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“The Gulf” Adds Some Needed Juice to the Orange Beach, Alabama Dining Scene

12 Jan

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The structural design is striking, for sure. It is a beautiful space and it flows nicely with its surroundings. It is clear that a lot of thought has gone into the creation of The Gulf, an exciting new restaurant concept in sun-drenched Orange Beach, AL. The colors blend nicely. The logo (featuring Neptune’s trident) is hip and attractive. GM Johnny Fisher, a former baseball pitcher at the University of South Alabama, tells me the logo was designed by Big Communications in Birmingham, AL. They are the same folks who created the successful Alabama Gulf Seafood campaign. Sounds like they have a nice little niche going.  

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Fisher, who is obviously passionate about this exciting new venture, explained that this original concept was something of a Food Truck 2.0. Clever … and true. The enclosed kitchen structure is not large and the menu is short but sweet. All of the seating is outside — including the bar and the upstairs “balconies.” You can sit upstairs for the best panoramic views. Or you can sit on the wooden deck. Or on the grass — yes, real grass. It’s almost like a putting green. Or you can sit in a chair or comfy couch on the white sands of Perdido Pass. Talk about options! I really like the tiered approach for the outdoor “dining room.”

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OK, time to talk more about the menu board. Here it is (above). It gets tweaked from time to time, but the burger and grouper sandwich have become staples — and why not? Music by the 70’s R&B band WAR was spinning on the house turntable when I stepped up to place my order. Vinyl??? You bet. I heard Dave Mason, War,and Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass during my first visit. This feature scores major points with this longtime vinyl junkie and thrift shop denizen. Getting back to the food, the Gulf Burger is just $6 and made with Meyer Ranch (based in Colorado) Natural Angus Beef. None of the cheap stuff here. The Grouper sandwich is $12 and always fresh. Grab an order of fresh cut french fries ($4) as a side or take my lead and skip right ahead to dessert. More on that later.

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These cool T-shirts at The Gulf are moving fast

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My beach view as the food was being prepared

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Even the seats & indoor/outdoor carpeting are cool

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I’m pretty sure the open air bar will prove to be a smashing success

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The space heaters are here — if they are needed

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The Gulf Burger arrived looking all hot and tasty. It was. I was impressed with the attention to the little details. The brioche bun was soft and delicious. The tomato slices fresh and juicy. The lettuce is chopped fresh daily. The house aioli delivers a nice lemon, garlic tang. Even the kosher dill pickle was impressive. This was no sliver, people — this was one half of a big, fat dill. I take notice of this stuff, don’t you? All the food is served on brown paper trays, which only further reinforces The Gulf’s casual vibe and food truck mentality. Place your order at the window, grab a seat overlooking the water, dig the tunes, and prepare thyself for a solid meal. It is on the way, baby.

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The grilled brioche bun made the burger even more memorable

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As for the previously mentioned dessert, the Meyer Lemon Pound Cake (above) was sublime. It’s basically a lemon cupcake topped with a stunningly sweet, tart Meyer Lemon icing. Plenty of it too. You can even see the lemon zest in the generous blob of icing on each piece of citrusy cake. It was a sunny January day when I visited and the heat of the sun’s rays slowly melted my icing into a soft, warm consistency. My entire meal including the juicy, flavorful burger and tangy pound cake came in at under $10. Pretty hard to beat that. And the views were worth a million bucks — especially in the heart of the winter here along the Alabama Gulf Coast.

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Talk about your table with a view? Incredible!

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Cool day on the beach. Grab yourself a Hot Buttered Rum and chill.

Let me put a bow on this thing by saying that I am thrilled that The Gulf has arrived in our little nook of the world. This place is very hip, the people really care about the food, and the beach views and casual, sandy vibe are second to none. And did I tell you they spin vinyl??? Oh yeah, guess I did. Got any old, neglected vinyl laying around? Take it to Johnny — he’ll give it a good home. And speaking of home, I have found a new one at The Gulf. I’ll be a regular in the Summer months. And I’ll visit when I can in the chillier months too.  Can’t think of a better way to wash away the Winter blues — short of another trip to Hawaii.

Great job, Johnny Fisher and crew. We love your new place. Thank you for giving us this little piece of paradise. Like Neptune’s trident, The Gulf is quite sharp — and “on point” too! 

