Ban Stewart is the Executive Chef of Kowaliga Restaurant, located at Russell Lands On Lake Martin in Alexander City, Alabama.
A native of Tallahassee, Florida, Stewart’s interest in Southern cuisine began at an early age. After spending quality time in his grandmother’s kitchen as a child, he was inspired to join his family’s catering business. Stewart then decided to professionally pursue his passion for food, earning a culinary degree from the Capital Culinary Institute at Keiser University in Tallahassee.
Upon graduation, Stewart worked for renowned Tallahassee establishments including Cypress Restaurant, an award-winning fine dining restaurant, and the Governors Club, a longstanding private establishment. In 2009, Stewart and his wife relocated to Alabama, where he worked at Montgomery’s Ham and High, a progressive farm-to-table restaurant, and later at Union Springs Golf & Country Club.
While attending industry events over the years, Stewart became acquainted with SpringHouse restaurant’s Executive Chef and General Manager Rob McDaniel. In November of 2014, Stewart accepted an offer to join the Kowaliga team as Executive Chef. Here, Stewart places an emphasis on seasonal, Southern comfort food by sourcing from local farmers to ensure menu quality and freshness. Stewart takes great pride in Alabama’s regional bounty, from catfish to produce and beverages, and strives to highlight local fare as often as possible.
When Stewart is not in the kitchen, he can be found hunting, foraging on the family farm, or relaxing with his wife and their three dogs.
Stacey Jones was born and raised in Alexander City, a graduate of Benjamin Russell High and Alexander City Junior College (now known as CACC). She began her career with Russell Corporation fresh out of high school as a quality control inspector, and began serving lunch at Cecil's Public House when she turned 21. When Stacey injured her hand and couldn't work at Russell, her boss at Cecil's, Greg Cecil, offered her a position at Cecil's on the Lake as a cashier.
From this point on, Stacey had restaurant fever. Upon her return to Russell, she put in a one-month's notice and left to work full-time at Cecil's, alternating as a server/bartender at Public House and a part-time manager at Cecil's on the Lake, the site of today's Kowaliga Restaurant. Two days in to her training, the full-time manager quit, and Stacey took over. She continued to work at both of Mr. Cecil's restaurant locations until June 18, 1999, when Cecil's on the Lake burned to the ground.
After Cecil's on the Lake burned down, Stacey returned to Cecil's Public House as the full-time manager, and eventually purchased it from Greg Cecil in July 2007. She continued to manage the restaurant she now owned until it, too, burned down in a tragic fire on March 17, 2012. Stacey went on to do odd catering jobs until Rob McDaniel of SpringHouse and the Russell Lands family offered her the job of Dining Room Manager at the newly-acquired, rebuilt Kowaliga Restaurant in November of 2012, and she's been here ever since.
Stacey has two children, Ryan and Emily, who are students at Auburn University and Benjamin Russell High, respectively.