Tourism Tuesdays August 18, 2015

  • Almost 200 restaurants participate in Alabama Restaurant Week
  • writer gives national shoutout to local barbecue favorites in Thrillist
  • Renaissance Ross Bridge hotel celebrates 10 years, 1.5 million guests
  • Space Camp goes to the NBC Today Show
  • Former Microsoft exec tapped to lead Birmingham Civil Rights Institute
  • New Huntsville store featured on Etsy among best and brightest boutiques
  • Last Call for Travel South International
  • Alabama artists and craftspeople
  • Alabama Tourism Department (ATD) upcoming events


Almost 200 restaurants participate in Alabama Restaurant Week

Alabama Restaurant Week is underway and will continue until Sun., Aug. 23.  The two-course lunch specials the restaurants are offering range from $5 to $15 while three-course dinners cost from $10 to $30, not including tax, tip and drink. Restaurants have the option of offering specials at both lunch and dinner or choosing to offer just lunch or just dinner specials.

Alabama Restaurant Week has received coverage in newspapers, online, broadcast and social media.

The promotion is being supported by a public relations and social media campaign.  In addition, Alabama’s eight welcome centers are handing out restaurant week brochures to visitors.

The Alabama Tourism Department has also made available buttons, posters, flyers, and table top displays to participating restaurants.
Several cities including Huntsville, Birmingham and Montgomery are doing their own local restaurant week promotion in cooperation with the statewide effort.

The 196 restaurants participating in Alabama Restaurant Week are:

