Category Archives: food

Breakfast at Milo’s on Southside near UAB starts February 10

Milo's via instagramBirminghamians online were pretty excited last month when they found out Milo’s Hamburgers‘s Southside location at 401 19th Street South (at the northeast corner of 5th Avenue South) was going to start serving breakfast next Tuesday, February 10 (via Twitter). The photo of the Mega Deal illustrating this post is already making us pretty hungry too. Now, we at least have an idea of what menu choices will be available for customers.

The location, the first of the Birmingham, AL-based chain’s fifteen to offer a new way to start the day, will serve breakfast between 5:30 and 10 a.m. The email from representatives for the company did not say whether or not it will be closed for the 30 minutes between the end of breakfast and its current opening time of 10:30 a.m. The menu will consist of breakfast wraps, biscuits and sandwiches, (with meat choices of Conecuh sausage, bacon, sausage patties, or chicken) cinnamon rolls, and hash browns.

The announcement about the Southside location, follows a refresh of the company’s existing locations and its marketing strategy — in addition to being able to add bacon to any sandwich — that started last year. The Southside location will be celebrating another milestone in advance of Tuesday’s first breakfast shift; Saturday marks 32 years since it opened as the chain’s first franchise location (a feat almost sidetracked back in 2013).

Photo: via Milo’s Original Burger Shop’s Instagram account.

Longtime Forest Park grocer V. Richard’s announces it’s closing via Facebook

V_Richard'sV. Richard’s, the long-time (read: nearly 20 years) specialty grocery store located in Birmingham’s Forest Park neighborhood announced it was closing today via a post to its fan page on Facebook. According to the photo included, the retailer’s lease was broken and everything must go, resulting in 50% discounts off of all meat, grocery, and produce items. There are no plans to reopen this business in another location (per the link included in our update). The news was shared a little less than four hours before the Microlove open house at Naked Art Gallery this evening. The closure means the closest grocery store for area residents is the Piggly Wiggly located at 3314 Clairmont Avenue.


Its entry on Bhamwiki provides a fairly complete history of the retailer. The business had operated along Clairmont Avenue since 1995, beginning with a space at 3908. It moved into its current location, 3916 Clairmont Avenue — the building formerly occupied by Payless Drugs, in 2004. It allowed for more space, seating for dining, and a considerable increase in customer parking.

V. Richard’s had explored expansion in the Birmingham market twice. It opened a second location in Homewood in 1999 but it closed within 18 months. The grocer had also been announced as an anchor tenant in 2010 for the long-awaited renovation of the Pizitz Building in Birmingham’s City Center, but as the project faced continuous delays it backed out.

The grocery’s parent company still operates Catherine’s Market, located at Lake Martin as part of the Russell Crossroads development. Another property once associated with the company, Enzo’s Market in Chattanooga, TN, closed in June 2014 and was replaced with a concept store called Grocery Bar. The V. Richard’s name will live on, however — the Brookfield, WI location bought from the Littles in 2002 still uses it (albeit in a smaller space than it first occupied).

UPDATE: Bryan Davis of the Birmingham Business Journal reports an inability of owner Ricky Little and the landlord to come to terms on a new lease agreement as the reason for the unexpected closing.

Photo: Courtesy of the V. Richard’s fan page on Facebook.

Plans for Beer Engineers space in Parkside stall

IMG_20150127_124941Plans for Beer Engineers to move into the Wood Wade building, located at 112 14th Street South, have stalled. It was confirmed during a conversation with its owner, DB Irwin, III, earlier this week. The craft brewer had ceased beer production in July.  It had been operating  via a contract brewing agreement with Back Forty Brewing Company in Gadsden. The proposed renovation of the building, (first announced in April 2013 with reported estimated costs ranging from $5 – 6 million) had received approval from the city’s Design Review Committee in May; and was to have started during the fourth quarter of 2014. Irwin told the Birmingham Business Journal in December 2013 he’d hoped to grow the craft brewer to as many as 35 employees once open.

Though the building sits idle, construction continues on either side of it and throughout the Parkside district (as the proposed entertainment district’s boundaries were formally identified as in mid-December),. Good People Brewing Company continues to move forward with plans to upgrade and expand the public portion of its facilities in time for the start of 2015 Southern League baseball season. Across the street, the former Merita Bread factory is undergoing a transformation into Bakers Row — a mixed use development undertaken by LIV Development and Corporate Realty — slated to open later this year. LIV Development is the company behind the LIV Parkside development located at the corner of 18th Street and 1st Avenue South. Corporate Realty has also received a zoning variance for several properties located on the 1600 block of 1st Avenue South, directly across from Railroad Park, during the last City Council meeting of 2014. The proposed use of the site, as presented to city officials, involves office space, a hotel, and a 700 car parking garage.

