Clinton Row Project Welcomes Carrie’s Kitchen to Downtown Huntsville

Carrie’s Kitchen will be the newest startup business to find its home in the Clinton Row Project.

Downtown Huntsville, Inc. has announced that Carrie’s Kitchen, owned by fourth-generation Huntsville resident Carrie Coan, will be the new anchor tenant at the Clinton Row Project at Jefferson Street and Clinton Avenue.

The Clinton Row Project is a retail startup business incubator in the Downtown Self Storage building. Early this year, Downtown Huntsville Inc. chief executive Chad Emerson and his organization signed a lease for six of the building’s ground-floor storage units, with hopes of allowing small businesses to make the most of the prime location.

The Project is sponsored by Redstone Federal Credit Unit, and their support allows Downtown Huntsville, Inc. to lease the storage units to entrepreneurs at a below-market rate. The hope is that these startups will be able to find a permanent business location within a year of locating at the Clinton Row Project.

Carrie’s Kitchen started as a catering business two years ago, becoming a staple at local farmers markets this past spring. In the Clinton Row location, Coan intends to offer grab-n-go foods such as salads, sandwiches, and a few hot entrees to appeal to downtown visitors and working professionals in need of a quick meal under $10.

Menu items will include shrimp-and-orzo salad, chicken salad, chili, chicken Brunswick stew and a rotating soup and sandwich every week. Drinks will include fresh-brewed mint tea with local honey, Coca Cola products and sweet/unsweet iced tea.

Before it became Downtown Self Storage about 15 years ago, the building was a furniture store. When Downtown Huntsville, Inc. approached the building’s owner, David Johnston, about the idea of subleasing a few units to small businesses, he said a “light bulb went off.”

“This used to be one of the prime retail streets in the city,” he said, adding that the business incubator will serve a need in downtown, especially as more young professionals move into the area to live, work and play.

With the self storage industry having become one of the fastest-growing sectors of the commercial real estate industry in the United States, it’s possible that the Clinton Row Project could become an example for other cities to give small businesses the chance to get their footing.

About 75% of startup businesses fail, and 25% of those do so within the first year. While there are certainly many contributing factors to these failures, having the helping hand that programs like the Clinton Row Project provides certainly do a lot to help.

As for Hunstville’s Clinton Row, “It gives local, small business entrepreneurs an opportunity to test whether their retail concept can be successful in an urban, walkable setting like downtown,” Emerson said.


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