Crestwood is a funny little work horse of a neighborhood. It doesn’t boast the high-powered food scene of an Avondale or a Five Points. It doesn’t host scores of indie businesses or innovation incubators. And yet, it could be the sort-of secret nexus of the Birmingham revival, at least according to Birmingham Magazine.
In an August interview with the magazine, Crestwood Coffee owner Danny Winter detailed the Birmingham institutions that started as strategy sessions in his coffee shop. And many local artists had their first gallery show at Crestwood Coffee, Winter said, when he offered them space as a way to decorate the shop’s walls.
And Crestwood Coffee isn’t the only Shoppes of Crestwood owner to support new businesses. Seasick Records houses the micro barber shop Newman’s Classic Cuts in its front window, plus regular community events from fundraisers to art shows (and often both). The initial Hero Doughnuts pop-ups alone give it solid start-up bona fides. Then there’s Crestwood Tavern, which hosted a late-summer run for Tropicaleo, the purveyors of Puerto Rican specialties and new Restaurant Week participant.
The lesson? Crestwood is Birmingham’s creative incubation gem, a kind of lab for those with big ideas that’s open to the public. Instead of a place where folks create multiple anchors within the neighborhood, it’s a place where they gather steam to reach outside it. The Move I-20/59 campaign headed by neighborhood leader Darrell O’Quinn, Gross Out Science Camp and its Wacky Tacky Light Tour fundraiser founded by resident Verna Gates–these aren’t strictly Crestwood concerns.
Perhaps those things happen here because Crestwood is a crossroads kind of neighborhood. “I’ve said jokingly many times that if you sit in the coffee shop long enough, almost everyone in Birmingham will have come through there at least once,” Winter told Birmingham Magazine. And the piece points to Crestwood Coffee as a foundation of the local community.
And it’s that community atmosphere that stands out most in Crestwood’s neighborhood branding. Crestwood is less associated with hip amenities than places like Avondale, or downtown’s Loft District. Instead, it’s a great community with close access to other great parts of the city. Which may turn out to be a relief in your own home hunt.
When you’re looking at neighborhoods, you don’t necessarily need the big scene. You don’t have to live where everyone spends their weekends — though proximity is still worth considering.
Sometimes what matters most is the places neighbors gather. So as you’re home shopping, it may be worth asking yourself this: Where’s the Crestwood Coffee in this neighborhood?