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Tag: lyric theatre

Welcome to Birmingham!

            We’re so excited you decided on Birmingham for your new home. This city we love has so much to offer from food to the great outdoors. We know it’s not easy being in a new city so we’ve pulled together a guide of our favorite local spots. Enjoy!

Food

Highlands Bar & Grill

Recently named “Most Outstanding Restaurant in America,” this is an iconic Birmingham spot. Don’t forget to try the award winning coconut cake while you’re there!

Chez FonFon

Another charming Frank Stitt spot. Slightly more relaxed atmosphere and excellent French inspired cuisine.

Hot and Hot Fish Club

Classic Birmingham. We recommend sitting at the chef’s table for the full experience.

Jack Browns

Although Birmingham has some outstanding burgers, Jack Browns is arguably one of the best. The extensive beer offering, secret sauce and outrageous burger selections (try one with mac and cheese or peanut butter) make this spot unlike any other.

Fancy’s on 5th

Another great spot to grab an out-of-the-ordinary burger, or oysters. Fancy’s often has live music on the patio and a creative cocktail menu that never disappoints.

El Barrio

The best Mexican food in town. Try their seasonal guacamole and margarita for a real taste of something different!

Bamboo on 2nd

Right across the street from El Barrio, downtown. You won’t find more delicious sushi!

The Essential

This charming new spot on Morris Ave is known for their homemade pop tarts but don’t miss out on their lunch and dinner menus!

Bottega

Dine on the casual side, formal side or al fresco. Bottega is a classic Highland Park spot with a little something for everyone.

Hotbox

A unique dinning experience – don’t let the airstream and low key atmosphere fool you, this food is no joke

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Drinks

Breweries

The Bham beer scene is pretty strong. Head to Good People before a Barons game, take your dog to Avondale or try out the new Back Forty. Did we mention Trim Tab, Cahaba, Ghost Train and Red Hills? Explore multiple stops in one afternoon when you book a Pedal Tour.

The Collins Bar

Let these mixologists create the cocktail you never knew existed and play a few board games while you wait. This is a great spot to grab a drink after work.

The Atomic

Take a time machine back to the 1960’s at this downtown bar. You can even choose a costume off the costume menu. It’s a unique cocktail experience to say the least.

Brat Brot

Birmingham’s first German biergarten. The indoor/outdoor space is uniquely charming and offers bocce and fire pits. Enjoy both German and local beers as well as German food selections.

Lou’s

It might not look like much but you’ll feel right at home with the friendly and knowledgeable staff. Don’t forget to play a round of Yahtzi for a chance to win some cash!

Marble Ring/Zeldas

Birmingham’s 1920’s speakeasy experience. Enter through a phone booth in Hot Diggity Dog’s and enjoy a throwback to the flapper era. Now you can enjoy a glitter themed dance floor out on the patio at Zeldas!

Moon shine

This rooftop bar can be found at the top of The Elyton Hotel. Comfortable seating and great view make this is laid back spot to catch up with friends.

Pilcrow

Coming soon to Morris Ave, we can’t wait to try out this Mezcal speakeasy! A first for Birmingham!

Music & Entertainment

Iron City

This restaurant and event space doubles as a concert venue and when they’re not hosting live music, they’re offering family friendly events, sports viewing parties and more.

Saturn

Coffee shop, bar, concert venue and all around entertainment center thanks to their selection of board and video games. There’s constantly something fun going on here.

Alabama Theatre

This Birmingham landmark offers plays, concerts, and even movie nights! Catch a different Christmas movie every night of the week during December!

Lyric Theatre

The oldest theatre in Birmingham has been restored and is used for concerts, ballets and entertainment of all kinds!

Outdoors

Rufner Mountain

Get some fresh air and hike the beautiful trails of this nature preserve. You can also enjoy family and community events a couple times a month at the nature center.

Railroad Park

This 8-block green space in the heart of the city is a great place to spend time outdoors. Enjoy free exercise classes, summer concerts and ice skating in the winter.

Vulcan Trail

This two mile trail has been recently expanded and leads straight to The Vulcan and Vulcan museum.

Zyp Bikes

The easiest and most affordable way to get around the downtown area. You can rent a Zyp bike at one location and return it to another.

Rotary Trail

A nod to Birmingham’s history, this is a great place in the city to take a stroll!

The Lyric Theatre’s Lessons for Sloss Tech

lyric theatre

“Could the South’s innovation efforts and the unique burdens of its history and benefits of its cultural heritage wind up giving it a distinct regional advantage?” – Andrew Dietz for Bitter Southerner 

lyric theatre

When we first read about the addition of Sloss Tech to the Sloss Fest weekend, what really piqued our interest was the location. We’re not alone in thinking the Lyric Theatre isn’t the most obvious venue choice for a tech conference, right?

While we were mulling over what it all meant, we ran into this Bitter Southerner piece — which includes Innovation Depot in its examples of Southern innovation spots — and couldn’t help pulling apart its regional narrative to explain the path of our own city’s downtown center. And to discover why the Loft District’s Lyric was the perfect venue all along.

