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Dine Downtown – Legends Steakhouse

By Stephen Edmonds

When it comes to steakhouses, the bar is set pretty high.  Most steakhouses are on the higher end of the local dining spectrum and as such, there are a lot of different factors that go into determining one’s overall experience at a steakhouse.  

“Was the food the correct temperature?  Was your steak cooked to your specifications?  Was the atmosphere inviting?  Was the menu diverse enough or perhaps too diverse?  Did the employees have great attitudes and was the experience as a whole positive?”

These are all questions that come into a customers mind when deciding where to spend their money that evening and because steakhouses are in the upper echelon of local cuisine, these questions are weighed all the more carefully in a potential customers mind.  

At Legends Steakhouse in beautiful downtown Florence, these standards are surpassed flawlessly.  Before even entering the establishment, the unique stone fountain out front begins to introduce the suave atmosphere that only grows as anyone ventures inward.  The lights are at a comfortable setting, the background music is at the perfect volume, and it’s all strung together by the walls covered in historical images and facts.  

There’s something to be said about a restaurants atmosphere.  In local settings, the ambiance part of a dining experience is often overlooked or put off.  Legends Steakhouse clearly breaks from this and the benefits couldn’t be more apparent.  A well thought out and sharply executed atmosphere can draw diners into a positive and unique experience that really makes their evening at that establishment stand out in their mind before they’ve even taken a bite of great food.  

Food emerging from the kitchen is a very special time for any customer at any establishment, but at Legends it’s all the more exciting.  The coherent menu style makes it very easy to find something that sounds good to you and the way they describe their dishes builds the anticipation for whoever is ordering.  Of course the taste is absolutely stellar as well.  No matter what you order at Legends it tastes great, but as you can imagine their steaks are the jewel in the crown.  Well cooked and seasoned, the experience of Legend’s steak dinner somehow gets better and better every time.  

Words can describe almost anything within a fair amount of accuracy EXCEPT for a steak from Legends.  That’s an experience that you’ve got to try for yourself before you can fully understand how great it is.  

Chocolate Crawl 2018 Recap

 

Just a bit more than a week before Valentine’s Day, Florence Main Street hosted our 4th Annual Chocolate Crawl! This year was just as great as the rest with delicious chocolate treats that were to die for and new businesses to visit as well as our returning favorites!

Tickets this year sold out 3 days before the event and even though it was cold out, we had a great crowd!  We saw so many new faces and heard a lot of positive feedback from the patrons.  Many of them said it was the best year yet!

On top of that, ticket holders enjoyed 15% off their purchases as well as a chocolate treat at participating businesses. Grier Insurance even gave away dinner for 2 at Ricatoni’s to one lucky winner!

This year’s chocolate treat winner was Cloth & Stone with their Chocolate Wine Cake!  Great job to the Cloth & Stone team, we heard crawlers raving about that treat and the store it was in all day.

A very close second was Miss Beth’s Tailoring and Alterations with their Oreo Bon Bons!  Miss Beth’s was a first time participant in the crawl this year and nearly clenched the victory, so congratulations to all involved; everyone seemed very impressed.  

A few honorable mentions this year were North Alabama Chiropractic’s Chocolate Covered Bacon, Jack O’ Lantern Farm’s Mocha Turnovers, and Printers and Stationer’s Mini Cannoli’s, but there were many more amazing treats as well that were very well made and well received.

We can’t thank the participants enough.  The bar had already been set high by the previous years and the ball was still knocked out of the park by each and every one of you!  

If you missed out this year, don’t worry; there’s always next year! If you love bacon, be on the lookout for our Bacon Fest in June that will include our annual Bacon Crawl!

Downtown Florence, Your Valentine’s Day Destination for Fun!

By Stephen Edmonds

Whether you dread it or anticipate it, Valentine’s day is almost here!  There is no better way to spend this day than with the people you love; and that still applies even if you are not in a romantic relationship with this person or persons.  Family, coworkers, good friends; all of these relationships deserve to be celebrated on February 14th this year, so why not spend it with us in beautiful downtown Florence?  Here are some fantastic reasons why you should!

The biggest reason why downtown Florence deserves your business this Valentine’s Day is because there is something for everyone here.  The Shoals is full of an eclectic mix of people and the local business owners have adapted to that excellently by offering many different forms of entertainment.

 

If you’re looking to have fun while you and your family, friends, or loved ones participate in games and puzzles, we eagerly recommend Escape Room Florence and Paradox Challenge Rooms Florence.  These two escape room businesses have put their originality to work in creating interesting scenarios and rooms full of puzzles for your enjoyment!  A varying number of people can participate at once, so this is ideal for a medium to large party of participants.  This experience is so much fun, you’ll be talking about it for a little while afterwards making it a perfect thing to do before dinner. 

