3 weeks ago

Hubbard’s Off Main is a main dining destination in this Alabama city

Food brings people together, no question about that. And creating a gathering place for conversation and fellowship, as well as good food, was one of the reasons behind Hubbard’s Off Main in historic downtown Oxford. That’s because the restaurant’s owner, Charlotte Hubbard, is one of her city’s most steadfast champions.

Hubbard has been on Oxford’s City Council since 2012, but she’s been involved in her community for most of her life. She’s a retired educator from Oxford City Schools, and before she was a restaurant owner, she owned an antiques store. Hubbard has been instrumental in Oxford’s $3 million revitalization and preservation of its historic downtown. Oxford became a designated Main Street community in 2014. She proudly touts the popular Saturday Main Street Market – with music and makers and food trucks and growers – that draws people from in town and beyond.

Lots of these people also come to Oxford to eat at Hubbard’s Off Main.

The restaurant grew to be more than Hubbard originally envisioned. “I just wanted to do soup and salads, and we ended up doing more Southern country-type foods,” she says. “We found out, you have to find out, who your customers are going to be, who’s going to come. … You have to find out what those customers want and start doing that.”

What they wanted were familiar foods, and the food at Hubbard’s is that; it’s also delicious and made with locally sourced ingredients. Produce comes from Watts Farms down the road in Munford, Hubbard says. They buy from Forestwood Farm and Evans Meats & Seafood in Birmingham. They get pecans from a farmer with an orchard on County Line Road and honey from Eastaboga Bee Co. Their coffee vendor, Southern Girl Coffee Co., is across the street, and they get olive oil and gourmet ingredients from The Main Olive around the corner. “We buy locally as much as we can,” Hubbard says.

In the kitchen, chef Jordan Smith uses these fresh, local finds to create a varied and savory menu for restaurant dining and a thriving catering business. Smith is young (26) but she creates dishes with the knowledge and confidence of a cook with decades more experience.

“The biggest compliment I think I’ve ever gotten is when people tell me that I cook like their grandma,” Smith says. “That really gets you because everybody loves their grandma’s cooking and that just really brings you back home. That’s what I like to do for people … give them that experience that they may not get from their grandma anymore.”

That translates to homemade pimento cheese, crab cakes with a house remoulade, and their own take on shrimp and grits made with a Cajun cream sauce and polenta. There’s a burger; catfish or shrimp po’ boys; fish and chips made with fresh grouper; an Oxfordian salad with feta, berries and roasted pecans atop fresh greens; a hand-cut 12-ounce ribeye and an 8-ounce filet; and chicken Marsala. You’ll also find country cooking like chopped steak, fried chicken and catfish as well as meatloaf. Do not miss the award-winning collards.

Hubbard’s Off Main wins fans for its Low Country goodness from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

One of the most popular dishes at Hubbard’s, the Low Country Chicken, garnered the restaurant regional fame when it made the state tourism department’s list of 100 Dishes to Eat in Alabama. In this dish, a tender chicken breast is topped with a Carolina-inspired sauce of sweet corn, bacon, fresh tomatoes and cream. It is delicious.

All these dishes are simply, yet thoughtfully, made to order. “It’s Southern comfort food,” says Smith, who especially loves to cook vegetables. “I like to taste the food. I like to keep it simple. So, you add just a little herbs and garlic to something, and you can really taste the freshness of, say, a simple squash … I don’t like to overpower the food, for sure. … I want people to know they’re getting something really fresh.”

Hubbard’s features a full-service bar with craft cocktails like Main Street Lemonade spiked with Jim Beam bourbon and fizzy with ginger ale, and an Alabama Slammer made with Tito’s vodka, amaretto and Southern Comfort. There’s a nice selection of wines and local and regional craft beers, too.

The restaurant itself, with its textured century-old brick walls and glossy heart pine floors, is nearly as much of a draw as the food. It’s a beautiful and unique space with character. It invites you to linger.

“I think people are looking for places to gather,” Hubbard says. “It’s hard to gather at a chain or a place that’s not really inviting because they’re … turning a lot of tables.”

The main dining room at Hubbard’s Off Main used to be a clothing store. The historic building was originally a wood-frame structure built in 1885. In 1901, the wooden building was replaced with a brick masonry building by Thad Gwin, who owned and operated the clothing store. Hubbard renovated the interior and exterior in 2015.

