Big Rock Italian Chophouse plan moves forward
By Grace Lovins
The historic Birmingham Grand Trunk Western Railroad Depot, located at 245 S. Eton, will once again be home to a restaurant after city commissioners voted to approve the business’s special land use permit at the Monday, August 28, meeting.
Formerly home to Big Rock Chophouse, the new restaurant, to be called Big Rock Italian Chophouse, will be one of 46 other restaurants across the country owned by Cameron Mitchell Restaurants, LLC. Ocean Prime in Troy is part of CMR’s line of restaurants as was Cameron’s Steakhouse in Birmingham before its closure in 2019.
The plans and design were first reviewed by the city’s historic district commission and planning board. According to planning director Nick Dupuis, the historic district commission offered several suggestions to improve the image of the building without compromising the historic landmark. Awnings at the front of the building will be removed while the awnings at the back of the building will be taken down, restored and placed back.
Planning board members voted unanimously in July to approve the final site plan and design with a few conditions. Polycarbonate roofing and retractable screens were proposed for the outdoor dining area, which the planning board had an issue with. Board members agreed that they would have to be removed to get approval from them, which was shown during the city commission meeting.
Dupuis also said that the restaurant will continue to work with the city on a five-foot easement of the property due to the S. Eton Road reconstruction project.
“Thank you for the flexibility on both sides because this is how to negotiate between the city and businesses and developers to generate a win-win in my opinion. I truly think this is exemplary,” said commissioner Andrew Haig, referencing the easement.
Commissioners voted 5-0 to approve the special land use permit for Big Rock Italian Chophouse. Pierre Boutros and Clinton Baller were both absent from the meeting.