Will Cholewinski, owner of the local Chubbfathers in Alabaster, started cooking in the kitchen at a young age, helping his grandmother and parents.
"My dad did most of the cooking in our house, and I picked up a lot of stuff from him," Will says. "Really from the time I was old enough to sit on the counter, I think my mom started sitting me up there and letting me throw ingredients in the bowl. And I think I was 9 or 10 when I prepared my first meal for the family: chopped hamburger steak and gravy, mashed potatoes and green beans."
An Ohio native, Will has lived in Alabama for a little more than two decades now and has called Alabaster home for going on six years. "This is my home," he says. "I love being here. The people are fantastic." His love for food continued to grow when he later worked for the Birmingham eatery, Fat Sam's Sub Station, where he gleaned knowledge of the food industry from the owner, Sam Shatara.
"He was the guy that really made me want to sling cheesesteaks and cheeseburgers for a living," Will says.
From there, he first opened Chubb's Grub Station in an Irondale gas station in 2002. After closing its doors and moving to Nashville for a bit, Will came back to Alabama and eventually re-opened Chubb's Grubb Station years later in Zydeco for a short time. He then brought it to Alabaster in October 2013.
Sun and C's Seafood Spot opened in September 2015. The name is a play on words and an homage to his aunt, Sun Hui, while the "and C's" refered to Cholewinski and also Chubb's Grub Station. Sun and C's served up lunch and dinner and was modeled after the hole-in-the-wall restaurants that Will was so fond of at the beach.
The idea for Sun and C's Seafood Spot arose from a trip to a food show at the beach with his wife, Stephanie, and his aunt and uncle, Dennis and Sun Hui Cholewinski. Customers at Chubb's had been telling them they ought to open a seafood restaurant in Alabaster. So after coming back from the beach, Will and his three partners — his wife, aunt and uncle — decided to take the plunge.
"It's a quaint, little seafood spot," he says. "Wear your suit, wear your flip flops, come as you are."
Pair grilled shrimp with sides like coleslaw and red beans and rice.
Dishes such as fried fish plates, crab claws, popcorn shrimp, gumbo, salmon, mahi mahi, flounder and crab cakes keep customers coming back for more. Fish can be ordered grilled, fried or blackened, and the restaurant features three $4.99 lunch specials, served from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Today at Chubbfathers, they serve up everything from sandwiches, tacos, po-boys, wings, hoagies and French fries. "We specialize in all manners of fat-boy food," Will says with a laugh.
Most of the seafood they sell comes from the continental United States, according to Will, and the majority of that comes from the Gulf. You can eat in or pick up, and Will hopes to add a delivery service to the business at some point in the future.
Will started a Feed the People initiative that brings food to locals in need. Not only does Will feed the people of his community through his restaurants, he also believes in neighbors caring for neighbors. He started a Feed the People initiative when he opened Chubb's, which he is carrying over to Sun and C's, where customers can bring in two non-perishable food items, such as canned goods, to either restaurant and receive a free drink. On the 15th time they do that, they get a free meal.
"At the end of each week, we do our best to match everything that the customers bring in and pick a local food bank or charity in the area and drop those off to them," Will says. It's a local program he created based on a dream he had when he was young.
"The Lord told me that feeding the people would be my responsibility," he says. He is in talks with other restaurants in the area about getting involved with the program. "The whole idea is basically getting people back to taking care of people," Will says.
He hopes to begin care cafes and job training programs one day as well.
"I get little kids coming in when they're not in school that have gone around the neighborhood collecting large boxes of canned goods. They bring them to me, and that's fantastic." Will says.
Sun and C's Seafood spot is located at 1207 A and B 1st St. N in Alabaster and open Monday through Thursday 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. For more information, visit Alabasterseafoodspot.com, their Facebook page or call 205-685-0950.
Chubb's Grub Station started out with a dream and an Easy-Bake oven, Owner of Alabaster's popular and award-winning new restaurant Will Cholewinski said.
"I had a dream when I was a little kid," Cholewinski explained. "The Lord told me it was going to be my job and my responsibility to feed the people."
"Feed the people" has become the mantra and driving force behind the family owned business on 1st Street SW in Alabaster. Cholewinski estimated as many as 600 people eat at Chubb's on any given Friday or Saturday night.
"This is a place where you sit down and be a family," Cholewinski said of the atmosphere of the restaurant. "We don't serve fast food. Everything is done from scratch. From a food standpoint, that's why we're so popular, we have really good food, and it's done the right way."
But Chubb's does more than feed customers. The restaurant's Feed the People program also provides food for the needy in the community.
Each time a customer comes into the restaurant with two non-perishable food items, they receive one free drink, and on the 15th trip, they're awarded a free meal. At the end of the week, Cholewinski matches the number of items the community has donated and gives all of the gathered food to Manna Ministries.
Since opening in Oct. 2013, this program has generated nearly 2,000 meals for those who otherwise would not have food.
"What has been so amazing is the people who will drop off food and don't want their free drink, they just want to make a difference," Cholewinski said. "It shows the community grabbing hold of a concept and running with it. It gives me a lot of hope."
Cholewinski has bigger plans for the Feed the People project. He is currently talking to other restaurants about starting up the program, including one in Alabaster and one in Bessemer. He also has a vision for expanding to create "care cafes" with food service job training programs.
"I want to get people back to taking care of people," Cholewinski said. "We want to be influential, we want to be an example."
1207 1st Street North
Alabaster, Alabama, AL 35007
(c)2017 Sun & C's Seafood Spot