• By Lisa Brody

Three restaurants concept moves to commission


Three restaurants proposed for the former Mitchell's site in Birmingham received special land use permit, final site plan and design review recommendations from the Birmingham Planning Board at its meeting on Wednesday, September 11, and will move forward to the Birmingham City Commission for final approval.

The three proposed restaurants, Sidecar, Shift and Slice, from Birmingham restaurateur Steve Simon, owner of Rojo Mexican and Sidecar, had come before the planning board in late August, but concerns about inconsistencies in the plan, primarily regarding outdoor seating and if there was enough room for the pedestrian sidewalk, required architect Chris Longe to return to the drawing board for revisions.

The site already has an existing Class C liquor license, so there are no restrictions on seating, but city ordinance requires a special land use permit. Mitchell's Fish Market, 117 Willits, closed January 1, 2018, and the site has been vacant since.

Shift, an American eatery, would be in the former bar area of Mitchell's, with food specialties from across the country and custom alcoholic drinks and a contemporary lounge ambiance; Sidecar would relocate from Merrill Street, featuring a full menu of slider options, sides and alcoholic beverages with a rustic pub feel; and Slice is designed as traditional pizza parlor atmosphere and full pizzeria menu with alcohol service.

At the September 11 meeting, planning director Jana Ecker said the applicant had removed outdoor seating in front of Shift, significantly reduced the seating in front of Sidecar, “and actually added two seats in front of Slice, but reconfigured it, allowing a five-foot pedestrian path.”

She said planters that were supposed to go around the outdoor dining area at Sidecar had been changed to decorative iron.

Board members liked what they saw, and unanimously recommended the three restaurants move to the city commission for final site plan, design review and special land use permit approval.

At the August 28 meeting, Simon was asked why he was moving Sidecar, and he said, “Our lease is up in about a year, and our Rojo lease expires at the same time. We tried to negotiate. We were unable to come to an extension and we've moved in a new direction, with Rojo coming to an end. Slice, being a family establishment, which we feel Birmingham needs, we're looking to enliven that corner. Shift is having a Sugar House feel.”

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