Design Review signage approval means third Waffle House location slated for greater downtown Birmingham

New Waffle House 2015Birmingham’s Design Review Committee heard a signage case during Wednesday morning’s regularly scheduled meeting that sets the stage for a Waffle House location on the edge of the city’s central business district. It would be the third location in the greater downtown area — all opening in the last 3+ years.

There was no timetable given by the applicant for when the new location will open, though the proposal includes a refinishing of the facade. It will be the first one with direct access to Interstate I-65 since the location adjacent to the Medical Center Inn was demolished shortly after the purchase of the property by UAB in late 2011 to use as intramural fields.

The building in question, located at 1104 3rd Avenue North, has seen several restaurants in recent years. It also sits at the foot of one of the busiest off-ramps for Interstate 65 northbound into the downtown area. Its most prominent usage during that time period though would be that of campaign headquarters for former Birmingham mayor Larry Langford during his successful 2007 run for office (as this photo of Langford in front of the building by Bob Farley shows from that evening).

Photo: Rendering courtesy of applicant.

The Baking Bandits plan to open brick and mortar space after winning REV Birmingham’s first ever “Big Pitch”

The Nest Birmingham open houseSaturday evening, November 8, saw The Baking Bandits win REV Birmingham’s “The Big Pitch” —  a first-time business plan competition sponsored by PNC Bank. Ten businesses vied for a $10,000 prize (with an additional $5,000 audience choice award presented by and given to The Magic City Spool Bus, a mobile sewing studio concept) and received business coaching and mentoring throughout the process.

Kristen Farmer Hall and her fellow bandits, daughters Emma and Eleanor, sat down to discuss everything that’d happened in the past year on October 30 in their new event space, The Nest, in Birmingham’s Avondale commercial district. This interview took place one day after the initial mentor pairing for The Big Pitch, a week before their first public appearance for the competition and as the Bandits were celebrating a year of baking. Emma watched videos on a smart phone while Eleanor read from a book while Kristen talked about the whirlwind that’s been the last twelve months.

“I’m thrilled with the way it’s been received. What started out as baking lessons turned into a one-week pop-up shop, which turned into a spring, summer and fall of sell-out farmers markets,” said Hall. “This week we celebrated our one-year anniversary and we’re thinking about opening a brick-and-mortar, so it’s been an unexpected journey.”

It’s a journey that started as a labor of love. “I started baking with [my daughters] on Sundays. For me, baking has always been about sharing. Baking and sharing and being comfortable in the kitchen has always been therapeutic for me. I recognized that for most people the kitchen is not therapeutic and it’s a stressful place. I wanted to start the girls young, and in the kitchen, and cracking eggs, and making a mess.”

The fruits of their labor led to another dilemma with a simple solution. “When you make cookies, you have cookies all over your house. So we started packaging them up and delivering them to friends and neighbors and became known as the Baking Bandits.” It’s also led to cookies and other baked goods (including galettes and scones) being available at Lucy’s Coffee and Tea as well as two of the city’s newest eateries — Bottle & Bone and Revelator Coffee.

The adventure has now brought them to a space in the Avondale Bricks that’s already received rave reviews as it’s hosted everything from an event during the city’s second annual Design Week to wedding receptions. The space, selected after a sixteen-month process, is one that allows for Hall to think about the possibilities and opportunities. “Interestingly enough, I chose this space in Avondale for the Nest, but it happens to be a brilliant location for a bakery,” she said.  “In the last few months, there’s been such a food renaissance here in Avondale, it really is a perfect addition to the neighborhood. We had nightlife, entertainment, and bars, and we’ve now grown a lunch into dinner crowd, but we still don’t have breakfast and before lunch,” she continued. It’s part of a renaissance taking place throughout the city, and one that Hall credits in part to “the entrepreneurial spirit of Birmingham coming back” and to “a lot of us who have dreams and skills and desires” being given the opportunity to pursue them.

“It still requires hard work… a great business idea, and it requires you solving the problem, but it can be done, and it’s exciting too that Birmingham is really supporting and excited and taken to the renaissance.”

Hall has pursued other artistic endeavors, including (and most notably) Spark Design Studio, a project featuring handmade glass jewelry and housewares that led to an appearance on HGTV back in 2009. She points out that those efforts — and her previous career in fundraising — have prepared her for this latest chapter. “I feel like I’ve really found my niche,” Hall says.  “It’s a combination of chemistry, creativity, marketing and so many other things that I love.”

The culinary creative is also participating in the first class of Co.Starters, a new nine-week offering from Create Birmingham (formerly the Cultural Alliance of Greater Birmingham) in partnership with REV Birmingham and MAKEbhm. “[The program] has been incredible because basically it takes you through that business from an idea to reality and you have to face hard truth and the hard numbers,” said Hall. “It’s also not your traditional business plan experience either. It’s taking you through a lot of the emotional side of things, and that’s helpful.” she continued.

