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Entries by Evan Lockridge (4)
Last Saturday night we decided to go out for a lesser priced, but good meal, so we chose Lovoy's at SoHo. We ate there a couple of weeks ago and enjoyed it very much, though I miss the old 1970's style location. The food was as good as I remembered, especially after 8 p.m., when the red sauce has had time to simmer more.
But on our most recent visit, I was amazed at the number of men wearing ball caps inside the restaurant! Now I realize Lovoy's isn't a four star dining establishment, but it is good local Italian food in a pleasant atmosphere. Now the best I can figure is that are several possible reasons these men are wearing ballcaps (notice how I do not even call them hats, which would still be rude to wear inside).
One: These people are follically challenged, which I am becoming more and more of...deal with it and grow up. Cope.
Two: If you are trying to make a statement, congratulations, you have done so: "I'm a hick."
Three: Their mama didn't teach them any better!
I will never forget the first time Alabama played a football game in the Superdome. There was Bear Bryant without his usual houndstooth hat. He was asked by then ABC Sports television legend Keith Jackson why he didn't have his hat on. The Bear simply growled back, "Mama always taught me you don't wear a hat in the house."
It's not easy opening and making a success of your own business. 90% of new businesses fail within the first year. And despite downtown Birmingham needing all the business it can get, which is obvious from all the empty spaces and lack of traffic there is in the city center, it seems Operation New Birmingham is perhaps too worried about filling those empty spaces to give a chance to a mobile food truck, one of the country's hottest food trends.
Last week, word spread like wildfire via the Web about a blog by Jason Parkman, the owner of Spoonfed Grill, a mobile kitchen offering lunch to hungry businesspeople along with catering. After several months of serving lunch for downtown customers several days a week, he got a cease and desist order because he was parking in a loading zone. Although this had been the suggestion of a parking enforcement officer, Parkman wrote that he understood that the city was within its rights to stop him from operating in a public right of way. What he took issue with was a memo from Operation New Birmingham President Michael Calvert complaining that the Spoonfed Grill was unfairly competing against brick-and-mortar restaurants -- yet the ones he named were not in the immediate vicinity of where he had been operating, and in fact he was coming to this area at the request of people working there.
You'll see ONB's response below. Parkman has since removed his online rant, but we think he raised some valid points -- ONB would do better to try to work with someone trying to offer an innovative and trendy concept downtown instead of just summarily shutting him down. Here's hoping the online furor gave them food for thought, and Parkman can work out something with city officials to find a place to park his Spoonfed Grill. (Updated 8/15/2010 following the removal of Parkman's blog post)
ONB responds, but this still doesn't address ONB's, specifically Michael Calvert, president's, complaints about Spoon Fed being unfair to brick and mortar restaurants. Also this begs the question, why doesn't ONB develop some guidelines to help out food truck vendors, rather than just trying to shut them down?
According to City officials it was not and the City asked the operator to move his truck. City ordinances prohibit private business from operating in a public right-of-way without obtaining the approval from the City of Birmingham. ONB encourages food truck operators, restaurants owners, property owners and other stakeholders to work together to explore options for changing the existing ordinance.
The Birmingham News' Bob Carlton dug into this and reports that Calvert's position "have evolved" since he wrote his initial memo, but basically, it sounds like there are no city permits that even exist that would allow SpoonFed Grill to do its thing parked on the street.
How many times have you been at one of your favorite restaurants enjoying the food, along with its aroma, only to have it ruined? No, I am not taking about cigarette smoke. (I will leave that up to the restaurant reviewer Susan Swagler with The Birmingham News, who can’t do a review without griping about smoking if she sees anyone smoking within 50 yards of a restaurant.)
No, dear readers, I am talking about something more insidious. It’s something you have no control over, unlike choosing whether or not to go to a restaurant or bar that allows smoking. I am talking about diners wearing too much perfume. And unfortunately, it seems to be an increasingly common occurrence. Mind you, I am not talking about a light whiff of perfume from someone walking by, but about someone sitting near you who smells like they bathed in it. I am talking strong enough to drown out garlic and onions.
Now a new study says there may be a reason. Researchers at Tel Aviv University have concluded women who doll up with too much perfume might not know it because they are depressed. According to one researcher, scientific studies suggest that women who are depressed are also losing their sense of smell and may overcompensate by using more perfume.
Don’t get me wrong, depression is a serious illness. And I am not picking on women. It happens nearly often as much with men.
But this story out of Israel reminds me of something I’ve been wanting to say for along time. I don’t care if your perfume came from the dime store or runs more than a hundred bucks an ounce and was made by Monks in a French monastery -- for the love of my food and the consideration of other diners, please limit it to just a small amount when dining, not enough to make a perfume Martini.
In the meantime, if I'm ever in Santa Fe, I'll be sure to visit Trattoria Nostrani, which notes on its web site that it has a "fragrance free environment" and asks diners to refrain from wearing cologne or perfume along with not using cell phones.
One of the best BBQ joints in town for ages has been Full Moon. From its beginnings in the 1980’s with a single location Downtown/Southside (pictured), when it used to be owned by Pat James, this locally-owned small chain continues to grow around town and with franchises in other states. But I am wondering if Full Moon hasn’t taken its eye off the ball or in their case, watching the football too much.
Last week my visit to the Hoover location was disappointing, just like the one a month or two before. On the upside the sandwich and fries, along with the grilled cheese my daughter had, were fresh, but there was not a bit of salt on the fries (and we all know you can’t make salt stick to fries once they’ve cooled off the least little bit) while one of the slices of BBQ was an extremely tough outside piece that was impossible to chew. The time before the food was good, but you couldn’t hear yourself think with both the radio and the multiple televisions blaring at the same time.
If Full Moon put as much work into its food as it does with its collection of sports memorabilia, or the recent renovation of the Hoover location, I can’t help but think the food would be better. While the sports theme originated with Pat James, former University of Alabama player and assistant coach, when he opened his single location Downtown, it now seems to be a little overboard. The place looks like a sports bar, minus the bar, and is complete with televisions everywhere you turn.
I hope Full Moon doesn’t go the route a rather still popular sports bar did years ago. In the early 1990’s this place served good and basic wings, burgers and the like, amid a few televisions and a few memories of Alabama football, but then it grew. As it expanded to include bigger locations, it was never the same. More money was put into the atmosphere making it almost like being in the middle of a sporting event, with the quality of good going down each time I visited until I finally threw in the towel.
The most interesting thing I noticed about Full Moon’s Hoover location when I visited the other night was just how few people were there, compared to Jim N’ Nicks, also located in Hoover off Hwy. 31. Full Moon was half-full at best and is only half the size of Jim ‘N Nicks, which, as usual, was completely running over with cars parked on the grass and the nearby service road.
If I want a museum with my food I will go to something at the Birmingham Museum of Art or the nearest Hard Rock Café. BBQ isn’t about atmosphere -- it’s about a carnivorous delight and the sauce that goes with it.