 

Just you and your loved one?  Head over to Spinning Spoke and rent a couple bicycles for an hour!  This is a greatway to get to know the downtown, parks, and UNA areas.  To top it all off, the cycles they rent are a guaranteed smooth ride. Another great idea to combine with dinner or a show afterwards; this will create a well-rounded evening experience leaving all parties satisfied.

 

 

To keep the options coming, downtown Florence is also home to a host of museums.  These establishments are rich in the culture and history that made our town what it is today.  Whether you try Pope’s Tavern, the Indian Mound, the W.C. Handy Home, or all three; these interesting locations are full of info and history that really drives home a sense of belonging and can reignite anyone’s love for the Shoals.  Each of these museums can accommodate groups of multiple sizes and, once again, these visits can be combined with dinner or a livelier activity to create a well-rounded and memorable evening.

 

For the citizens interested in the arts, there is absolutely no better place to go than downtown Florence.  The Shoals has always been a landmark for music in America and that is still true today.  With the multitude of swanky music venues that call our downtown home, fans of any genre of music will find the electric atmosphere of establishments like The Mane Room, 116 E Mobile, and Singin’ River Live undeniably irresistible.  Similarly, downtown boasts an armada of theatre venues where plays are held regularly.  Such notable places include The Z (Historic Zodiac Theatre), Shoals Community Theatre, and the UNA Theatre.  No matter what your cup of tea is, there is a venue here for you.  These locations are perfect for groups of varying sizes and the stellar atmosphere of downtown Florence’s artistic side will be sure to create an evening for the books.

 

No evening out is complete without a great meal.  Any of the activities suggested so far can easily be coupled with dinner from one of our fine eating establishments.  Yumm Thai Sushi and Beyond is a Florence fan favorite while the calm and intimate atmosphere at City Hardware is perfect for a one on one date.  Going out earlier in the day?Trowbridge’s is a perfect spot for lunch or a snack with their  menu that features savory meals and sweet desserts all at ideal lunch sized portions.  Want to sample Florence’s nightlife?  Wait till late and head over to FloBama, or On the Rocks.  There’s almost always live music going on in these bar and grille establishments.  Wildwood Tavern and Tennessee Street Billiards & Grille are also notable spots for deliciously creative food, tasty drinks, and active nightlife.  One more noteworthy mention on this list would be Chicago Café that stays open late to make sure you have a snack right when you need it.  No matter who you are with, these spots make a perfect end to a long day, or a flawless beginning to a long night.

At Florence Main Street, we know Valentine’s Day is about love specifically, not just dating relationships; so, don’t get bummed out if you don’t have a significant other this time around.  Instead, focus on the ties that you already have with your family, friends, and possibly even coworkers.  These relationships often get pushed to the side because of the popular notion that Valentine’s Day is strictly for dating couples, so I challenge you, reader:  Don’t let this Valentine’s Day be a source of sadness or disappointment; let it be a night to remember in a place that you love with people that you love even more.

Dining Downtown – Ricatoni’s Italian Grill

By Stephen Edmonds

107 North Court Street Florence, Alabama

 

Florence is a small, but busy college town with many choice places to eat that I believe do not get the recognition they deserve, so I wanted to take a minute of my time to write about my experience with one of our favorite restaurants.  This past week, Florence experienced a rare amount of snowfall keeping my wife and I cooped up for a few days on end, so when we were finally able to emerge from our hole and stretch our legs the first thing we wanted to do was enjoy a meal at one of our favorite local downtown spots: Ricatoni’s.

 

 

This is one of our favorite places to go for quite a few reasons.  First and foremost, before the great food is even brought into consideration, their atmosphere is so pleasant and relaxed.  Employees interact with each other in such a way that encourages guests to loosen up and enjoy their time in the establishment.  The décor adds to the previously mentioned atmosphere in a very subliminal way, making anyone who steps in the door to dine more at ease and more susceptible to a good time.  Even their menus seem to draw you further into the atmosphere.

 

Pictured: House Salad, Complimentary Bread & Herbs, &                                        Fettucine Alfredo

 

In my personal opinion, a business’s food is their strongest weapon for convincing customers to return, and in Ricatoni’s case this is doubly true.  From a purely statistical standpoint, the portions are perfect and their food tastes like it should cost more than the affordable prices they have on their menu, and buying good food at affordable prices will make any restaurant goer feel like they are scoring a great deal.  From a personal opinion standpoint, their entrees, appetizers, and desserts are appealing, fun, and they taste great. 