During the conversation, Hall spoke of the hope she had for the space if The Bandits were awarded the prize money.

BakingBanditsFanPagephoto“I definitely love the idea of being a community spot, for people to come and enjoy life, work, and other things.” She continued, “I’ve talked to freelancers and other creatives… stay-at home moms, working moms — it’s a really broad group of people who live in Crestwood, Avondale, Forest Park, Woodlawn — to just kind of become a nest. As I envisioned The Nest, the bakery was never part of the original vision, but it all kind of works together.” It also brings with it a whole new set of questions. “The idea of opening a brick and mortar bakery is an interesting one in terms of ‘Do I want to have a single location that people come and get Baking Bandits?’ or ‘Do I have want to have the full experience here at the Nest and then you’re able to get it elsewhere?’,” said Hall.

All of the recent opportunities have led Hall to take a day by day approach to the future, though it definitely received a boost last night as a result of the win. When asked about how plans for the bakery would proceed if she won, Hall said, “…depending on what happens [with the Big Pitch], I would say 3 to 4 months — probably a shortened timeline just because we’ve already located a space; we already have a space; the space is actually already built out completely for a cafe except for our kitchen in the back. We’ve have elements for it, but we’ve got some work to do back there. We’re sort of poised for a relatively quick turnaround.” After all, they’ve been able to test the market for a year now. It also means she’s been able to realize something few get an opportunity to enjoy: “It’s interesting, the two things that I love, baking and events, can all be in one space.”

UPDATED: Trader Joe’s arrives in Birmingham in late 2015

UPDATE: 9/17/2014As suggested in the second paragraph below, this afternoon the Birmingham Business Journal has confirmed the space Trader Joe’s will occupy is the current Banana Republic location.

trader-joesMembers of the “Bring Trader Joe’s to Birmingham” fan page on Facebook, rejoice! Trader Joe’s has announced their intention to open at The Summit during the second half of 2015, according to reports from and ABC 33/40 this morning. Both cite a release from the Monrovia, California-based company, notoriously tight-lipped about proposed locations until absolutely necessary, saying the 12,600 square foot store will be at 209 Summit Boulevard – the development’s southern portion.

The address suggests there will be other announcements in the coming days about new construction or the relocation and/or closing of stores (though the version of the story has been updated with the exact address being removed) as there is no vacancy currently in that portion of the lifestyle center.

A search of the city’s permitting database in late February and early March suggested a new project was coming to the popular lifestyle center. The location is more central to the metro area than people realize (and still within Birmingham’s city limits — as are the Nordstrom Rack and Target locations in Shelby County). The announcement also does not contradict a statement made back in 2011 — and comments made by the store’s founder at that time. The store’s size and announced location follow a trend first examined in 2011 by the Los Angeles Times — one seen as a way to capture more revenue. It will be the first full-service grocer at The Summit since Bruno’s closed in May 2009 following its parent company’s bankruptcy filing.

A representative for the chain informed the Birmingham Business Journal as recently as March that the market was not on the radar. This was shortly after an anonymous tip sent to this website led to attempts to reach out to both Trader Joe’s and Bayer Properties this spring. No response was received.

Huntsville was optimistic about its chances of landing a Trader Joe’s (as evidenced by this Reddit thread), but today’s announcement came with a statement similar to that one about Birmingham in 2011. It may only be a matter of time then, Rocket City…

Safari Cup faces a fight against Starbucks… in Chicago

It’s been a little more than three years since Safari Cup Coffee (somewhat) unexpectedly closed up shop at the corner of 21st St. (Richard Arrington, Jr. Blvd) and 3rd Ave. N. What some folks may not be aware of is that they simply moved the operation a few hours north to Chicago.

They opened in October of 2009 along the Southport corridor of the Windy City’s Lakeview neighborhood. A 2011 interview with the city’s RedEye has Dave McLaughlin saying the move was because he and wife “desired a more open-minded city and one that would embrace their African-only coffee.”

An email sent out over the weekend from “Andrew” via the site  directs people to sign an online petition asking Starbucks to not go through with plans to open a new location next door to the independent coffee shop. The email, however, asked for folks to “Save Birmingham’s Safari Cup coffeeshop.”

The news first broke in Chicago on November 16 via Facebook, with DNAInfo and the Patch site for Lakeview both writing about McLaughlin’s concerns and the fact that Starbucks hasn’t exactly done anything wrong.

A local blog, 900poundgorilla, maintained by W.C. Truck, has also been vocal about the impending Starbucks expansion. He’s gone so far as to write an open letter to Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz on his site inviting him on his radio show Sunday (yesterday) on WCPT-AM 820. We don’t know if Schultz accepted the invitation.