Toast to no longer serve dinner, cut other hours
By Kevin Elliott
Birmingham city commissioners on Monday, December 13, gave final approval to a special land use permit to Toast, 203 Pierce Street, to allow it to reduce its hours of service and cut dinner service without losing its special bistro liquor license.
Toast owner Regan Bloom has operated the popular downtown breakfast and lunch spot since 2008 under a special land use permit (SLUP) from the city. As one of the early bistro license holders in the city, the SLUP states specific hours that the restaurant must be open for service. According to the original bistro ordinance, bistros are required to be open for dinner to activate city streets.
Toast owners in October went before the city’s planning board to request a change in service hours, focusing solely on breakfast, brunch and lunch menus. The new hours would be 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. The planning board recommended city commissioners grant final approval at its December 13 meeting.
“The hour change is that we don’t have as many people working (in offices). More are working from home,” Bloom said at the October planning board meeting. “We don’t have the demand. People are living a different lifestyle. If they came at 7 a.m., we would open at 7 a.m.”
Commissioners discussed whether the reduction of hours would impact activity on the street, as it has been held that the intent of the city’s bistro license process was to help activate particular commercial areas.
Birmingham City Manager Tom Markus said Toast still helps activate the sidewalk and area, rather at a different time of day than other restaurants in the area.
“Some people think the only time to activate is in the evening,” Markus said. “Some have service at night and the only time they are activating the area is in the evening. Some that have nighttime service don’t have any in the morning or afternoon hour.”
Commissioner Elaine MdLain said the hours of operation are included in the SLUP agreement with the city, and therefore should remain. She also said she personally enjoyed the dinner service.
Commissioners voted to approve the SLUP amendment and allow for the reduced hours of operation. Commissioners voted 5-2, with commissioners McLain and Katie Shafer voting against it.