Birmingham's Toast restaurant was approved for an amended special land use amendment relative to a change to its dinner hours and liquor license ownership at the Birmingham City Commission meeting on Monday, June 3.
In late February, during a commission meeting where all of the city's liquor licenses received their annual reviews, it came to light that there were numerous outstanding violations against Toast, located at 203 Pierce Street, from minor, such as too many seats, to an ownership change in 2017 due to a divorce between the principals, Thom and Regan Bloom, and that the restaurant was no longer serving dinner, which was a condition of the original bistro license special land use permit.
At the meeting on June 3, city manager Joe Valentine wrote in a memo that the police department had received a request for a transfer of membership interest from the original owners, pursuant to the divorce settlement, where Thom Bloom assigned his 50 percent interest in Toast Birmingham to Regan Bloom. “Following this transfer, Regan Bloom took on additional investors and ultimately created Toast Holdings, LLC, to which the license was ultimately transferred,” Valentine wrote.
Toast Holdings, LLC, consists of Omar Ammori, Saber Ammori and Kevin Denha.
Planning director Jana Ecker said, “There's a condition in their SLUP that requires them to be open seven days a week for dinner. There was a complaint in November/ December that they were closed for dinner. The city commission let it be known they did not want it closed every night for dinner.”
Toast had begun closing daily at 3 p.m.
Ecker said that when Toast originally opened, they had only wanted to be open for breakfast and lunch, but because the city wanted to activate the streets at night, it was a condition of their bistro license.
Their new proposed hours are 8 a.m. - 4 p.m. Sundays; 7 a.m. - 3 p.m. Mondays and Tuesdays; 7 a.m. - 8 p.m. Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays; and 8 a.m. - 9 p.m. Saturdays. The new dinner menu features mussels, foie gras, crab cake, a wild mushroom and goat cheese roulade, steak frites, chicken and waffles, shrimp and grits, and whitefish tosca.
“I am very pleased to see some willingness to change the hours,” mayor Patty Bordman said.
“I am also very pleased,” commissioner Stuart Sherman said. “I have no problem about being closed some days. I am concerned about closing at 8 or 9 on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Would you consider staying upon til 10 those nights?
“No, respectfully, they would not,” responded attorney Kelly Allen.
“That's a big space to leave empty. That's not what we're looking for. Perhaps if you change it to 'at least 8 p.m.; at least 9 p.m.' It gives you some flexibility as dinner business hours,” Sherman said.
“I'm surprised. Usually, the bistros ask for the hours to be extended,” mayor pro tem Pierre Boutros noted. “I also cannot understand why you are limiting yourself.”
“It's branding. They're coming to me two or three times a week for breakfast; they think of someplace else for dinner,” Regan Bloom said. “I've struggled for 10 years. I'll struggle again with these hours.”
“Would you ever consider staying in business without a liquor license,” asked commissioner Rackeline Hoff.
“No,” Bloom responded.
Commissioners voted 5-0 to approve the ownership change and adjusted hours, with Andy Harris absent and Mark Nickita recusing himself for potential conflict of interest.