1 year ago

Alabama restaurants struggling to stay open behind closed doors

Soon after establishing the Restaurant Employee Relief Fund, the National Restaurant Association (NRA) in Washington, D.C., stopped accepting applications. More than 60,000 people had applied for the one-time aid of $500.

The Alabama Restaurant & Hospitality Association (ARHA) offered a similar $300 grant to workers who have lost their jobs, but closed applications “due to overwhelming response.”

Likewise, the James Beard Foundation’s Food and Beverage Industry Relief Fund quickly handed out $15,000 grants in 12 national regions to 36 small, independent restaurants, before halting the application process intended to keep eateries from closing.

“We recognize the tremendous need from independent restaurants across the country and will continue to work to support you however we best can,” the Beard Foundation website announced.

The 101-year-old NRA, which represents half of the 1 million American restaurants, said prior to coronavirus epidemic quarantines that restaurants, bars and independent food and beverage operations were generating more than $1 trillion annually in the U.S., employing more than 15% of the national workforce. Those businesses pump as much as 60% of revenues back into their communities.

The U.S. Private Sector Job Quality Index estimates that as many as 9 million restaurant jobs are at risk of at least short-term loss. When bars are added, the industry could lose more than 1 million more jobs.

Some Alabama restaurants are already out of business. National chains have temporarily closed select restaurants, like Red Lobster in Vestavia Hills, rather than offer takeout or curb service.

“As the COVID-19 crisis continues, we made the incredibly difficult decision to temporarily close some of our restaurants,” said Kim Lopdrup, CEO of the 600 Red Lobster restaurants in the U.S. and Canada. “We understand the impact this situation has on our guests as well as our employees’ ability to work and our ability to be a great employer. These decisions have not been taken lightly and are extremely painful, but they are necessary to ensure we survive this crisis and are around to re-open our doors once it passes.”

Well-known Alabama chains, like Wintzell’s, with seven restaurants statewide, have shut down for the duration of the quarantine. Wintzell’s President Bob Omainsky of Mobile is chairman of the ARHA board, which includes many owners of facilities facing financial difficulties.

While sales are down substantially at almost every restaurant in Alabama, many small independent businesses are surviving. Smokin’ S BBQ in Wetumpka has seen average weekly sales drop by 20% but owner Tom Haynes said he’s not had to lay off any of his six employees.

“We have kept them all and, to be quite honest, we could use another person, as takeout and curbside service is more labor-intensive and, at times, we’re stretched thin,” he said.

Longtime customers are continuing to either pick up or order meals delivered from the tiny barbecue joint that has been open more than 30 years. One customer asked Haynes to deliver meals to first responders, setting a $1,000 limit before extending the donation amount so that Smokin’ S could feed local hospital employees.

“We are overwhelmed with the generosity of folks like this,” Haynes said. “In addition, we are getting orders from businesses who are feeding their employees, which we haven’t had before the crisis, and we think they are doing it just to help support local businesses.”

Roebuck Landing Grill & Grocery just outside Eutaw had a thriving business prior to closing its doors to the public four weeks ago. Owner Melanie Moss said she continues to keep similar hours while maintaining their full menu, and selling live bait, groceries and other goods.

“We are continuing to pay our staff at this time,” Moss said. “We are a small hole-in-the-wall with a big fan base. We are missing our regulars and they are missing us.”

Coaches Corner in Wetumpka had 38 employees prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Owner Heather Norton said the staff is down to 29 because nine workers chose to stay home until the threat has passed. Business has decreased by two-thirds over the past month.

“Thankfully we have not had to lay off any of our staff,” she said. “We’ve just transitioned them into other roles for now.”

The “great group of regulars” at Coaches Corner took it hard at first when they were unable to keep meeting friends at the restaurant on the banks of the Coosa River, Norton said, but they are adapting to the current way of life. Longtime customers are buying meals through to-go orders. Others are supporting the restaurant on social media, commenting on Norton’s daily posts.

