Our hearts broke to say goodbye to 15 local spots that closed in 2020

Lucy's Coffee + Tea, one of the local spots that closed in 2020
This one really hurt. Lucy Bonds shut the doors of Lucy’s Coffee and Tea after 27 coffee-filled years. Photo via Pat Byington for Bham Now

This past year was nothing if not a time for change. Among other things, we said goodbye to these 15 local spots that closed in 2020. Some broke our hearts. Some are reincarnating in a new form. Keep reading for all the details.

1. January: Charlemagne Record Exchange

kids walking up stairs at Charlemagne Record Exchange
If you never made the trek up these stairs, you’ll never know the quirky and musical world you missed. Photo via Sharron Mendel Swain for Bham Now

For 42 years, Charlemagne Record Exchange was *the* place to go in Birmingham for used records. Yes, that was a thing.

Greats like Carlos Santana came in, along with Stevie Ray Vaughan and Tom Waits (not all at the same time). Plus a lot of music-lovin’ people from Birmingham and beyond.

2. January: Hot Diggity Dogs

Hot Diggity Dogs, one of the local spots that closed in 2020
Staff cooking up some of the best hot dogs in Birmingham, back in the day. Photo via Hot Diggity Dogs’ Facebook

From 2016 to early 2020, visitors to Hot Diggity Dogs were able to get the most creative hot dogs and ice cold beer. We were so sad to see them go, even before the pandemic had arrived on our shores.

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3. March: Babalu

Babalu in Lakeview closed its doors this year
Babalu in Lakeview. Photo via Bablu’s Facebook

Babalu was one of two Birmingham spots that closed this year that had managed to come back after a fire. Fans still had a chance to enjoy taco Tuesdays and more before they closed for good in March.

4. March: Brio Tuscan Grille

Birmingham, BRIO Tuscan Grille, Valentine's Day, one of the local spots that closed in 2020
Cocktails at BRIO Tuscan Grille. Photo via Brio Tuscan Grille’s Facebook

If you ever needed a classy place for a Mother’s Day brunch, celebratory work lunch, a gathering of girlfriends, or just a night out, Brio somehow managed to fit the bill.

5. March: Mile End Deli

Birmingham, Mile End Deli, food, brunch, breakfast, pancakes, one of the local spots that closed in 2020
I ate one of the most delicious Reubens ever there. Photo via Mile End Deli

Mile End Deli enjoyed a brief stint here in Birmingham. The long-awaited Jewish deli opened in early 2019 right beside Railroad Park, only to close just over a year later. I’m glad I had the chance to have one of their Reubens first, though.

6. April: Cowfish Sushi Burger Bar

They had sushi. They had burgers. And they had a giant yellow fish outside. Photo via Cowfish’s Facebook

Now that they’re gone, I’m kinda sad I never tried one of Cowfish’s spiked milkshakes. I was even working at The Summit for much of the time they were there—what was I thinking?

7. May: Lucy’s Coffee & Tea was one of the local spots that closed in 2020

Birmingham AL, one of the local spots that closed in 2020
Lucy Bonds, owner of Lucy’s Coffee and Tea. Photo via Pat Byington for Bham Now

Believe it or not I actually remember when Lucy’s owner Lucy Bonds started off with a coffee cart decades ago, before coffee shops became a ubiquitous part of the American landscape. Over the years, everybody loved Lucy’s, and this one really did break our hearts to see it go.

8. May: Z’s Restaurant

Z's Restaurant, one of the local spots that closed in 2020
Carolyn Bolivar-Hameen and Ezekiel “Zeke” Hameen, owners of Z’s Restaurant. Photo via Kristina O’Quinn for Bham Now

Z’s Restaurant had been in business on 17th Street downtown since 2008. Their bean pies even got them a visit from Andrew Zimmern and an appearance on Bizarre Foods America. Like so many other restaurants who struggled under the weight of COVID restrictions, they closed their doors in May.

9. June: Urban Standard

Urban Standard was one of the local spots that closed in 2020
Remember what a cool vibe Urban Standard had? Also, their cake pops were delicious. Photo via Urban Standard’s Facebook

For 13 years, Urban Standard was a great place to meet up for a coffee or a meal. They even had a fire in 2017 and came back stronger than ever. Sadly, on June 17, they became another COVID casualty.

10. July: Brennan’s Irish Pub

Brennan's Irish Pub was one of the local spots that closed in 2020
Front entrance at Brennan’s Irish Pub in Five Points South Birmingham. Photo via Pat Byington for Bham Now

In March it was named best Irish pub in Alabama by Delish.com. By July 25, COVID had caused the beloved hangout spot to close.

11. August: Woodlawn Cycle Cafe

Woodlawn Cycle Cafe was one of the local spots that closed in 2020
Armand Margjeka, owner of the erswhile Woodlawn Cycle Café. Photo via Kristina O’Quinn for Bham Now

While Woodlawn Cycle Cafe closed its doors in early August, we were happy to hear that the previous owners were cooking up something completely different for West Homewood. Buka, a neighborhood wine shop and market, should be coming to West Homewood soon.

12. September: Zoe’s Vintage in Forest Park was one of the local spots that closed in 2020

Birmingham, Zoe's in Forest Park, Forest Park, Halloween, costumes
The store front of Zoe’s in Forest Park always had the wackiest displays. Photo via Zoe’s Facebook

For years, Zoe’s lured us in with Hortense, the zany mannequin outside, and all kinds of treasures to explore inside. But Zoe’s season drew to a close on September 10, 2020, and that corner of Forest Park will never be the same.

13. November: brick & tin downtown

Brick and Tin downtown was one of the local spots that closed in 2020
brick & tin was the site of many a Bham Now team lunch. Photo via Pat Byington for Bham Now

This one’s bittersweet. We loved eating at brick & tin downtown, back when we worked at Forge. Thankfully, this one’s more of a…dare we say it…pivot than a shutdown. We can’t wait to try out bowl. the new concept from the same folks.

14-15. December: Fancy’s on Fifth + Sneaky Pete’s in Mountain Brook

I don’t remember a time when that Sneaky Pete’s wasn’t in Mountain Brook. But sadly, all good things must come to an end. Also, we hate to see Fancy’s on Fifth go, even though they did leave the door to the possibility of coming back.

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Now tell us, Birmingham, what did we miss? Which places closed in 2020 that broke your heart?

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Sharron Swain
Sharron Swain

Writer, Interviewer + Adventurer | Telling stories to make a difference

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