On Wednesday, Gulf Shores Mayor Robert Craft and members of the City Council officially welcomed Acme Oyster House® and unveiled plans for a development they say will create increased sustainable economic opportunities while helping to restore and revitalize a once thriving area of the city.
Waterway Village will soon begin to take shape along both sides of the Intracoastal Waterway and a unique downtown atmosphere will transform some of Gulf Shores’ most historic real estate. Its pedestrian friendly design will feature quaint streets with tree-lined sidewalks, inviting seating areas, decorative lamp posts and a waterfront boardwalk offering residents and visitors a year-round destination for dining, shopping and entertainment.
According to Acme Oyster House® Director of Business Development, Jeremy DeBlieux, the City’s vision behind Waterway Village served as a major selling point in their decision to bring the restaurant to Gulf Shores.
“We have locations in Louisiana and Destin and knew we wanted something in between. Once we visited Gulf Shores and heard the vision behind Waterway Village, we fell in love,” said DeBlieux. “This area will become an entertainment and dining destination and that’s the business we’re in.”
DeBlieux went on to say, “I’ve never worked with a local government more supportive and committed to bringing new business to a community.”
While the City is committing significant resources to Waterway Village, leaders say the long-term success of the area hinges on the ability to attract private partners.
“We are excited to welcome Acme Oyster House® as the first addition to Waterway Village,” said Craft. “Acme exemplifies the type of partner we are looking for. Their team has shown an unwavering commitment to Gulf Shores and to this project and we couldn’t be happier to have them.”
The Acme Oyster House® restaurant concept began in 1910 in New Orleans, Louisiana and enjoys the distinction as one of the oldest restaurants in New Orleans. Their restaurants feature New Orleans style cuisine designed and decorated with authentic French Quarter dÃ©cor including New Orleans Po-Boy sandwiches, jambalaya, gumbo, red beans and rice, and fried seafood. One of the distinguishing characteristics of the Acme Oyster House® concept is the offering of fresh, hand-shucked raw and chargrilled Louisiana oysters.
Plans for the Gulf Shores location include 8,450 square foot of interior space; 3,650 square feet of exterior covered space and seating for approximately 450 guests. The restaurant will offer lunch and dinner seven days a week and hopes to open its doors by spring 2014 bringing approximately 100 jobs to the area.
“Our restaurants have established a reputation for providing guests with a festive dining atmosphere,” said Acme Oyster House® owner Mike Rodrigue. “We look forward to bringing this tradition to Gulf Shores and are honored to be a part of such a wonderful community.”
As more details for Waterway Village were announced, Craft expressed how important it is for Gulf Shores to take advantage of its waterways and economic opportunities “off the beach”.
“Our community has been through significant adversity and this administration has made a commitment to helping spearhead the creation of diversified economic opportunities for Gulf Shores,” said Craft. “Waterway Village is the first step in that process and we look forward to putting the assets in place to help create something very special in this area.”
The City will immediately begin laying the foundation for Waterway Village by constructing a 215 space public parking area, implementing streetscape improvements along East 24th Avenue and East 2nd Street including the addition of 50-60 on-street parking spaces, sidewalks, landscaping, decorative lighting and street furniture throughout the area.
Officials hope to have this first phase of construction completed by January 2014, while plans call for the addition of a waterfront boardwalk and a regional storm water plan to be implemented soon after.
With local restaurants LuLu’s, Tacky Jacks and Rhythm & Ribs already in place, the addition of Acme Oyster House leaves Gulf Shores leaders understandably excited about the potential of Waterway Village.
“We are proud to have the opportunity to attract a prominent restaurant like Acme Oyster House® to our community,” expressed Craft. “Their commitment confirms our vision for Waterway Village and we believe it will serve as a catalyst moving forward as we look to attract other partners.”
In addition, Craft expressed sincere appreciation to several funding and research partners who helped bring Waterway Village from a vision to a reality.
“Today would not be possible without the partnerships of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, the BP Seafood and Tourism Grant program, the Alabama-Mississippi Sea Grant, and the Auburn University Marine Extension and Research Center,” Craft continued. “I can’t express how grateful we are for the incredible support these groups have given us throughout the development of this project.”