Neighborhood restaurant and market Hazel, Ravines and Downtown opens Monday in Birmingham
If the third time is the charm, as they say, then the newest restaurant at Woodward and Maple in Birmingham is set up to have some good mojo.
Opening Monday, Hazel, Ravines and Downtown will be the third concept Beth Hussey and Emmele Herrold have launched together. They opened -- and have since moved on from -- One Eyed Betty's and Pop's for Italian in Ferndale; both were part of the Kramer Restaurant Group. This time, Hussey and chef Herrold are doing it on their own without investors.
"We both agreed that Birmingham was the spot we wanted to (open a restaurant in)," said Hussey, after she and Herrold decided to "get the band back together" and open a restaurant together on their own, something they've been wanting to do for a decade. Hussey said when she was running Betty's and Pop's in Ferndale their biggest demographic was Birmingham residents
"What we did at both those place was really well-received by Birmingham folks and we just feel like what we do doesn't really exist in Birmingham," she said. "There's some great places in Birmingham ... I'm not insulting my neighbors in any way, but just a really casual, come-as-you-are, very approachable, little funky, a little artistic doesn't really exist in Birmingham."
Hazel, Ravines and Downtown, which is also a grab-and-go market and convenience store, is the third restaurant for this high-profile corner over the past few decades. Most recently it was gastro bistro the Stand, and before that Italian restaurant Zazios.
With HRD, they've checked all the boxes: a mix of casual and fine dining; farm-to-table cuisine; and a design by Ron Rea of Ron and Roman architects.
Hussey and Herrold believe they'll be successful because they want to offer something more approachable than some of the other bars and restaurants in Birmingham. It's a family-friendly neighborhood restaurant with a big, gorgeous view of Woodward and Maple from just about any seat in the house.
They can pull the Birmingham crowd by being neighborly, and I can also see Hazel Ravines and Downtown attracting diners — particularly brunchers — from nearby suburbs such as Ferndale and Royal Oak because of their track record with Betty's and Pops.
The somewhat odd name for the restaurant, which is in the Greenleaf Trust building, refers the three Birmingham neighborhoods that converge in this area: Hazel, Ravine and Downtown.
The menu features the name and is broken into thirds. Hazel represents consistent, familiar comfort foods like green bean casserole, meat and potatoes, grilled cheese and chicken noodle soup. Ravines takes you out of the neighbor and gives Herrold a chance to showcase cuisine that she's experienced while traveling. This list features European and South American fare. The "Downtown" portion of the menu is where the trendy cuisine lives, including several vegan dishes and a lot of seasonal, rotating dishes.
The beer and cocktail menus follow the same pattern with familiar, well-traveled and trending options. Hussey says Hazel, Ravines and Downtown is the only restaurant in town with a Jim Beam highball machine that makes perfectly-mixed whiskey cocktails using extremely carbonated soda. One dollar for each of these drinks sold will be donated to a charity of the bartender's choice.
There's also a raw bar with oysters, mussels, caviar and other seafood, helmed by Richard Washington, who was part of the team that opened popular Ferndale seafood spot Voyager. Herrold said she's given Washington "carte blanche" to do what he likes with the raw bar.
After opening Monday, Hussey and Herrold say they're going to start weekend brunch right away, unlike waiting a few weeks like many new restaurants.
"We're just going to go for it," said Hussey, adding that they'll have a separate brunch menu that includes the three concepts, as well as brunch-y drinks like fruit-infused water and a big-time twist on a mimosa called a "mimosta."
Another note about drinks: the owners say they won't be serving traditional straws — a huge, eco-friendly trend right now — but they won't serve those terrible paper straws, either. They're trying to come up with creative alternatives like edible straws; details will be unveiled as they open.
Straws aren't the only ethical issue being tackled here. The two restaurant veterans are also planning on giving employees a good quality of life by only scheduling them for 40 hours week instead of 60 to 70 hours that is not uncommon in this industry.
By design, the HRD seats fewer than its predecessor did with just 120. There's also flexible private dining areas for 15 to 100 guests, perfect for showers, holiday meals and rehearsal dinners.
Besides a menu that aims to have something for everyone, HRD wants to be an asset to the neighborhood with the store, which they say will be more like a 7-Eleven than a specialty market with grab-and-go snacks, nitro coffee, cold brew, beer-to-go and drug store items and other sundries.
For neighbors dining in, there's a free ride. Any party who takes an Uber or Lyft from a Birmingham address to HRD will get the ride reimbursed.
Starting Monday, Hazel, Ravines and Downtown, 34977 Woodward, Suite 100 in Birmingham, will be open for lunch and dinner 11 a.m.-midnight Mon.-Fri. and 9 a.m.-midnight Sat.-Sun. The market and store opens at 7 a.m. daily. Visit hrd.kitchen.