Roughly 16 months after opening in a former Chili’s building on Montlimar Drive, The Melting Pot fondue restaurant officially closed its doors just before Christmas.

The Melting Pot was one of more than 135 franchises in 36 states, but Mobile’s version could never quite catch on with locals. Upscale fondue apparently did not fire up enough Mobile-area diners.

According to a message on its Facebook page, the current owners have shut the doors indefinitely and hope to perhaps find someone else willing to take over the franchise. Russell Perkins served as managing partner for the location at 840 Montlimar Drive. Efforts to reach Perkins or anyone else associated with the restaurant prior to press time were unsuccessful.

The Melting Pot franchise was founded in 1975.

Newk’s Eatery opens Spanish Fort location with positive results
The wait is over for our friends on the right-hand side of the bay. Newk’s Eatery has opened its Spanish Fort location and to say it has been well-received would be an understatement.

Located in the Eastern Shore Center, which can be a confusing locale that is technically Spanish Fort but is often mistook for Daphne and is better known as the I-10 Malbis exit, Newk’s is receiving social media praise for the quality of the food and the timeliness of service. This place has been open just since mid December, so I would say something is working.

Soups, salads, sandwiches and pizzas make up the largest portion of the menu, but don’t neglect the desserts and mac and cheese. Anything with tuna here is worth trying, and the chicken salad ain’t too shabby. Check them out on Facebook for all of the latest deals and specials. Call 251-625-6544 to get a jump start on to-go orders.
Hours of operation are usually 11 a.m. through 10 p.m., but check in for special holiday hours.

Half Shell Oyster House making progress, almost ready for mid-January opening
The Eastern Shore Center is ripe with new restaurant chains of high quality. On deck for a mid-January opening is one of my favorites, the Half Shell Oyster House.

The higher-end restaurant chain is enjoying a meteoric rise at the moment and will soon be filling the void where Wintzell’s once stood in the center of the mall in Spanish Fort. The building was certainly not treated as a turnkey investment and I can’t wait to see what renovations have been made.

Half Shell is known for its oysters, of course, but I have pretty much gone down the menu without much disappointment. Even the salads are great. Sleepers are the seafood-stuffed portabella mushrooms, pork stock turnip greens and grilled asparagus with Gorgonzola butter.
Tentative opening date for the Spanish Fort location is Jan. 18. We will keep you posted of any grand plans as the date approaches.

Slowboat Brewing Company putting Free State of Jones on the map
Get ready, fans of craft beer. A new brewery is filling its share of growlers a couple of hours away, but will reach our shores soon enough.

Slowboat Brewing Company, newly established in my hometown of Laurel, Mississippi, is rolling out products to several locations across South Mississippi. Growler filling stations will be located in different towns for those looking to celebrate the New Year with new beer as events are popping up almost every day this week. It is just a matter of time before these guys are on our shelves and taps.

Slowboat operates its business on three basic principles: never sacrifice quality for quantity, creativity for comfort, or passion for profit.

While striving to produce top-quality products as opposed to large quantities, Slowboat has already created a good buzz in the Free State of Jones. I’ll report more once I have had the opportunity to try these products, but friends of mine are already singing their praises.
Visit www.slowboatbrewco.com for the full website, but stay up to date with Slowboat Brewing Company on Facebook.

Fairhope’s Warehouse Bakery a hit
Be sure to put the Warehouse Bakery and Donuts of Fairhope on your radar. I’m getting calls left and right. I can’t wait to make the trip.

Located at 759 Nichols Ave., the made-from-scratch eatery and specialty donut shop is garnering such attention that even celebs have been seen darkening its door.

The menu reads like a dream come true with breakfast served from 6 a.m. until 2 p.m., with signature and build-your-own biscuits with Bill E’s small-batch bacon, fried chicken, pulled pork with barbecue sauce, Gouda, pimiento cheese and more. Breakfast bowls feature grits and greens, fried okra, Southwestern versions with black beans and kale, fried fish for Southern flair, or a Napa cabbage, quinoa, steamed veggies and avocado version.

There are also fruits and nuts, oatmeal, granola, Nutella pancakes, and chicken and waffles. Wash all of this down with Fairhope Roasting Company’s delicious coffee.

For lunch I have been recommended the Mary Ann’s Cubano pressed Cuban sandwich, but I also hear the Baja Burrito rocks. There are specialty hot dogs, Buddha Bowls, salads and burgers with plenty of toppings. Side items are mouth-watering in description with grits, roasted potatoes, garlic greens, roasted sweet potatoes, beet salad and more.

The menu also states the items can be served gluten free on a bed of L.A. greens. What more can you ask for? Oh yeah, baked goods and donuts. Visit the website at www.warehousebakeryanddonuts.com or call them at 251-928-7223.

Happy New Year! Recycle!