From the Tuscaloosa News: Glory Bound moving to new site, Half Shell Oyster House moving in
By Stephen Dethrage / Staff Writer
Posted Apr 18, 2018 at 5:52 PM
Updated Apr 18, 2018 at 7:29 PM
The historic Brown’s Corner building in downtown Tuscaloosa will soon switch tenants from Glory Bound Gyro Co. to the Half Shell Oyster House.
Since 2012, the 15,000-square foot building at the intersection of Greensboro Avenue and University Boulevard has been home to Glory Bound, a Mediterranean restaurant featuring a few American twists. Earlier this week, though, Tuscaloosa entrepreneurs Heath and Keith Wyatt sold the property to Brown’s Corner LLC, a venture co-owned by developer Inge Beeker and Kennedy Striplin, a tenant representative from Mobile.
Nick Chichester, the franchise owner of Tuscaloosa’s Glory Bound, said the restaurant will close on May 6, but not permanently. He said Glory Bound will relocate to another spot nearby and aim to reopen before the first of June.
“Glory Bound has been a staple in downtown Tuscaloosa since we opened here five years ago and we’re going to be alive and well in Tuscaloosa for a very long time,” Chichester said.
Chichester wasn’t ready to reveal Glory Bound’s next home in Tuscaloosa on Wednesday, but said he’d be able to talk more about the matter soon.
“We’re not going far,” Chichester said.
The week after Glory Bound closes, Beeker and Striplin will lease control of the Brown’s Corner building to Bob Taylor, the founder and president of the Half Shell Oyster House franchise.
Taylor opened the first Half Shell Oyster House in Gulfport, Mississippi, in 2009 has seen explosive growth since then -- he said that in 2017, his restaurant sold more than 5 million oysters at their 10 locations in Mississippi, Florida, Louisiana and Alabama.
Tuscaloosa will be home to the franchise’s 12th location, which is set to open this August, and Taylor said that day can’t come soon enough.
“We’re extremely excited about opening up in Tuscaloosa,” he said. “We’re getting a ton of feedback from folks all over our existing markets that have Tuscaloosa connections and they’re saying we’re just going to love it up there.”
There’s a lot of work to be done between now and then, though. Taylor said he plans to completely remodel the interior of the Brown’s Corner building to match the atmosphere of the other Half Shell Oyster Houses, using cypress woods, wrought iron railings, murals and more to capture the feeling of New Orleans’ French Quarter.
Taylor said he will also have to hire 80-100 employees to staff the new restaurant, but will probably hold off on the bulk of that endeavor until the University of Alabama’s nearly 38,000 students arrive in Tuscaloosa for the fall semester in August.
When it opens, Half Shell Oyster House will offer oysters and other seafood alongside burgers, po’boys, pastas and more at prices Taylor called “extremely reasonable.”
“We’re going to offer something that Tuscaloosa has never seen before,” Taylor said.
Taylor said he is also planning major renovations for the third floor of the building, which opened alongside Glory Bound as the Twisted Martini bar but closed soon after and has been used as a venue for private events for several years.
Taylor said the space will still be rented for special events, but said he wants to upgrade that floor and install a miniature kitchen there so the restaurant’s main kitchen is not taxed by trying to serve guests on the third floor.
“We’ve got a ton of great ideas for the space and we’re going to try our best to increase the amount of special or private events we hold up there by offering a little bit more than what came before,” Taylor said.
The building’s roots stretch back to the 1890s. Abe Brown established Brown’s Department Store in 1898 and moved to the southeast corner of University Boulevard and Greensboro Avenue in 1906. He built the current building known as Brown’s Corner in 1926. Brown’s Department Store went out of business in 1978.
After a long period of vacancy, Barrett’s Brewpub and Eatery opened there 1996 but closed after three years. Buffalo’s American Grille followed in 2002, but it never caught on and closed in 2005. The Wyatts opened Brown’s Corner Dueling Piano Bar and Grill there in August 2009, but by summer 2011 the concept had fallen apart and Glory Bound opened there in July 2012.
Still, Beeker said the spot is prime real estate and that he expects the seafood restaurant to thrive there.
“We’re talking about the premier corner in all of Tuscaloosa, and that building is just beautiful, especially at night,” Beeker said. “We loved everything about it and we’re excited to bring this restaurant and concept to Tuscaloosa. We feel like it will be incredibly successful.”
Originally published by the Tuscaloosa News: Glory Bound moving to new site, Half Shell Oyster House moving in