Foodies of Birmingham, we are beyond excited that we can now spill the beans about what has up to this point been a top secret collaboration between Bayer Properties and What to Eat in Birmingham: the Pizitz Food Hall.
If you read our blog, you know how excited we are about Birmingham’s food scene. Of course, we like the standard southern barbecue and shrimp and grits that Bham is famous for as much as the next guy and gal. But when Bham got its first and then second good Thai restaurant, only dim sum place, first old fashioned doughnuts, a place with a secret Indonesian menu, Bamboo on Second, and people doing all kinds of mind-blowing stuff out of their houses – all of which occurred in 2015 – we practically peed ourselves. And so did y’all, judging by the number of shares we got with these posts and the deluge of customers once the word was out.
When I’m writing a post, I can predict with excellent accuracy when y’all are going to have a foodie come-apart. It’s usually some combination of:
1) incredible quality food – we really only blog about things in this category. And we know like us, y’all can tell the difference between a mediocre Thai place and the Thai place in a gas station owned by a Thai family where the herbs are grown in a pot out front and picked as needed and the hot sauce will burn your face off, or the guy who trained as a chef in Thailand and serves the most authentic Thai food imaginable out of his Highland Park Apartment.
2) a “first” – which usually means the first of a certain type of cuisine or the first of that type of cuisine executed well, but can also mean a concept Bham hasn’t seen before like like a pan-Asian restaurant executed at the highest level.
3) a novel or intriguing type of location – think sushi in a sports bar, thai in a gas station, or any kind of food in someone’s house.
After two and a half years as anonymous food bloggers eating out nearly every night, I think we can say with confidence that we’ve developed a sixth sense for when we know a place is going to be a true foodie hit. Not just a hit because it’s in a good location, is designed well, or has a famous name attached to it – a hit because it’s truly great. We don’t mean to #humblebrag – we are anonymous food bloggers after all – we’re not after glitz and glamour, or fame and fortune. But this is a skill we’re pretty proud of.
I’m excited to tell you that this year, we got recognized for this skill in a big way. In October, the folks at Bayer contacted us. They’re renovating the breathtakingly beautiful Pizitz building, and having some true foodie vision, decided to turn the first floor into a Food Hall. You heard me right, a FOOD HALL. And they wanted to see if we would take them on as our first consulting project. Our role is to help them identify Bham chefs that could create concepts that have #s 1 and 2 above.
As for #3 above, I would say the Food Hall has that one in spades. What’s a Food Hall, you ask? Here’s a little light reading to get you started:
The concept is not new. Here’s a list of top food halls around the U.S.
, one of which dates back to the 1700s. When we lived in Philly, we were just blocks from Reading Terminal Market
, which has been there since 1892. I used to meet my mom there, which was perfect, because I always wanted Thai food and she always wanted Mexican, and we could both grab a scoop of ice cream at the end and without too much kvetching everybody’s happy.
Here’s some more reading to get you up to speed:
Basically, food halls are places where unbelievable food comes together under one roof. It’s a food destination- you meet people there to eat, and like the example I gave about my mom, you can each eat something different. And it’s usually focused on local foodie talent, which, if our blog is any barometer, is plentiful in this town. Multi-course meals that involve multiple vendors are encouraged. There’s a common seating area, which is great for the vendors – with the exception of one or two sit-down restaurants, they’re stalls with low overhead doing a take-out business. Think Krog Street Market in Atlanta.
Even though food halls aren’t new, they’re a hot trend in the national foodie scene. Even Anthony Bourdain is getting in on the action and building his own food hall in Manhattan, slated to open this year.
Click here for a piece from the Birmingham Business Journal that just came out this morning with more information on the Pizitz Food Hall.
Keep your eyes peeled for more posts here as well. Bayer is ready to start signing leases – we’ve all been working to make sure we get a great mix of tenants and that the process for potential tenants is seamless and easy. Although we can’t tell you any specifics yet, we can tell you this: if you like the blog, and can identify that pee-in-your-pants feeling you get when you discover your favorite place that’s the first of its kind in town in that intriguing location – you are going to need to emotionally prepare yourself for what’s about to come. The Pizitz Food Hall is going to be a game changer for Birmingham.