1220 Café, 1892 East, 5 Point Public House Oyster Bar, A & P Social, Amelia’s Deli and Catering, Angel’s Island Coffee, Ariccia Trattoria,  Artic Snow, Asian Rim, Asian Rim Birmingham, Badd Newz BBQ, Baumhower’s at the Wharf, Baumhower’s Mobile, Baumhower’s of Huntsville, Baumhower’s of Lee Branch, Baumhower’s of Montgomery, Baumhower’s of Montgomery Downtown, Baumhower’s of Patton Creek, Baumhower’s of Tuscaloosa, Baumhower’s Restaurant of Daphne, Beauregard’s Airport, Beauregard’s Paramount, Belly Food Truck, Below the Radar, Bettola, Bill’s by the Beach, Bimini Bob’s, Biscuit King, Bistro Two Eighteen, Black Market Bar & Grill – 5 Points, Bob’s Victory Grille, Bob’s Victory Grille Tuscaloosa, BoneYard BBQ & Grill, Bottega, Brock’s, BYOB, Cafe at Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art, Auburn University, Cafe on Wheels Neon Lilly LLC, Carrie’s Kitchen, Carrigan’s Public House, Central, Chez Fonfon, Chris’ Famous Hotdogs, Chuck’s Fish, City Cafe Diner, Claunch Café, Commerce Kitchen, Continental Bakery, Cooter Brown’s Rib Shack, Cottage Crepes, Cotton Row Restaurant, Crawmama’s, Cuisine Style Express, Cupcakes By Tish, D’road Café, Davenport’s Pizza Palace, Dixie Fish Co, Dolce Pastry Shop, Drake’s Huntsville, Dreamland BBQ – Birmingham, Dreamland BBQ – Huntsville, Dreamland BBQ – Mobile, Dreamland BBQ – Montgomery, Dreamland BBQ – Northport, Dreamland BBQ – Tuscaloosa, Fink’s Craft Bar and Grill, Fire & Spice, Firebirds Wood Fired Grill, Firebirds Wood Fired Grill, Five Birmingham, Flip Burger, Food Bar, Food fighters restaurant, Galley and Garden, Gardens Cafe by Kathy G, Grand Steakhouse, Granville’s Gourmet Ribs and Barbeque, Green Papaya – Lao Thai Cuisine, Greenbrier Restaurant, Grill at Iron City, Grille 29, Happy Tummy, Highlands Bar & Grill, Hildegard’s Biergarten, Hildegard’s German Cuisine, Homewood Gourmet, Hoo’s Q, Hoppers Bar and Grill, Hubbard’s Off Main, Humphrey’s Bar & Grill, iCanti!n’a, India Palace, J.Gumbo’s, Joe Cain Café, John’s City Diner, JoJo’s on Broadway, Kudzu Noodle Bar, La Jolla Restaurant & Bar, La Paz, Lakeside Café, Lanny’s Restaurant, LawLers Barbecue – Athens, LawLers Barbecue – Hughes Road, LawLers Barbecue – Huntsville Jeff Road, LawLers Barbecue – Huntsville South Parkway, LawLers Barbecue – Huntsville Whitesburg Dr, LawLers Barbecue – Madison Balch Road, LawLers Barbecue – Meridianvillem Little Donkey, Little Savannah Restaurant, LuLu’s, Maggie Meyers Irish Pub Maki Fresh, Mason Dixon Bakery & Bistro, Melt Avondale, Mezza Luna, Moe’s Original BBQ, MVP Spirits and Grill, Nabeelden Cafe & Market, New Market BBQ, New Orleans Lunchbox Restaurant, Nick’s Ristorante, Ocean, OH! Bryan’s Downtown, Old Town Stock House, Original Oyster House Gulf Shores, Original Oyster House Mobile Causeway, Oscar’s Cafe at the Museum, Pane e Vino Pizzeria, Parish Seafood & Oyster House, Pat’s Perfections, Peppered Pig, Pete’s Steaks & Burgers, Phuket, Post Office Pies, Primeaux Cheese & Vino, PT’s of Soho, Railyard Brewing Company, Rattlesnake Saloon, Rogue Tavern, Rowes Service Station, Rusty’s Bar-B-Q, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Sadys Bistro Madison, Sadys Bistro Village of Providence, Sage Grille, Sageberry Restaurant & Catering, Saltwater Grill, Sam & Greg’s Pizzeria/Gelateria (Huntsville), Sam & Greg’s Pizzeria/Gelateria (Madison), Satterfield’s, Scott Street Deli, Season’s, Sebastian’s on Main, Shea’s Express, Silvertron Café, SugarHead BBQ – 3490 Wall Triana Highway SW, Sundown East, Sweet Home Food Bar, Sweet Olive Bakery & Café, T’town Café, Tap Sports Cafe – Lakeview, Taziki’s Mediterranean Café Huntsville, Taziki’s Mediterranean Café Madison, Ted’s Restaurant, That’s My Dog, The Boot Pizzeria, The Bottle, The Cypress Inn Restaurant, The Eaves Restaurant, The Levee Bar & Grill, The Liquid Life Café, The Office Break Room & Bar, The Original Public House, The Pantry, The Party Pad, The Trellis Room, Tim’s Walkhard BBQ, Time to Eat, Trattoria Pizza & Italian, Urban Standard, Vino, West End Grill, Wintzell’s Oyster House (Downtown Mobile), Wintzell’s Oyster House (Fairhope), Wintzell’s Oyster House (Greenville), Wintzell’s Oyster House (Guntersville), Wintzell’s Oyster House (Huntsville), Wintzell’s Oyster House (Montgomery), Wintzell’s Oyster House (Orange Beach), Wintzell’s Oyster House (Saraland), Wintzell’s Oyster House (Spanish Fort), Wintzell’s Oyster House (West Mobile), Wolf Bay Lodge in Foley, Wolf Bay Lodge in Orange Beach and Zea Rotisserie Grill. writer gives national shoutout to local barbecue favorites in Thrillist
By Lucy Berry,, Aug. 10

A restaurants and culture writer for and The Birmingham News recently earned media attention for his love for and knowledge of Alabama barbecue.

Bob Carlton
 landed on a Thrillist article entitled, “The Best BBQ Across America, According to Experts,” in July. The food, drink and travel website listed Carlton among the top barbecue experts in each state to provide the “best place to score each area’s signature meats.”

In the piece, Carlton mentioned a new barbecue mobile app created as part of the Alabama Tourism Department’s Year of Alabama Barbecue campaign.

“Picking a favorite spot for pork, chicken, or ribs is always a good way to start a friendly argument, but it is a debate in which there are no losers,” he said.

Here are Carlton’s top barbecue picks across the Yellowhammer State:

Best Chicken: Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q, Decatur.
Best Pulled Pork: Bob Sykes Bar-B-Q, Bessemer.
Best Ribs: Rusty’s Bar-B-Q, Leeds.
Best Turkey: Full Moon Bar-B-Q, Birmingham.
Best Mixed Plate: Archibald’s BBQ, Northport.

To read the entire article, go to:


Renaissance Ross Bridge hotel celebrates 10 years, 1.5 million guests
By Jon Anderson,, Aug. 16

When the Retirement Systems of Alabama first announced 13 years ago that it wanted to build a luxury resort hotel with more than 200 rooms on rolling hills nestled between Birmingham and Bessemer, some people might have considered it a pipe dream.

And they would have been right – at least partially. It quickly became a bagpipe dream.

