#MeetTuscaloosa Blog

MEET: Kelsey Colglazier (soon to be RUSH!)

Q: Where did you work before coming to TTS?

TTS is actually my first and only job out of college!  I began working for TTS in late 2010 after doing a summer internship in Charlotte, NC with a company called ALSAC.  ALSAC is the fundraising arm for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and was a company that I was very involved with throughout college.  I found the TTS job shortly after my internship finished!

Q: What is your favorite on the job experience?

There are so many things that I enjoy about this job, but I’d say seeing the finished product of an event and all of our hard work pay off is one of my favorite things.  There’s so much behind the scenes that people do not realize, so to see it all come together and watch it impact our community in a variety of ways is so rewarding.  Also, the adrenaline that I have during event weekends/days is something that I can’t describe, but I love it so much!

Q: What do you love about Tuscaloosa?

Being born and raised a Kansan, (go KSU Wildcats!) I love the weather.  Cold winters are not for me!  I also love learning about the history of Tuscaloosa as well – whether that is the Civil Rights history, the Native American history or how the Black Warrior River has impacted our community over the years – it’s all pretty awesome!  Oh, and I have to mention my fiancee! If it wasn’t for Tuscaloosa, we wouldn’t be together! 1975128_10152430971348595_7233095913234414038_n

Q: What is your favorite event to work on?

Every event is fun!  The Tuscaloosa Regional Air Show, USA Triathlon, Warrior Dash, Tuscaloosa Half Marathon, Alabama All Veterans Reunion, Druid City Arts Festival…. they’re great events and all very rewarding to be a part of!

Q: Tell us one of your favorite memories of Tuscaloosa.

This might be cliché, but I love to take advantage of the Tuscaloosa Riverwalk.  It’s where I run more often than not and our offices are located there.  I’ll never forget the night the Richard and I had a blind date, we met on the Riverwalk to walk our dogs and a concert was going on at the amphitheater as well.  The weather was perfect, the atmosphere was exceptional and the company was great.  I think we walked for over three hours… it’s a night I’ll never forget!

Q: Are you involved in any athletic activities?

Richard and I are pretty active people.  We really enjoy running (maybe me more so than Richard, haha), playing tennis, shooting basketballs or playing softball.  I’d love to learn golf!

Q: Do you have any favorite hobbies?

I’m kind of a mile wild, inch deep kind of person.  I like to do so many things.  Richard and I have two dogs, I love to travel and learn about new places, I enjoy going out in to the country and shooting guns, I play the piano and can sing even though I don’t do it very often anymore and I love to get caught up in a few good tv shows! If there was one hobby that I wish I could get back in to, it would be riding horses!

Q: What is your favorite tourist attraction in Tuscaloosa.

The Transportation Museum is so neat!  I learned so much about Tuscaloosa and love the history behind the building.  I also love Lake Tuscaloosa and North River – it’s where I’m getting married!

Q: Describe your perfect weekend in Tuscaloosa.

Perfect weekend in Tuscaloosa would include a nice dinner at Five on Friday night with some live music and friends, a walk with the dogs at the old UA Golf Course/Arboretum on Saturday morning, a late evening home football game Saturday night while we tailgate or grill out and a relaxing day on Sunday enjoying local outdoor activities or spending time with family and friends!

MEET: JAY KASTEN

Meet our new Director of Sports! Jay Kasten is the newest TTSC team member. We sat him down and asked him a few questions.312240_10101353891362819_768719549_n

Q: What was your previous title? 

JK: Senior Operations Director at Bruno Event Team

Q: What is your coolest on the job moment?

JK: Meeting my wife while working on the 2009 Regions Charity Classic in Birmingham.

Q: What do you love about Tuscaloosa?

JK: The communities passion for Tuscaloosa.  The team spirit is very apparent around UA sporting events, but I really fell in love with Tuscaloosa when I saw everyone rally for their community after the 2011 tornado.  The progress since then is astounding.

Q: What are you most looking forward doing while working at TTSC?

JK: Making an impact…The Tuscaloosa area has something for everybody, and I look forward to bringing people in from all different parts of the world to spend time and money in Tuscaloosa.

Q: Do you play sports? If so, which ones?

JK: I currently play tennis, golf and distance running, but I need to start playing basketball again.

Q: Do you have any favorite hobbies?

