The people have spoken, and the Dothan Downtown Redevelopment Authority has listened.
After a recent market analysis study revealed that people who visit downtown Dothan valued more variety and quick service in their restaurant choices, the DDRA announced that Diablo’s Southwest Grill will occupy a spot at The Nest on Foster Street. Local franchisee Chad Brinkley said the Dothan store will either be the 16th or the 17th installment of the fast-casual, Southwestern-style cuisine, depending on the development schedule of other stores in the Southeast.
Brinkley, who opened his first location in Thomasville, Georgia, in January 2017, is opening a second store in Bainbridge, Georgia. He always eyed Dothan as a place to expand his operations and has aspirations to open multiple locations here.
“We were born and raised in Cairo (Georgia). We’ve always loved Dothan,” he said, referring to him and his wife, Jennifer. “Our goal is to expand in the Southeast. Dothan has been on our map. One thing led to another, and we’re here.”
Brinkley noted Thomasville has an “amazing” downtown area and saw the same type of potential in Dothan’s downtown. He added The Nest, a business incubator, fit his restaurant’s needs, as well.
“The environment around The Nest is quite inviting because of all the walking and the number of people that work in that area,” Brinkley said.
Brinkley said the chain offers fresh ingredients in a taco/quesadilla bar-style restaurant. Customers can choose their meats and toppings in a service line before they are mixed together and cooked.
Brinkley said some of the offerings that stand out include the pork products Diablo’s offers.
“The pork is by far the best,” he said. “We do have a lot of flavor in our recipes because we use over 15 fresh peppers – anything from habaneros to poblanos to cerranos. We make a fresh peach habanero sauce in-house that is popular with those that do like the heat because the peaches give a little bit of a sweet flavor with it.”
Brinkley noted the restaurant would also feature a beer and margarita bar. He said he plans to file building plans with the city by the end of November and noted it would take about three to four months to install the restaurant.
Jamie Bienvenu, DDRA executive director, noted the organization partnered with Main Street Alabama to conduct a market analysis of what people wanted from the downtown Dothan area in March. Jessica Parker, DDRA director of merchants and markets, noted people expressed a desire for quick meals, different cuisine types and some living spaces in the survey.
“There were a lot of requests for quick restaurants – get in, get out, get back to work,” she said. “We really had a great response from our ACOM (Alabama College of Osteopathic Medicine) students, who wanted to see things like living spaces downtown. Also they were really interested in pubs and casual nightlife scene – restaurants and nightlife sort of combined.”
Parker said a variety of ethnic food eateries were requested, as well. Bienvenu noted the market analysis has spearheaded what partnerships and businesses the DDRA has tried to attract this year.
The DDRA also announces a partnership with Dothan native Joseph Sikora, who operates JSC Capital – a real estate investment firm. Sikora plans to use the same market analysis to attract businesses to Dothan’s downtown, specifically a place referred to as “The Mule Barn,” which is located behind and to the side of the Porter Hardware Museum.
“The biggest thing for me is just trying to create opportunity and push the envelope as far as what downtown is today versus what it can be in the future,” he said. “I have a connection to this place, and I want to see it do well.”