Old Shell Road would have been a much gloomier place if Carpe Diem Coffee & Tea Company had not opened their doors Sept. 18, 1995. They were only in the toddler stage when I moved to the Port City, and I frequented their doorsteps after my first visit to the Spring Hill area.

In honor of their birthday week, they’ll be running customer appreciation specials through Saturday including 20 percent discounts on Carpe Diem merchandise and bagged coffee.

During the birthday week festivities they’re also introducing NITRO, a new cold brew coffee method. Cold brews are kegged and pressurized with nitrogen and poured through a stout faucet/tap and the end products speak for themselves.

“The result is a super smooth, super rich and really strong cup of cold brew coffee that has the body and mouth feel of a glass of Guinness Stout. You’ve got to try it!” says roast master Alan Tolson. Theirs will be the first shop in the Mobile area to offer NITRO.

On Friday, Sept. 18, the gang will be throwing a Carpe Diem neighborhood birthday bash from 5-9 p.m. There will be the usual food and fun as well as live music provided by Brett LaGrave. Raffle tickets will be sold for $1 with prizes including Carpe Diem merchandise, prints from local artists, gift cards, bagged coffee and more. Proceeds from the raffle and accepted donations are to benefit the Village of Spring Hill’s Sidewalk Project. “We wanted to give something back to the neighborhood and community that has supported us all these years,” Tolson adds.

Congrats to Carpe Diem. You’ve given us many cups of joy. Here’s raising a latte to 20 more.

Von’s opens downtown
The time has arrived — now you don’t have to drive all the way to Bayou La Batre or chase down a food truck to sample the wizardry of Asian-Coastal American fusionists Von’s Bistro. Von’s has opened its downtown doors at 69 St. Michael St., and after a couple of days they are getting high praise from some of Mobile’s toughest critics. Run, don’t walk!

Pizzeria Delfina shooting for this week
The former Downtowners at 107 Dauphin St. (across from Panini Pete’s) delayed its scheduled opening this past Saturday to get some things squared away as a “better safe than sorry” plan for inspection updates. They are hoping to be open this week. That end of Dauphin Street is as hot as a two dollar pistol right now with many great restaurants. We can’t wait for Pizzeria Delfina to be in such company.

Explore Chocolate at the Exploreum
Young, old, rich or poor, chocolate knows few strangers. It’s funny to hear someone say, “Chocolate is one of my biggest weaknesses.” It’s actually one of my strengths. Trigonometry is my weakness.

(Photo/ Courtesy of The Exploreum) The Exploreum is about to get a little sweeter with an exhibit all about chocolate open through Jan. 17.

(Photo/ Courtesy of The Exploreum) The Exploreum is about to get a little sweeter with an exhibit all about chocolate open through Jan. 17.

Science can be delicious when it’s the science of chocolate, and that is just what we’ll get on Saturday, Sept. 26, when Chocolate! The Exhibition finds its way to the Gulf Coast Exploreum Science Center.

Explore the rich cultural history of chocolate and trace its origins from the rain forest to a global economic commodity all the way through Jan. 17. A special member preview will be held Friday, Sept. 25, at 6 p.m. at no cost to Exploreum members.

You’ll need that savings to spend in their new chocolate store. This store sells chocolate (and is not made of chocolate) from international chocolatiers. Get there before I do or it will be slim pickings. For more information on this and how to become a member of the Exploreum visit www.exploreum.com.

Chakli Diggs to open new downtown restaurant
Renovations are underway at 455 Dauphin St. for Chef Chakli Diggs’ latest restaurant SaiSho. Meaning “new” in Japanese, this could be the dining experience downtown has been looking for. We will keep you informed on the progress.   

Oysterfest gaining more chefs and local faces
Sure, you’ve read about Iron Chef Ippy Aiona, Marty Duncan, Ann Burrell and other big name Food Network chefs coming to the Hangout’s Oyster Cook-off and Craft Beer Festival Nov. 6 and 7 in Gulf Shores. We’ve even discussed regional James Beard winners and nominees that are making their way to our coastline. But we have some local boys we’re proud to say have been added to the list of chefs and judges. It would be a disgrace to not mention them.

Our old hometown boy Wesley True, formerly of True and True Midtown Kitchen, now of Atlanta’s The Optimist, will be here. Let’s not forget he is a James Beard Award semi-finalist. It will be nice to see him return to our area.
Mobile will be represented well at this event. Chef Tony Nicholas from the Hungry Owl will be on hand. Dauphin Street’s Union restaurant will be readily represented by Woody Walker. Just to the north, Brian Potter will be there from Satsuma’s L.A. Spice House.

Last but certainly not least, Stuart Donald of LoDa Bier Garten and host of Sip and Chew will be at this event. We’re glad to report Stu is out of the hospital after a work related injury and continues to recover. He will be as good as ever by early November.