From hotels to restaurants, downtown T-town has become a little mecca of new business for our community. Within this new business boom sits the beautiful 2700 Capitol Park building, with upscale apartments and a hot new fitness boutique, The Barre Code.  After seeing the frenzy on social media about pop-up barre classes around Tuscaloosa this summer, I knew I needed to check out The Barre Code to find out what this shaking, burning, and tucking was all about.  

For the seventh consecutive year, Wells Fargo will team up with the University of Alabama and Auburn University football teams and Children’s of Alabama in its “Picks for Kids” campaign that will run throughout the 2017-18 football season. As part of the "Picks for Kids" campaign, Wells Fargo will donate $1,000 to Children's for each pass interception made by the Tide and Tigers.

Chamber member firms have come together to raise nearly $40,000 to provide students the opportunity to participate in the Tuscaloosa City Schools’ Summer Enrichment Program. The high-engagement summer enrichment program will be held during June and targets a major issue – students losing progress in key areas during the summer months.

The 2016-17 Forerunners class held a graduation ceremony May 17 at the John R. Drish House. High school students from around Tuscaloosa County participate in the leadership program, which is sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama. The keynote address for the event was given by Max Karrh, vice president of Bryant Bank, and graduates were recognized by Karen Thompson, the executive director of Temporary Emergency Services.

The Tuscaloosa Civitan Club will name Jordan Plaster the 2017 Citizen of the Year this Friday, May 12, during a luncheon at Indian Hills Country Club. A Managing Director and Senior Portfolio Manager with Ameriprise Financial and formerly of Merrill Lynch, Plaster was recognized in 2017 by Barron’s Magazine as one of the top 12 financial advisors in the state of Alabama.

For Josh and Samantha Giambalvo, the idea of bringing Frutta Bowls to Tuscaloosa sparked from a conversation with close friends. 

“Frutta Bowls was the brainchild of a family friend, Brooke Gagliano. She is very into health and wellness and she was out on the West Coast where this type of business has been booming for a couple of years,” Samantha Giambalvo said. “She brought the idea back to New Jersey and it wasn't long before my husband and her family were talking about building something here. Honestly, it was all Josh, he has been such a driving force behind this because he feels so strongly that this business will have such a positive effect on the community.”

With a tentative opening this coming June, Tuscaloosa will be the first Frutta Bowls location outside of New Jersey. And despite Frutta Bowls being new to the area, the Giambalvos are no strangers to owning a local business and giving back to the community. 

“Business is not at all a new thing to us. We have owned and operated Innovate Fitness since 2009, and we founded a non-profit called the Brayden House. Through these businesses, we have been able to build an amazing community around us that really allows us to do all kinds of things,” Josh Giambalvo said. “We currently foster, work with at-risk children, do motivational speaking and much more in the community ... none of which would be possible if God didn't put this community around us. He did so through our passions and businesses, “says Josh Giambalvo.  

When it comes to the Frutta Bowls products themselves, there is plenty for T-town diners to look forward to. Acai, pitaya, and kale bowls are favorites, along with fresh fruit smoothies and other specialty items. The biggest bragging point for the Tuscaloosa Frutta Bowls location is the quality of the ingredients and the staff, according to Samantha Giambalvo.

“The quality of the product that we are going to serve is unparalleled. We are working with local vendors, but the açai is being directly imported from Brazil. And we are very proud of that,” she said.

As for the staff, Giambalvo said they’re starting to hire and train now, and they look forward to fostering a welcoming environment for everyone.

“When you walk in the door, you're not just another customer, you are important and welcome. I can't wait until we start knowing our regulars by name.” 

Frutta Bowls Alabama is located at 2531 University Boulevard in downtown Tuscaloosa. For more information, visit facebook.com/FruttaBowlsAlabama.

Sheena Gregg is a registered dietitian and local “Filipino Foodie.” Follow her adventures at afilipinofoodie.com. 

Whether official or not, spring has sprung. I always know, because Realtor's phones start ringing. 

Tuscaloosa's community is one of cohesive cooperation, pulling together for this city in tragedy as well as triumph. I have experienced this especially in the Realtor world. 

The DCH Health System recently received a grant to purchase lifesaving equipment for the Neonatal Intensive Care Units at DCH Regional Medical Center and Northport Medical Center.

Brave Beginnings, a program of the Will Rogers Motion Picture Pioneers Foundation, recently awarded DCH a grant to purchase two stand-alone ventilators that attach to portable Giraffe OmniBeds.

The Tuscaloosa County Civic Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony was held on Thursday, Oct. 20, at the Northport Civic Center. Six civic giants who have contributed to the betterment of Tuscaloosa County were recognized.

Dr. Katy Drain has been a veterinarian in Tuscaloosa for 15 years.  She graduated from the University of Alabama as an undergraduate and attended Auburn University for her doctorate of veterinary medicine.  Dr. Drain works with all types of pets from cats and dogs (of course!) to pigs and goats, and even some exotics.

Halloween is a spooky time for pets.  There are lots of unfamiliar people milling about in costumes, weird smells and doorbells galore. 

While it may be fun for us (and super fun to put pets in costumes to take photos with pumpkins), it can be scary for them. Here are some of the ways to make Halloween a safe and pleasant holiday for your pet.

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Druid City Living (DCL) is Tuscaloosa, Alabama's premier community newspaper, covering the great people, places and activities of the area.