by Maria Johnson
Give me a bike and a notebook, and I will go to town! Carrying on with my tour through downtown New Albany, I’ve found several exciting places that I’m proud to call part of my ‘hood. There are spots to stop in and sit a spell as well as ones to walk around and scope out.
After a good deal of Saturday sleeping in, I’m heading out for lunch! I could taste a world of different options while I’m downtown. Mexican food from La Rosita, Cuban food from Habana Blues, French food from Louis Le Francais, Italian food from La Bocca, pizza from Wick’s, and so much more. But I think I’ll go with good ol’ ‘merican soul food, Feast BBQ. I was able to talk to Chip Hartley, who helped Ryan Rogers with the opening, about their recently revealed restaurant.
“We opened up July 4 of this year, and we didn’t even tell anybody we were opening. We just opened the doors and hoped for the best,” Hartley said. “I figured I’d just put everything out on the line with Ryan, and either we make it right and we do a good job, or we don’t and we cry. No advertising or anything, and next thing you know, we’re serving out food every day. So it was just really positive that the community responded the way that they did. As far as getting like cheap, good, quality food that’s going to fill you, totally.”
It was cool conversing with someone who learned the ins and outs of the business, and now knows the way to serve great food.
“We specialize in our specific type of cooking, which is low and slow,” Hartley said. “The lower and slower we can cook it, the better the meat is going to taste. We’ve just done that, the same thing people have been doing for hundreds of years: not trying to rush it. Good food takes time. If people have patience with something, it’s going to turn out a lot better. You put more effort into it, more love into it.”
Rogers and Hartley seem to be pretty chill about their place, and have been since they opened. They welcome customers to give them a shot and be honest.
“It’s just a BBQ place. We make good food. Come out and try it, be your own judge. If you don’t like it, let us know. If you do like it, let us know. Very unassuming. We’re not pretentious. I’m happy with what I do and I think you guys should come in and try it.”
Colokial, Dress & Dwell, Earth’s Art, etc.
Alright, my tummy is satisfied, but I’m still downtown, so I might as well do some shopping! Birth-days and Christmas always sneak up on me, so I’ll start some early preparation. There are a ton of shops I can drop in to grab a few things and chat a little.
-Dress & Dwell
Dress & Dwell is a classy, upscale boutique.
“All the clothing and home material and furniture in is new,” employee Britni said. “We offer furniture pieces and a lot of home accessories. We have every day wear, special occasion wear, and stuff for dorm rooms.”
Colokial is a fun and cultural clothing and accessory store.
“People like the products that we have to offer and that they’re eco-friendly,” employee Jamie Richards said. “It’s a big eclectic thing. We have home décor and accessories. We’re always getting new ideas in and staying a little more current with the trend and bring in the new trend. The owner is from the Dominican Republic, and she wants to bring things from all over the world, so that downtown New Albany can get a taste of culture without having to leave.”
Earth’s Art offers a variety of, well, art produced by the earth.
“We have rock spec-imen’s for collectors and some jewelry,” owner Yvonne Bolanowski said. “You can go out and buy anybody a tie, but not everybody has a neat rock to look at.”
There are plenty of other stores to visit, as well, including The Dandy Lion, Creative Boutique (Re-opened in the White House Centre Oct. 1), Antiques Attic, Gallery on Pearl, Mariposa Consignments, The Opal Gypsy, and more!
Before I head home, I hang out with Randy Smith at Destinations Booksellers. I think I’ll grab a book to read as I wind down tonight from this full, wonderful day. Smith is happy to talk to me about his store.
“We’ve tried to adapt it to our customers,” owner and manager Smith. “We opened with a lot of every category.”
“I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t enjoy it,” Smith said. “Every day we get new customers and we’ve got some good institutional relationships. We sell to a lot of schools. We’ve got loyal customers that have been with us for eight years, and brand new customers that just discovered us last week.”
I will speak on behalf of New Albany and say I’m flattered that the Smiths chose to move here and open their business.
“We looked at various communities here- it’s something I’ve been trying to do for fifteen years- and had not found the right place, community, to do it in,” Smith said. “I left a job in the newspaper business and moved here to marry a woman from New Albany. We got married on a Saturday and opened the store the following Monday.”
Destinations holds an extensive range of genres available to their book-hungry customers.
Smith shares his struggle to get high school students into the shop, specifically those from NAHS. Some people don’t expect his shop to be as nice as it is and are surprised when they walk through the door. He encourages youth of the community to learn the importance of buying locally and how it affects the economy of our town.
“Will you shop there?” Smith said. “Every day, the students and the parents of NAHS are answering that question with either yes or no.”