First series of tenants announced for OWA destination

By Jessica Vaughn / jessica@gulfcoastmedia.com
Posted 5/19/17

FOLEY - On Wednesday, May 17, OWA held a press event to reveal the very first locations that will be making their way to the destination, which is slated to open mid-July.

On site was Stephanie …

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First series of tenants announced for OWA destination

Posted

FOLEY - On Wednesday, May 17, OWA held a press event to reveal the very first locations that will be making their way to the destination, which is slated to open mid-July.

On site was Stephanie Bryan, Tribal Chair and CEO of Poarch Band of Creek Indians.

“What an exciting day here in Foley,” Bryan began. “We are truly blessed beyond measures the vision that we’ve had at the Poarch Band of Creek Indians is coming to fruition. This bold vision that we have here at OWA was a development that was created three years ago … This is a part of that bold vision. Creating jobs, creating revenue, state, city, and tribal. This is a prime example of how we can grow together, three governments working together.”

Greg Rawls, Director of Business Development for OWA/Creek Indian Enterprises Development Authority was given the honor to reveal the identity of the first national scale restaurant that will soon be calling OWA home.

“This is one of many announcements about to happen,” Rawls began, “this is our first, and we’re very proud of this announcement.” He then proceeded to pull down the previously covered restaurant sign, to the applause of those watching. “It’s Wahlburgers, our first announcement is Wahlburgers.”

The Wahlburgers of OWA will be the first to open in Alabama, and it will be the brand’s second largest location overall.

Wahlburgers is a brand created by world-class chef Paul Wahlberg, along with his equally well-known brothers Mark and Donnie Wahlberg. Rick Vanzura, CEO of the restaurant chain, was present for the reveal, having flown to Alabama on short notice to be on site for the announcement.

“On behalf of the brothers, I want to say it’s a thrill to be here,” Vanzura said. “To partner with Poarch Creek, the City of Foley, and the state of Alabama. Whenever we go into a market we want to deal with great partners, and we couldn’t be happier to be partnering with this development.”

The brand is grounded in craft and top-quality ingredients. The split-service burger restaurant features a menu that also includes salads, sandwiches, vegetarian options and side dishes like tater tots, macaroni and cheese and macaroni salad. The restaurants also feature a full-service bar.

“Certainly the name helps get people in the door, but we know the way we’ll be successful is if we have guests who want to return again and again,” Vanzura said. “And that’s all about food, experience, and family. So on behalf of the brothers, I want to say thank you for letting us be a part of this community, thank you for letting us be a part of your family.”

“We are grateful to partner with OWA to introduce Wahlburgers to Alabama. We look forward to many guests becoming part of our extended family,” said Mark Wahlberg in a prepared statement.

Other tenants announced during Wednesday’s press event included Sunglass World, Fairhope Soap Company, Alvin’s Island, Hershey’s Ice Cream Shop, and Utopia. These are only a taste of what’s to come, as OWA has stated that this is the first of many announcements coming soon. Along with Wahlburgers, they are also expecting at least seven more locations that have presence and exposure of a national level.

“We pay special attention to how the tenant mix works, what’s next to what,” said Ray Schaefer with Gravity Architecture. “What national location is next to what regional, and what is mixed between restaurants, entertainment, and retail. That layout allows for the guests to have an amazing time while here at OWA.”

Patrons don’t have to worry about paying a fee to get into the retail or dining experiences at OWA. There will be general admission for the theme park which will have the only gated entry on site, so if you’re just coming to eat and shop then you have the freedom to browse and dine through their retail and dining district. Parking is free for all attractions. For those who do pay the general admission for the park, they are able to come in and out as they please.

OWA takes pride in their tenants, which is why even though they have three or four tenants looking at each available space, they are taking time to choose which will be best for the destination.

“We would not want to bring in a tenant just for the name,” Schaefer said. “The Wahlberg’s have a great name, and they have a fantastic product and their service is great, and that’s really important at the end of the day, at all of our outlets.”

The park is slated for a mid-July opening, and Wahlburgers will be close behind with an estimated opening date set in August.