BIRMINGHAM – The Alabama Retail Association, in cooperation with the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Collat School of Business, today recognized outstanding Alabama retailers representing 13 retail businesses with operations in 48 Alabama cities and 12 other states as Retailers of the Year. The 13 winning Retailers of the Year came from a pool of almost 70 nominees. The presentations were made at the Vestavia Country Club in Birmingham during the 2014 Retail Day Luncheon. Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley presented the keynote address and signed a statewide proclamation declaring Sept. 23 as Alabama Retail Day. This marked the 15th presentation of the Retailer of the Year Awards since 1999.
Marco and Elan Morosini, owners of the Silvertron Café, a casual restaurant and bar in Birmingham’s Forest Park neighborhood, earned the Gold Retailer of the Year Award in the Annual Sales Less Than $1 Million category. Last year, the café was the Silver winner in the same sales category. The café was honored this year by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce as one of its 100 DREAM BIG Blue Ribbon Small Business of the Year Award winners. In 2012, the Birmingham Business Alliance named Silvertron as its Small Retail Business of the Year. While running a restaurant is how they make their living, the Morosinis’ primary purpose is building community. Seven years ago, the couple bought the neighborhood staple that had fallen on hard times, revitalized it and helped reinvigorate the area around the 28-year-old business, which employs 22 part time.
“They have energized the community and area merchants through partnerships and events,” said Victor M. Brown, vice president of minority and small business development for the Birmingham Business Alliance, who nominated the couple for the award. The alliance already honored Silvertron as its 2012 Small Retail Business of the Year.
The couple has been instrumental in such community events as the Movies at Avondale Park, a free movie night underwritten by Silvertron and other neighborhood businesses; and Third Friday in Forest Park & South Avondale, a cooperative event promoted by the merchants and art galleries in the two neighborhoods.
“I’m amazed how involved they are with community events while managing a fantastic restaurant,” said Jamie Whitehurst, development director for Birmingham AIDS Outreach, which also benefits from its association with the restaurant. Every time Silvertron patrons mention Birmingham AIDS Outreach or write BAO on their receipt, Silvertron donates 10 percent of their tab to the organization.
Birmingham Mayor William A. Bell Sr. referred to Silvertron as a “godsend” and “community partner” following Birmingham’s January 2014 snow storm that left thousands stranded. “The Silvertron Café family has provided some of the heartiest, most savory and mouthwatering meals to those less fortunate citizens of Birmingham.” The restaurant has fed crowds of 200 to 300 homeless at the Birmingham’s warming station at least eight times during the past two years.
The couple also helps with fund-raising for AIDS Alabama, sponsors baseball teams, provides mentally disabled students with internships at the restaurant and spearheads efforts for garbage cans and other beautification projects for the neighborhood. When they can, they also use locally grown produce, including some grown by the M-Power Community Garden in their neighborhood.
“Our marketing strategy reflects our philosophy of community building,” the Morosinis said in their Retailer of the Year entry. “We are here to support the neighborhood, which supports us.” The Retailer of the Year judges lauded that philosophy, agreeing that “investing in the area is paying off at the register.”
Although he is a native of Italy, Marco Morosini has implanted himself in the Birmingham community. He is a member of the 2014-2015 Leadership Birmingham class and serves as president of the Forest Park South Avondale Merchant Association. In August, the Vulcan Park and Museum, named him as one of two “Spear winners” for its inaugural Servant Leadership Award. Elan Morosini in 2013 was among the inaugural recipients of the Girl Scouts of North-Central Alabama’s Volunteer of Excellence in Girl Scouting award and this year received an outstanding mentor award.
In the midst of all their community activities, the Morosinis do operate a restaurant. “Silvertron is where the locals go, it is the heart and pulse of the neighborhood,” said James Little, district manager of REV Birmingham.
Alabama Retail Association President Rick Brown said, “Marco and Elan Morosini are retailers of the year EVERY year to their customers, their 22 employees and the Birmingham, Forest Park and Avondale communities.”
Media Contact: Marco and Elan Morosini, Silvertron Café | 205.591.3797
Media Contact: Nancy King Dennis | 334.551.0643 (d) | 800.239.5423