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Leveraging the food we’ve got downtown

Brick & Tin: Interior. bhamsandwich/FlickrI will admit up front that I wasn’t able to attend the Sidewalk Moving Picture Festival this year. It’s the third year in a row that I’ve not enjoyed sitting in the Alabama on a September evening…

My previous post only hints at one reason why I didn’t make it (which I hope to go into more detail about in the coming days). The other reason involves the TSA thinking that a camera monopod could be a weapon, leading to spending more time at O’Hare than I thought possible…

It is about this time that we normally see reviews and comments about the festival. One of the comments I stumbled across this year via Facebook was one by Wade Kwon suggesting that the festival was still “stumbling on food vendors.”

The food vendor issue is something that shouldn’t be much of a problem anymore just because I think that Birmingham’s city center has turned the corner in terms of places to eat with even more coming in the near future. It is something that has several solutions, but finding one that folks are comfortable with remains key right now.

The main problem with our new crop of  restaurants may be convincing the owners that staying open late (and on Sunday) on one of the busiest weekends in the downtown area makes sense.

In the six years I’ve been living here, we’ve never seen a bigger potential selection of restaurants within 5 blocks of the festival’s main scene. Yes, I think that people can walk five blocks to grab a bite to eat. Establishments like Rogue TavernUrban StandardBrick & TinTrattoria Centrale, and Brannon’s could easily see a weekend of cash registers ringing. It would take some coordination between the restaurants and the festival, but it would be an incredible addition to the weekend. Given the apparent success of the city’s inaugural restaurant week, it is possible and would allow those visiting as well as those who don’t normally venture downtown to see all that is available. They could even have a limited menu set up of easy to prepare foods that would not keep moviegoers from missing much of the festival just because they were hungry.

One thing to point out is that Birminghamians don’t seem to like to walk that far; natives and transplants alike will circle blocks for minutes trying to limit their exposure to their feet touching the pavement as much as possible.

It’s interesting to point out that there are film festivals in urban areas, most notably the Tribeca Film Festival.

The Sundance Film Festival also suggests exploration (though probably calling Park City urban would be a stretch for some).

This may be a case of Birmingham not liking to walk more than anything else. Given the excitement surrounding current developments in and around Railroad Park, that should fade soon (though we’re still in for a few years of folks don’t necessarily want to wander too far away from their next potential film – or anything else).

A special from Pete’s Famous with a Grapico and some chips wouldn’t be a bad thing then…

What do you think?

Photo: Brick & Tin: Interior. bhamsandwich/Flickr

Published inSidewalkSocial commentary