The Carriage & Jack-O-Lantern Farms
If you are as big of a fan as I am of The Carriage and Jack-O-Lantern Farms in downtown Florence, then the two weeks they were closed in April to renovate and reopen their new store at 121 East Mobile Street was as hard for you as it was for me. I didn’t realize how much I enjoyed The Carriage’s high quality wine selection, fine cheese, fresh flowers, and overall chic atmosphere, as well as Jack-O-Lantern Farm’s delicious produce and homemade goodies until I couldn’t have it. However, it was well worth the wait for the new space they opened at the beginning of May. Since their grand opening, these two unique Florence shops haven’t skipped a beat—frequently filled with patrons eager to relax and socialize with friends and a nice glass of wine, or shopping for their weekly groceries, it’s a wonderful place to run into familiar faces and unwind after a long day at work.
Owned by Jason Allen and Caleb Banks, The Carriage opened their doors in Fall of 2014 in Court Street Market, and has since blossomed into a staple of the Shoals area. Now, at their new location on East Mobile, their wine and market is a larger space that has plenty of room to sit and drink a glass of wine at the bar, or on the couch and chairs in the lounge area. The ceilings are adorned with carriage wheels entwined with twinkle lights that create a cozy, enchanting atmosphere for that romantic date night or after-work retreat. Besides their impressive wine selection, they also sell fine cheese, fresh flowers, and kitchen accessories. Their goal is for customers to feel comfortable, as if they are enjoying a glass of wine in their own kitchen chatting about the events of the day.
Jason and Caleb are usually always behind the counter, eager to pour a glass of wine and talk about their favorite selections. Their genuine desire to create an atmosphere that encourages a spirit of giddiness for food, fun, and wine is authentic and attributes to why they have been so successful in their endeavor. With the opening of their new space they have added items to their menu and have expanded into an outdoor patio, which will seat up to twelve guests and serve both food and wine. With the Shoal’s love for the outdoors and frequent festivals, this is an idyllic spot to sit back and enjoy downtown Florence on those warm summer nights when it’s buzzing with live music. Their new menu also hosts sandwiches made fresh from Odette, served daily at lunch from 11:00am-2:00pm along with various sides, which are of course provided by Jack-O-Lantern Farms, who shares their shop space.
The Jack-O-Lantern Farms market proudly sells certified naturally grown, clean food with no GMOs or synthetic chemicals, including their colorful, fresh produce, grass-fed beef, pasture pork, free range chicken and eggs, and Wehdo lamb. You can also find baked goods from Alabama Chanin’s The Factory, including homemade marshmallows and ciabatta bread, as well as local-made honey. The beautiful thing about Jack-O-Lantern Farms is that it’s a family owned business since 1996 and you can find the farmers, Steve and Connie Carpenter behind the counter ready to make you feel welcomed and answer any of your questions. Their goal is to create a neighborhood market where you can find everything you need. There is an amiable warmth that makes you feel at home as you enter the store, which displays vibrant photographs of their produce and farm, and is decorated with simple wooden tables and modern pendant lighting. Their food is served in favorite downtown Florence restaurants including Odette, City Hardware, Imagine Bakery, and Rivertown Coffee Company.
If you haven’t visited The Carriage and Jack-O-Lantern Farms, you’re missing out on one of the highlights of the Shoals area. This wine and neighborhood market is here to stay and is an essential piece to downtown Florence. You will always find the highest quality of service, beverage, and locally grown food, and the jovial atmosphere will brighten your week. So, go ahead and plan on visiting these two little shops that have a whole lot of life and prepare yourself to “wine a little and laugh a lot!”