SHEFFIELD — A well-known Shoals restaurant is taking advantage of nearly $20,000 in incentives to open a new restaurant in the home of a well-known local landmark.
Councilman Steve Stanley said the Sheffield Redevelopment Authority has approved $19,900 in incentives to help Stephano’s Town Plaza Cafe move into the old Southland building on South Jackson Highway.
“We agreed to kind of a combination of an incentive and a loan,” Stanley said.
The money will be used to repair the restaurant’s sign and upgrade the fire suppression/exhaust hood system in the kitchen, Stanley said. Because of the transfer of ownership, Stanley said the city’s fire code requires the business be brought up to current fire codes.
Stephano’s owner, Steve Gaskins, also will have to add another exit door to comply with the fire code, Stanley said.
“Before the Southland was sold, the former owners had asked the Redevelopment Authority if they could assist with repairing the sign,” Stanley said. “Before we could meet to consider it, they reached an agreement to sell it.”
The councilman is also a member of the Redevelopment Authority.
Stanley said part of the reasoning behind agreeing to assist Gaskins was the historic nature of the business. Southland had been in business since 1950. Another reason is the Redevelopment Authority is interested in bringing more retail development to the area adjacent to Helen Keller Hospital, the city’s largest employer.
“We think there’s a constituency there that’s underserved,” he said.
Stanley said the sign is being restored to its original condition with a new color scheme.
Gaskins said the new sign will be red with some gray. The new restaurant will be called Stephano’s Southland.
“We’re not going in there and doing a full remodel,” Gaskins said. “We’re going to freshen it up, liven it up.”
Gaskins said the restaurant will serve items from the Stephano’s menu like pizza, wings and sandwiches, plus some items Southland was known for, like plate lunches and barbecue.
While the full menu is not finalized, Gaskins said he is considering bringing back some Italian food items Stephano’s was once known for.
Gaskins has been in the restaurant business since 1986. Stephano’s Little Italy originated in downtown Florence and moved to Sheffield about seven years ago.
Gaskins said he hopes to have the restaurant opened by the first of November.
Russ Corey can be reached at 256-740-5738 or russ.corey@TimesDaily.com.