This weekend, the Renaissance Ross Bridge Golf Resort and Spa – a 259-room hotel built to resemble a Scottish castle – is celebrating the 10th anniversary of its opening.

Ross Bridge hotel bagpiper plays at sunset 8-11-15
Brian Bowman plays the bagpipes at sunset on the terrace of the Renaissance Ross Bridge Golf Resort and Spa in Hoover, Ala., on Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2015. A bagpiper walks the grounds of the hotel and plays every day at sunset. (Jon Anderson/

The resort is the centerpiece of the 1,700-acre Ross Bridge community in Hoover and includes an 8,191-yard golf course that is part of the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail, a 12,000-square-foot full-service spa and salon, 15,500 square feet of meeting space and a 10,000-square-foot ballroom.

Tourism officials say the Ross Bridge hotel, rated a four-diamond property by AAA, has been a boon for the Birmingham-Hoover metro area and given the region a resort of a magnitude it has never had before.

“It’s a tremendous asset to the Birmingham market to have a resort of that significant nature located 20 minutes from downtown,” said Barry Hoehn, director of convention sales for the Greater Birmingham Convention and Visitors Bureau. “There are not too many cities with resorts that close.”

The golf course – the fourth longest in the world and the home of the Regions Charity Classic PGA Champions Tour tournament from 2006 to 2010 – speaks for itself, Hoehn said.

The design of the hotel also is a big draw, he said. It includes castle turrets that spire up into the sky, a slate roof and stone archways. “You come up on that thing, and you think you’re in Switzerland,” Hoehn said.

Retirement Systems of Alabama chief David Bronner was looking for a design similar to resorts in the Scottish countryside and with opulence patterned after the grand resorts built along the Canadian Pacific Railway in the late 1880s.

The Goodwyn, Mills & Cawood design team blended traditional castle-like features with neo-industrial touches to give Ross Bridge the look and feel of a Birmingham manor home decked out with ski lodge flair.

But a beautiful building alone doesn’t keep people coming back. “Their service there is impeccable,” Hoehn said.

Over the past 10 years, more than 1.5 million guests have stayed at the Ross Bridge resort, generating more than $235 million in revenue for the area, plus $27 million in tax revenue, General Manager Rick Smith said. There have been 626,770 rooms occupied, 289,644 rounds of golf played, 102,208 massages, 30,670 facials, 36,000 manicures and pedicures, and nearly 3 million meals served, hotel officials said.

Ross Bridge has been the location for 328 weddings and 1,365 documented birthday celebrations, according to the hotel’s records.

The hotel also has employed 2,250 people over the past 10 years, currently with a staff of 300, including 22 that have been with the hotel since day one. Those employees have earned $86.5 million in wages and raised $265,000 for 127 charities over 10 years, spokesman Bill Lang said.

Ross Bridge has earned much acclaim in the hospitality industry, winning numerous national and even international awards.

Travel+Leisure magazine ranked Ross Bridge among the top 500 hotels in the world in 2008 and 2012. Conde Nast Traveler named it among the best hotel spas in 2013 and 2014. It was one of Golf Digest’s top golf resorts in 2012 and earned Golf Magazine’s top golf course Silver Award in 2008 and 2012 and Best Lodging in the Southeast in 2008.

Meetings Focus magazine gave Ross Bridge its 2015 Best of the South Award, and Meetings South magazine gave it
“Best of the South” status in both 2010 and 2012.

To read this entire story online go to:

Space Camp goes to the NBC Today Show

Space Camp and the U.S. Space & Rocket Center was featured on NBC’s Today Show, Mon., Aug. 10.  Today Show producers visited Huntsville to profile Space Camp as a place adults wanted to visit as children but never had the opportunity to do so.   The Space & Rocket Center now offers Family Camps, Adult Space Academy Camps, Robotics Camps, and Aviation camps.

Four Space Camp staff members went to New York’s Today Show plaza to demonstrate the space center’s Multi-Axis Trainer during a live segment that was viewed by more than 9.6 million people.

To see the Today Show segment, go to:

Former Microsoft exec tapped to lead Birmingham Civil Rights Institute
By Roy S. Johnson,, Aug. 14

Former Microsoft executive Andrea L. Taylor will be named as the new President and CEO of the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, the organization has confirmed.

Taylor last served as Director of Citizenship and Public Affairs, North America for Microsoft. In that role, she managed employee engagement, giving and strategic partnerships in the U.S. and Canada with donors, government entities and community-based organizations.

She will move to Birmingham from New York City and start her tenure at the BCRI on September 8.

