Celebrating Black History Month can look different for everyone, but one of our favorite ways to recognize and honor this special time is to prioritize supporting Black business owners. We’ve created a weekend itinerary highlighting just some of the amazing Black-owned businesses right here in Tuscaloosa County.
Let’s just say you come into town on a Friday and get settled in to where you’re staying between mid and late afternoon. If you want to check out a few downtown spots before dinner, we know just where to send you.
Walking around Tuscaloosa’s Downtown area is a wonderful experience on any day, but if you can make your stroll while drinking a fresh-made smoothie from The Veganish Market, that’s a real treat. The Veganish menu caters not only to the vegan community but also to vegetarians, pescatarians, flexitarians, and those transitioning into a plant-based lifestyle.
On your walk downtown, it’s worth your while to pop in the Paul R. Jones Museum. Paul Raymond Jones (1928-2010) was considered by many to be one of the top 100 art collectors in the country. Jones donated thousands of pieces to the College of Arts and Sciences at The University of Alabama to preserve the legacy of African American artists. The Paul R. Jones Museum is also a classroom for the arts, where students from kindergarten to college experience learning in a new and exciting environment.
From there, you’re only blocks away from one of Tuscaloosa’s newest Black-owned businesses. Only Ones is retail store backed by Chicago White Sox star and Tuscaloosa native Tim Anderson. The shop is a great place to find unique and stylish casual wear.
Now it’s dinner time, and boy do we have a treat for you. One of Tuscaloosa’s most popular restaurants is Urban Bar and Kitchen. USA Today named UBK one of the 47 best restaurants in the entire country for 2024! Their motto is, “This must be the place,” and it is! This is one of those places where everything is good: seafood, pasta, salads, handhelds…all of it! We recommend you start with the Bacon Bombs for an appetizer, the UBK Pasta and / or the salmon for entrees, and end your meal on a sweet note with their White Chocolate Bread Pudding.
If you’re not ready for bed just yet, Cutter’s Cigars in Northport offers an upscale lounge experience. Enjoy a delicious cocktail along a fine cigar from the extensive Cutter’s collection.
If you’re an early riser, we suggest hitting the Tuscaloosa Farmers Market first thing Saturday morning. Visit locally Black-owned businesses such as Poppin’ Sisters, Araya Sunshine Candle Company, Blessed Bites, and more. You can even grab some breakfast while you’re there!
Now it’s time to explore! The state of Alabama has a rich Civil Rights history, with some of those chapters coming from here in the Druid City. The downtown portion of the Tuscaloosa Civil Rights History Trail is walkable. It focuses on events surrounding “Bloody Tuesday” and much more. On Tuesday, June 9, 1964, one year after Gov. George C. Wallace, Jr.’s “Stand in the Schoolhouse Door” at the University of Alabama failed to block the arrival of two Black students, a group of peaceful citizens gathered at the First African Baptist Church to march to the new courthouse in protest of its segregated features. Ignoring warnings not to march by local law enforcement, hundreds followed the leader of the movement in Tuscaloosa and pastor of First African, Rev. T. Y Rogers, Jr., and hit the streets. They didn’t get very far. Police and members of the Ku Klux Klan attacked the marchers as they spilled out of the church, swinging night clubs and cattle prods and firing tear gas into the church itself. Many of the wounded were treated at the nearby Howard-Linton Barbershop. Thirty-three were sent to Druid City Hospital; ninety-four were arrested and jailed. All charges were subsequently dismissed, but no formal apologies were ever issued. You can find out more information about the trail by visiting their website here.
After taking in the history Downtown Tuscaloosa has, you’ve probably worked up an appetite.
The staff at Archibald’s serves their primary fare with bread and a choice of two sides—fried green tomatoes offer a tangy counterpoint to fried catfish, and slaw adds a creamy balance to the spicy flavors of half-chickens and hot wings.
Located in Tuscaloosa’s historic West End only a few minutes from the University of Alabama, sits Catfish Heaven. You can’t miss their bright yellow building! Staying true to its name, the restaurant is famous for its catfish, but also their wings!
A pro-tip from us would be to choose one of these staples for lunch and the other for dinner! Keep in mind, Catfish Heaven closes at 7:00 pm central.
Ladies, if you’re looking to a little more shopping, step inside Thrifty Charm Boutique. With a love for unique fashion, this boutique offers a range of beautiful and quality pieces at affordable prices. Whether you’re looking for a stylish outfit for a night, out or a comfortable yet chic look for everyday wear, Thrifty Charm Boutique has you covered!
After all this walking and touring, you are likely ready to sink into some relaxation. A Gray”ceful Touch Massage & Yoga offers a variety of therapeutic massages and yoga classes that will have you thanking yourself for booking them!
