In the Press: Dining options expand in city

Originally published by Times Daily.

Two new restaurants have opened in Florence in the past week, and another, which has been open less than a year, has added sidewalk seating at its downtown location.

Yumm Sushi and Beyond, on North Court Street, won approval recently from the City Council to place tables and chairs in a fenced area on the sidewalk. That marks a first in downtown, and others could join the trend.

“I think it is a very progressive move for the city of Florence,” said City Council President Dick Jordan, whose district includes the downtown business area. “It is very attractive and offers patrons an alternative when the weather permits. It follows what a lot of other metropolitan cities are doing.”

There is a practical side to sidewalk seating, too, he said.

“Outside dining gives restaurants additional seating that provides additional revenue for the restaurant as well as for the city,” he said. “I also think it makes downtown more pedestrian friendly. I hope other restaurants downtown will follow suit.”

The Gyro Shop on Tuscaloosa Street is now open, serving Greek sandwiches as well as Middle Eastern favorites such as stuffed grape leaves and hummus. The shop offers gyros three ways: traditional lamb, beef and chicken. For now, it is a carry-out only shop.

Sam’s Sports Grill opened Tuesday on Seville Street in the former Demos’ Restaurant site.

Al Thomas, one of the partners, said the Florence location is the fourth sports grill they have opened under the Sam’s name. The others are in the Nashville area.

He said the menu has some favorites from the former Princeton’s restaurant that he once helped manage in Florence.

“Pizza is one of the most popular things we have,” Thomas said. “Sam’s is one of the few restaurants in this area where you can sit down and have a pizza and a draft beer.”

Thomas and his partners also are renovating Dale’s Steak House on Mitchell Boulevard, one of the landmark restaurants in the Shoals.

“We are remodeling throughout the building,” he said. “We will now have a salad bar. The seasoning for the steaks will remain the same, but we will offer a dry rub seasoning for those who don’t want the liquid Dale’s sauce.”

Thomas said Dale’s should reopen in mid-June.