Come in: Mae’s Food Hall officially open for business

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Mae’s Food Hall is located in the Warehouse District in downtown Cullman.  / Heather Mann

CULLMAN – It’s been open for about a week, but on Friday morning, developer Shane Quick made it official when he cut the ribbon on the much-anticipated Mae’s Food Hall on First Avenue Northeast in the Warehouse District.  The event marked the official start of business for the multi-vendor dining complex that has already completed several days of trial runs.

Quick shared about the last few days, “It’s been amazing, honestly, way bigger than expected.  For the past few nights, we’ve been really packed out and doing some amazing testing on all the equipment and systems, and where to put this and where to put that.  It’s been very helpful, and, hopefully, it’s prepared us for today and the rest of the coming days.”

Mae’s is affectionately named after Quick’s beloved grandmother Linnie Mae.

Said Quick, “She was a massive influence on my life.  Her home was a place where everyone felt comfortable, everyone left with their bellies full.  She loved to play board games and different kinds of games.  If you came over to her house, you might find yourself staying three hours instead of 30 minutes, and that’s what we hope this place is.”

Mae’s is set up like a food court rather than a traditional restaurant, with five different restaurants and a bar housed in the building. Toward the back of the hall, there’s Big E’s Arcade, with vintage games like Pac-Man, Galaga, Ms. Pac Man, Donkey Kong and Mortal Kombat II (collected by Quick himself), Skee-ball and a dartboard. The back of the building also has a handicapped-accessible entrance and parking for those unable to climb the front stairs.

As of Friday, all six vendors are up and running:

Strada di Napoli – Neapolitan pizzeria with an oven and ingredients imported from Naples, Italy. Best sellers – Ciro (specialty pizza with sweet Italian sausage, ricotta, fresh mozzarella, basil, extra virgin olive oil and tomato sauce on top) and Cotto E Funghi (specialty pizza with ham, mushrooms, fresh mozzarella, aged mozzarella, pecorino Romano, tomato sauce and extra virgin olive oil)

Ruckus – Bar and lounge. Customers can rent darts for the dartboard in the arcade area, and Kernel Kullman gourmet popcorn sells a Ruckus Treat Mix. Best seller – Ruckus Daiquiri

Lichita’s – Ice cream shop serving gourmet popsicles, milkshakes, scoops of ice cream and banana splits. Best seller – regular chocolate ice cream

Link’s – Gourmet hot dogs and hamburgers. Get quarter-pound all-beef dogs and Wagyu beef burgers. Looks good- Bacon Jam Burger, which comes with bourbon bacon jam, lettuce, tomato, onion and pickle on a brioche bun

I Love Bacon – Sandwiches, wraps, etc., with bacon (of course). This place started out as a food truck business, but now has brick-and-mortar locations (one at Mae’s, another underway in Huntsville). Best seller – hard to say, but the Carrie Underwood wrap is very popular (grilled chicken, bacon, house-made ranch, lettuce, tomato and a spinach tortilla)

Cantina Taqueria – A Mexican restaurant specializing in several different kinds of tacos. Best seller – Nachitos (crunchy tortilla chips, shredded chicken tingo, cheese dip, refried beans, crema and pico de gallo)

Mae’s is open seven days a week, serving lunch and dinner every day except Sunday, with an abbreviated Sunday schedule:

11 a.m. – 9 p.m. Monday through Wednesday

11 a.m. – 11 p.m. Thursday through Saturday

11 a.m. – 2 p.m. Sunday, serving lunch only

“One thing we keep hearing from people as they come in here,” said Quick, “is they feel like they’re in another city, they feel like they’re in Europe, or they feel like they’re in Nashville, or whatever.  Cullman’s open for business, and there’s really nothing we can’t accomplish here.  You can build anything here, you can do anything here, and I’m hoping that this place inspires people to know that, to live that way, and to remember the Linnie Maes in their life–the people that helped them become who they are, and also inspire them to be a Linnie Mae to someone else.  Hopefully, it’s a place that inspires people.

“It’s a great atmosphere.  It’s a beautiful building, amazing food.  Every vendor in here has gone above and beyond to have the very best food possible.  Great atmosphere, great food and a perfect area right here in the Warehouse District.  We really believe it’s going to be a big deal, and, hopefully, the start of many things; young entrepreneurs come to this city and do their own thing, build their own thing.  We believe that Cullman’s at a tipping point, and it’s about to really do some massive things, like we have in the past.”

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