Who’s on First? Businesses on Birmingham’s 1st Ave N. could make it the “hippest spot” in town, including a dental office that is described as “cool”

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Magic City Dentistry’s Dr. David Sollenberger standing at the entrance with mini-Vulcan. Photo courtesy of Magic City Dentistry

I think it may have started when the Atomic Lounge unveiled a painting depicting Birmingham’s own local version of the Beatles Sgt. Peppers’ Lonely Hearts Club Band album cover. Or perhaps it was the “mini- Vulcan” welcoming patients at Magic City Dentistry.

Atomic Lounge on 1st Avenue North. Photo courtesy of Magic City Dentistry

One thing is true, over the past 2-3 years, 1st Ave. North in downtown Birmingham has become one of the hippest spots in the Magic City.

Need examples? Here are 4:

Elyton Hotel

Birmingham Alabama
View of Railroad Park from on top of the Elyton Hotel by Pat Byington for Bham Now.

Located on the Heaviest Corner on Earth, the Elyton, a luxury hotel with one of the best rooftops in the city, opened their doors in July 2017. With 111 guest rooms and 6 suites, the historic bank building turned historic hotel has become a “destination” not only for out of town guests but for locals too.

The Cocktail Trail: Paper Doll, Pilcrow Cocktail, Atomic Lounge, Cayo Coco Rum Bar

Who needs a Pub Crawl when you have 4 classy craft cocktail lounges all on the same street? How about a “Cocktail Trail?”

Look at this lineup:

Atomic Lounge – The Atomic, which is next door to Magic City Dentistry, has been named a James Beard semi-finalist 2 years running for their original cocktails. The place is also part “time machine.” Visit and you will know what we mean.

Paper Doll – 2320 1st Avenue North – In December 2018, the old Tavern on 1st location was reimagined as Paper Doll, a sprawling, impeccably decorated, lavish space perfect for dates or after work cocktails. We also love the local artwork on the walls.

Pilcrow Cocktail – 2015 1st Ave North -Pilcrow is perhaps the area’s best kept secret. Located in the basement of Founder’s Station and one of the oldest buildings in town Caldwell-Milner (1887), you won’t find a large entrance or sign to guide you. Simply look for the red neon “P” pointing in between two buildings, then descend the stairs into the basement for this hideaway specializing in tequila and mezcal cocktails.

Cayo Coco Rum Bar and Restaurant – Also in Founder’s Station, Cayo Coco is set to open in mid July. Inspired by 1940’s Cuba, the soon to open rum bar and restaurant is poised to be the most beautiful new addition to the area. It is owned by Andrew Collins of the long time staple Collins Bar on 2nd Ave N., (you can add that place to the Cocktail Trail). Expect something different.

Bar at Cayo Coco Rum Bar and Restaurant. Photo courtesy of Magic City Dentistry

From Andrew Collins:

“We’re looking forward to serving the Birmingham community with good food and drink in an atmosphere that they haven’t experienced before.”

Founders Station and Mercantile on Morris

Via: Founders Station FaceBook

When Birmingham’s Loft District was created decades ago, 1st Avenue North was what many of our community’s visionaries had in mind.
In the past couple of years, several attractive condo/retail developments have become reality along 1st Avenue.

Founders Station – A four-building 60,000 square foot project downtown, on the corner of First Avenue North and Morris Avenue, Founders Station is home to more than two dozen condos, offices, The Essential, Alabama Peanut Company, Pilcrow and the upcoming Cayo Coco Rum Bar and Restaurant.

Mercantile on Morris – Soon to be opened, this mixed-use space, which has been under renovation since early 2018, will feature 47 residential condos and 13,000 square feet of commercial space.

Site of the Mercantile on Morris re-development. Photo by Pat Byington for Bham Now

Magic City Dentistry

Photo courtesy of Magic City Dentistry

It may seem strange to call a dental office cool or trendy. But, you only have to do a simple Google search to know that Magic City Dentistry is unlike anything you’ve experienced at the dentist. A mini Vulcan greets you at the door and Netflix awaits you in each treatment room to keep you entertained while you are there.

Since opening in July of 2018, the folks at MCD have been getting rave reviews not only on the services and the staff, but also on the décor and feel of the space. From the ever changing led light colors of the front desk, to the chartreuse colored curved walls and current upbeat indy music thumping, this place has a crazy eclectic feel that is definitely different. Words like ‘vibe’ come up often. And that is exactly what they are doing- vibing with the rest of the area in a way that makes them fit right in with the cool crowd.

Hippest Spot that’s growing

The verdict is in – 1st Avenue North is hip and it is growing. Check it out – from the cocktail trail to the dental office that makes it all fun.

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Author: Pat Byington

Longtime conservationist. Former Executive Director at the Alabama Environmental Council and Wild South. Publisher of the Bama Environmental News for more than 18 years. Career highlights include playing an active role in the creation of Alabama's Forever Wild program, Little River Canyon National Preserve, Dugger Mountain Wilderness, preservation of special places throughout the East through the Wilderness Society and the strengthening (making more stringent) the state of Alabama's cancer risk and mercury standards.