Helen, Chef Rob McDaniel’s new restaurant, coming to Birmingham this summer

This 100-year-old building, under construction in the middle, is being renovated to house Birmingham’s newest restaurant, Helen. Photo via Nathan Watson for Bham Now

Husband and wife duo, Chef Rob and Emily McDaniel are planning to bring a new restaurant, named Helen, to downtown Birmingham. Featuring prime meats, seafood, vegetables and more—all from local sources—Helen is bound to be a hit. Here is what we know so far.

Meet Helen, a Contemporary Grill Coming Soon to Birmingham

A conceptualization of Helen in the future. Photo via Helen

Helen, an upcoming restaurant in Birmingham, will be located in the Meelheim Building. This two-story, shotgun-style 1920s era building is part of the Berry Projects in downtown.

Helen will be the McDaniel’s take on a classic dining experience. Chef McDaniel plans to pay homage to the hardwood coals and smoke of his grandmother’s grill with each dish. The menu will vary from season to season with products fresh from local suppliers. Imagine meats and seafood served with vegetables and non-traditional sides. I’m getting hungry just thinking about it.

Backed by a Culinary Veteran

Chef Rob McDaniel at SpringHouse. Photo via Chef’s Roll

Helen is the brainchild of Chef Rob and Emily McDaniel, an Alabama husband and wife cooking duo. Previously, Chef Rob worked as the executive chef at SpringHouse on Lake Martin. And he must have done something right, because he is a five-time James Beard Foundation semifinalist for Best Chef: South (2013-2017).

While Rob takes care of the food, Emily will take care of hospitality. The McDaniels have partnered with local designers—such as Prier Construction and architects Hendon & Huckestein—to update the building to fit the restaurant’s needs. Inside, Hatcher Schuster Interiors will take care of interior design, while Madwind Studios will create custom metal, wood and glass work to match the aesthetic.

What’s Next?

While we don’t have a set open date yet, the McDaniels are planning to open Helen this summer. So keep an eye on their new Instagram page and their website for the latest news. I for one can’t wait to try their food!

Excited to see a new restaurant in downtown? Tag us @bhamnow and let us know!


  • Tennessee native who fell in love with Birmingham during college. Graduated from Birmingham-Southern College in 2019. Passionate about Birmingham and its continued growth.