Wilders downtown bistro approval postponed
By Grace Lovins
Considerations for a special land use permit and final site plan and design plan review, including an outdoor dining patio, for a new Birmingham bistro, Wilders, to be located at 460 N. Old Woodward Avenue, were postponed by the planning board until their next meeting on Wednesday, July 13.
Wilders, originally proposed under the name Wilders Supper Club by Birmingham restaurateur Samy Eid of Phoenicia and Forest Grill, will be located on the first floor of a new multi-use, three story building set to replace the space formerly owned by the Junior League of Birmingham. The new restaurant will feature fresh seafood options along with prime chops and dinner service Tuesday through Saturday, as well as brunch on the weekends.
The proposed outdoor dining area would be split into two patios, accommodating a street tree and existing slope, which combined hold 18 seats. A leaf will be attached to each platform in order to add two additional seats, making the total of outdoor seats on the patio 22 seats.
An eight-inch ramp would also be inset into the south platform to allow for ADA accessibility. Additionally, the platform would be enclosed with an aluminum surround, metal railings, and hanging planter boxes.
While multiple board members noted their liking of the design, board members Janelle Boyce and Robin Boyle expressed concerns over the lack of dimensions included in the final site plan that illustrate the elevation levels of each patio along with a final illustration of furniture selections such as umbrellas, tables and chairs, and trash receptacle.
Due to the existing slope on N. Old Woodward Avenue at that site, both patios would require elevation to keep tables and chairs at the proper level. A representative on the restaurant's team stated that the slope of the south deck is just under six inches, however, the final site and design plan failed to include the exact measurements.
Boyle later asked Eid about the choice of an outdoor dining patio as opposed to an outdoor dining platform given the current narrowness of the sidewalk. Eid noted his disinterest in expanding the outdoor dining patio into the street, stating that someone had previously driven through the outdoor dining platform at Phoenicia restaurant.
Eid also noted that the location of a dining platform in the street would place it close to the approach to Ravine Road, and that the patio was designed with the intention it would be better suited for the city than a platform.
Despite Eid’s intentions to keep the patio instead of moving into the street, Boyle and board member Stuart Jeffares expressed interest in the possibility of altering the structure of the patios to fill the trapezoidal, empty street space in front of the building due to concerns over the narrow walkway.
Board member Bryan Williams, supported by Boyle and Daniel Share, advised the applicant to return to the board on July 13 with a diagram that shows the outdoor dining areas of the neighboring restaurants to the site, a revised design of the proposed outdoor dining patio that includes the dimensions of the elevated platforms as well as the final furniture selections, and an illustration of a potential outdoor dining platform that shifts the patio into the empty section of the street and eliminates the need for a second platform.
A motion to postpone the considerations of a special land use permit and final site plan and design review to the next meeting was also called with all board members voting in favor.