Today, the large storefront windows shine lots of light into a main dining room decorated with vintage photos and furnished with an eclectic assortment of antiques, including small and communal dining tables, pianos, a sofa in a cozy waiting area, copper and wooden bowls on the tables and various other interesting pieces. Many of the items came from the antiques store Hubbard used to own. Her favorite piece is an old icebox that she bought more than a decade ago when she was campaigning for her first term on the City Council. It was sitting under a woman’s carport. Now it’s tucked into a short hallway that leads to two private dining spaces – one a small jewel-box of a room with glass windows that offer airy privacy and the other, a long, narrow room, anchored by a beautiful carved wooden bar, where Hubbard started her restaurant eight years ago.

The current main dining space was once home to her brother-in-law’s music store and a performing arts center. Oxford is a place where history matters, so there’s music here still. Local bands perform on Friday and Saturday nights on a small stage near the front door. On Thursdays, there’s music in the round, with local musicians performing their own work, Hubbard says.

She and her staff recently added an outdoor seating area – Hubbard’s Out Back – to offer more options for socially distanced dining. She says she used money from the CARES Act to make it happen and help keep her business busy and moving forward.

Hubbard’s has become a hub in this tightly knit town. During the early days of the pandemic, the community helped Hubbard keep her business going with curbside pick-up and to-go orders. “Luckily, we were … six years open, and so we had established that customer base that … came every week – or two or three times a week.” Hubbard’s, in turn, helped its community by providing meals for the city’s elderly residents and the homeless who, at the time, couldn’t get into shelters where they usually go for food.

There’s a feeling of community inside the restaurant, too.

Smith says: “Although I may be known as the chef and the leader here, you can’t do this without a really awesome team backing you up and willing to work hard and be dependable. And we have a really good team here – from front of house to the small crew in the back. And I just, I couldn’t do it without them. And Charlotte, too. … I look up to her so much. She’s the hardest working person I’ve ever seen. She really cares about this place.”

Smith means the restaurant, of course, but the town, too.

Hubbard, ever the advocate for Oxford, says she sees new signs of progress every day and welcomes all of it. She lives in a loft above her restaurant and has a perfect view of what’s happening downtown. “I think the downtown area is going to be really popular,” she says. “We have a couple of people who are working on buildings now to come downtown with restaurants.”

There soon will be another restaurant next door to Hubbard’s Off Main. In the meantime, she welcomes the food trucks that come for the nearby Saturday market.

Hubbard sees all this as an opportunity for cooperation rather than competition. A cluster of restaurants will draw business for everybody. The progress, she says, is exciting – and  great for her city.


Hubbard’s Off Main

16 Choccolocco St.

Oxford, Alabama 36203

256-403-0258

https://www.hubbardsoxford.com

 

Hours

Lunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. every day except Monday.

Dinner from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday and from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

13 hours ago

WBRC’s James-Paul Dice signing off after 26-year career in television

One of the most familiar faces on Alabama television is signing off the air tonight.

WBRC-TV’s James-Paul Dice has been the chief meteorologist at the Birmingham TV powerhouse for 13 of his 26-year career in television.

The beloved weatherman is starting a new career as a corporate pilot, flying Gulfstream IV business jets for Birmingham-based Drummond Company.

Dice will deliver his final weather forecast Friday night at 10 p.m. on WBRC TV Fox-6.

In a tweet, WBRC thanked Dice and wished him well on his new journey.

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15 hours ago

Gov. Ivey announces final recipients of Public School and College Authority bond

Governor Kay Ivey (R-AL) on Friday announced the remaining $23.5 million of the Public School and College Authority (PSCA) bond issue to five entities across the Yellowhammer State.

“I’m pleased to announce the more than $23.5 million to worthy infrastructural projects and upgrades to our educational facilities,” Governor Ivey said. “These remaining PSCA funds will make needed improvements to our public educational facilities, which will have a lasting impact on future generations of Alabamians. I am extremely grateful to Alabama’s retiring Finance Director Kelly Butler for his diligence on this project to ensure we are investing wisely in meaningful education and workforce efforts.”

“There is no question these dollars will provide a positive return on investment to the citizens of Alabama,” Kelly Butler said. “Despite the challenges of the last year, Governor Ivey and the members of the Alabama Legislature displayed great leadership by pursuing this important and meaningful initiative to transform our educational institutions.”

The PSCA projects announced today are as follows:

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University of Alabama:

The $16.5 million for the Smart Communities & Innovation Building will provide the critical research infrastructure for the transportation industry in Alabama. Ivey said the investment will position Alabama to be a national leader in innovation relating to mobility and be able to power and connect smart and resilient communities. This project will facilitate a public-private partnership between the state, the University of Alabama, Alabama Power Company and Mercedes-Benz U.S. International with the likelihood of additional partnerships in the near future.