“We are blessed to be in such an amazing community,” Norton said. “With their help, we will make it through this and come out stronger on the other side.”

Southern Grounds Coffee Shoppe in Thomasville is not as busy as before and has laid off one worker while owners Bailey and Enrique Aguilar try keep their seven-year business stable. They said loyal customers tell them they miss eating inside the historic 104-year-old Champion House.

Jake’s on Broad in Alexander City is operating with a skeleton crew of two cooks and a couple of waitresses after owner Jake Mixon was forced to let several staff members go because of the coronavirus quarantine. The waitresses now box to-go orders, handle curbside deliveries and take customers’ orders and payments.

“Business is slower and I miss the personal interaction with the customers,” said Mixon, who opened his restaurant 10 years ago. “However, the community response has been phenomenal. The regulars, as well as others, are keeping the local restaurants afloat with their support.”

Mixon was forced to cancel the restaurant’s Thursday Night Charity Bingo, a tradition that raises money for many community needs. He said it will resume when health restrictions are lifted.

“I looked forward to the customers returning, the noise, the laughter, the hustle and bustle again,” Mixon said. “I think we will never again take simple things, like seeing one another, for granted.”

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

7 hours ago

Huntsville City Schools will go on with its vaccination clinic for minors without parental consent

Americans have been bombarded with requests, pleas, shaming and excoriations about how you must get vaccinated.

I bought in, and I think I may have even jumped the line accidentally. I also have a three-year-old, and I don’t envision a scenario where I rush him out to get a vaccine. If he were 14, 18 or 24, I wouldn’t pressure him to get vaccinated. If he were over 18, what could I do?

But if he were 14? That’s a no from me.

Schools in Alabama disagree, and at least one school system doesn’t care what you think.

Madison, Birmingham and Huntsville schools have all taken up the task of vaccinating your kids even though doctors, pharmacies and Wal-Mart have vaccines readily available.


In the coverage of the Huntsville vaccinations, the Alabama Media Group article specifically states that Huntsville City Schools will not require parental consent for those over 14.

Students under 14 must have a parent or guardian accompany them for the vaccine, according to the announcement on the Huntsville schools website. Everyone receiving the vaccine must present a legal form of identification including a driver’s license, passport, non-drivers ID, or a birth certificate. Participants must sign a consent form prior to receiving the vaccine and must register online in advance to receive the vaccine.

To put it simply — your 14-year-old can decide to take an experimental vaccine without your knowledge.

This is a betrayal of parents by Alabama schools.

They don’t care.

Keep in mind that this is happening as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is still looking at the impact of the vaccine on young people.

Even the World Health Organization thinks this is a bad idea.

Some Alabama lawmakers are taking note.

State Senator Sam Givhan appeared on WVNN’s “The Dale Jackson Show” and suggested the school systems should hit pause.

Explaining that just vaccinating everyone who shows up without parental consent is just a bad practice, Givhan said, “They don’t have everyone’s full medical history, and they don’t know the unique situations from certain kids. … And I just don’t think the high school should be giving these shots when, you know, you could actually cause someone to have medical problems from this, and then they’ll hide behind their state immunity shield and say you can’t sue them.”

Obviously, it is entirely possible that no children have been vaccinated without parental consent, but how would we know?

Huntsville City Schools seems hell-bent on continuing this. Attempts to speak to the school board we unsuccessful.

The board said in a statement, “We appreciate the invitation. Please see the information below surrounding the vaccine clinic. We have nothing more to add at this time.”

The gist is this: “Sorry, not sorry. We will vaccinate your kids without your permission. What are you going to do about it?”

The answer is people with means are going to either change these schools or flee American schools more than they already have.


Dale Jackson is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News and hosts a talk show from 7-11 AM weekdays on WVNN and on Talk 99.5 from 10AM to noon.