JK: I’m pretty positive my BBQ should be award winning.  I realize the competition is stiff in T-Town, but I would like a shot at the title.

Q: What is a unique fact about you?

JK: Here are a few-

  • I’m an avid college basketball fan…While I always root for the Crimson Tide in everything they do, Kansas Jayhawks basketball is a big passion of mine.
  • I grew 8 inches while in eighth grade, and attempted to eat all of my parents food in the process.
  • I share childhood hometowns (Alton, IL) with the worlds tallest man, the gentle giant, Robert Wadlow who was 8’ 11” 439 lbs.
  • I’m a whiffle ball wizard on the mound.

Q: What is your favorite tourist attraction in Tuscaloosa.

JK: Tuscaloosa Amphitheater…My wife and I attend several shows a year.  We love stopping in downtown and walking down to a concert.

 

MEET: Gina Simpson

1. What is your professional background? 

Mark and ginaI’ve spent my career as an educator and entrepreneur. I have taught Entrepreneurship and Leadership classes at The University of Alabama and I adore the students. My husband and I have owned and sold several businesses in Tuscaloosa. The business most people recognize is VeloCity Pro Cycle, a bicycle shop. While we owned that business, I founded and grew the Tour de Tuscaloosa, which is a great, two day bicycle race. That is how I originally became involved with the Tuscaloosa Tourism and Sports Commission.

2. What is your coolest on the job moment?

Taking everyone at TTSC out to volunteer for United Way at Hospice of West Alabama. We helped with the landscaping on a super-hot day. We were sweaty and dirty but we were aphoto (1) team working together to give back to the community that is so good to us. That’s easily my coolest moment on the job at TTSC so far but I’m looking forward to many more!

3. What do you love about Tuscaloosa?

That it is a big, small town. There are plenty of activities to keep me and my family busy as well as great restaurants to enjoy. However, the small town Southern hospitality culture is very prevalent. Tuscaloosa is a fun place with super nice people.

4. What are you most looking forward to doing while working at TTSC?

Developing Tuscaloosa as a great tourist destination that is attractive to visitors year round.  We all know that football season here is legendary, but as a longtime resident, I know how cool Tuscaloosa is year round. I’m anxious to develop an aggressive marketing plan to get that word out!

5. What is a unique fact about you?

I once saw a whale in Mobile Bay! Not really, but this is a great story. At around the age of 4 or 5, I went on a road trip to Mobile, AL with my dad. This was the first time I ever saw salt water. As we were crossing the Bay I saw a shadow and was convinced it was a whale. I went nuts screaming about seeing a whale! I love that my Dad never corrected me. I can remember his chuckle now when I said it! (I was quite a Daddy’s girl!)

6. Do you play sports? If so, which ones?

Not as much as I used to. Prior to motherhood, I was a triathlete and runner. Now I spend most of my time chasing our 6 year old daughter, Della. I rarely catch her!

7. Do you have any favorite hobbies?

In the summer, I’m on my stand up paddle board as much as possible at either Lake Nicol or in Lake Tuscaloosa. In the winter, I love to mountain bike at Lake Lurleen and Sokol. Also, I really enjoy being in the kitchen. I’m quite a foodie!paddleboard

8. What is your favorite tourist attraction in Tuscaloosa? 

That’s a hard one! I love so many things in Tuscaloosa that it is impossible to pick a favorite!

9. What does a perfect weekend look like for you?

I want to be outdoors so a perfect weekend would include my family, the farmers market, my kitchen and any type of outdoors event that draws tons of people to Tuscaloosa. The weekend of the Druid City Arts Festival (DCAF) is a great example. It started with a visit to the Farmer’s Market at the Rivermarket to choose some great ingredients for dinner on Sunday night. Next, I headed to DCAF, which is a blast! Downtown Tuscaloosa was overrun on a Saturday with people enjoying the festival, restaurants, attractions, and shops. I was able to enjoy the day with my husband and daughter so it never felt like work. The smiles on everyone’s faces were priceless! It would be perfect to end the night with a great dinner at a local restaurant and a concert at The Amphitheater. On Sunday, I would spend the morning in the gorgeous Tuscaloosa outdoors on either my paddle board or mountain bike followed by brunch downtown. In the afternoon, I’d let our dog play at the Will May dog park. Then I would finish the day in my kitchen cooking my finds from the Farmer’s Market. I’m making myself hungry!

