BIRMINGHAM – The Alabama Retail Association, in cooperation with the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Business, today recognized 18 outstanding Alabama retailers representing 13 retail businesses with operations in 29 Alabama cities and 16 states as Retailers of the Year. The presentations were made at The Club in Birmingham during the 2012 Retail Day Luncheon. This marked the 13th presentation of the Retailer of the Year Awards since 1999.
Urban Cookhouse, a restaurant and catering service that specializes in farm-to-table dining with locations in Homewood and at The Summit in Birmingham, earned the inaugural Gee Emerging Retailer of the Year Award.
Alabama Retail and UAB added this new award category in honor of Alabama Retail Vice Chairman and UAB professor Mickey Gee, who died suddenly March 5. Gee, who worked in retail all his life as owner of The Pants Store, played a pivotal behind-the-scenes role in the development of the Retailer of the Year awards. The Gee Emerging Retailer of the Year Award goes to an innovative and effective Alabama retailer who has been in business for at least two years, but less than five years. According to the award criteria, the Gee award will only be presented in years when the judges determine a candidate is worthy of the Gee name.
For the Retailer of the Year judges, there was no doubt that the Snyders have what it takes to receive the first Gee award. Urban Cookhouse, which operates under the motto of “Buy Local. Eat Urban,” employs 30. It has been an ARA member since 2011.
Tricia Ford, executive director of the Homewood Chamber of Commerce, who nominated the Snyders for the award, said, “David and Andrea … created a consistent product in a short time span.”
They opened their first restaurant in June 2010 and opened their second in November 2011. Ford said David Snyder, who has an M.B.A. from the University of Alabama and worked as director of operations for a popular restaurant chain, brings business knowledge to the table, while Andrea Snyder brings her marketing degree and experience at two different restaurants. Together, they make a restaurant dynamic duo.
Besides their restaurants, the Snyders also have begun farmers markets in downtown Homewood on Saturday mornings and at The Summit on Thursday evenings during the summer months. The Homewood Chamber of Commerce partners with the restaurant for the Homewood market, while The Summit retail center is the partner for the market there. Urban Cookhouse manages both markets and both feature certified Alabama growers, who also supply the restaurant with fresh produce. A variety of vendors offer other home-grown or made products. There are even cooking demonstrations.
Urban Cookhouse offers a simple menu using fresh ingredients and cooks its meats in a ceramic, kamodo-style cooker. Besides ready-to-eat meals, it also serves take-home meals and sells fresh produce and fresh-made food items. The popular restaurants’ revenues are more than double what the National Restaurant Association considers the average for fast-casual service restaurants, according their Retailer of the Year entry.
In addition to their busy, business life, the Snyders also make time to give back to their community. Urban Cookhouse is a sponsor for the Junior Achievement of Greater Birmingham’s “Hot Biz in the City” event, which features Birmingham’s “hot” businesses and entrepreneurs. The program is designed to encourage entrepreneurship and engage students with the local business community.
Through their church, the couple also instigated a weekly flag football outreach and mentoring program among under-privileged inner city youth. After the football game, the Snyders feed the youth dinner and lead them in devotion time. As a result of the flag football outreach, the Snyders are active in the daily lives of four pre-teens, coaching them in education and work ethic.
Alabama Retail Association President Rick Brown said, “David and Andrea Snyder, although new to restaurant ownership, have earned the respect of their customers, employees and the entire Birmingham community, who already recognize them as the Emerging Retailer of the Year.”
ABOUT ALABAMA RETAIL
The Alabama Retail Association represents retailers, the largest private employer in the state of Alabama, before the Alabama Legislature and the U.S. Congress. Our 4,000 independent merchant and national company members sell food, clothing, furniture and other general merchandise at more than 6,000 locations throughout Alabama. ARA promotes what is best for the retailing industry in Alabama and has been doing so since 1943. From legislation to education, through communication and member services, ARA members benefit from the value of membership in their association. Retail works!
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