“I heard the term ‘fine-casual’ being thrown around, and it’s just that: fast-casual taken up a notch,” says COO Mike Chissler of the new Holler & Dash Biscuit House, which opened its doors to the downtown Homewood neighborhood just two days ago. Brandon Frohne, director of culinary, who has spent most of his career in fine dining, says, “We’re bringing those chef-driven, white tablecloth philosophies into a fast-casual space and trying to shake things up a little bit.”
The menu is built around 11 signature biscuit sandwiches, such as the Pork Rambler biscuit, with fried pork tenderloin, blackberry butter, jam and fried onion straws, or the Hollerback Club biscuit, with bacon, guacamole, fried green tomato and Hollerback sauce. For the calorie-conscious, these entree-sized biscuits can be ordered as a half or substituted for a bed of kale. Also, any sandwich can be served with a fried egg for added flavor. Chef Brandon describes his favorite, the Chicken. Set. Go. “It’s fried Springer Mountain Chicken, Louis’ Low Country pimiento cheese, sorghum and pickled jalapeños, and they are massive fork-and-knife biscuits,” he says. “We are really focused on sourcing our ingredients and keeping true to our Southern heritage, so we’re using Springer Mountain Farms’ antibiotic-free, steroid-free chicken; Georgia Olive Farms olive oil; Anson Mills grits, oatmeal and cornmeal; and Banner Butter’s small-batch, grass-fed culture butter. There are a lot of great people that are producing amazing things in the South, and those are the people that we want to work with. That is something that we are going to continue to develop as we get into this.”
Developed by parent company Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, the flagship Holler & Dash eatery appeals to the millennial mindset, where locally sourced, farm-to-table cuisine is de rigueur, and bold, creative flavors are expected. “We’ve built this company to look at a whole different market for us, to get into urban communities and meet the needs of a different demographic,” says Mike. “I love Homewood and Birmingham. We chose it because it’s a really solid food town. And I think that people in this area, and Homewood in particular, really appreciate chef-inspired restaurants and great food.”
“We haven’t had a bad meal yet,” says Chef Brandon of Birmingham’s food scene. We’ve been to the chef’s counter at Hot and Hot Fish Club, Sky Castle, even Sam’s Samwiches across the street — that little joint is awesome. And Alabama Biscuit Company, their food is solid.”
Holler & Dash plans to be a part of the Homewood community in other ways. “We’ll have Employee Passion Projects,” says Mike. “Our employees and general manager will choose a couple of causes that are really important to the community and then support those, whether it’s through donating or volunteer work in the community.” They’ve also discussed using the space, which is only open from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m., for nighttime events, such as pop-up dinners or culinary classes. “From a chef’s perspective, you should always give back to your craft and younger culinarians, and so we’ve talked about maybe doing some cooking classes with kids,” says Chef Brandon, who is inspired by Jones Valley Teaching Farm. “I’d love to get involved with them. I love what they are doing with the foodways in the schools.”
And while the food may be a modern spin on traditional Southern, the most cutting-edge aspect of this eatery is indisputably its use of technology. In addition to traditional face-to-face counter ordering, customers can order from an in-store iPad kiosk or before they even arrive, from the Holler & Dash app. They can also download Holler & Dash’s Rockbot app, and request songs on the interactive music playlist. “It’s not that we want to be trendy, but we want to make sure that we are meeting the needs of the changing public,” says Mike. “Our main thing is Southern hospitality, and we want people to engage and feel a part of this, and music is one way of connecting.” Another way they are using technology is through PlayerLync, a digital training tool originally designed for the NFL, taking all of the paperwork out of the operational aspect of the kitchen. All of their policies and procedures, recipes, prep and cooking videos are on the iPad, adding additional at-your-fingertips connection for new employees, as well.
“I’m excited to be part of the Greater Birmingham area and the food scene here. From what I’ve explored and people I’ve talked to, it’s on the forefront right now. It’s diverse. I just love it. I want to keep exploring and be a good community partner,” says Chef Brandon. “And I’m excited to offer some super-delicious, creative flavors to this community.”
Holler & Dash is located at 2801 18th St. S. in Homewood. Hours are 7 a.m. to 2 p.m., seven days a week. To learn more, call (205) 404-0999 or visit Holler & Dash.
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