There is some serious construction going on at the Shoppes at Bel Air (formerly Bel Air Mall), most of it related to new restaurants.

The new McDonald’s outside on the perimeter of the parking lot led to the demise of the indoor McDonald’s near the post office, but the mall maintains an indoor and outdoor Starbucks. The former Buck’s Pizza is now the American Deli, and Auntie Anne has moved her pretzels from the former location toward JCPenney.

Kiosk-type dining is prevalent with the Potato Corner, Cinnabon and Happy Sushi just inside the main entrance.

More Asian influence comes by way of Mandarin Express, but there’s particular excitement over the much-anticipated opening of P.F. Chang’s China Bistro. The popular chain is nearing completion and a sign out front says it’s currently hiring. Apply online at

Just on the other side of the main entrance is the promise of Grimaldi’s Coal Brick Oven Pizzeria, coming soon. This Brooklyn-style pizza chain looks better than most, with the usual pizzas, calzones, salads and desserts that would make New York proud. Offering wine and beer, its opening is a little farther off than P.F. Chang’s; visit them at

The old restaurant next to Target is still vacant, so maybe someone could turnkey that locale into something special and we could have a mall that’s more of a dining destination than it’s ever been.

Have no fear, lovers of Chick-fil-A. Your favorite spot is right where it’s always been. It’s cheaper on Sundays.

King cake time
Epiphany was this past week. For those who do not know, this is also known as Three Kings Day, where most Christians celebrate the coming of the Magi. This also marks the point at which we traditionally allow ourselves to indulge in the king cake.

I personally did not grab one until Jan. 8, which in Mississippi is known as The King Day, or in layman’s terms, the birthday of Elvis Presley. I picked up a simple version from Rouses Sunday night for the boys to enjoy during the National Championship. Of course king cakes are available all around us, but one of my favorites is the strawberry from the Lighthouse Bakery on Dauphin Island.

If you have a favorite, send it my way. I’m always looking to sample king cakes that are closer!

Fairhope’s fourth
Mark the calendars for Jan. 21 for Fairhope Brewing Co.’s 4th anniversary. There will be close to 40 handcrafted beers and Rocky IV-themed ales such as Rocky Aleboa, Eye of the Porter and No Easy Way Stout. Live music begins at 2 p.m., and the Bleus Burger food truck will be on hand to help soak up the suds.

The $10 admission charge includes a commemorative glass and one beer of your choice. This party keeps getting bigger every year! Fairhope Brewing Co. is at 914 Nichols Ave.