The Gulf  – 27500 Perdido Beach Boulevard, Orange Beach, AL

(251) 424-1800; http://www.facebook.com/#!/thegulfal?fref=ts 

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7-Eleven Wines? Really???

8 Dec

7-Eleven®’s First ‘World-Wine’ Release
Convenience Retailer Introduces Yosemite Road Wines on Both Sides of the Globe

DALLAS (Nov. 4, 2009) – In its first foray into global merchandising, 7-Eleven, Inc. (SEI) in the U.S. and Seven-Eleven Japan (SEJ) are jointly introducing two proprietary wines – a Chardonnay and a Cabernet Sauvignon – today under the Yosemite Road label.  These are California wines produced by The Wine Group exclusively for 7-Eleven® stores and its parent company, Seven & i Holdings Co., Ltd. of Tokyo.

Also participating in the launch and carrying the new beverages are Ito-Yokado super- and hyper-markets, York Benimaru supermarkets in northern Japan, Shell Garden upscale grocery stores, Denny’s family restaurants, Seibu and Sogo department stores, retail outlets that, along with SEI and SEJ, are subsidiaries of Seven & i, a $57.6 billion corporation.  Seven & i has annual wines sales of $127 million, and SEI’s yearly wine sales are $46 million.

After researching the most frequently purchased products at their stores, the merchandising counterparts under the Seven & i umbrella selected wine to inaugurate its global product development and procurement plan.  Value-priced wines, those under $5, have been gaining in popularity and enjoying double-digit sales growth at 7-Eleven stores as consumers continue to search for value in their purchasing decisions.

Available in the companies’ collective 15,000 convenience, department and grocery stores, the introduction of the two California wines is the culmination of a collaborative, global merchandising effort for the world’s largest convenience retailer.  The same-day launch marks the first global product designed and developed exclusively for Seven & i stores.  Taking their experience and knowledge of product development to a new level, the companies’ international plan reduces provides a very reasonable sales tag for the consumer.  Suggested retail price for a standard 750 milliliter bottle is $3.99 in the U.S. ($4.99 in Florida because of state taxes) and 598 yen in Japan.

“The development and production of Yosemite Road wines was a global team effort and is just the beginning,” said Kevin Elliott, 7-Eleven senior vice president of merchandising and logistics.  “By using our collective purchasing power to negotiate product exclusivity and pricing, we can meet customer demand for quality and value, as well as differentiate our brand from the competition.”

The around-the-world venture began in earnest this year with a series of video conferences followed by multiple trips to California’s wine country.   Leveraging its sheer scale and sourcing capabilities, 7-Eleven approached The Wine Group, the world’s third-largest wine producer, with the mission to craft two quality, affordably priced varietal wnes.  

Experienced, award-winning wine-makers John Willumson and Jim McDonald were tapped for the task.  The winning vintners created a Chardonnay, described as fresh and zesty with notes of apricot, peach and honey, and a full-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon with juicy plum overtones.  Both are well balanced, offered at an affordable price and can be enjoyed anytime of the year.  

Yosemite Road is currently a limited-edition wine that will be available while supplies last.

About 7-Eleven, Inc. 
7-Eleven, Inc. is the premier name and largest chain in the convenience retailing industry. Based in Dallas, Texas,7-Eleven operates, franchises or licenses some 7,850 7-Eleven® stores in North America. Globally, 7-Eleven operates, franchises or licenses more than 36,600 stores in 15 countries. During 2008, 7-Eleven stores worldwide generated total sales of more than $53.7 billion.  7-Eleven has been honored by a number of companies and organizations recently.  Accolades include:  #3 in Forbes magazine’s Top 20 Franchises to Start, #3 among Top 100 Global Franchises by Franchise Direct, #3 in Store Growth by Convenience Store News, #2 in Franchise Times Top 200 Franchise Companies and #29 among Top 100 Chains in Food Service.  In addition, Hispanic Magazine’s named 7-Eleven in its Hispanic Corporate Top 100 Companies that provide the most opportunities to Hispanics.  7-Eleven is franchising its stores in the U.S., and is expanding through organic growth, acquisitions, and its Business Conversion Program. Find out more online at www.7-Eleven.com.