Buffalo Wild Wings & Theater Just the Beginning
Story by Graham Hadley
When it comes to the local economy, growth builds growth.
That is exactly what is happening along the I-20 corridor in Pell City. What started with a simple gas station at the I-20 and US 231 interchange has grown into something of a retail and dining mecca, now boasting big box stores like Wal Mart and Home Depot, a full shopping center and a number of restaurants.
The most recent of which, Buffalo Wild Wings, opened its doors in November and has continued to see a steady stream of business ever since.
According to developer Bill Ellison, that is exactly the kind of restaurant Pell City residents have been asking for — something he, along with the city, the EDC, county and other agencies have been working years to make happen.
And aside from giving people living in Pell City and surrounding areas one more quality dining option, Ellison said it is important in another way.
“This is a very big deal,” he said. When restaurants like Buffalo Wild Wings locate in an area and succeed, it is a bellwether of the economic health of a region that other companies look at when considering places to locate.
When businesses like that come to an area, it puts it on the map for other businesses, like the movie theater and bowling alley under construction right around the corner from Buffalo Wild Wings.
“The fact that Buffalo Wild Wings was coming said something about the community, that there was enough business here to support that. It all works together,” Ellison said.
Following closely on the heels of Buffalo Wild Wings, Premiere Cinemas is in the process of building a massive entertainment complex consisting of a movie theater, bowling alley and arcade, entertainment space, café and concessions.
The multi-million-dollar project has been years in the making and is something that Ellison and others involved say the Pell City community had been hoping for over the past decade or more.
“This is going to be huge,” Ellison said. “I have seen the plans, and they far exceed anything we expected to be able to do for Pell City.”
It will not only stand as a major quality-of-life improvement for Pell City residents, “it is going to bring more people to Pell City; it is going to bring more people to spend their money in Pell City.
“It will keep people here. Kids won’t have to drive on Interstate 20 to go to movies or eat out. People can stay in Pell City on weekends to have fun.”
Premiere Cinemas is an excellent company to be working with, he added, and they are cutting no corners with this project.
“We are fortunate to have a company like this coming to Pell City. This theater is going to be as nice any anything around, any theater in Birmingham,” Ellison said.
And just like Buffalo Wild Wings, the theater and entertainment complex is expected to be another big indicator that Pell City is ripe for new business growth.
“I think there are at least 100,000 people out there who will come to the cinema and bowling lanes,” he said.
“Not every town gets a movie theater and bowling lanes. Getting that in here means there is a large enough population to support it. People will drive long distances to come to something like this.”
Ellison was quick to point out that neither of these projects would have been a reality if it weren’t for the receptive atmosphere of the economic environment in Pell City, from the cooperative efforts with local government to the passing of the seven-day liquor sales.
“This has been a three or four-year project. Everyone has worked hard … then it all came together. We all worked to bring it in. It is something the community has been asking for for years, and we all made it happen,” Ellison said. “Everybody is really excited, the whole community is. It’s fantastic.