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    Just What Downtown Ordered

    Three restaurants help revive Lower Dexter Avenue

    May 2015

    By David Zaslawsky   
    Photography by Robert Fouts

    With more restaurants coming to downtown Montgomery, the city’s coffers will continue increasing this year.After the first five months of the fiscal year (October-February), the city’s sales and use tax collections were up 5.9 percent over the same period in 2013-2014. That’s a difference of more than $2 million and if the trend continues, the city will top $100 million in sales tax this year. The city has not seen sales tax eclipse that milestone since the Great Recession.

    Three restaurants will open on Lower Dexter Avenue, although one – Cucos Mexican Cafe – is moving a short distance from South Court Street next to the Irish Bred Pub at 72 Dexter Avenue. Cucos, which was expected to reopen in April, will have about the same space, but it is configured differently. The new site was designed and built by John H. Foshee, who runs Foshee Design and Construction.MBJ

    Momma Goldberg’s Deli, which was going to open at the historic Webber building in downtown before there was a partial building collapse during a $3 million renovation, will now be located at 44 Dexter Ave. Island Delight, a Caribbean restaurant, is leasing space at 28 Dexter Ave. All the sites are part of the Market District, created by the Foshee Companies.

    The restaurant announcements mean more jobs. Cucos, which was only open for lunch Monday-Friday at its former South Court Street location, will now be open seven days a week for lunch and dinner and will serve alcohol. Owner Oscar Franco said he plans to hire 10 to 12 people in addition to his current eight employees. “I hope we do well and I may hire even more people,” Franco said.

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    His revenue will jump with new hours 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 11 a.m.-10:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday and 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday. Franco said the new location will enable him to hold groups of 25 to 30 instead of the old site’s 10 to 12. The new site will seat between 85 and 90 compared with 75 at the former South Court Street location.

    Island Delight expects to hire 16 employees for the new location, according to Melissa Smith, who is co-owner along with her husband, Richard Smith. The new site, which is scheduled to open either late July or early August, will be open seven days a week, including lunch and dinner Monday-Saturday. It will seat close to 100 people. The current location on Air Base Boulevard is small – seating about 35 – and is open only for lunch Monday-Friday. She said a lot of customers asked about the restaurant offering dinner. The Dexter location will also have a natural juice bar and a smoothie bar, Melissa Smith said.

    “Montgomery is on the move,” Montgomery Mayor Todd Strange said a

    t a news conference, announcing the three restaurants coming to Lower Dexter Avenue.

    It will also be a second location for Momma Goldberg’s, which has a site at Sturbridge Village and for Cucos, which has a restaurant on Chantilly Parkway.

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    “We’re excited that these are local Montgomery folks,” Golson M. Foshee, who owns the management company division, said about the restaurant owners. “Expansion is key. Jobs are very important to us.”

    Momma Goldberg’s, which opened in 1976 in Auburn and has more than 25 locations in Alabama, Georgia, Florida, North Carolina and South Carolina, will actually face a shared alleyway with other restaurants.

    “We’ve been trying to get downtown for a while,” owner Hal Newell told the Montgomery Advertiser. “We think we’ve got a good concept for downtown. We’re quick and we’re fairly inexpensive.”

    Island Delight owner Richard Smith told the Advertiser: “I say strike the iron while it’s hot. We’re doing that.”

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    Golson Foshee said that more announcements are coming soon. He said another lease is signed and another potential tenant has signed a letter of intent.

    Strange thanked the restaurant owners – “those entrepreneurs that have these restaurants in Montgomery that are willing to come and be part of what’s happening in downtown.”

    He also praised the Foshee brothers. “I feel so good about the young generation and what they’re doing and all of us that are part of the older generation what we want to do is just get out of the way and let them create.”