MARE Mediterranean okayed for Willits spot
By Kevin Elliott
Mediterranean seafood fare with dishes from Greece, Sicily, Portugal and Spain will fill the former Cameron’s Steakhouse spot, 115 Willits, as the Birmingham City Commission on Monday, July 12, approved final site plans and a special land use permit for MARE Mediterranean.
Owner Nino Cutraro, who owns the successful Bella Piatti bistro in downtown Birmingham, told city commissioners the concept will be to display fresh fish and allow people to choose their food and how they want it cooked. Meaning “sea” in Latin, Mare will fill a void left by Cameron’s and the neighboring Mitchell’s Fish Market, which closed in 2018. Cutraro said the concept is based on estiatorio Milos, with flavors from the entire Mediterranean, not just Greece. Menu items include seafood, kabobs, steaks, chops and other items.
Plans to renovate the interior of the building do not include altering the footprint of the building, which includes 181 indoor seats and 38 outdoor seats. The restaurant will operate under an existing Class C quota license, meaning there are no specific indoor/outdoor bar requirements, and remains tied to the property.
The interior will include a brighter atmosphere, with the dark wood removed, as well as all non-structural columns. The existing bar will be updated with a porcelain top, and a new lounge will be created in the front window area.
Commissioners unanimously approved the site plan and special land use permit, with commissioner Clinton Baller absent.
The location had been vacant since Cameron’s left in June of 2019, when the restaurant closed without advanced notice to diners or staff. Cameron’s originally opened in the Willits Building shortly after the building opened in 2001, along with companion restaurant Mitchell’s. The latter space has been reimagined as three casual locations: Sidecar, Shift and Slice.