9 hours ago

Guest opinion: ‘For the People Act’ was always a bad idea

For months, we have been inundated with stories of a federal proposal named by the Democrat Party as the “For the People Act.” Upon closer examination of this mammoth piece of legislation, it should be renamed the “From the People Act” because this legislation clearly seeks to take the election process out of the hands of the American people. As a former probate judge, I see this for what it is – a federal attempt to take over our elections in violation of the United States Constitution.

The number of things wrong with this “Act” could fill a novel, but the most troubling aspects of this historical attempt to alter our elections and change the fabric of our nation include:


Automatic voter registration — The bill mandates that individuals who have interaction with certain government offices would be automatically registered to vote, but there is no mandate in the bill to only limit that registration to American citizens with the right to vote. Therefore, an individual who goes to the DMV for a driver’s license is automatically registered to vote, even if a felony has eliminated their right to vote or if they are not a citizen of the United States. The same holds true for those interacting with other government offices for assistance with a variety of services. Democrats argue that is not the intent of the provision but still refuse to establish any voter eligibility verification requirements in their proposal.

Funding of political campaigns — This act would divert money collected from fines of corporations from the nation’s general budget to a fund that would be specifically earmarked for the funding of political campaigns. This newly created “Freedom From Influence Fund” will serve as the exclusive source of funds for all federal public financing programs of political candidates. The idea that this bill increases funding for political campaigns from our government’s coffers is sickening. Our government has a gargantuan debt but this bill seeks to collect fines and, rather, than devote them to paying down that debt, diverts them to the accounts of political candidates. Absolutely mindboggling.

The list of problems with this proposal goes on and on and, although the proposal appears to be at a dead end now, it will rear its ugly head again. “We the People” must remain aware of attempts, such as these, to undermine our Democracy and we must oppose such measures at every turn.

Wes Allen currently represents Pike and Dale Counties in the State House of Representatives.

13 hours ago

Joia M. Johnson appointed to Regions board of directors

Regions has added Joia M. Johnson to its board of directors, according to a release from the company.

Johnson will serve on the boards of Regions Financial Corp. and its subsidiary, Regions Bank, beginning on July 20.

She arrives at her new responsibilities having recently retired as chief administrative officer, general counsel and corporate secretary for Hanesbrands Inc., a leading apparel manufacturer and marketer.

Charles McCrary, chairman of the Regions Financial Corp. and Regions Bank Boards, believes Johnson’s experience will be a valuable addition to the board.

“Joia’s leadership experience, both at the corporate level and in various board roles, will add greater depth and insights to the Regions Board of Directors as we advance policies and strategies to benefit our customers, associates, communities, and shareholders,” McCrary explained.


Johnson added that she sees that experience as an asset in assisting the company achieve its vision for growth.

“I believe the breadth of my corporate experience and civic engagement will complement the additional experience and skills reflected throughout Regions’ current directors,” she stated. “As the company focuses not just on continuous improvement but also on long-term, sustainable growth, I am thrilled to become a part of building on Regions’ history of success – while also defining a very bright future for the organization and the people and communities we serve.”

McCrary also noted the alignment between Johnson’s unique skill set and the company’s mission.

“The Regions mission is to make life better for the people we serve, and we accomplish that mission by creating shared value for all of our stakeholders,” he remarked. “With her passion for strong governance and strategic community engagement, Joia will help us build on our progress and reach new heights in the years to come.”

After receiving an undergraduate degree from Duke University, Johnson earned a Master of Business Administration from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania and a law degree from the University of Pennsylvania School of Law.

Johnson’s financial services experience includes on the board of Global Payments Inc., a Fortune 500 payments technology company and eight years as a board member for Crawford & Company, which specializes in insurance claims administration.

Upon her installment, Johnson will serve on Regions’ 13-member board which will consist of 12 independent outside directors.

Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer Multimedia

13 hours ago

State Rep. Oliver: Combatting Critical Race Theory in Alabama is ‘the way we stand up to woke-ism’

Republicans have made taking on so-called Critical Race Theory a priority in recent weeks claiming such philosophies are an effort to undermine cultural norms and indoctrinate in a way that benefits the Democratic Party.

