Local entertainment scene taking shape as more hot spots pop up in Huntsville


by Wendy Reeves

Fresh fun, entertainment, and food seem to pop up at every turn as construction moves at a fast clip in Huntsville.

On the Westside, Stovehouse on Governors is starting to make its mark as an interesting destination hot spot. The adaptive reuse project features multiple common use areas for dining and relaxing indoors and outside.

“The Hub Stage is open now with entertainment multiple days of the week,” says Steven Jackson, director of marketing. “The Booth Stage is a small stage that will be open in cold weather and rain. Additional restaurant, brewery and bar spaces are in the works and will have live entertainment as well.”

The Food Garden and Leisure Lawn are open daily for lunch and dinner with eclectic dining options and Huntsville’s best “backyard seating” and indoor, climate-controlled seating available as well.

So far, Jackson says Clyde’s BBQ, Kamado Ramen, Burn Collective Fitness and Oak River Design are open or will be open before the end of the year.

The site has a hot history: In 1929 the Rome stove company built it to manufacture its Electric Belle heaters. Then gas heaters and ranges by Martin, King and more were made there. With World War II came bomb crate construction. Visitors will find quirky elements and historical connections throughout the site once it is completed.

“Everything is taking a bit longer, but the longer timeline is because we also have bigger and better concepts coming to the campus,” Jackson says. “In 2020, we’ll be leasing and building out Gaslight Alley, an old-world style shopping lane that will bring 15 shops to the vibrant Stovehouse dining, drinking and entertainment experience.”

Event space is also planned — more than 15,000 square feet of it, in fact. The exact opening isn’t set yet, but as soon as it is, Stovehouse will begin scheduling events a year out.

MidCity

At the former Madison Square Mall site, MidCity is taking shape and attracting big crowds of people.

The northern side of the park is completed and includes Topgolf, High Point Climbing, Dave & Busters, and The Camp, says Lindsey Pattillo-Keane, marketing and activation for RCP Properties.

Dave & Busters opened Aug. 19 at 950 Makers Way, and business has been going strong ever since, says Eric Drescher, general manager.

“Even before opening day,” Drescher says, “we hired about 240 team members, which was fantastic for us, but also helped the community from an economic standpoint. We’ve been full every weekend, and we’ve seen great evening crowds during the week.”

The restaurant and entertainment hub features 26,500 square feet of arcade games, premium sports viewing and delicious food and drink offerings. It is the second Dave & Buster’s to open in Alabama and the 131st overall.

In addition to games like PacMan, classic arcade and carnival games like Skee Ball and Ring Toss still give winners tickets based on scores. Instead of the paper tickets, players get a ticket card that tracks their results. Starting in October, players of the redemption arcade games can choose to use the Dave & Busters app to keep up with their tickets, Drescher says.

Then there are the 41 TVs, ranging in sizes up to 16 feet in diameter, that provide great sports viewing.

“We work with UFC, and we turn up the volume for the mixed martial arts competitions,” Drescher says. “If Alabama or Auburn is playing, we also turn up the volume so you can come here, watch the game, eat and have a cold beer in a fun atmosphere.”

Pattillo-Keane says construction at MidCity includes more than 100,000 square feet of retail, including the future sites of REI, Wahlburger’s, a chef-inspired barbecue restaurant, and more. Additional projects breaking ground in late 2019 include a 300-unit residential mixed-use development, a 250-unit independent living project, two boutique hotels, a “best-in-class” specialty grocer, and 70,000 square feet of additional retail shops and restaurants.

“MidCity offers a balanced mix of uses connected by urban plazas, green spaces, and walkable streets adjacent to a 40-acre public park,” Pattillo-Keane says. “When completed, the district will include 350,000 square feet of retail, dining, and entertainment space; approximately 350,000 square feet of high-tech Class-A office space; up to 1,400 residential units; and approximately 650 hotel rooms.”

Another exciting feature will be an 8,500-capacity amphitheater built with a $55 million design to provide destination travel and daily traffic at MidCity.

 

Times Plaza

The new Times Plaza, on the former site of The Huntsville Times, is also beginning to come to life with two new restaurants, Bad Daddy’s Burger Bar and Super Chix.

Bad Daddy’s opened for business at 2317 S. Memorial Parkway on Sept. 23, making it the restaurant’s first Alabama location.

“Huntsville is a high growth market with a demographic base that fits well with Bad Daddy’s core customer — very educated and mid to upscale incomes,” says Boyd Hoback, president and CEO of Bad Daddy’s parent company, Good Times Restaurants, Inc. “This is a community which appreciates quality ingredients and has a heavy family focus.”

Since Huntsville is projected to be larger than Birmingham within the next five years, the city fits well with the company’s southeastern expansions in Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama.

“We hope to do two stores in the market,” but Huntsville was chosen as the first, he said.

Hoback says Bad Daddy’s philosophy is simple: “We prepare good food with attitude. By doing so we have ignited a craving among restaurant-goers for burgers, salads and sandwiches unlike anything they’ve ever eaten before.”

He said Bad Daddy’s recipes are artfully created using artisan, locally sourced ingredients whenever possible, and the menu features unique, house-made selections every day.


This article is published in the October 2019 issue of Initiatives magazine.