According to Jared Irby, president of Irby LLC, two properties his company acquired last summer — a former Pizza Hut at 2551 Government St. and the old Creole Cafe at 2206 Government St. — have new tenants and are being converted into new local small businesses.

The former Pizza Hut property encompasses some 2,029 square feet of space and initially will be converted into a Mexican take-out-only eatery, Maya Luna. Plans are in place to open by mid-December. The new eatery will host dine-in patrons by spring 2018, according to co-owners Morgan Akridge and Juan Muniz.

A food truck will also be up and running concurrently for Maya Luna, with relationships already in place to serve several local call centers, a downtown courthouse, the new Serda brewpub and possibly the Austal USA shipyard.

Akridge, a Mobile native, is returning to the Port City after relocating to San Francisco in 1989. After retiring from Toyota Financial he partnered with Muniz — originally from Tijuana, Mexico — who has a 24-year background as head chef and as the owner of an eatery in San Francisco’s Mission District from 2012 to 2014, also called Maya Luna.

Basic fare of tacos and burritos will be served. Price points will range from $2 to $2.50 for individual fare and $7.99 for food plates.

The 2,013-square-foot former Creole Cafe site is now locally co-owned by the husband and wife team of Cornelious and Mishea Williams. The new business will open as an event planning space called Celebrity Banquets, with a grand opening slated for Friday, Nov. 17.

According to Cornelious Williams, the facility can be rented out for luncheons, business meetings, birthday parties and similar events. Minimum blocks of time start at four hours and cost $150 per reservation, Sunday through Thursday. Friday and Saturday weekend rates will run $250 per reservation.

Williams’ background includes 24 years as a disc jockey. DJ services, provided by Williams, will also be offered at events for customers needing additional amenities at no additional charge.

• Lafayette Land Company, a local family-owned real estate development company, announced the opening of Boot Barn (NYSE: BOOT), a national western and workwear retailer located at 5456 Highway 90 in Mobile. The retail chain will be located at the corner of Highway 90 and Tillman’s Corner Parkway.

The building is the site of the former Gulf Pecan property, which has been unoccupied for the past 30 years, according to a news release. Boot Barn has 272 facilities throughout the country and this will be their second in Alabama.

Christopher G. Huffman, COO of Lafayette Land Co., was the developer. Hwy. 90 LLC, a subsidiary of Lafayette Land Co., is the owner. Boot Barn was represented by Bryan Holt of Southpace Properties. For information about the site, contact Heather Huffman at NAI-Mobile.

“Lafayette Land extends a special thank you to the permitting and engineering office and to the mayor’s office of the city of Mobile for working through the extensive issues involved in preserving and restoring this historic building for this new Tillman’s Corner Landmark,” Robert J. Isakson Sr., president of Lafayette Land Co., said.

• Some 9.7 acres were recently acquired for about $167,000 by local speculators. M.J. Baxter and Associates worked for the sellers in the transaction. The property is in Foley near the intersection of Michigan Avenue and Hickory Street. Future development plans for the property were unknown as of press time.

• According to Marl Cummings of Cummings and Associates, a new package store has leased some 1,200 square feet of space inside Westgate Plaza on Highway 90 in Tillman’s Corner. Cummings worked for the tenant. Leigh Dale Younce and Buff Teague of JLL represented the landlord.

• Dempster Tire Sales leased 6,000 square feet of office/warehouse space at 100 Industrial Parkway in Saraland, near U.S. Highway 43, according to John Delchamps with the Merrill P. Thomas Co. Inc., who represented the landlord. Mike McAleer with the McAleer Tunstall company worked for the tenant in the transaction.

• According to Andrew Chason of Marcus & Millichap, a local speculator paid $550,000 for the Dollar General property sitting on 2.86 acres of land at 8085 U.S. Highway 98 in Fairhope. Future development plans for the site were unknown as of press time.

Grimes stepping down at United Way
Charles Hyland, director of Mobile Area Water & Sewer System and current chair of the United Way of Southwest Alabama (UWSWA) Board of Trustees, announced that Clifford Grimes, UWSWA president and CEO, will step down. Effective Jan. 2, 2018, Grimes will become director for organizational development, metro services, for Boys and Girls Clubs of America.

“While change is good, sometimes it comes unexpectedly. This is an opportunity for Cliff that allows him the ability to continue his work in philanthropy and be closer to his family, located in the Houston, Texas, area,” Hyland said.

According to a news release, during Grimes’ two-year tenure UWSWA: grew total revenue by 5.7 percent to $3,927,422; expanded the number of donors to 20,567; reduced donor turnover by 2.3 percent; increased Mobile’s ranking to ninth out among 86 United Ways of similar size; substantially reduced an organizational deficit that was approaching $1 million and is now on schedule to be eliminated by 2018; and developed an organizational long-range strategic plan for the next five years

“It has been an honor to work for the UWSWA. We have had to make some hard decisions during my two years as CEO, but I leave confident that this United Way will continue to be a fiscally responsible organization that works hard to improve the quality of lives in Southwest Alabama,” Grimes said.

The United Way Executive Committee appointed County Commissioner Merceria Ludgood to chair a committee to search for a new CEO. Larry Davis, UWSWA CFO, will act as interim CEO effective Jan. 2, 2018, and fulfill those responsibilities until a new CEO is named.