Florida, Arkansas, Idaho and Oklahoma have banned the theory from their public school classrooms. Many would like to see Alabama follow suit, and there have been bills filed for the legislature’s 2022 regular session to do as much. One of those bills is being brought by State Rep. Ed Oliver (R-Dadeville), who takes it beyond the classroom and applies restrictions throughout state government.

Oliver discussed the bill during Tuesday’s broadcast of “The Jeff Poor Show” on Mobile radio’s FM Talk 106.5.


“[I]’ve got a bill that’s fairly unique, and we expect it to go through the state government committee,” he said. “My bill actually covers any state agency, its contractors and subcontractors, to include schools. We felt like it was important to address this issue with a holistic approach.”

“The first thing is deciding what you don’t want taught,” Oliver continued. “That’s the most important piece. And I would like to say, this bill, it absolutely describes what we don’t want taught — it doesn’t mean that you can’t teach inclusion or diversity. It means you can’t teach some things as fact and then we’re not going to teach our kids that one sex or race is better than another. And in a nutshell, that is the crux of it.”

The Tallapoosa County lawmaker said his effort could serve as a bulwark against a creeping effort to indoctrinate.

“[I]t’s the way we stand up to woke-ism,” Oliver declared. “If we’re ever going to draw a line in the sand, Critical Race Theory is it. I say that not because I’m the smartest guy in the world or this is something I’ve thought all my life, but I’ve got a child that goes to a major university in the state. And I am absolutely appalled by what I’ve witnessed there the last three years with my child. If you don’t think universities are indoctrinating your kids, everybody needs to wake up.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and the University of South Alabama, the editor of Breitbart TV, a columnist for Mobile’s Lagniappe Weekly, and host of Mobile’s “The Jeff Poor Show” from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. on FM Talk 106.5.

14 hours ago

Manufacture Alabama backs Ainsworth for reelection

As Alabama maintains its status among the top states in the nation for manufacturing, the industry’s dedicated trade association has made its choice for lieutenant governor.

Manufacture Alabama has given its full support to Will Ainsworth in his bid for reelection to the office, according to a release from the group.

George Clark, president of Manufacture Alabama, cited Ainsworth’s background in manufacturing and knowledge of its key issues in announcing the endorsement.

“Manufacture Alabama is endorsing Lieutenant Governor Will Ainsworth for reelection due to his commitment to maintaining a business-friendly environment in Alabama,” Clark said. “Lieutenant Governor Ainsworth grew up in the manufacturing industry and understands firsthand that our members are the backbone of the state and nation’s economy. He is a friend to our association and a tireless advocate for manufacturers across Alabama. In his leadership role, it is clear that he is dedicated to serving his home state with enthusiasm and integrity. We are proud to give him our full endorsement for the reelection of Lieutenant Governor.”


Ainsworth, who has now picked up a string of endorsements from trade associations, believes the state’s successes in manufacturing are something that can continue.

“I am proud to have the endorsement of Manufacture Alabama,” he stated. “Our tremendous manufacturers are sources of good-paying 21st century jobs for hardworking Alabamians, and the goods and materials they produce are integral across a broad range of sectors. Alabama is open for business, and I’m firmly committed to making our state the workforce engine of the Southeast so we can continue to grow jobs through expansion and recruitment. Working together, I am confident we will build an even stronger Alabama for our children and our children’s children.”

The manufacturing industry employs more than 250,000 people in Alabama, a figure which makes up a double-digit percentage of the state’s workforce.

Ainsworth announced his reelection campaign earlier this month.

Since that time, he has received the endorsement of the Alabama Forestry Association, the Petroleum and Convenience Marketers Association and U.S. Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-AL).

RELATED: Lt. Gov. Ainsworth: Huntsville preferred location for Space Command ‘based on merit and based on policies’

Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer Multimedia