Bell Peppers to Bring Low-Carb Comfort Foods to Hueytown
Anthony Clemons has spent the last few weeks putting the finishing touches on Bell Peppers, his future concept for low-carb comfort foods.
Opening a restaurant, his first restaurant, was already difficult. But the additional challenges of navigating operations amid COVID-19 made the project particularly trying.
“In the last couple of months I’ve been pretty much trying to finish everything because I had an issue with workers and things of that nature due to the pandemic,” Clemons said. “Things have been much more difficult. “
But challenges aside, the public is eager to welcome the new restaurant with open arms. In fact, when AL.com Caught up with Clemons at the end of last week, he was heading for one of his dishes – a Polish turkey sausage topped with Italian ground turkey, a mix of sautéed peppers and onions, and low secret sauces. carbohydrate content – its local gym members.
“Part of you wants to say, now is not the time. But then when you go out in public you get (asked) “When does it open?” So it’s kind of back and forth. But people really, really pushed me to keep going, ”Clemons said. “I kept thinking, if I don’t do this, I’m going to let down a lot of people. And it’s bigger than me. So I kept pushing.
This anticipation of future customers is one of the reasons why Clemons chose to open his restaurant in Hueytown. He lives in the nearby town of Concord and once threw a party at his city gym. The event, he remembers fondly, was a great success.
“The people were welcoming. It was just a great experience. I felt like Hueytown was the place to be.
Now Clemons is in the final sprint of its opening. Bell Peppers, its low-carb, low-keto burgers, pizza, and breakfast entrees will host its grand opening on July 11.
He followed the recommended security protocols for his 1,400 square foot restaurant. Customers, he says, must wear masks when entering and keep them when ordering. There will be six-foot social distancing markers for customers in line. The tables will also be spaced six feet apart.
“We’re supposed to have eight tables, but I’ll have six,” Clemons said. “Because I wanted them to be spaced out. So each individual family will have at least one space in between.
“I grew up cooking, but not like I was cooking now. “
The first restaurateur grew up cooking, but back then, he says, his style was different. “I grew up cooking things that of course were very, very bad for you. Typical things you can cook in the kitchen like… I mean… typical American food, ”Clemons said. “Nothing on this level here that you can see with Bell Peppers. I grew up cooking, but not like I’m cooking now.
Bell Peppers is the culmination of a lifestyle change, including a time when Clemons experimented with making versions of his favorite foods that contained less sugar but were still full of flavor.
This change began in June 2019 when Clemons was on a cruise and abused the ship’s high-carb dining options.
“There was a lot of food at the buffet like pancakes, waffles, burgers and pizza and stuff like that.”
Clemons, who was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in 2014, says consuming the diet daily raised his blood sugar levels, making him constantly sick.
“I ate myself in the ground,” he laughed. “I really did.”
But when Clemons returned to Alabama, he immediately started trying to create healthier versions of all the foods he loved to eat on the trip. His first attempts were his favorite foods – cookies and waffles.
Naturally, Clemons isn’t revealing all of his secrets, but he says the process involved a lot of research and a lot of tweaking.
“Of course, we weren’t born knowing everything,” he joked. “First you have to see what everyone is doing. “
He’s covered a lot of ground, researching low-carb waffle recipes online. But he didn’t like most of the recipes, including one where the amount of eggs was “just overwhelming.”
“It really didn’t taste good at all. It tasted like an egg waffle. Like, they just took a whole bunch of eggs and put them in a waffle iron, ”Clemons said. “At that point, I knew I had to do something on my own. “
So he put the recipes aside online and started experimenting with other ways to achieve tastes he loved, incorporating variations of almond and oatmeal. Finally, he made a breakthrough.
“And once I made this waffle and it tasted great, I knew right away that I wanted to make something with it. Because I felt like the world needed it, ”he said. “I felt like there were a lot of people like me who wanted to eat healthier, while still having fun foods. I mean, boiled chicken and asparagus, we all know it’s healthy, but nobody wants that.
