Birmingham's popular Brooklyn Pizza received unanimous approval from the Birmingham City Commission on Monday, December 9, to receive a bistro liquor license following a public hearing for a special land use permit and final site plan.
Owner Sam Abdelfatah has proposed a renovation of his current space, 111 Henrietta, as well as the adjacent storefront at 195 W. Maple, where Birmingham Geek is, with an L-shaped bar situated in the Birmingham Geek space. There would be 55 interior dining seats, plus 10 at the bar. As the location is already approved for outdoor seating, there would be 41 outdoor seats, including stools at a counter at a new bifold window, where planning director Jana Ecker said drinks could be passed in and out when the weather is nice.
The elevation on both Maple and Henrietta would be changed and updated, using cement board, and adding planter boxes which would be mounted. The entry door would be moved to the corner of Henrietta just south of Maple.
Ecker said the planning board, which reviewed the plans and recommended the restaurant receive a bistro license, had questioned whether the outdoor seats at the window were at the bar or not. She said they were determined to not be bar seats.
Commissioner Rackeline Hoff asked if there was to be waiter/waitress service, and Ecker responded no, “There's only counter service. They want to keep it casual. There's nothing in the ordinance that says there has to be waitress service.”
“But the alcohol has to be served in a bar or at tables?” Hoff asked. Ecker responded it did. She explained customers could drink alcohol at outdoor tables, but not consume it on the way to their tables.
“But the MLCC, we don't allow patrons to carry alcohol – it has to be carried by the establishment,” commissioner Stuart Sherman said.
Police Chief Mark Clemence said he knew of no rule that said that, and when Cosi was in Birmingham, “we did not have a city ordinance prohibiting that.”
“When we created this ordinance, we created outdoor seating to be mandatory. But there was a law that said you couldn't have alcohol in the public right-of-way. Other cities did that – but it was our law. I was to be sure that we can have customers buy alcohol and just not wander off… The Cosi example is a little odd, because I don't remember alcohol outside. It's a little bit of an anomaly as it's self-serve. We'll need to monitor it carefully.”
Hoff concurred, noting a lot of teenagers patronize Brooklyn, and could have someone else purchase alcohol and bring it to them.
“There will always be a manager in the dining room monitoring the dining room as well as the outdoor area,” Abdelfatah said.