ordering with a nightcap before learning that the kitchen has closed.

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U.S. Space & Rocket Center prepares for Space Exploration Celebration

The U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville will be the location for the Space Exploration Celebration Fri., July 18. The Space Exploration Celebration is a reunion for those who worked in the U.S. space program and for citizens who support space exploration. The celebration is an informal event that draws up to 800 guests and has a loyal following among NASA employees and those who support space exploration. Guests range in age from students to Apollo veterans who are now in their 80s and 90s.

Hundreds of current and former NASA employees will hear about the future of America’s Space Program.   This is an annual event that we look forward to each year.  Young and old gather to talk about our successes of the past but also to look to the future.  Robert Lightfoot, Deputy Administrator for NASA, will be the guest speaker.   Lightfoot is also the former director of the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville.  He will provide an update on NASA’s plans for future manned and unmanned space flight and the progress of the Orion and Space Launch System programs.

The event takes place Fri., July 18, at 5:00 p.m. at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center. The dinner will be held underneath the Saturn V Moon Rocket, a National Historic Landmark inside the Space Center.

For more information, go to:

Alabama tourism site is one of TripAdvisor’s top space-themed attractions
By Lucy Berry,, July 11

The state of Alabama’s top paid tourism destination in 2013 is also one of the 10 best space-themed attractions in the U.S. on

Huntsville-based U.S. Space & Rocket Center ranked No. 9 and is a “must-see” while visiting the Rocket City, according to one TripAdvisor reviewer.

“Since 1970, this facility has showcased the past, present and future of human spaceflight,” a news release said. “On display, travelers can view America’s first satellite, Explorer I, the Apollo 12 moon rock and the Apollo 16 command module.”

9. U.S. Space & Rocket Center – Huntsville

For TripAdvisor’s full list of space-themed attractions, go to:

Antonio Sabato Jr., Chef Jeff Henderson starring in new syndicated shows

The series recently filmed in Montgomery and Birmingham.

Raycom Media and Bellum Entertainment are launching “Fix It & Finish It” and “Flip My Food” as weekly strips this year.

Antonio Sabato Jr. and chef Jeff Henderson have signed on to star in separate series for Raycom Media and Bellum Entertainment launching this year.
Fix It & Finish It and Flip My Food will air as strips; Bellum has partnered with Raycom on the production of both series.

Each episode of Fix It & Finish It, executive produced by Scott Sternberg, will feature Sabato and a team of contractors and designers in a different city giving  homes, cabins, RVs or tree houses a much-needed makeover.
Henderson’s Flip My Food, executive produced by Ted Eccles, finds Henderson re-create beloved dishes everyone loves to eat — only better and with fewer calories.

“These shows continue along with Raycom’s strategy of content creation with strong local production partners,” said Paul McTear, president and CEO of Raycom Media.

“As Bellum continues to expand our productions and offer more shows we continue to be excited by the content and the people behind our business,” Bellum VP Boots Walker said.
Bellum also has tapped Michael Howard to sell both series, based in Atlanta. The industry veteran has worked at ad agency Leo Burnett USA in Chicago before embarking on a 24-year career at NBC Universal during the Lew Wasserman era.

Bellum VP Boyd McDonnell will continue to oversee the distribution of all other Bellum programming currently in production, including What Went Down, Unsealed: Alien Files andState to State.
Sabato is best known for his starring roles on daytime dramas General Hospital and The Bold and the Beautiful, and he recently appeared on ABC’s Castle.

Henderson has starred in numerous cooking shows and been an executive chef at Care Bellagio and Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas.

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Historic markers to greet Civil War visitors in Selma
By Alvin Benn, Montgomery Advertiser, July 9

History buffs who come to Selma next April will be treated to something special — interactive history markers allowing them to use their cellular phones to learn more about one of the final battles of the Civil War.

One of the markers was unveiled Wednesday morning near the site of the Battle of Selma, and James Hammonds, a leader of The April 1865 Society, was beaming as he explained how it and more than a dozen others like it will work.

“This is better than sliced bread, as they say,” Hammonds said. “Next year will be the biggest tourism season ever for Selma, considering what is about to happen.”