MEET: SWEET HOME FOOD BAR

Sweet Home Food Barphoto

Be Social. Eat well.

Here at Sweet Home Food Bar our desire is to bring friends and family together for good times, to laugh, and have a great meal. After an absence of fifteen years from the restaurant business, we have finally returned to what we love most; cooking delicious comfort foods, with fresh, locally sourced, seasonal ingredients.

Falling in love with Tuscaloosa was simple once my son, Dylan, attended the university. We couldn’t say no to Alabama football and all the beautiful scenery Tuscaloosa has to offer. We found the perfect place downtown to open our restaurant, where we will serve breakfast, lunch, tapas, and Sunday brunch. Eat in or take out, we will be open from 7:00am to 6:00pm. If you don’t feel like cooking dinner, call us by 3:00pm, and we’ll have dinner ready for you to pick up and bring home.

 

Debra Rubino & George Harsch

MEET: Carpe Vino & John McCulley

Hi! My name is John McCulley, and I am the owner of Carpe Vino in downtown Tuscaloosa. Carpe Vino is a specialty wine store that sells wines from all over the world by the bottle or the glass. Lately, we’ve started carrying specialty beers as well.

DSC_8174

I’m originally from Montevallo, but I came to Tuscaloosa for law school and stayed to practice in town. I love wine, and that’s why I wanted to bring a store like Carpe Vino to Tuscaloosa. I want everyone to have a special experience with wine, especially if that person has never tasted it. I take pride in helping people find a wine that perfectly suits their tastes, and if I can help someone find that, I consider my business a success.

Carpe Vino opened in Timmerson Square in 2007, but we moved in between Epiphany and Mugshots in 2010. I chose this location because I love the way downtown Tuscaloosa is growing and I knew I wanted to be a part of it and do my part to help this city thrive.

We try to offer wines that you won’t find anywhere else and all types of varietals at all price points. We have bottles ranging in price from six dollars to $300, and we have wine tastings so you can sample your wine before buying it. Our wine tastings are every Thursday, Friday and Saturday and we have beer tastings on Wednesdays for just five dollars. You’re welcome to bring food with you. I want everyone to enjoy themselves and feel at home. Tuscaloosa is a great city that has made me feel at home since I moved here, and I’m glad to give that experience back to the other people who live here.

We are located at 515 Greensboro Avenue. We would love to meet you in person and connect with you online. Our website is www.carpevinottown.com. We are also on facebook and on twitter @carpevinottown.com. Come in and try something!

MEET: Dreamland BQQ & Matt Kilgore

Hi! My name is Matt Kilgore, and I work at Dreamland BBQ.

Dreamland BBQ is a local BBQ restaurant that has been in operation for more than 50 years. John “Big Daddy” Bishop opened the doors to his restaurant in 1958, the same year that Paul “Bear” Bryant began coaching at the University of Alabama. What a good year for Tuscaloosa!

Big Daddy and Mrs. Lilly, his wife, opened up the original Dreamland BBQ on land next to their home in the Jerusalem Heights area of Tuscaloosa. This location is now covered up in old license plates and rib slab boxes signed by customers and other memorabilia from years of visitors, and we wouldn’t have it any other way. From football coaches to ESPN personalities to your favorite Alabama football players, you never know who you might run into at Dreamland BBQ.

Froog2.10.650Although the number of restaurants locations has increased and as we have grown each location , we strive for that family friendly atmosphere and the owners want you to feel at home. Each restaurant also still serves ribs and sauce just like Big Daddy used to make them, along with white bread for dipping. We’ve also started to serve new favorites like hickory-smoked sausage and banana pudding.

Dreamland BBQ is constantly receiving accolades and awards for our ribs and sauce. We’ve been named in Forbes 50 Best of America, featured on Food Network and in USA Today.

We hope you’ll visit our original location or our Northport location. We’ve been meeting Tuscaloosa locals and visitors for more than 50 years, and we would love to meet you. Stop by and test our ribs, and you’ll see what we mean when we say “Ain’t nothin’ like ‘em nowhere!”

MEET: Bow Regards

Hi! My name is Riley Crutchfield and I’m the owner of Bow Regards, a specialty gift shop located in Tuscaloosa.