 

Photo by Sarah Belanger

 

I feel like a blog post review of a restaurant needs to have at least some valid criticism, but after racking my brain and thinking about all my past experiences in this establishment (all the way back through high school!) I can’t find a single instance where I was anything less than satisfied.  The track record of this restaurant speaks for itself; the food is great, the mood is great, and more than anything else, Ricatoni’s is a consistent dining experience that delivers time after time. 

A Look at Past Chocolate Crawls

Florence Main Street just announced our 4th Annual Downtown Florence, Alabama Chocolate Crawl!

Each February, Chocolate Crawl rolls around just in time for Valentine’s Day. Downtown Florence boutiques, salons, and other stores turn into Chocolate Shops for one day only. Each business showcases their current styles, specials, and services along with a bite-sized sample of a chocolate treat. During the Chocolate Crawl, ticket holders also get 15% off their purchases at participating businesses.

Now when we say chocolate, we don’t just mean simple pieces of chocolate. Check out some treats from past crawls:

So what do you say? Make it a date or bring your friends for a day full of shopping and fun! (Who else celebrates Galentine’s Day?) This event is known as ‘trick or treating for adults” and “a wonderful time had by all, sampling sweets and exploring all the great stores in downtown Florence”! If you love chocolate, we promise you’ll love this event!

Get your Chocolate Crawl tickets here!

Starting off the Year with Florence Main Street

Do you have any new goals for 2018?  If so, downtown Florence Alabama has what you need to chase those goals!  Whether you aspire to be stronger, faster, healthier, dress better, or anything in between, the city of Florence has a local business to help you reach those goals.  

If you want to take your body to a new level physically, you’ll want to check Florence’s great fitness and health businesses.  These are great options to have whether you need training and individual attention from an experienced instructor at the Fit Facility, OR, if you’ve already got a workout regiment and need a clean community environment to execute it in like The Basement Gym.  For those of us who aspire to learn while they work out, Contender Boxing and Grit Fitness have boxing, yoga, and cycling classes that help us get into shape while learning new techniques!  Add that on top of our Jack-o’-Lantern Farm and Valley Health Foods businesses that can help anyone make sure that their diet healthily compliments their lifestyle, and there’s no way that getting healthier will stay on the list of unchecked resolutions.

As far as fresh and stylish clothing go, Florence AL has got you covered there as well.  Whether you find your ideal style in Coco’s Boutique, Karen’s Corner, Harper Clothing Co., or Jar & Co. it is all a part of what the brilliant shop owners of Florence have to offer.  Find an amazing piece of clothing that’s just barely out of your size range?  Take it to Miss Beth’s Tailoring and Alterations and have it sized up or down to suit your needs.  If more exotic clothes catch your eye, head over to The Eclectic for interesting and rare finds!  With all of these businesses ready and standing by to help put you in your ideal clothes and help in any way they can, becoming a savvy, experienced, and thrifty shopper is easy.

These are just some of the ways our thriving town can help you with your New Year’s resolutions.  Since there’s no way anyone can cover every advantage to shopping in Downtown Florence on one simple blog post, I’ll stop here; but if anyone has any questions about businesses and services offered in the downtown area, feel free to call us at 256-760-9648 OR contact any businesses directly on their Facebook accounts!  We all look forward to another great year of serving you.

Bank Independent Presents the Florence Christmas Parade 2017

‘Celebrate the Spirit of Christmas’ with the Florence Christmas Parade. You will see decorated floats, performance and musical groups dressed in festive costumes and playing your favorite holiday songs parading through Downtown Florence. Presented by Bank Independent and coordinated by Florence Main Street, this themed parade will be one to remember.

‘Bank Independent is proud to be sponsoring the Florence Christmas Parade this year.  We look forward to all the parades that take place in communities where we have branch locations and are excited to be a part of the Florence parade this year.  Something else about BI’s commitment to the community…..’ said Erin Letson, Vice President of Marketing for Bank Independent.  ‘Bank Independent has always had a strong commitment to giving back to our communities and we’re excited about this opportunity’ Letson said.  

Friday, December 8 at 7:00pm the parade will start at the intersection of North Court Street and Irvine Streets.    Florence Main Street is expecting 100 + local non-profits, community groups, and businesses from all over the Shoals to participate. The competition for best float is always difficult to judge because we have so many creative people in the area that put a lot of hard work into designing their Christmas floats. Judges will be observing the parade to award the first place prize to one business, non-profit group, band and performance group. The parade application to can be found on our website www.florencemainstreet.org (or here) if you would like to apply for a spot in the parade. The deadline to submit your application is Monday, November 27.   

