For the first time since Birmingham approved its bistro liquor license ordinance in 2007, there were no applications for one of the coveted licenses for 2018.
Bistro applications are required to be submitted by October 1 each year for consideration by the city commission for the following year's licenses, with a second round of applications for a year, if available, due April 1. If they receive support from the city commission, they can then move on to the city's planning board for the next step in the approval process. Each year, the city commission can only approve two bistro license applications for anywhere in the city.
As of Monday, October 2, there had been no submissions for 2018.
For 2017, a bistro within the new Whole Foods and Adachi, an Asian-inspired restaurant for the Ford-Peabody mansion on S. Old Woodward, received approvals for bistro licenses. Whole Foods is scheduled to open in late October, and preliminary work on Adachi is just beginning.
In 2007, the Birmingham City Commission created the city’s bistro ordinance to permit small and unique restaurants in certain areas of the city that required special land use permits. The city’s bistro ordinance requires that an establishment have no more than 65 seats, 10 of which are at a bar; alcohol can only be served to seated patrons, except those standing in a defined bar area; bistros must have tables located in the storefront space lining any street or pedestrian passage; a minimum of 70 percent glazing must be provided in windows along buildings facing a street; outdoor dining must be provided, weather permitted, along an adjacent street or passage during the months of May through October each year. If there’s no room on the sidewalk, an enclosed platform must be erected on the street adjacent to the bistro to create an outdoor dining area.
Among the establishments which have received bistro licenses are Townhouse; Tallulah’s; Bella Piatti; Forest; Bistro Joe’s; Luxe; Toast; Market; Social; and Cafe Via. Existing restaurants which have benefitted from a bistro license include Elie’s Mediterranean, Salvatore Scallopini and Birmingham Sushi.