Here are the three gems from Bitter Southerner we think most apply to the Birmingham case, but you’ll want to check out the full piece, which is basically Sloss Tech required reading.

 

Friendly:

““The South is historically very relationship-based, and that’s the basis of strong collaboration,” explained Savannah College of Art & Design Vice President John Paul Rowan. “There’s huge innovative power in collaboration.” Atlanta Center for Civic Innovation Founder Rohit Malhotra added that the South’s social rituals could help speed the funding process. “When people ask me how we scaled the Center for Civic Innovation so fast, I tell them we sat down and did the Southern hospitality thing first,” he said.  

There’s an in-person, old-timey-ness to Southern networking described in the piece, much like the grand theater era the Lyric represents. The theater’s downfall is also a handy cautionary tale about the power of toxic competition to derail an otherwise grand plan, at least in our reading of Metro Magazine’s history of the Lyric.

 

Renewed:

“It was proof that architecture and design can morph a city from a has-been into a what’s-next and that the South has significant urban innovation prowess,” the piece said of SCAD’s role in transforming Savannah’s downtown from a cautionary tale to a tourist attraction.  

That sounds like Birmingham’s current trajectory, especially in the Theatre District with its upcoming food hall and Appleseed Workshop building roster. (Appleseed is a Sloss Tech sponsor.) It’s also a reminder that despite the modern sheen of Silicon Valley, innovation isn’t always about the all new. It can also mean reworking what you already have.

 

“Inclusive”:

“I think some of the memory of the darker portions of our history have helped create a new culture where creatives want to be inclusive and fair,” said Jen Moreau of the Makers Collective.

In trying to overcome Birmingham’s past, in other words, we just may be more intentional about the kind of future we’re building. The Lyric was “one of the first venues in the South where blacks and whites could watch the same show at the same time for the same price,” and also one that segregated its audience, according to the theatre website.

“The Lyric is of course an instrument of her time,” wrote AL.com columnist John Archibald, “with both the beauty and the failings of her age.” Hosting Sloss Tech signals that, like Birmingham, she’s ready for a new one.

Loft District Spotlight: A New Lyric for a New Year

lyric theatre

 

The Lyric Theatre’s grand reopening — scheduled for January 14 — is billed by AL.com as a return to the theatre’s origins with its vaudeville-inspired opening schedule. But as we looked back at the Lyric’s history, what stood out most was how transient the theatre has been. It’s shifted its offerings and purpose to meet changing markets, changing times, and its own gradual decay. Maybe the most exciting part of the this new chapter, then, is the chance for the Lyric to finally establish its true identity.

“You’d like to say that the Lyric had a long and distinguished history, but, in fact, it didn’t,” Ward Haarbauer, who wrote a dissertation on the Lyric, told Metro Magazine in 1978. “It didn’t have much opportunity to live up to its promise.”

Ultimately, Haarbauer detailed a venue that fell victim to its owners’ fast-and-loose operations and to the changing class dynamics they attracted. The early Lyric operators adjusted its show format, first moving from single vaudeville stagings — the type that society folk attended — to less classy “three-a-day” shows and then to the even more shameless “continuous run features,” Haarbauer told the magazine.

Local newspaper articles of the thirties and forties tauted new film screening technology at the Lyric, but that wasn’t enough to salvage it. By the 1950s, Haarbauer said, the Lyric had shut its doors and a would-be restoration group couldn’t cover the estimated $300,000 repair cost. News headlines from 1964 suggest another local group also attempted to restore the theatre. What happened to that effort is unclear from online archives, but one would imagine cost to be a major factor once again. It’s possible the Lyric has long been a victim of its own grandeur.

In 1973, college friends and self-described “old film buffs” Dee Sloan and Robert Horton did enough repair work to make the Lyric’s main floor operational for film screenings, reported Emmett Weaver for the Birmingham News. “This Thursday the grand old theater (the last of its kind in downtown Birmingham),” Weaver wrote, “will re-open again with the 1927 first-talking movie from Warner Bros., ‘The Jazz Singer,’ which starred the late Al Jolson who gets down on his knees in the film to sing ‘Toot, Toot, Tooties, Goodbye!’“ The movie house would also fail, though the Lyric would survive for a while as the Foxy Adult Cinema.

Its latest incarnation is a return to the Lyric’s greatest strength: its live theatre acoustics, according to artsbham.com writer Michael Huebner. “With its steep pitch from the stage to the upper reaches of the balcony, and only 70 feet from the stage to the last balcony seat, it promises to be intimate in sound as well as sight,” Huebner wrote.

Indeed, lightupthelyric.com says the Lyric could host the over 100 events each year that aren’t a good fit for the Alabama Theatre. It also highlights an operational Lyric’s potential economic contributions. The Birmingham Business Journal reported this year that the Lyric energy had also contributed to commercial developments like the neighboring Gray Construction headquarters in the Booker T. Washington building.

Personally, we’re most excited by the mixed-used renovations happening nearby at the Pizitz building and the Thomas Jefferson Tower, which birminghamwatch.org notes is effectively expanding the Loft District into the city’s west side. Whatever style of venue the Lyric becomes, it looks to be a grand feature of a growing neighborhood. That alone is worth celebrating.