We can’t believe March is almost over! What began as a very chilly month is blossoming with signs of spring with dogwoods, azaleas and cherry blossoms — and so many restaurant openings and fun events that our heads are spinning. So much has happened that we decided to recap all the major changes and exciting developments going on in the Magic City. So here goes nothing!
Iconic “Magic City” Sign Erected at Rotary Trail
A replica of Birmingham’s iconic “Birmingham the Magic City” sign has been erected at the new Rotary Trail downtown along four blocks of First Avenue South. Scheduled to officially open on April 6, the Rotary Trail will act as a continuation of Railroad Park on a greenway that will eventually stretch from the CrossPlex venue in Five Points West to Sloss Furnaces near the city center. This large green space anchoring the heart of downtown Birmingham as its thriving city center was originally designed in the 1920s by Frederick Law Olmsted, the landscape designer behind NYC’s Central Park, and brought to life by a team of local landscape architects, city planners and visionaries, spearheaded by Jane Reed Ross and Goodwyn Mills Cawood.
Second Annual Sloss Music and Arts Festival Lineup Announced
In its second year at the historic Sloss Furnaces National Landmark, the Sloss Music & Arts Festival announced its highly anticipated lineup. The lineup will feature Ryan Adams, Shovels & Rope, Death Cab for Cutie, Ray Lamontagne, The Flaming Lips, Anderson East, Escondido, Dylan LeBlanc, Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals, The Arcs, Fitz & The Tantrums, Sylvan Esso and Dr. Dog, among others. In addition to great music, art and food, you can get VIP passes to enjoy air-conditioned tents and bathrooms, private bars and food trucks, special viewing areas and entrance lanes, plus commemorative items and more — this July, 16 and 17! Learn more at slossfest.com.
Highlands Bar & Grill Earns Eighth Consecutive James Beard Nomination
This month, Highlands Bar & Grill was named among the five final nominees for the James Beard Foundation Award for the Most Outstanding Restaurant in America. This is the Birmingham restaurant’s eighth year in a row to be nominated, tying with San Francisco’s Boulevard restaurant for the most consecutive nominations. The winners of this prestigious award, also known as the Oscars of the culinary world, will be announced on May 2 in Chicago. Executive Chef Frank Stitt was inducted into the James Beard Foundation’s “Who’s Who of Food and Beverage in America” in 2011, won Best Chef: Southeast in 2001 and was nominated for Outstanding Chef in 2008. Learn more at jamesbeard.org/awards.
Civil Rights District Up for National Park Designation
In a move to preserve Birmingham’s rich civil rights history, U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell, D-Birmingham, has proposed legislation that would designate Birmingham’s Civil Rights District with national park status. The legislation would not only protect the historic 16th Street Baptist Church, A.G. Gaston Motel, Fourth Avenue business district, the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute and the Bethel Baptist Church, but would also provide a huge economic boost to the area. Learn more at Congresswoman Terri Sewell’s website.
Auburn Announces Strict New Security Measures for Game-Day Entry at Jordan-Hare Stadium
In accordance with Homeland Security and NFL security measures, the Auburn Athletic Department announced new safety and parking guidelines that will go into effect for the first home game of the Tigers’ 2016 season. One policy prohibits fans from carrying large purses, backpacks, diaper bags, camera cases, printed patterned plastic bags, mesh bags, binocular cases, fanny packs or tote bags into the stadium. Only clear bags meeting a certain size requirement will be allowed. Other universities are expected to follow suit in coming seasons. Check out the Clear Bag Policy, so you can be game-day ready!
Real & Rosemary Opens in Homewood
This new restaurant is based on the farm-fresh vegetables that Jennifer Mims grew up with in Clanton. The menu features familiar vegetables in a fresh new way, with dishes such as collard pesto dip served with fresh vegetables, sweet potato wedges served with lemongrass dipping sauce, flounder cakes with yogurt remoulade or housemade braised meatballs. Real & Rosemary is located across from Pastry Arts and the Aloft hotel at 1922 29th Avenue South. Learn more at realandrosemary.com.
Kool Korner Sandwich Shop Reopens in Vestavia Hills
This beloved sandwich shop was started in Atlanta by 93-year-old Cuban immigrant Ildefonso Ramirez, then moved to Vestavia six years ago, where its famous Cuban sandwich with roasted pork, ham and Swiss cheese won the hearts of sandwich aficionados, as well as acclaimed food historian John T. Edge, who named it among the “100 Southern Foods You Absolutely, Positively Must Try Before You Die” in Garden & Gun. The shop, which closed last June, has reopened in a new location in the former Philly Connection location at 1360 Montgomery Highway, just a few doors down from Sol Azteca Mexican restaurant. Learn more at koolkornersandwiches.com.
Fancy’s on 5th Debuts in Avondale
MELT co-owners Paget Pizitz and Harriet Reis have opened the doors to their new Avondale eatery, Fancy’s on 5th, a burger bar and oyster dive. Right on the bustling corner of Fifth Avenue and 41st Street, this rustic corner bistro with its gleaming white marble bar features decadent burgers, ocean-fresh oysters, simple salads with complex flavors and mouthwatering appetizers — all at reasonable prices. And enjoy people watching on the patio with a cold brew, wine or cocktail! Learn more at fancyson5th.com.
Ethiopian, Asian and Korean Eateries Announced for Pizitz Food Hall
The historic Pizitz Building in downtown’s Theatre District is being renovated as a mixed-use development by Bayer Properties, with the residential portion of the building — 143 apartments — scheduled to open this fall. There is also much excitement surrounding the food hall on the ground level. Bayer partnered with the foodies behind What to Eat in Birmingham to identify culinary concepts that would enrich the Birmingham food scene. Magic City epicures were thrilled to learn that an Ethiopian concept, an Asian dumpling eatery, a Korean restaurant, Domestique Coffee roasters and Lichita’s Mexican ice pops, will fill the food hall. Learn more about the Pizitz Food Hall and its exciting new eateries!
Holler & Dash Biscuit House Opens in Homewood
Holler & Dash is a new breakfast eatery that opened last week on Homewood’s busy corner of 18th Street South and 28th Avenue South. The menu is designed around 11 signature scratchmade biscuit sandwiches delivered in a youthful, fast-casual setting. This new brand, developed by Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, is being launched and tested right here in the heart of Homewood! Learn more at holleranddash.com.
A Little Something Closes Its Doors
After three years in Cahaba Heights, the adorable gift shop A Little Something is closing its doors. Owner Carole Cain, who worked for Southern Progress, publisher of Southern Living magazine, for more than 20 years, is returning to Southern Living, where she cultivated her love of great style and gracious living. While we are sad to see this local gem close its doors, we wish Carole well and can’t wait to see what she accomplishes next!
Marella Merges Into Village Sportswear Space
Don’t be alarmed as you pass by an empty storefront housed between Judith Bright and Village Sportswear in Mountain Brook Village. The hip Marella boutique is simply making a move next door. The boutique’s trendy threads will be housed in the lower space in the back of its sister store, Village Sportswear. Learn more at Village Sportswear and Marella.
Cotton + Quill Launches Brick & Mortar Boutique in Crestline
Mary Catherine Folmar’s handdrawn custom fabrics, wallpapers and stationery in her signature bright colors and vibrant patterns will be on display in her new shop in Crestline Village next to Miss Dot’s, in the space which formerly housed Arden Photography. She will also carry lighting accents and jewelry from her travels. She is excited to serve as a source of inspiration to both designers and consumers in the vibrant neighborhood. Learn more at cottonandquill.com.
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