Have you visited Avondale recently? It’s amazing that just a few short years ago this area was basically vacant and crime-ridden, and now, thanks to the efforts of REV Birmingham, the good folks of Avondale Brewing Co. and the recent nearly $3 million renovation of the park, it is a thriving neighborhood with lots to offer.
First on the Avondale entertainment scene came Bottletree which opened in March 2006 and it is now a world-famous music venue with award-winning food. And the Parkside Café (which is really more of a bar, popular on Friday and Saturday nights and known for their year-round patio thanks to a fire pit), opened its doors on New Years Eve in 2010 and just recently introduced their new food truck stand, Hotbox at Parkside. Thanks in part to a change in the alcohol laws, in late 2011 we saw the addition of the Avondale Brewing Co, who together with REV Birmingham hatched a plan for a contest giving 6 months free rent to a local business in the building across from the brewery. Freshfully, a marketplace whose mission was to bridge the gap between local farmers and urban dwellers, was chosen. Sadly, Freshfully closed last January. (Owner Jen Barnett has launched a new venture, Bottle & Bone, expected to open next month in the Uptown District.) And Incubate Gallery was only open for a short time. Nevertheless, the Avondale area has continued to thrive and attract new merchants.
Saw’s Soul Kitchen, serving a combination of barbeque, seafood and Southern soul food, moved in to an old barbeque space that had been vacant for some time in May 2012. Always bustling, getting a seat can sometimes be tricky so keep in mind that Avondale Brewing Co. welcomes people to bring their Saw’s plate on over to their space.
Another 2012 establishment 41st Street Pub & Aircraft Sales beckons patrons to play board games, darts or shuffleboard and enjoy libations which include a large selection of gluten-free beers and ciders as well as traditional bar drinks and specials. They do not serve food at the pub, but allow and encourage folks to bring in their own food or order from one of the many nearby restaurants who deliver. They even have menus on hand at the Pub!
The Painted Shovel Mercantile established in 2012 is an amazing shop filled with local art works, antique and vintage finds plus a large selection of Gee’s Bend quilts.
MELT, the beloved food truck, opened a brick and mortar restaurant in Avondale this past June serving all of their ooey-gooey-cheesey-good sandwiches. They offer a full bar here, as well. The restaurant which used to be home to a garage has a sleek urban feel with a spacious screened in patio. The owners of Saw’s Soul Kitchen are also the masterminds behind family-friendly Post Office Pies, located in what was once the Avondale Post Office, bringing authentic hearth baked pizza to the Avondale restaurant scene earlier this year.
It is so nice to see a once down-and-out area make such a terrific come back. There is lots to enjoy in this neighborhood. It’s no wonder Southern Living deemed it Birmingham’s Next Great Neighborhood!
SB Note: While all this revitalization is wonderful and I, for one, have enjoyed all the new dining and entertainment options, there is concern over the gentrification of the area and the displacement of long time residents. For an incredible article that looks at both sides of the coin, check out Walter Lewellyn of WELD for Birmingham’s article “Who Is Avondale for?”.