Chuck’s Fish recently signed a five-year lease for expansion of its newest restaurant in the historic Freeny Building at 551 Dauphin Street. Jay Roberds of NAI Mobile represented both sides in the transaction.

Charles Morgan is the proprietor of Chuck’s Fish in addition to more than 10 other restaurants, including Harbor Docks and Camille’s in Destin, Dharma Blue in Pensacola, Chuck’s Fish in Tuscaloosa and Birmingham, several Five Bar restaurants across Alabama, Tennessee and Florida and more.

According to a news release, downtown Mobile’s historic architecture and uniqueness of other businesses, such as the Crescent Theater, is what lured Morgan to the area.  

“Mobile has been undervalued for a long time, and we are placing a bet that downtown Mobile has what it takes to attract a lot of young folks in the culture, arts and entertainment,” Morgan said.

“There are way too many empty buildings to be building new ones. Mobile has restaurants already. But the fact that we are a part of resurrecting a building that has been vacant for way too long — we hope people will come up to us and say ‘Thank you.’”

Aware of the existing competition downtown in quality seafood, the restaurateur is bringing in some of his top employees from other locations — including sushi chef Yoshi Eddings — to make a strong first impression on local diners.

“Yoshi Eddings has been doing sushi for us for 26 years,” Morgan said. “We were doing sushi at Harbor Docks in Destin when people weren’t real sure what it was. And we’ll be doing a lot of seafood in a town that is very sophisticated at seafood already. So, we know we will really have to impress the folks around here.”

Chef Joey Mitchell from Chuck’s Fish in Birmingham will also be brought in to run the restaurant. 

Morgan is working closely with the owners of the building, Atchison Properties, to achieve the desired look he wants for the restaurant.

“In the build out, we will look to modernize the 1800s building while capturing and maintaining significant historic elements,” Taylor Atchison of Atchison Properties said. “This structure will offer patrons several unique areas to enjoy Chuck’s; a downstairs bar and dining room, an upstairs sushi bar and a separate, private room along with outside terrace.”

Atchison and Morgan expect to have the restaurant opened by July.

Flying Challenge program launched in Mobile

Be sure to read this week’s cover story about Airbus, which makes note of a new educational partnership between some pretty heavy hitters. The United Way of Southwest Alabama, Airbus Americas Engineering Mobile, the Gulf Coast Exploreum, the Mobile Area Education Foundation and the Mobile County Public School System launched the Flying Challenge program last week, one of only two in the U.S. and six around the world.

The local Flying Challenge is a mentoring program focused on character development and STEM activities for children attending Palmer Pillans Middle School. The program presents the opportunity for Airbus employees to provide career exploration, life-skills discussions, educational activities and academic enrichment to middle school students.

The goal is to enhance students’ life options by improving their grades, inspiring them to finish high school and stimulating their interest in an aviation-related career.

Currently, American students are less likely to earn a high school diploma than were their parents, a distinction not shared by any other industrialized country. Students participating in similar programs have improved attitudes, beliefs and behavioral intentions about school, academics and careers.

“The Flying Challenge presents the opportunity for Airbus to partner with local organizations that are instrumental in helping prepare students for a successful transition into high school,” according to David Trent, Airbus Mobile Engineering site director.

“Airbus shapes the future of air transportation on a daily basis, but through this program, Airbus employees are able to inspire students to better shape their future. The students are able to see those good habits, hard work and the right attitude today matter for their tomorrow,” Trent said

In addition to making children more confident in their schoolwork, research has shown that mentoring makes students less likely to skip classes or school and less likely to begin using illegal drugs or alcohol.

“It takes an entire community to make a difference and we have to do our part. Our children deserve a strong start in life,” Clifford Grimes, UWSWA president and CEO, said. “Through the Flying Challenge, we have an opportunity to encourage students, giving them the hope and the inspiration needed to pursue a great life.”

The Airbus Corporate Foundation in Toulouse, France, also sponsors Flying Challenges in Germany, Spain and France. The foundation is donating approximately $81,000 in funding for the Mobile program.

Airbus has assembly facilities in Toulouse, France; Hamburg, Germany; Tianjin, China; and Mobile. Airbus has spent more than $170 billion in the U.S. since 1990 — $15.9 billion in 2014 alone — with hundreds of American suppliers in more than 40 states.

Established in 1983, the Gulf Coast Exploreum Science Center has more than 150 interactive exhibits and offers permanent hands-on galleries, educational exhibitions, guided tours, lectures, classes, school field trips, youth camps and interactive demonstrations. It is a destination for families from all over the central Gulf Coast  

The Mobile Area Education Foundation, founded in 1992, is Mobile’s only community-based nonprofit leading a countywide partnership of citizens, businesses, public schools and public agencies.  

MCPSS is the largest public school system in the state of Alabama, with approximately 59,000 students in 90 schools. MCPSS earns state and national recognition and holds a record of 99.6 percent of highly qualified teachers.