I’m a Tuscaloosa native. I worked at Bow Regards while I was a student at Tuscaloosa Academy, and I always knew I wanted to own a gift shop. After going to college at Mississippi State, I decided to come home to pursue my dream.262486_10100649997242376_1282513747_n

Bow Regards has been in business for 15 years, and I became the owner in September of 2013. I love my job, because I get to be around people all day long and help them pick out the perfect gift for their special occasion, whether it’s for a graduation, a wedding or a new baby.

We are starting to sell local products with Tiki Soaps and Clara Bell and The Hen shirts. Supporting other local businesses is important to me, not only because I’m also a small business owner, but because I want to see Tuscaloosa succeed.

I chose to come back to Tuscaloosa because it’s my home, and I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else. It’s big enough and small enough at the same time. I love that Tuscaloosa is growing so much! I really enjoy trying out the new restaurants!334570_176757162401919_1784890027_o

At my job, I get to work with the people I love in the place that I love. I would love to meet you, so please come visit Bow Regards! You can find us on Facebook to see what we have in store for you when you visit.

MEET: Crimson2Go

Hi! Our names are Ben LaPish and Kevin Johnson and we’re the owners of Crimson2Go, a food delivery business in Tuscaloosa. We’ve been working together for four years, and we’ve been in Tuscaloosa since summer of 2012. We have a third partner Kevin’s little brother, Erik, who has been with us in Tuscaloosa since the beginning.

6q352uby6se868360hx5Kevin started BulldawgFood in Georgia where Ben worked for him there. Once we saw how the business could grow, we took the opportunity to expand and we have other businesses in Auburn, Tiger Town 2 Go, and Manhattan, Kansas, Wildcat2Go.

Life is busy and we just try to simplify it a little by bringing people good food. We work with different restaurants to do individual food delivery to our customers. It’s a great business structure because it benefits the restaurant, the customer and us. We work with 30 restaurants in Tuscaloosa including local favorites such as Mugshots, Twin and DePalma’s.

Prior to moving here, Ben was the only one out of the three that had ever been to Tuscaloosa (and that was for only one night!), but as soon as we got here, we knew it would be a great fit for our company. We came here because it’s a great college town with a lot of energy, and we haven’t regretted our decision because we love working with restaurants in Tuscaloosa.

The Tuscaloosa culinary scene is growing, which is great for business, but it’s also great for the city. Everyone here is super friendly, and one of our favorite parts of our business is meeting new people in Tuscaloosa.

You can check out our list of restaurants and place your order at Crimson2Go.com. We look forward to meeting you soon! Find us on social media Crimson2Go Facebook page and @Crimson2Go.

MEET: the makers market

Hi! My name is Beth Milis, and I’m the owner of the makers market in downtown Tuscaloosa. I have been a quilter for nearly 17 years and have always been inclined to use my hands.  My grandmother taught me embroidery, knitting and cross-stitch, and I grew up in a house where this was the norm.  My dad is an oil painter, woodworker and occasional gardener.  In the places I have lived, I have been active in the local quilt guilds, and I am currently the president of the West Alabama Quilter’s Guild.

Beth Milis

The makers market provides the community with an outlet for its local artists and crafters to showcase their work and a place for the community to find the artist’s work.  You could call it a craft show that is open year-round, but creating a store that local artists and crafters could call their own was more important to me.  Providing the right kind of space in the right location was as important as gathering local artists and crafters. I found the right building in the right place in the historic district of downtown Tuscaloosa.

I chose the building based on what it looked and felt like.  With original brick walls, original wood floors, and even original track doors, it just felt good when I walked in the first time.  I could feel the history in the building, and knew it would be the perfect foundation for my local business.  The building is a large space, and that allows me the opportunity to gather more local artists and crafters. The openness and size of the building allows the makers space to express themselves by creating their own display.

For many in the area, downtown has been forgotten.  Those that have supported and continue to support downtown know about the growth that the area has seen, and also that downtown has the most unique businesses in the Tuscaloosa/Northport area.  Although there isn’t anything wrong with the big chain stores, you lose any sense of community or closeness in stores that are both big in size and number.  I can truly say that the makers market is a locally owned business that supports efforts of those that live locally.

(You can learn more about the makers market at www.themakersmarketalabama.com, and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/themakersmarketalabama)