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The Mad Hatter bistro to become Bell Bistro

By Grace Lovins

Birmingham's The Mad Hatter bistro will be redesigned and renamed as Bell Bistro, after it was approved to begin construction by the city commission at its meeting on Monday, July 11.

Commission approval encompasses a complete reconstruction of the interior layout, building facade, name, menu and outdoor dining area.

Bell Bistro, to be located on 185 N. Old Woodward Avenue, will incorporate a new design concept replacing the theme of the previous bistro, The Mad Hatter. The interior will hold 64 seats with nine at the bar, and its outdoor dining area will hold four seats.

The ourdoor dining area is against the building, so the restaurant will only be able to accommodate four seats at one table, however, attorney Kelly Allen, representing the applicant, stated to the commission that the bistro will continue trying to expand its outdoor seating.

“We don’t have any current options but we’re looking for them. They don’t have that outdoor dining because of the streetscape – they lost really prime deck area out there. So, we’re really going to try and meet with the planning board going forward and come up with something. We will be back,” Allen said. 

Following Allen’s comments, commissioner Clinton Baller noted to other commissioners that, going forward, there should be potential considerations to allocate public space owned by the city to restaurants for outdoor dining.

“I’m looking at the elevation of the front and Paris Baguette is about twice the width of Bell Bistro and Paris Baguette is mainly open for breakfast and lunch, and I’m assuming [Bell Bistro] is open primarily for lunch and dinner. The streetscape in front of both doesn’t belong to either one of these businesses, it belongs to us. I would suggest that as we further outdoor dining we consider situations like this where we allocate that space fairly among the potential users,” said Baller.

Bell Bistro owner Randy Dickow, owner and agent with Ram Restaurant Group, followed up on Baller’s comments, citing plans the bistro currently has in the works with Paris Baguette, the neighboring bakery, and the owner of the building.

“Like [Baller] said, that area that extends out that's a little further than most parts of the sidewalk, that’s prime and we really want to put a nice investment to make that a beautiful patio in the city of Birmingham. It’s our intent to really invest right back into that space and make it a beautiful patio if we’re allowed to,” Dickow notes.

The commission’s decision to approve the special land use permit and final site plan and design review was unanimous.


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