City leaders and residents alike gathered outside Catch a Taste, the hottest new chicken restaurant in Alberta, to celebrate its grand opening Friday, which the owners said was the culmination of a long and intense journey.

The business is owned and operated by Alberta local DJ Grant and his wife Erica. They started operating Catch a Taste out of a food truck several years ago. It had always been DJ's dream to start his own business, especially in a brick-and-mortar store.

"This is DJ's baby, this is him not sleeping, this is his dedication," Erica said. "It's finally paying off. We went from almost losing everything in 2017, trying to keep our kids in a certain school, to now where the sky's the limit."

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Catch a Taste opened its doors Friday in a historic building in Tuscaloosa. In the 1960's, the space served as the location for the first ever Hardee's in Tuscaloosa. Over time, the building was occupied by multiple businesses including Pizza Palace and Sharks. Until March, the place had sat empty for several years.

Catch a Taste caught the attention Tuscaloosa City Council President and District 5 Councilman Kip Tyner in spring of 2020 at the outbreak of COVID-19, when Tyner asked DJ to start bringing the food truck to different venues. After gaining quite a following, DJ decided to pursue buying a brick-and-mortar space in March 2021.

Inside, he renovated the building top to bottom: installing new floors, ceilings, kitchen equipment and even building a new outdoor patio space.

The store and food truck employ a combined 17 people, and also see a lot of help from the Grants' children, who were all in attendance celebrating the grand opening.

Several city leaders were in attendance including Tyner and Mayor Walt Maddox. Tyner has worked throughout his career to revitalize the Alberta area and bring interesting new businesses to the table, most recently with the groundbreaking of a Mega-Chevron that will set up just down the road from the new restaurant.

"This is a major transformation," Tyner told The Thread. "They've practically gutted the whole place. Now I'm proud to say it's one of the best looking places in the entire city. What DJ and Erica and their sons have been able to do is unbelievable."

"It's not easy taking a very old building it and turning it into something special like you see here today. It's also very costly, so we all need to go buy a lot of food," Maddox said. "DJ reminds me of dogged determination. At every corner where you could've said this project is not happen, he found a way to make it happen. He reminds me that the American Dream is not given, it's earned. Today he's earned the community support too."

The ceremony closed with a live performance by a local high school band as DJ strutted down a red carpet in a striking red blazer to cut the ribbon. Immediately after, he entered the kitchen and began cooking for all his guests.

DJ also promised that the food truck would continue to operate alongside the restaurant.

"We've got a love and support out here. Catch a Taste wouldn't be anything without the support of the customers," DJ said. "We started March 1. Today is October 1. So I feel that journey - this journey - is complete. But we're not finished here. We're going to go higher."

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