“The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute is among the world’s most iconic and important civil and human rights organizations,” Taylor said. “I’m both excited and humbled by the opportunity to lead the next phase as we approach the 25th anniversary”

The BCRI was founded in 1992.

“Inclusive outreach worldwide is vital and in 2015 and beyond,” she continued. “I’m eager to harness and leverage technology to engage broader audiences. Every generation in society grapples with civil and human rights as a critical community priority.”

Doug Jones, co-chair of the BCRI’s seacrch committee calls Taylor, a native of Massachusetts, “a gifted leader with a long and distinguished career around purpose and impact.”

BCRI Board Chair Lajuana Bradford added, “We are fortunate to have found a leader of her caliber for the Institute to build on and advance the work and accomplishments of the institution.”

Taylor holds a BA in Journlism from Boston University, where’s she’s currently a Trustee.

To read this article online, go to:

New Huntsville store featured on Etsy among best and brightest boutiques
By Lucy Berry,, Aug. 12

A new Huntsville store is now featured as one of the best and brightest boutiques supporting independent and local designers on Etsy, a major e-commerce website focused on handmade and vintage items.

Domaine South on 120-A Cleveland Ave. N.W. joins the Huntsville Museum of Art on Etsy Local. Kristian Denis, who opened the shop with her husband, Mike, in late June, said her business appears to be the only privately-owned local or Alabama store featured on the site.

There was no application or fee required to be considered for selection, Denis said. The feature was big news for the north Alabama couple, who are launching the artisanal gifts, home goods and fine wine store from scratch.

“In order for a community to have an identity, you have to have small business people,” she said. “You have to have places to shop and eat that are not so homogenized. Otherwise, we could be any city on the map.”

Domaine South operates in the former Switch House location just outside A.M. Booth’s Lumberyard in the downtown area. Denis, a real estate broker for Van Valkenburgh & Wilkinson REALTORS, is the buyer, while her husband, a Morgan Stanley portfolio manager, runs the rest of the show.

The small business represents more than 40 independent designers across the U.S. and specializes in handcrafted items “somebody put their heart and soul into,” Denis said.

Denis plans to keep the store small and community-focused as Domaine South builds its customer base in Huntsville and beyond.

“The idea about what’s in the store is for people to reconnect with things that are handmade and don’t come from a factory in China,” she said. “It’s the same philosophy we have with our wines.”

While U.G. White builds a second store in the former Crossroads building and the Clinton Row Project gains traction near the Courthouse Square, Domaine South hopes to be a catalyst for more retail options in downtown.

“There’s very little retail downtown proper,” Denis said. “As the city grows, I think there’s going to have to be more of that to make it a thriving downtown area. … Hopefully, we’re on the cutting edge of that.”

To read this article online, go to:

Last Call for Travel South International
Early Bird Special Ends Sept 1, Sell Out Expected

Time is running out for Alabama attractions, hotels, CVBs and other tourism organization to sign up for this year’s Travel South International.  The early bird pricing ends on September 1, which is also the day Travel South is expecting that supplier booths will be sold out.

The showcase will be held in Charlotte, North Carolina this year; November 30-December 3, 2015.

Grey Brennan, Regional and International Director for Alabama Tourism Department calls the show one of the best, “In the short time that Travel South has been conducting their international showcase, it has grown to be one of the best regional shows in the U.S. and a great way for Alabama’s destinations to market to top tour operators from around the world.”

One of the reasons the show has become so popular is the high number of appointments each supplier is given during the show and the quality of the tour operators meeting with the suppliers. “Travel South calls on in-market representatives to invite only their top tour operators to come to the show.  This means all of the appointments are quality, resulting in a good return on the money spent to attend.”

For more information, go to

To sign up to attend Travel South International, contact or call David Kemp at 404-231-1790.

Alabama artists and craftspeople

Alabama is home to a vast number of talented and creative artists and craftspeople who produce a wide variety of items including, but not limited to, woodwork, paintings, ceramics, fabrics and a lot of food.

The Alabama Tourism Department is looking for information about these artists and crafters and their products.  We are interested in the home-grown cottage industries rather than the industrial giants.

Please send information about people and their products, including contact information, to Peggy Collins, or call 334-242-4545.

Alabama Tourism Department (ATD) upcoming events

Aug 14 – 23                Alabama Restaurant Week
Aug 27 – 29                Connect Marketplace – Pittsburgh, PA
Aug 28 – Sept 1          SYTA Annual Conference – Branson, MO


Tourism Tuesdays 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