Senators Greg Reed (R-Jasper), Gerald Allen (R-Northport) and Bobby Singleton (D-Greensboro) applauded the announcement.

Reed says the investments will strengthen the state’s research efforts relating to automotive manufacturing.

“I fully believe that this investment by the state will modernize Alabama’s research and development in the next generation of electric vehicle technology in a manner responsive to industry and with an eye for future growth,” said Reed.

Allen praised the teamwork that was necessary to make the project come to fruition.

“This is great news for the Tuscaloosa community, the University of Alabama and our state as a whole,” said Allen. “A number of highly motivated people and organizations have come together and created a mission to set our state on a path towards a bright future in this important, fast-growing industry.”

Singleton says the investment will place the state in a strong position to supply global markets.

“Alabama will be on the forefront of this technology, which will lead to new and greener jobs for the people of our state,” said Singleton. “The international community is demanding battery-powered vehicles and this investment by the state will make West Alabama a global leader in this field.”

Snead State Community College:

$4 million to assist in establishing a regional workforce training center in Marshall County.

Talladega County Schools:

$1.75 million to create the East Alabama Rural Innovation and Training Hub.

Alabama A&M University:

$508,754.17 to be applied toward various capital improvement and deferred maintenance projects.

Alabama State University:

$763,600.00 for the Southern Normal School in Brewton (Escambia County) is the oldest African-American boarding school in Alabama. This investment will provide immediate improvements to seven buildings on the campus.

During the 2020 State of the State, Governor Ivey announced her support of SB 242, the PSCA Bond Issue for public schools to use toward construction, safety improvement or technology upgrades. The PSCA is comprised of Governor Kay Ivey, State Finance Director Kelly Butler and Alabama Superintendent of Education Dr. Eric Mackey.

SB 242 authorized the PSCA to sell up to $1.25B in bonds and allocated money to every city and county K-12 school system and to higher education institutions. 73% of the funds went to K-12 schools and 27% to two-and four-year colleges.

Due to low interest rates, the bond sale resulted in the PSCA receiving over $300 million in premium revenues. The true interest cost of the bonds is 2.145% over the 20-year repayment period.

Dylan Smith is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News

16 hours ago

Landing commits $1 million to growth of Birmingham tech ecosystem

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama – Landing, a fast-growing company building a nationwide network of furnished apartments available to members, today announced a $1 million investment in Birmingham’s expanding tech ecosystem as it hosted officials at an event to unveil its new headquarters.

The announcement follows last month’s announcement that the company planned to move its headquarters from San Francisco to Birmingham, where it will hire over 800 people as it accelerates its growth plans.

“Landing has seen incredible growth since the company launched in 2019, and we couldn’t be more excited to share that success with Birmingham,” said Landing Founder and CEO Bill Smith, a founder of grocery delivery marketplace Shipt, also based in Birmingham.

“We are proud to be part of one of the fastest-growing tech hubs in the country, bringing new jobs and economic opportunity to the region,” he added.

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Smith joined Governor Kay Ivey and local officials today at Landing’s new headquarters in the John Hand Building in downtown Birmingham.

“We are delighted to welcome Landing to Alabama,” Governor Ivey said. “We hope this is a message to the citizens of Alabama and people everywhere that we, as a state, are focused on driving innovation and opportunity.”

DEVELOPING TECH TALENT

Landing said it is committed to serving as a leader in the evolution of Birmingham’s workforce and the city’s booming technology industry, bringing 816 new, full-time jobs and $1.3 billion in payroll to the city over the next 20 years.

“Landing’s decision to accelerate its growth plans in Birmingham speaks volumes about the potential the company sees there,” said Greg Canfield, Secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce.

“We hope this project becomes another milestone development that points the way for expanded innovation opportunities in Birmingham and across the state.”

Landing’s $1 million investment will be used to continue to nurture the city’s technology and innovation community by developing top tech talent across the region and attracting high-potential tech startups.

Alongside recruitment efforts, Landing will launch Landing Fellows, a two-year, advanced fellowship program for early career applicants, recent grads and career changers who will work full time in Landing’s Birmingham headquarters. Recruitment for this fellowship program will start in the area in the fall, with the program launch slated for next summer.

“We are a rapidly expanding tech hub here in the Magic City,” Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin said. “It’s fitting that Bill is again a part of growing our technology industry, as Shipt propelled Birmingham’s tech reputation and now Landing continues that growth with elite recruitment and training opportunities.