On your way out of town, we highly recommend taking a little piece of Tuscaloosa with you. Whether it’s savory or sweet, you’ll find just that at Bobbie’s Bakery. They’re are a family-owned bakery and catering service. The motto there is, “Nothing fancy, just good Southern cooking!”
Supporting Black-owned businesses like these all year promotes diversity, uplifts representation, increases visibility, and stimulates economic development.
More Black-Owned Businesses in our area can be found here.
Thank you to our partners at the Bryant Conference Center for sponsoring this content!
Tuscaloosa is one of those cities where going with the flow is just as fun as strategically planning out your day. From local restaurants and small shops to beautiful outdoor spaces, there’s so much to explore. No matter where you decide to stop along the way, you’ll love where the journey takes you! See what this city has to offer on your exciting and eventful experience through Tuscaloosa!
Shop ‘till you drop
Effie’s Inc. is a women’s contemporary clothing boutique located in downtown Tuscaloosa. Effie’s carries the latest trends for every style and age, including jumpsuits, tops, shoes, jewelry, and so much more. They pride themselves on their one-on-one customer service, and for good reason! Customers constantly rave about the boutique’s spectacular selection of clothing and incredibly friendly staff members. Stop by Effie’s on Queen City Avenue today and pick up something that’s sure to be stylish!
Kentuck Gallery Shop
If you’re looking to spruce up any space this summer to find that “it” factor, look no further than Kentuck Gallery Shop! The Kentuck Art Center is a local treasure that has added such value to our community for over 45 years, and they don’t plan on slowing down any time soon. You can find one of a kind mugs, jewelry, platters, paintings, and so much more on their user-friendly site. To experience the full magic of Kentuck check out their virtual exhibition to showcase how artists are bringing joy in the midst of uncertainty. To support the future of Kentuck culture, despite the recent cancellation of this year’s festival, you can go here to donate to the Festival Forever Fund.
Imagine a quaint café mixed with a pizzeria, bar, and an ice-cream shop. Well, this place exists and it’s called Cravings. Whether it be chocolate peanut butter cheesecake, a mix and match six-pack of your favorite craft beer, or a Mexican Coca Cola, something is bound to be calling your name while browsing this local gem. No matter what age you are, Cravings has the perfect little treat for kids and adults alike. For example, kids absolutely love the unique sodas and vintage candies while the parents tend to lean toward the vast selection of beer and wine.
Flavaz Seafood & Soul Food Restaurant
Tuscaloosa is perhaps one of the best cities to experience the southern, satisfying soul food. Flavaz Seafood and Soul Food Restaurant is a prime example of our city representing southern hospitality in its truest sense. Customers can’t decide which is better here: the phenomenal food or the unbelievable customer service. When you come by to see what all the fuss is about, expect to be greeted with a smiling face as soon as you come in the door. The welcoming atmosphere combined with the enormous and authentic flavor in every bite makes this establishment a local staple no doubt.
Depalma’s is one of the best places in Tuscaloosa for authentic Italian favorites. Located in downtown Tuscaloosa, the restaurant is known for its cozy atmosphere and incredible dishes like pasta Pomodoro, veal marsala, and hand-crafted pizzas and calzones. Depalma’s also offers a wide selection of wines by the glass or bottle as well as beers and cocktails. Depalma’s is a favorite of locals, so stop by on University Boulevard and see what all the talk is about!
Dreamland BBQ has been a staple of the Tuscaloosa restaurant scene since 1958. Since then, Dreamland has established itself as one of the best barbecue restaurants in the state of Alabama, not to mention the city of Tuscaloosa. Along with their popular barbecue favorites, they offer smoked items including half chickens and sausage. Pick up an order of their famous ribs, white bread, and BBQ sauce from their 15th Street location in Tuscaloosa today and try what’s been the talk of the state for over 60 years!
Enjoy the great outdoors this summer at a local hidden treasure in town, Sokol Park! They have plenty of amenities for visitors to enjoy, including multipurpose playing fields, a playground, and a dog park. With over 11 miles of trails, there’s also plenty of space to hike or jog. Picnic in the grass, follow the trails, or play some soccer on the fields. If you’re interested in enjoying the great outdoors, Sokol Park might just be the perfect getaway for you!
Established in 2014, Loosa Brews is a bar and specialty retailer for quality craft beer and wine. Loosa always keeps 30 of the freshest draft beers from Alabama breweries plus rare beers from all over on tap. Their cozy atmosphere makes enjoying a pint and shopping their extensive selection an enjoyable experience. While at Loosa Brews, be sure you check out their wide assortment of vintage arcade and pinball machines including Ghostbusters, Aerosmith, and Guardians of the Galaxy!
