Progress in 2 districts

Black and tan, Todd English style

Downtown may be getting it’s first non-local celebrity chef restaurant: according to the Birmingham Business Journal, chef Todd English plans to open a Todd English P.U.B. (Public Urban Bar) concept at the new Westin Hotel currently wrapping up construction. While Todd English runs numerous restaurants across the US, most are in Boston, New York, Las Vegas, and LA. None are in the South (save one at Disney World in Orlando), making the choice of Birmingham pretty interesting. Could it be that our own nationally recognized local food culture is now attracting not just good press, but out-of-town nationally recognized chefs? The menu in the one other P.U.B. (Las Vegas, at City Center) is decidedly gastropub, with lots of sliders and draft beers (pictured above; we assume prices would be slightly lower in this market). Bar games such as beer pong are advertised as well. The beer-ish theme seems well-suited to a city undergoing a full-fledged renaissance in beer making and appreciation.

Curtains in the windows, dining coming soon

Above is the current state of the Westin (2200 block of Richard Arrington, Jr. Blvd. North) where workers are racing to get the hotel open in January. The main lobby will enter under the canopy with the nameplate; the restaurant space is on the ground floor to the right in the photo, with outdoor seating facing the planned Entertainment District, of which Texas de Brazil is the first announced tenant. P.U.B.’s theme and celebrity chef concept seem promising as a place that could attract convention-goers and locals alike.

Park, meet ballpark

A dozen blocks north at First Avenue South between 14th and 16th Streets, Regions Field, the new home of the Birmingham Barons, is taking shape across from Railroad Park (above, looking south from the park–check out the live construction cam here). Now that the rough massing is taking shape, the scale and edge it gives to the corner are feeling pretty good. Given the April 10 opening date, we should be able to analyze the finish materials and streetscape soon enough.

We hope there’s lots of coordination forthcoming between UAB, area property owners, developers, and the City to plan a new Parkside district that’s a win-win for everyone. With Good People Brewing Company expanding across the street, and Southpace Properties working on a new restaurant project (no drive-throughs, please!) next door, the potential is there. Now, if we just had that new streetcar to take us effortlessly from an IPA at the ballgame to a Spring Street Saison at the P.U.B….

[thanks to cdtatro for the P.U.B. pic]

15 responses to “Progress in 2 districts

  1. Wonderful news indeed. I am looking forward to these new places and all of the energy they will generate.

    • My hope is that a Todd English restaurant can be a real calling card, impressing visitors and potential investors–and introducing people to the other great restaurants we already have here. Thanks.

  2. Good to see the rather refined glass guest room walls at the Westin. The necessary egg crate is there but muted by the glass layer. Wondering if the exposed steel framing at the ballpark is the final finish. I think I’ve noticed two shades of gray on different elements.

    • Birmingham has largely missed the “refined glass curtain wall” explosion nationwide of the last decade; it’s good to see a decent example in this hotel. I do believe that exposed framing on the ballpark may be the final finish, but not positive. Thanks.

  3. This is exciting news. Our city is on a roll and it is encouraging to see so many areas moving measurably forward (Parkside District, BJCC, Avondale, Lakeview) in such a slow economy.

    • Agreed–despite concerns about the long-term health of the economy, and all the structural problems we have here in the city and state, it’s heartening to see enough projects and new businesses moving forward in city center districts. Thanks.

  4. oh – his restaurants are gorgeous! have you seen the plans?

    • I’ve not seen the plans. My guess is that it will be somewhat similar in décor to the P.U.B. in Las Vegas–keeping in mind that everything is a bit flashier in Vegas, of course–although the Birmingham space looks considerably smaller. Regardless, you are right that the level of detail in English restaurants tends to match the level of his cooking: very high. Thanks.

  5. Wow, that’s huge! Are they trying to open at the same time as the hotel?

    • I had the same question; it’s hard to image a 4-star hotel opening without food service, so I’m guessing there will be a sprint to get it open quickly. We’ll see. Thanks.

  6. Re: “we assume prices would be slightly lower in this market”, I agree that Birmingham isn’t ready for the $16 hot dog revolution.

  7. It was refreshig to see that Todd English was opening in the Entertainment District. I was very worried that the area might turn into the same thing as Memphis’ Peabody Place…… This has promise now

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