“Birmingham is quickly becoming a destination for some of the top tech talent in the country, and this significant investment by Landing will continue adding to our ever-growing workforce,” he added.

Birmingham has already seen investments in its tech ecosystem from global giants like Apple, which is growing a diverse STEM workforce in Birmingham through local nonprofits including Ed Farm and TechBirmingham.

The Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) this month recognized Birmingham as the one of the nation’s Top 10 metro areas for month-over-month tech job postings during the first half of 2021.

“The addition of Landing and Landing Fellows is a huge win for Birmingham,” said Ron Kitchens, CEO of the Birmingham Business Alliance. “We cannot wait to continue growing Birmingham as a haven for businesses and a destination for some of the top talent in the state and the region.”

“Landing’s move to Birmingham offers us a chance to showcase Jefferson County,” added Jefferson County Commissioner Steve Ammons. “We are proud to continue supporting businesses that bring jobs to Birmingham from around the country, and particularly those that invest proactively in tech talent and ecosystems.”

(Courtesy of Made in Alabama)

19 hours ago

Outdoor Alabama Photo Contest opens August 2

The 2022 Outdoor Alabama Photo Contest will begin accepting entries on Monday, August 2, 2021. This year’s contest is a joint project between the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR) and the Alabama Tourism Department. The deadline to enter is October 31, 2021.

The 2022 photo contest will focus on traditional photography techniques and the use of hand-held cameras. No cellphone, smartphone, game camera, or drone photography will be chosen as winning photos for nine of the 10 categories. Smartphone and tablet photos will be accepted in the Young Photographers category.

The photo contest is open to state residents and visitors alike, but qualifying photos must have been taken in Alabama in the past two years. Any amateur photographer not employed by ADCNR is encouraged to enter.

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A total of eight photos per person may be entered in the following categories. You may enter all eight in one category or among several categories.

2022 Outdoor Alabama Photo Contest Categories:
• Alabama State Parks
• Birds
• Bugs and Butterflies
• Cold-blooded Critters
• Nature-Based Recreation
• Scenic
• Shoots and Roots
• Sweet Home Alabama
• Wildlife
• Young Photographers (ages 17 and under)

First, second, third and one honorable mention will be awarded in each category. Winning images will be featured online and in an exhibit traveling to various venues across the state during 2022.

Art teachers are encouraged to incorporate participation in the Young Photographers category into their art instruction this fall.

An exhibit of the 2021 winning photos will be on display at the Johnson Center for the Arts, 300 E. Walnut St., in Troy, Alabama, from August 11, 2021 – September 11, 2021. To view the winning photos online, visit here.

For complete 2022 category descriptions and contest rules, visit www.outdooralabama.com/outdoor-alabama-photo-contest.

21 hours ago

Regions reports second quarter earnings of $748 million based on delivery of ‘solid performance’

Birmingham-based Regions Financial Corporation announced its second quarter 2021 earnings on Friday.

The company reported net income available to common shareholders of $748 million and earnings per diluted share of $0.77. The company’s total revenue grew 2% compared to second quarter 2020.

John Turner, president and CEO of Regions Financial Corporation, sees the opportunity for continued growth.

“Our teams delivered solid performance throughout the second quarter, and as a result of our strategic planning and key investments, we are well positioned to generate long-term, sustainable growth over time,” he said in a release from the company.

He cited growth within the company’s markets as a reason for the encouraging outlook.

“Regions operates in highly attractive markets that are benefiting from favorable population trends and strong employment opportunities,” Turner explained. “In each of these markets, our bankers are serving new and long-term customers through customized financial insights, enhanced technology and a commitment to superior service. We have taken several steps – adding talented bankers, investing in service and delivery channels, and enhancing our capabilities through our bolt-on acquisition strategy – to build on our momentum and create greater value for customers, communities, and shareholders over time.”

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Regions emphasized that its digital investments are generating returns, its business segments are proving resilient amid pandemic recovery conditions and its strategic decisions in high-growth areas, such as Florida, Texas and Tennessee, are delivering results.

The company noted that increased consumer engagement with the bank’s online and mobile banking platforms is generating 9% year-over-year growth in active digital banking users and 13% year-over-year growth in active mobile banking users.

RELATED: Joia M. Johnson appointed to Regions board of directors

Regions Financial Corporation is a member of the S&P 500 Index and is one of the nation’s largest full-service providers of consumer and commercial banking, wealth management, and mortgage products and services.

Regions operates across the South, Midwest and Texas.

Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer Multimedia