Houston Coach not impressed with Birmingham food scene, offered invitation by local restaurateur

Houston Cougars Head Coach Dana Holgorsen speaks at TicketStarter Birmingham Bowl news conference on December 16, 2021

“The food could have been a little better.” — Houston Cougars Head Coach Dana Holgorsen 

Ouch. Was there a bowl game in Birmingham yesterday? All the buzz in The Magic City for the past 24 hours has been the off-handed comment Houston’s flamboyant coach made about our food scene. 

For the record, here is what he said at the press conference held after his Houston Cougars   snatched a late 4th quarter 17-13 victory against the Auburn Tigers at the TicketSmarter Birmingham Bowl.

“The food could have been a little better. All I was told about was how Birmingham is a foodie spot. I heard it from everybody. Well, you’re gonna have to look man—Houston is kind of a foodie spot too—so you have got a lot to live up too. A bunch of the good restaurants were closed on the 24th and 25th, probably didn’t experience it like I should.”

Now before you start throwing chairs and yelling at your iPhone, Holgorsen made some really nice comments about our town, calling it awesome. 

In fact, he concluded his statement by saying, “The bowl people are first class, the bowl is first class, it’s up and coming. Birmingham is up and coming. We had a heck of a time here and I appreciate that.” 

Don’t Get Mad — Send an Invite

Birmingham Alabama
Bottega Restaurant – Photo by Pat Byington for Bham Now

But what about the food? I’ve got to admit, my blood was boiling much like when the Daily Show’s Jon Stewart reacts when you compare New York Pizza to Chicago Pizza (or pie as Stewart calls it).

I then had a Eureka moment! You see, at the pre-TicketSmarter Birmingham Bowl Game press conference, Holgorsen told the media he vacations in Orange Beach quite a bit.  

Well, obviously, he needs to take a slight detour and visit Birmingham at a time when our finest restaurants are open (most were closed over Christmas and Monday before the game). I reached out to Weston Stitt, who works with the Stitt Restaurant Group, which includes Bottega Restaurant, Highlands Bar and Grill and Chez Fonfon.

After I read to him Holgorsen’s comments he quickly issued the following invitation.

“Well, I’m a big fan of Dana Holgorsen. I’ve been following him in his college football days and appreciate his style and his coaching ability. It’s exciting to have him and the Houston Cougars in Birmingham. Unfortunately, the timing didn’t work out [for him to visit Bham restaurants], so it seems like he’s just got to come back sometime in the future and give our restaurants another shot.  It is something we’re really proud of and we are confident in our abilities to provide excellent service to those who are coming to visit our lovely city.”

Official Invitation

The invite is genuine. The ball is in Coach Holgorsen’s court. He can reach Weston at Bottega Restaurant—and he’ll make sure he gets the first class service and wonderful meals we are so well known for here in the Magic City.

Though we were pulling for our home team, Auburn, we want to congratulate Coach Holgorsen on his team’s win. We look forward to your next visit – this time not on the gridiron, but at the dinner table.

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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.
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