After the success of his breakfast, Clemons expanded his methods to work on pizza.
He counted the carbs in the dough and measured the ingredients, analyzing the toppings to determine the number of carbs and calories per slice.
When he started sharing his recipes online, dating on Facebook would take his brand to the next level. It was an experience all too familiar to those who frequent the social network — a confrontation with the restrictive, but vague, rules of Facebook groups.
Clemons had posted a photo of one of his pizzas to a food group, but he was unaware of the administrator’s rules.
“At the time, it said ‘no advertising’. But I really wasn’t advertising because I didn’t have a business, ”Clemons explained. “So I put him in this group and he got about 400 likes in 10 minutes. It was exploding, because it was a very, very nice pizza. And they deleted my post and they blocked me from the group.
Clemons took note of the feedback and decided to post the photo of the pizza on his personal profile to get feedback from people he knew.
“They were going crazy,” he said. “People were like, ‘Hey, did you do that? How can I get one? How much does it cost?”
At the time, Clemons had neither a price nor a distribution plan for its pizzas. But he took his chance and sold one to a former classmate. When she posted it on her profile, questions started pouring in.
“People started asking him ‘Where did you get this?’ And she said there were only four or five carbs per slice and it started to explode from there.
From that point on, Clemons started selling pizzas. The preparation time took a while at first and he was initially only able to fill about seven to ten orders per day. But as he fine-tuned his process, orders continued to skyrocket.
“That same pizza is still on my Facebook page right now,” Clemons said proudly. “And I think about it every now and then to remind myself how far I’ve come.”
Clemons would name his popular recipe Red Thunder. Pizza – a pie with traditional red sauce, turkey bacon, turkey sausage, red onions and red peppers – would become his favorite dish and lay the foundation for his restaurant and his nickname.
“I use peppers in a lot of my foods. They have a very high nutritional value. Vitamins, minerals. I use peppers in a lot of different items. I also have pepper colors scattered around my restaurant. Reds, greens, stuff like that, ”Clemons said. “Peppers are nutritious and I decided to go with the name. It’s a big name.
Clemons created the Bell Peppers menu of pizzas, burgers, sandwiches and breakfast dishes and he will run the restaurant kitchen full time.
Customers can expect pizzas topped with vegetables and lean meats: White Thunder is an Alfredo-based pie topped with cheddar cheese, white onion, turkey, and peppers; the AM is Clemons’ version of a breakfast pizza with scrambled eggs, smoked sausage and a signature steak sauce as a base.
For those looking to test the limits of their breakfast dishes, Clemons recommends the cookies and gravy.
“It’s not the runny sauce you see elsewhere. You know, the little flowing white sauce. It’s completely different.
“I have a donut waffle. It’s an almond flour waffle with icing that I created. And it is great. It tastes like a donut.
Since breakfast is on the menu all day at Bell Peppers, diners, he says, shouldn’t be limited by time.
“I don’t really consider my waffles to be breakfast. Because you would like to eat them anytime.
And while his entry points into the low-carb world were pizza and breakfast dishes, Clemons is also a self-proclaimed “burger guy”.
“When I used to go to restaurants back then, it didn’t matter where I went. If I went to a steakhouse, I was going to have a burger.
The best choices for Clemons on the grill are the Smoked Gouda Burger and the Steak Burger. But for those who’d rather forgo red meat, there’s the gobbler – a turkey sandwich with smoked, blackened, and cooked to perfection turkey breast.
” I did everything. I tasted it all. And I love everything, ”Clemons said. “The dishes I called out are the ones I would throw at someone like, hey, try this.”
The grand opening of Bell Peppers is July 11, 2020.
Hours of Operation | Monday: closed | Tuesday to Thursday: 8:00 am to 7:00 pm | From Friday to Saturday: 8 am to 8 pm | Sunday – 1:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
144 River Square Shopping Center, Hueytown, AL 35023
(located in the Piggly Wiggly shopping center)