Come join us and be a part of a magical night, ‘Celebrate the Spirit of Christmas’, and ring in the holidays in Downtown Florence when Bank Independent presents the Florence Christmas Parade 2017.  And don’t forget to do a little bit of shopping while you are in downtown.   

Florence Main Street is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization made up of over 100+ businesses, community leaders, and residents working together toward the common goal of revitalizing Downtown Florence culturally and economically. For more information about us or any of these efforts, please contact Florence Main Street at 256-760-9648 or info@florencemainstreet.org

2017 Christmas Open House

So many exciting things happening at the Christmas Open House! Plans in the works for the Downtown Christmas Open House include:
Christmas Cookies – 10am – 12pm; Decorate a FREE cookie provided by Bookmarks Coffee Shop by Alabama Bliss, located in the Florence-Lauderdale Public Library.

Selfies with Santa – 12pm – 2pm; Santa will be visiting downtown Florence and visitors can take FREE photos with him! He will be set up in front of Court Street Market and if it rains he will be inside the market (218 North Court Street) 

Holiday Hopscotch – all day; Play Hopscotch with us and visit participating downtown stores! Completed games and purchases could win you prizes! Our registration tent will be in front of Court Street Market. If it rains we will move inside. (218 North Court Street)

Letters to Santa – all day; PSI Printers & Stationers, Inc. will have a letter writing station for little ones to post their wish lists to Santa.

Candy cane hunt in downtown Florence! Find sweet treats for both kids and parents (candy for the kids; coupons for the parents) in downtown stores. (Begin at our registration tent in front of Court Street Market)

Best Window Display contest – Vote on your favorite window display in a downtown store! Voting will take place via Florence Main Street’s Facebook.

Family Movie Night – 6pm-8pm; Enjoy a FREE family Christmas movie at Singin’ River Live Sponsored by Singin’ River Brewing Company

Lion Night 2017

 

Lion Night is an upcoming event for UNA students and their parents to become aware of #DowntownFlorence businesses in a fun and interactive way! Students and their parents have an opportunity to win a weekend getaway in downtown Florence filled with gift certificates and more fun surprises!

How it works:
You will receive a bingo card along with a map at the beginning of the night. You will then visit all participating businesses to receive a sticker on that business’s bingo slot. For every bingo you get, you enter to win a weekend getaway! But wait, there’s more! If you make a purchase at any of the participating businesses, you get a gold star. For every gold star you get, that’s another entry for a chance to win a weekend getaway! You have from 4pm to 7pm to visit all participating businesses and return your bingo card to the registration tent.

Participating Businesses:
CoCo’s Boutique
Underground Art & Sound
Miss Beth’s Tailoring, Alterations and Custom Sewing
Ye Ole General
Tennessee Street Billiards & Grille
Inga’s Lashes and More #Florence Location
Reclaimed Spirit
Harper Clothing Co.
Perennial Supply Co.
Singin’ River Brewing Company
Paradox Challenge Rooms Florence
The Basement Gym
Bookmarks Coffee Shop
Escape Room Florence
FloBama Downtown
Legends – Florence
Art & More
The Spinning Spoke Cycle Hub
The Coiffure at 108
Jack-O-Lantern Farm
Shoals Takeout
Studio 23
Alabama Outdoors
Historic Zodiac Playhouse
PSI Printers & Stationers, Inc.
On The Rocks
The Pie Factory
Victory Bridal’s & Alterations, LLC
and more TBA!

Taste of Downtown: Riverside Restaurant

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Riverside Restaurant is a southern diner located right in downtown Florence. Decorated with photos from old westerns and cowboy accessories, this small local owned restaurant even includes a jukebox full of country classics. The restaurant was built somewhere around 1959 and has been in the possession of the current owner for 25 years. Just walking through the front doors takes you back to the year it opened, complete with the mild scent of cigars smoked by their loyal patrons as they enjoy their morning coffee. Children ran and chattered about as their parents spoke cheerfully to someone they hadn’t seen in a long time. It captured the era it was built in perfectly and did not leave anything to be desired or lose any of the downright friendly behavior you would expect from a restaurant of this caliber.

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Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, you can find a classic southern breakfast such as country ham or, if you’re in the mood for supper, could go for a juicy burger. My husband and I went for brunch so I opted for the classic gravy and biscuit combo while he ordered the blt; however, that was no easy choice! There were so many great foods to choose from including top favorites such as catfish or the ribeye steak, I had to work hard to keep my husband from drooling all over the menu. We both got sweet tea and yes, it is as sweet as your grandmother’s. They are open Monday through Thursday from 6:00am to 10:00pm and Friday and Saturday from 6:00am to midnight. You can find them at 111 East Limestone Street in Florence, Alabama. 

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