With plans to open in downtown Mobile later this month, Aloha Hospitality’s newest restaurant, Dauphin’s, held a job fair Jan. 4 to hire upwards of 80 new employees.

Open positions included front- and back-of-house jobs providing flexible schedules, benefits and incentives.

“It has been great fun to assemble an exceptional restaurant and food prep area in this new space. Our kitchen is spacious and the equipment is all top of the line,” Chef Steve Zucker said. “All we need now is a team of professionals that are passionate about providing exceptional service and delivering a stellar dining experience to our guests.”

The new restaurant plans to offer French Creole cuisine featuring locally sourced Gulf Coast specialties. The 7,000-square-foot space on the 34th floor of the Trustmark Building at 107 Saint Francis St. will provide casual fine dining with views of Mobile Bay. Dauphin’s is owned by restaurateur Bob Baumhower and includes the eponymous chain as well as Bob’s Victory Grille and Bimini Bob’s.

For more information about Aloha Hospitality Inc., visit the company’s website.  

Marston, Cox named as new executives at Gulf Distributing
James C. Marston has been promoted to the new position of chief operating officer of Gulf Distributing Holdings LLC. Marston started his career with the locally owned business in 1984 and has been employed within the family of companies ever since. His first job was on the load crew in the warehouse and he has worked his way up through various job assignments over the years.

“I started working for Gulf Distributing loading trucks on night shift. Since that time, I’ve held most every position in the company’s sales department. As a company, we’ve come a long way — from one warehouse and 22 employees to operations in three states,” Marston said. “The one piece of advice offered to those whom I have had the pleasure of mentoring is to work tirelessly and do the job you want to acquire. This attitude has served me well over the past 32 years.”

Also announced was the promotion of James R. Cox to chief finance officer. Cox came to Gulf Distributing Company in 2009, taking the position of vice president, corporate controller.

“I graduated from Auburn University with a master’s degree in accountancy and started my professional career with Dudley, Ruland & Chateau CPAs,” Cox said. “It was about this time that Gulf CEO Elliot Maisel began an aggressive plan to expand Gulf into one of the larger beverage distribution companies in the area. It was a very difficult decision to change careers, but I knew Elliot had a sincere commitment to excellence and was completely committed to achieving certain goals with both Gulf Distributing and his real estate ventures.”

Gulf Distributing Company of Mobile and Allstate Beverage Company of Alabama, along with Goldring Gulf Distributing Company LLC of Florida and Energy Beverage Company LLC of Mississippi, are subsidiaries of Gulf Distributing Holdings, LLC. 

Formerly known as Jax Distributing, the company was purchased by Freida G. Maisel in 1973. Currently the business employs upwards of 400 locally and more than 700 people companywide.

Melting Pot closure indicative of shrinking franchise
As previously reported, about 30 employees were abruptly terminated two days before Christmas when the local Melting Pot shut down without warning. At the time, the former employees were reportedly owed hundreds of dollars each in unpaid wages, including tips, for several weeks’ work. According to a text response from restaurant owner Anand Patel, all open liabilities — including wages, gift cards and Groupon purchases — will be refunded in the near future.

“We appreciate the community’s support and the loyalty of our team members,” Patel said via email.

The Mobile closure is but one of several recent shutterings for the 40-year-old Tampa, Florida-based fondue franchise. In 2015 alone, 10 locales across the country closed abruptly due to financial issues and/or lease terminations.

Last November, the Melting Pot in Ann Arbor, Michigan, closed with no warning, leaving 25 workers unemployed. A Brea, California, location hastily closed early in December, leaving about 40 employees scrambling for work. A long-standing location in Ocala, Florida, plans to close this month after struggling to stay afloat for seven years under new ownership, according to one report.

None of the aforementioned have plans to reopen in their respective markets.

Research on the Melting Pot’s website indicates that, as of 2009, there were 142 franchises in the U.S., Canada and Mexico. A recent article in the Ocala Times mentioned there were 121 locations in 35 states last year.     
Several calls made to Melting Pot’s corporate office before press time reached a recording for Front Burner Brands Inc., but no answer from a company representative. Russell Perkins, former operations manager for the local eatery since its grand opening in 2014, declined an interview for this story. He did mention via text message, however, that he is no longer a co-owner or involved with the company in any capacity.

Former employees, speaking on condition of anonymity, expressed frustration over the timing of their terminations. However, in a move indicative of holiday spirit, David Rasp, local owner of Heroes Sports Bar and Grille and The Royal Scam restaurants in downtown and West Mobile, publicly offered to interview former Melting Pot employees for job opportunities at his eateries.

Future development plans for the commercial property in the Mobile Fesival Centre, that had been empty several years before Melting Pots’ occupancy, are currently unknown.