Drop by Alabama Peanut Co. on Morris Avenue, and you will find proprietor Jaime Thursby open for business – while undertaking renovations and learning the ropes of peanut roasting from building owner John Cassimus. You will also be enveloped by the most heavenly aroma of peanuts. It’s what happens in Birmingham when an energetic entrepreneur converges with the steward of a 111-year-old peanut roasting facility.
“I’m teaching Jaime the art of peanut roasting, which was taught to me by my grandfather.” – John Cassimus, building owner
The origin of Alabama Peanut Co.
Thursby found himself unexpectedly in the peanut business 18 months ago. His family runs On a Shoestring Antiques in Bluff Park, and he needed a vendor for the store’s monthly market. “I couldn’t find a boiled peanut vendor. I thought they’re supposed to be everywhere, it’s the South,” he said. So he and his brother-in-law, Darrel Graff, decided to do it themselves. That was the beginning of Alabama Peanut Co.
“We went to Walmart and bought a $20 pot (to boil peanuts). It took off in Bluff Park, so we started doing all the breweries in town.” – Jaime Thursby, proprietor
From there Alabama Peanut Co. grew and became a regular vendor at Cahaba Brewing, Avondale Brewing, Good People Brewing and the Market at Pepper Place. Now it has expanded to the historic peanut roasting facility at 2016 Morris Avenue, which was founded by Cassimus’ grandfather, DJ Cassimus, in 1907.
Alabama Peanut Co. will boil peanuts onsite while continuing to operate the facility’s original antique roasters. Thursby also has plans to offer boiled peanut flights, featuring a variety of signature flavors, and to bring back the classic “peanuts and Coke.” Customers can also nab an Alabama Peanut Co. t-shirt.
When Thursby lived in Atlanta, he worked in lifestyle apparel for New Balance. Using that experience to his advantage, the new storefront will sell Alabama Peanut Co.-branded lifestyle apparel and souvenirs.
Turning a Birmingham landmark into a destination
The building is the last remaining produce business on the once-bustling cobbled street of Morris Avenue. In reverence to that distinction, renovations to the building will be minimal. Thursby plans to install a new sign out front, a big counter around the roasters and seating indoors and out. There will be a souvenir shop and a designated take-out area for customers buying for football Saturdays and other occasions.
“We want it to be a destination. It’s such an iconic space, and everyone knows where it is. We want to bring it back to where people say, ‘Let’s go down to Morris Avenue and get peanuts.'”- Jaime Thursby, proprietor
Open now, with a grand opening planned for June
Alabama Peanut Co. is currently open for business on Morris Avenue. Thursby plans to hold a grand opening in June when renovations are complete. Keep an eye on the shop’s Instagram for daily hours and the date of the grand opening.