Tag Archives: Avondale Brewing Company

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]

Miss Fancy would be happy

A self-conscious shabbiness

A lunchtime visit to the new Saw’s Soul Kitchen in downtown Avondale (200 block of 41st Street South, above) was a chance to muse over the momentum in this part of town (an historic working class commercial center that served the surrounding bungalows and industrial concerns). While longtime gay bars (no longer open) drew patrons into Avondale for decades, it wasn’t until Bottletree Cafe opened in 2006 that the neighborhood started getting noticed more broadly. In the last couple years, Parkside Cafe and Avondale Brewery Company have helped make Avondale a multi-faceted nightlife destination [a few professional firms and residential lofts have also been quietly moving into the commercial district]. It was perhaps a matter of time before a new daytime restaurant would open; Saw’s is a twist on the popular original location in Edgewood. Determined to maintain a true “hole-in-the-wall” appearance, the layers of peeling paint, perma-stone, and 1970’s-era Dr. Pepper sign are all intact. What’s new is the great food and outdoor seating–perhaps the first time in history that anyone has sat outside in downtown Avondale to be served lunch.

Lucky to find a seat

This understatement continues on the interior (above) where off-the-shelf cheap tables and chairs have a large chalkboard and “roadside shack” decor as a backdrop. The real star is the food: familiar, but thoughtful, and at a great price. Currently open for dinner until 8 PM, they also deliver to drinkers at Avondale Brewery next door. Which is a bonus if you’re enjoying a Saison.

What can't grow in Alabama?

Across the street Freshfully is planning an opening for the first week of May. A brand-new business that connects local farmers to consumers, it will be filled with fresh eggs, produce, farm-raised chicken, fresh dairy products, seafood—all of it from Alabama. This is the first store of its kind that we know of in the state, and will not just serve a foodie population eager to support local farms–but also a neighborhood that’s been without a supermarket for a long time (the historic storefront space, above, was once a Hill’s Grocery). Freshfully won the innovative Occupy Avondale contest sponsored by Main Street Birmingham and Avondale Brewing Co.–we can’t wait for it to open.

A thing of beauty

Across from Parkside Cafe and just up the street from Saw’s and Freshfully is the newly renovated Avondale Park (above, looking north towards the 41st Street commercial district), which has served Birmingham for well over 100 years (renovation designed by KPS Group). Seeing the rejuvenated park, and the new businesses opening down the way, makes us agree with others buzzing about the place: downtown Avondale is on a roll. Let’s support these businesses–and encourage more to follow.

On a final note–41st Street South in Avondale has far too many car-lanes for its light capacity, which doesn’t help foster the new pedestrian life here. Lose a lane (or two), widen sidewalks, create angled parking–plenty of traffic calming measures are possible. Hopefully the City will contemplate them soon.

[thanks to ditchell for the Park pic; and a reminder to those who don’t know the title reference: Miss Fancy was a famous elephant at Birmingham Zoo’s original location at Avondale Park before it moved to its current location just outside Mountain Brook Village. She is now the proud logo of Avondale Brewing Co.]

We need more of this

Clever marketing

In a clever marketing twist on the recent “Occupy” movement, Occupy Avondale is a contest offering 6 months free rent for the commercial storefront at 200 41st Street South (above), directly across the street from the newly opened Avondale Brewing Company in the central Avondale historic district. [there is an existing loft apartment on the second floor.] A joint project of the brewery and Main Street Birmingham, preference will be given to applicants whose businesses have a food, retail, or arts related basis. Providing more foot traffic to the block is also a plus.

Getting proactive about growing their neighborhood

Kudos to the brewery (above) and Main Street  for putting together this kind of incentive to help continue the momentum in this historic commercial district just east of downtown Birmingham. This City needs creative ways like this to better market real estate that’s well positioned to build on existing synergies. We need to target incentives for businesses in a strategic way, identifying certain neighborhoods (like this one) where the investment can be best leveraged. So Birmingham, put your thinking caps on (preferably while quaffing ABC’s Spring Street Saison Ale) and come up with something fantastic for this space. Deadline is February 15. Cheers.

The elephant in the corner

Ahhh, Miss Fancy can once again quench her very large thirst

Thanks to our friends blogging over at Birmingham Terminal, we are sharing this great new logo that’s just been announced for Avondale Brewing Company, the new business opening soon on 41st Street South a few blocks north of Avondale Park.

Avondale Park used to be the site of the original Birmingham Zoo, whose most famous occupant was Miss Fancy, an elephant who appreciated bootleg whiskey during Prohibition (and why not?). So this logo, an homage to the swilling former neighbor up the street, seems very a propos.

Miss Fancy says "more beer please!"

Kudos to the owners for this exciting new development in Avondale!

[thanks to bhamwiki for the 1915 pic of Miss Fancy, and to Avondale Brewing for the logo]