I attended the opening party last night at The Overall Company, which has reopened in the John Emerald Distillery, and got a chance to talk to Jay and Laura. Thought I’d share that interview with you this morning:
Is it just me, or has Downtown Opelika’s Eighth & Rail become the cities number one nighttime party place. The past several weekends Friday and Saturday Nights are packed with a mix of younger (most are younger than me) and old gathering to meet friends, grab a drink or two and enjoy some of Mike Paterson’s Sushi or Cheesecake. The entertainment this weekend was exceptional with Larry Mitchel on Friday and the Krissy Andrews Band on Saturday. And if the beer seemed a bit colder this past weekend, it might be the upstairs coolers recently acquired from Auburn’s now closed Supper Club. Then Tiffany behind the bar is like no other bartender in the area! We love us some Tiffany! There has certainly been a shift from what was big downtown to what is big now. Add to it, the fact you can grab dinner within a few steps of this South Railroad Tavern and you have the perfect meet before or after your meal. Of course they did win the “Best Night Spot” in the Reader’s Choice this year! So, I guess I’ll see you their next weekend!
A recent post I made on Facebook has created a firestorm of controversy and finger pointing in the downtown community. Now I don’t plan to quote a lot of what was said in my post and reactions of others, but I did want to summarize the concerns of some and what seem obvious solutions to ease parking when it gets busy downtown.
The restaurant with the best parking situation the past few years is probably Café 123. The staff parks in the rear and due to the hours when the Café is open, customers generally have plenty of room on South 8th Street and adjoining areas. Most business staff leave town around 5 PM and Café 123 opens at 6 PM. This utopia of parking will probably end with the opening of Zazu in October.
The general guidance for restaurant employees along South Railroad Avenue has been for them to park on North Railroad Ave. However, most have moved away from that to park on Avenue A, 9th Street or the courthouse parking lot. I spoke with one server that indicated she didn’t feel safe crossing the tracks to her car in the evening adding that her car had been broken into in the past.
I heard from several retailers that were upset because some local office workers parked in front of their shops taking customer parking. I suspect this will be a problem with a mix of retail and office spaces in the downtown. Someone smarter than me will have to fix that. Also heard comments about construction workers on 8th street taking spaces. I believe that is just part of progress in downtown. A tradesman isn’t going to park blocks from their vehicle that contains the tools they need to perform the work.
One restaurant complained about the closing of North Railroad for a Block party that made it hard for their customers to park and they saw a financial loss on those evenings. I can see that and think that if logistics could be worked out, the closed block on 1st Avenue might be better for everyone.
Now if you own a building, have a one or two man shop working from there and have been parking in front of your building for 20 years, you probably don’t want to move. I can see that too.
The city had discussed adding angle parking along South Railroad between 9th and 10th. It certainly needs to fix the angled parking that is there, since the spaces are a bit tight for today’s larger cars and trucks. That seems to have dropped off the radar for now. The most obvious quick fix would be taking the large lot behind the Museum of East Alabama and doing something there. I know they have some new board members and maybe something could be worked out with the city leasing for a set number of years.
There is that other thing. We have become a society of park in front and go inside. We can’t really do that in downtown areas. If you want that you’ll have the Outback’s and Longhorns of the world. But if you want some of the unique dining and shopping that is Downtown Opelika, then let just try to work this out. If I circle the block a few times, does that mean I’m going somewhere else to eat, probably not?
Are their legal issues. If you require someone to park in a certain area, do you become responsible for their welfare?
Is there a solution? I would hope so. The answer isn’t childish notes left on the windshield of my truck. It’s not pointing out someone’s improper parking, when you are guilty of it too. I’d recommend taking concerns to City Council and airing them during citizen communications. I know of at least two council members that have concerns like some of us. By the way, that picture of a very quiet South 8th Street was one day last week about 9:15 AM. The other a sawhorse blocking spaces for an expected motorcycle group.
Before passage of the Gourmet Bottle Bill, Alabama was the only state that restricted the size of bottled or canned beer to no more than 16 oz. Starting in 2011, Free the Hops began introducing the Gourmet Bottle Bill to raise the limit to 25.4 oz.
On May 16, 2012, Governor Bentley signed the Gourmet Bottle Bill into law, and it goes went effect on August 1, 2012. This allows for many high-end, gourmet beers in Alabama that are only bottled in these larger container sizes. This legislation was also supported by Alabama’s rapidly growing brewing industry as well as the Alabama Wholesale Beer Association.
Now the Legislature is dealing with a bill to allow breweries, like Opelikas new Red Clay Brewery the ability to sell Beer in Growlers direct to the public. Here’s text from an alert from Free the Hops this morning.
On Wednesday (5/13), the Brewery Job Bill – SB452 – proposed by the Alabama Brewers Guild passed unanimously out of the State Committee. Next stop is passing the full Senate. Let’s help the Alabama Brewers Guild get growler sales from the breweries! Go to http://www.freethehops.org/legislative, enter your address to find your state senator, and tell him or her that you want them to support brewery jobs.
Alabama is the only state that prohibits to-go sales from the brewery or brewpub. SB452 would remove this restriction, allow a bare minimum of growler sales from the brewery, and allow Alabama breweries to compete fairly with the rest of the country. This will lead to new jobs, increased tourism, and new investment in Alabama.
While the local brewing industry has experienced rapid growth in recent years, Alabama is still ranked 50th in economic impact per capita from craft beer. If Alabama were to achieve 2012 national averages, it would add roughly $284 million to state GDP and create nearly 2,500 full-time jobs (PDF). SB452 will not create 2,500 jobs by itself, but removing this unfair restriction on the local brewing industry is a necessary first step.
Free the Hops has asked members to help remove Alabama’s unfair restriction on growler sales from the brewery or brewpub and help grow craft beer in Alabama!
Telephone calls have a big impact on politicians. If you can, please call your senator’s office on Monday and leave a brief message of support for this important job creation bill in addition to any other messages you send.
Call your senator, then send an email as followup, asking him/her to vote YES for SB452.
Red Clay Brewing will host a private invite only event on Friday from 5 until 7 PM and then be open at 8 PM for the rest of us.. Saturday, you can stop by most anytime, as they will be there from 12 til 12…
This week is “Moving Week” for my work office. It’s actually the official move of several into the new co-work space in downtown Opelika called The Round House. Several of the group are talented people I have known from the Opelika area for years, others will be new faces with a variety of skills. My move will probably be later in the week as I wait for a new desk to arrive. Instead of a work station, I’m thinking of it as a new “Productivity Station”. It will be my first ever stand up desk. Having tracked my activity over the past 18 months with a Jawbone bracelet, I know that sitting at a desk just kills my movement and activity each day. It should be fairly easy to see the difference within the first few weeks. My online research tells me that I’ll benefit from a standing desk in many ways from productivity to better health. I’ll have some analytics for you at the end of January. I’ve included an outside picture of this old warehouse next to the renovated depot in downtown. That first large door is the entrance. Inside, I’d say is an old industrial look. Windows that open from several small offices into a common area are from old since demolished buildings. The One GIG” internet is powered by the City of Opelika fiber service. More later as the Adventure and Social Experiment continue!