Looking for an all-encompassing entertainment experience for families, friends, or those just looking to have a little fun? Shindig, located on McFarland Blvd E, is one of Tuscaloosa’s newest additions! The possibilities are endless at this place, with 28 bowling lanes, putt-putt golf, laser tag, axe throwing, arcade machines, and a stage for live music. There is also a restaurant with a lounge to sit back, relax, and recharge.
The door opened as an elderly man walked into Reverend Linton’s barber shop. Instantly, Rev. Linton greeted him warmly saying, “You doing alright today? I haven’t seen you in two weeks!” This is not an unusual occurrence as Linton has countless regulars that come into his shop for a haircut, or even just to visit. Howard and Linton Barber and Beauty Shop (name recently changed to Linton Barber Shop) have been in business for an incredible sixty-six years! After so much time, to NOT have an extensive list of regulars would be highly unusual. Not only does the reverend cut hair, but as his title suggests, he is the pastor of the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ on 35th Avenue in west Tuscaloosa.
When you walk into the shop, it’s like taking a step back in time. The wallpaper that covers the wall has aged like a fine wine; completely covered in historic articles and photos of the city coupled with over one thousand shaving mugs. Upon entering, the first thing you see is a classic gumball machine that instantly reminds you of your childhood. To the left, a row of chairs lines the wall that invites you to wait for a cut, or simply to chat with Rev. Linton. On the right, you’ll find a coca cola machine tucked into a corner that looks to be decades old, along with three barber chairs stationed in front of wooden cabinets that hold all of the tools of the trade. In the last chair is where you’ll find Reverend Linton. When he’s not busy, he’ll sit down in the chair while he talks to his friends that come to visit him during his down time and is the very chair that I got my haircut in while we talked.
With it being Black History Month, we at VisitTuscaloosa wanted to do something special. Badly needing a haircut, we realized it may be time for me to give Linton a visit. The Civil Rights history in Tuscaloosa is extensive, yet widely overlooked in recent years. Touting himself as the oldest leader in the area left of the civil rights movement, Reverend Linton had a front-row seat for it all. Rev. Linton moved from Greene County, Alabama to Tuscaloosa to attend Stillman College. The college was put in place by the pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Tuscaloosa “for training of colored men for the ministry”, which is exactly why Linton went. Since he’s been preaching every year since 1959, it seems as though he’s made the right choice.
Reverend Linton is truly a one and only in Tuscaloosa and even beyond into the southeast when it comes to his contributions to civil rights in Alabama. So much so that he will often host college level classes in his barbershop for stories and lessons on things he experienced first-hand in Tuscaloosa. He mentioned that he was only a kid when Authurine Lucy was suspended from the University of Alabama. State Troopers brought her to an African-American newspaper company just two doors down from the barber shop. Again, just a few years later, the infamous “Stand in the Schoolhouse Door” took place at Foster Auditorium at the University of Alabama’s campus.
The civil rights fight in Tuscaloosa would come to a head in what is known as “Bloody Tuesday”. The day prior, Rev. Linton and other leaders in Tuscaloosa’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference chapter held a meeting to relay the details of a major march they were planning the next day to the Tuscaloosa County Courthouse that had been recently built. A major reason for this was the segregation prominent in the courthouse when it came to separate restrooms and water fountains.
The government caught wind and told them they weren’t going to march, but the African-American community was having none of it and planned to march anyway. Reverend Linton’s job was “to bail folks out of jail” throughout the movement, so was required to lay low and stay out of trouble. Because of this, he called his lawyer who told him “You know you can’t march. If you march who’s going to get people out of jail?” That Tuesday, the march didn’t happen. After meeting at First African Baptist, protesters were greeted outside by a sea of blue. Tear gas, billy clubs, baseball bats, and many other items were used in an ambush. 94 people were arrested on that day as well as over 100 injuries. Known for staying out of trouble, the injured went to Linton’s Barber Shop to take shelter from the terror taking place just blocks away. The ones who were stable were taken care of by a nurse at the barber shop while 33 had to be taken to Druid City Hospital. Fascinating enough, Bloody Tuesday was the only major civil rights event in the state of Alabama that didn’t involve a death. As far as the ones arrested, Reverend Linton was tasked with getting those 94 out of jail. Dr. King then stepped in to help and sent a bail bondsman who helped Linton successfully bail them all out.
Among other incredible accomplishments, Rev. Linton is also responsible for the city hiring the first black cashiers in stores outside of the black district of Tuscaloosa. Linton’s fight for civil rights was a long, but successful journey and is absolutely incredible to hear. You can find the story of his fight on the walls of his barbershop as he’s turned his shop into a museum of sorts. Anywhere you look you can find an article or a “whites only” sign hanging in memorial to the segregation of the courthouse. So next time you’re looking for a haircut, try getting it cut with a healthy dose of history from the One and Only Linton’s Barber Shop.