Closing time—Birmingham loses 3 cherished restaurants all within one week

Closing time—Birmingham loses 3 cherished restaurants all within one week
A Birmingham classic. Photo via Olivia Moses for Bham Now

We all know the restaurant industry has suffered during these past couple years, and closings are inevitable for some. Today, we’re taking a look at three of Birmingham’s most iconic restaurants that are saying farewell this week. Cue the tears, Birmingham.

1. Magnolia Cafe

Just a sample of what they offer.
Just a sample of what they offer. Photo via Olivia Moses for Bham Now

You can’t think about Southern kitchens, meat and threes or small town family restaurants without thinking of Magnolia Cafe. Nestled in the corner of Altadena Square, I’ve always been intrigued but never have stepped inside. 

When I walked in, it seemed like I was taken back to the days where everyone knew your name. Families ate together, the owner knew his customers’ names and asked how their kids were doing. Everyone was greeted with a “how’re ya doin’?”. 

When I spoke to Mike Lee on the front lines of a busy Thursday lunch line, he told me,

“Throughout the years, I’ve seen families grow up here. It’s bittersweet for sure.”

-Mike Lee, Magnolia Cafe, Owner

A note was posted on the door from Lee and family, signed with a picture. In the note, he said:

“We want to thank everyone for the support, encouragement, and friendships you’ve shown us in the past 25 years. May God bless you and your families. Each of you will hold a special place in my heart. Please pray for my family and me while I determine the next steps in my career.” 

-Mike Lee, Magnolia Cafe, Owner

He goes on to mention that their landlord has increased their monthly rent by 42% and the effects of the pandemic seriously rattled their catering business—75% of their overall business. Ultimately, they were left with no choice but to close.

What’s next for the Lee family? While Mike says that they’re not sure, these friendships and experiences have made a positive impact on those who’ve visited. 

If you want to support them in their last days open to the public, be sure to give them a visit.

2. Kemp’s Kitchen—Trussville

MrBeast
Dream MrBeast burger at Kemp’s Kitchen in Trussville. Photo via Nathan Watson for Bham Now

Tragedy struck on November 29 when Kemp’s Kitchen in Trussville went up in a blaze. Firefighters were dispatched at 10:30 PM to a call at the site of the Kemp’s Kitchen location in Trussville. Fortunately, no one was injured in the blaze but authorities called the building “a total loss”, burning over 75% of the building with smoke and fire. 

The owners of Kemp’s will be moving the Trussville location to their existing Gardendale location. They are adamant about building from ashes.

“We are rebuilding right where our ashes are, and when we do it will be better than ever.”

-Brian Kemp, as quoted in a Facebook post from Kemp’s Kitchen

As of now, the cause of the blaze was from an electric surge from an electronic device, although the Trussville Fire Department is still investigating. 

Let’s show them some love as they face this difficult time and support the existing Kemp’s location in Gardendale. 

3. Tip Top Grill

Tip Top
Tip Top Grill on November 29, 2021. Photo via Jessica Broom for Bham Now

By now, we all know about the Tip Top Grill closing. An iconic view from Bluff Park, delicious food and a local community has come to an end. The property owner and the Tip Top Grill owner have both released statements about the cause of Tip Top Grill’s demise, but we’re simply sad about the loss to the Birmingham community. 

An encouraging statement from Forrest Smith, property owner, said that the space might be used in another capacity. We’re looking forward to all the beauty that the property can become in the future…but we’ll miss their iconic Bacon, Egg and Cheese Biscuit for sure! 

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Olivia Moses
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