He referred to the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Selma on April 2, 1865, as well as the 50th anniversary of the Selma-to-Montgomery march in March 1965. The annual re-enactment of the battle will be held April 23-27 next year.

National leaders, including President Barack Obama, are expected to be invited to attend the 50th anniversary celebration of the historic march that began March 21, 1965. The event will be followed a month later by the annual Battle of Selma re-enactment.

“We’re planning to merge the march with the battle,” said Selma Mayor George Evans, who helped Hammonds remove a large sheet that covered the marker erected only a few yards from where the annual battle re-enactment is held each year. “Next year will be a year to remember for our city.”

Hammonds said more than three years of planning, research and design went into the making of the first marker, which includes details about the battle on one side and a large map of the battle site on the other side.

“These markers are perhaps the most interactive and technically advanced in the state,” Hammonds said. “We are proud to be able to share more history of our city.”

Hammonds said each of the markers will cost about $3,600, adding that enough money has been raised by his April 1865 Society to construct at least nine more. He said it is hoped that 15 markers will be created.

Visitors with cell phones will be able to scan and download information from each historic marker, Hammonds said. He said the first few will produce still photographs while those that follow could be able to show via cell phones videos taken from the annual Battle of Selma re-enactment.

Hammonds indicated one of the markers might be placed at Old Cahawba, the site of Alabama’s first Capitol building and the location of a historic meeting between Union Gen. James Wilson and Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest.

When Wilson led his large cavalry unit into Selma, it was more of a punitive than strategic raid since the Civil War was about to end within a few days with Gen. Robert E. Lee’s surrender at Appomattox.

Selma was a target because it was one of only two munition centers for the Confederacy, churning out rifles, bayonets, belt buckles and other items for Rebel soldiers. Richmond was the Confederacy’s other ammunition site.

Much of Selma’s downtown area was torched by Wilson’s raiders, including the Episcopal church. Many women hid jewelry in their undergarments to keep the Yankees from stealing their necklaces, bracelets and rings.

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The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute will present exhibition “Yesterday”
Alabama Artist tells stories with her quilts

The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute will present ‘Yesterday,” an exhibition of pictorial quilts by acclaimed folk artist Yvonne Wells.   The exhibition features 15 narrative quilts and will be displayed from July 18 – Sept. 28, in the Odessa Woolfolk Gallery.

An African-American folk artist with an international reputation, Wells started quilting in 1979.  She is self-taught as a quilter and artist, and describes herself as, “a storyteller first, and a folk quilter second. It’s from the heart that the issues of life flow,” she says. “I’m an artist and my work is my interpretation of the issues.”

A former school teacher, she has become known for her hand-stitched quilts that depict historical events, personal experiences and observations, and religious themes.  Wells does not use patterns or templates, but cuts freehand from fabric and other materials. She uses non-traditional quilting materials such as buttons, zippers, tape, and rope, and recycled materials such as whole flags, objects given to her by friends, and garage sale finds. She has been known to raid her own closet, cutting up her clothes to obtain the perfect textured or colored fabric for a piece.

“Where some artists create with paint, brush, and canvas, Mrs. Wells creates with fabric, scissors, and thread”, stated Ahmad Ward, Head of Education and Exhibitions.  While her work shares certain features with other rural black Southern quilters such as: bright colors, large designs, asymmetry, symbolic forms and improvisation, what sets Well’s quilts apart are the stories they depict. “Her quilts express her spirituality, humor and personal experiences,” stated Ward.  “They are not the kind of quilts you just look at quickly and move on. They deserve the kind of attention you would give a painting, where you try to discern the artist’s message and motivation.”

Wells’ quilts are located in major quilt and folk art collections across the country and abroad.  She was given a solo exhibition by the Huntsville Museum of Art and in 1998, she received the prestigious Alabama Arts Award and Visual Arts Craftsmen Award.  She has been invited to present and discuss her quilts at the Museum of American Folk Art (New York) and has twice been invited to show and discuss her work at the Hallmark Card Company. Three of her quilts have been issued as greeting cards by that company. A group of 24 of her early creations was recently selected to become a part of the International Quilt Study Center at the University of Nebraska.

