Local entrepreneur Cliff Kennedy recently leased the 20,000-square-foot former Smith Bakery site at 1201 W. I-65 Service Road N. in Mobile, as part of an ambitious move to relocate the 6-year-old Frios ice pop company in its entirety from Gadsden to Mobile.

Alan Garstecki with JLL and Robert Cook with Vallas Realty represented the landlord. Jimmy Grodnick with JW Properties Inc. worked for Frios in the lease transaction.

The site will be the new national production facility, an upgrade from its former site in a 16,000-square-foot warehouse space near Gadsden Municipal Airport.

“I bought in on May 1, 2018, to the franchise territory for Mobile and Pensacola,” Kennedy said. “Three months later I reached out to the owners and asked them if they were willing to sell the business. They came back with a number and we started the negotiations. I officially became CEO Dec. 21, 2018.

“My main focus now is helping franchisees grow their territories and taking the company to a much larger level. Right now we have 34 different locations across 10 states. We really feel that we can have 100 new territories by end of 2019. With the current model, it’s a very inexpensive way to buy into a franchise,” he added.

Frios currently has a footprint covering most of the Southeast as well as Arizona, Indiana and Oklahoma. Immediate expansion plans include the West Coast (California, Oregon, Washington) and parts of the East Coast.

The company produces 80 flavors, with 20 different types available at any given point in time based on popularity and season. Expectations are to crank out an average of 15,000 gourmet pops per day at baseline production levels. Growth plans include partnering with new local retailers or companies interested in reselling the pops as a rebranded product.

“We’re really trying to get our head wrapped around how quick we can grow this company with some of the opportunities that are already coming our way and how many employees will be needed in production. As we ramp up, we might need to add 30 or 40 more seasonal employees in the summertime, maybe more. Right now, though, we have to be streamlined and focus on growing this company the right way from the start, focusing on the production process,” Kennedy said.

Current partnerships include locally owned businesses such as Carpe Diem and FOY, as well as the Perdido Beach Resort in Orange Beach.

“We’re excited to use a local partner to develop a coffee pop,” Carpe Diem owner Alan Tolson said. “We are experimenting with a Colombian Supremo medium roast coffee, incorporating it into the recipe, and have been pleasantly surprised on how good it has turned out.”

More information on Frios Gourmet Pops can be found on the company’s website.

Business moves, transactions

• Robert and Karrie Maurin, owners of Maurin Architecture, have opened some 18,000 square feet of space in downtown Mobile that is part of a former 1950s-era Cadillac dealership. It is next door to their renovated home-office loft living space, located at the corner of St. Louis and Warren streets.

The floor plan — currently available for renovation and leasing opportunities — is located at 600 St. Louis St. It is situated directly across from The Cheese Cottage at 650 St. Louis St. and adjacent to the new Old Majestic Brewing Co. property, slated to open later this year.

Maurin Architecture handled design work for both of the aforementioned businesses for Lafayette Land Co. Heather Isakson Huffman, co-owner of Huffman Real Estate Services, LLC, is handling inquiries on the downtown space.
• Rhen Bartlett, COO at Irby, LLC, recently reported the 46,800-square-foot, 64-unit former Saramont Apartment complex, located at 804 Highway 43 in Saraland, has been renamed Spartan Crossings and is now 100 percent occupied.

Renovations at the site cost upwards of $1 million, according to Bartlett. “We’ve fully renovated each unit with new flooring and countertops. On the outside we’ve added more attractive roofing paint, among other upgrades,” Bartlett said.

• Sharon Wright with White-Spunner Realty recently reported the sale of a 1.06-acre parcel at 5450 Cottage Hill Road — at the corner of Cottage Hill Road and Oakland Drive — to a local investor for $197,000. Plans for development of the site were unannounced as of press time. Wright handled the transaction for both buyer and seller.

• John Delchamps, associate broker with the Merrill P. Thomas Co. Inc., recently represented Michigan-based Abtrex Industries Inc. in the lease of a 12,000-square-foot building at 5561 Todd Acres Drive in Mobile. Justin Toomey with Stirling Properties worked for the owner.

Shoe Station aids furloughed federal workers   

According to a news release, all 21 locations of Mobile-based footwear retailer Shoe Station along the central Gulf Coast have been set up as drop-off points for Mobile United and United Way of Southwest Alabama’s “Food 4 Furloughed Feds” food drive to benefit their Feeding the Gulf Coast nonprofit . Shoe Station stores are located in Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Georgia and Alabama.

Although the federal government shutdown impasse has ended for now, the food drive will run until Feb. 4.

“Due to the government shutdown, thousands of federal and contract workers have not been paid, many of which live paycheck to paycheck and are facing serious financial crises,” Leslie Schraeder, marketing specialist for United Way of Southwest Alabama, said.

“Feeding the Gulf Coast is experiencing a significantly greater need for food throughout the community. They are working to meet the current requests while preparing for an extended shutdown, which funding for government assistance programs will expire in March and workers continue to go without pay.”

Critical items, according to Schraeder, include canned meats, peanut butter, canned vegetables and fruit, fruit juice, boxed or canned meals, dried or canned beans, pasta, cereal, baby formula and diapers.

To donate online, visit the Feeding the Gulf Coast website and select “Government Shutdown Relief” from the drop-down menu.