Whitewater Express presents new regional training academy

Whitewater Express, local outfitter for the Chattahoochee Riverpark, is opening their new Chattahoochee Outdoor Academy. The grand opening celebration will include special events such as a stand-up paddle board clinic for 50% off, free kayak roll clinics, bike rentals, kayak shuttling services, and more! BBQ will also be available. This is a fabulous addition to our community and will be known regionally as the training academy for outdoor water activities.

The grand opening will be Sat., July 19 at 8 a.m.  The ribbon cutting will be at 9 a.m. Chattahoochee Outdoor Academy is located at 1303 3rd Ave. in Phenix City. Their phone number is 334-298-9521.

For more information, go to: or

Outdoor Alabama announces its 2015 photo contest

From its wildlife to its landscape, there is no more photographic a state than Alabama. Are you a photographer with an eye for its natural beauty? If so, then show us your work. Outdoor Alabama magazine is pleased to announce its 2015 Photo Contest, with winning entries to be published in the February 2015 issue.

The contest is open to any amateur photographer except employees of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR) and members of their immediate families. An amateur is defined as someone who does not earn a living from photography. Photographers may enter up to 10 photos. The photos may be in the same category or spread among different categories.

The categories include: Alabama State Parks, Birds, Mammals, Reptiles and Amphibians, Other Native Wildlife, Scenic/Pictorial, Nature-Based Activities, and Plants and Fungi. Two youth categories for ages 6-12 and 13-18 allow those ages to enter any of the eight categories.

Entries must be postmarked by October 31, 2014. Entry forms can be downloaded from For more information call 800-262-3151, write to Outdoor Alabama Photo Contest, 64 N. Union St., Ste. 106, Montgomery, AL 36130, or email Kim Nix at

To view winners of the 2014 photo contest, visit Outdoor Alabama’s Flickr page at

Mrs. B’s Restaurant brings home cooking to Montgomery
By M’Liss Hinshaw, Global Writes – The official travel magazine of the International Food, Wine & Travel Writers Association, July 1

Sweetly patting mounds of collard greens, Mrs. B is preparing one of the popular side dishes at her restaurant and its barely 5 a.m.  Her 16-hour day is just beginning while regular customers anticipate the home cooked meals they will have throughout the day.

Margaret Boyd, full of southern kindness, opened Mrs. B’s restaurant 10 years ago in Montgomery and recently acquired a second location, naming it Mrs. B’s BBQ.  Soul food cooking runs deep through Mrs. B’s veins.  As a child in Selma, her grandmother taught her how to cook traditional southern foods on an old wooden stove.  But first, wood had to be chopped from their back yard to fuel the stove for hours.

Mrs. B never stopped cooking, and one Thanksgiving, after finishing the big satisfying meal, Mr. Boyd and their nine children, convinced her to make a business out of her cooking.  She started serving from the carport at her house, where 150 meals a day flew out of her kitchen. Word of mouth brought more customers and the Boyds eventually bought a homey looking building with a welcoming wide front porch staffed with rocking chairs, where diners could enjoy a relaxing meal. If the weather isn’t right, hungry diners can sit inside the main dining room sharing long tables and benches creating a family style atmosphere.

The restaurant is cafeteria style, where you walk through the line and ask for oxtails, mac ‘n cheese, chicken, meatloaf, yams, cornbread and more. When you pay at the register, sweet tea or fruit punch is added to the tray.  This was my first time eating collard greens, and I’m now a believer savoring this southern staple made with smoked turkey instead of lard. The complete comfort food meal, about $10, was so flavorful, juicy and tender.

Mrs. B told me she doesn’t use measuring cups; it’s the look and feel of the food which tells her when it’s ready to serve.  With a grateful spirit, she said faith, love and grace have kept her going during the ups and downs. Word of mouth keeps bringing more customers.

Mrs. B’s feeds the soul in many ways.

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Alabama Tourism Department (ATD) upcoming events

July 19-22                   Alabama Governor’s Conference on Tourism, Auburn
Aug. 15 – 24               Alabama Restaurant Week
Sept. 7-14                   World Leisure Congress, Mobile


The Alabama Tourism Department News is a free electronic newsletter produced by the Alabama Tourism Department. It contains news about the state tourism department and the Alabama tourism industry.

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Alabama Tourism Department