Daily photo by Gary Cosby Jr|
The Brick co-owners Tina Hall and Lisa Champlin put up an “Easy Rider” poster donated by patron Brandon Vassar to replace one destroyed in a fire at the restaurant’s previous location.
The Brick tunes up for reopening
By Bayne Hughes
Owners of the new Brick restaurant and bar on East Moulton Street will be watching closely for the postman Friday as a signal that their long nightmare is finally over.
Co-owners Tina and Rob Hall and Lisa and David Champlin are expecting the liquor license from the Alabama Alcoholic Beverage Control Board. They plan to celebrate with a weekend of music, the kind that The Brick was known for before a Sept. 17 electrical fire destroyed its location on Second Avenue Southeast.
They’ve already scheduled local favorite Bishop Black to reopen this once-popular hangout. The Trinity Mountain Boys, a bluegrass band, would play on Saturday night. Beer distributors told the owners that they’re ready to roll trucks toward downtown Decatur if that license does arrive.
“We may be jumping the gun, and we could probably put it off another weekend, but we’re so ready to get opened,” Lisa said.
“We’ll be standing around the mailbox Friday morning,” Tina added.
If the two are giddy with anticipation, it’s because it’s been a long eight months of dealing with insurance adjusters, banks, contractors, building inspectors, etc. They found the new location just a block away. But this place wasn’t customer-ready, as the old location was when they bought out BJ’s Deli nine years ago.
They wouldn’t say how much they spent on renovating the 5,000-square-foot building. All they would say is that they each spent three times more than they did when they originally opened. Rob and David did much of the work themselves.
“The insurance money was gone on the sprinkler system,” Tina said. They learned that “you can never have too much insurance.”
The two women said they’d heard horror stories about dealing with the city of Decatur’s building department, but none proved true.
“It was unbelievably expensive, but the city of Decatur helped us more than we ever thought they would. They basically walked us through the process and held our hand every step of the way,” Lisa said.
Patrons will see a lot of the old Brick in the new Brick. The owners tried to keep everything as natural as possible, using brick, wood and concrete and little Sheetrock. They hung whatever art they could rescue and got patrons to contribute photos and memorabilia highlighting the old Brick.
The new Brick may, however, be more suited to its intended purpose. There’s a stage and a larger seating capacity. The interior is more wide open in one big room instead of multiple small rooms. Pool players can watch and enjoy the bands. The ceilings are high, so smoke won’t be as much of a problem.
“It’s really not much bigger, but we don’t have those storage rooms taking up so much space,” Lisa said.
As familiar as the art will be, those serving the food and drinks will be even more familiar. The owners paid for unemployment benefits in an effort to keep as many employees as they could.
They couldn’t open so quickly after passing their final building inspection Friday if 17 employees hadn’t stuck with them through all these months.
“The time since the fire has been incredibly difficult,” Lisa said. “We’ve never been this long without working. Our employees got part-time jobs and put their lives on hold. Everyone has been so loyal. This really is a place where the waitresses and bartenders know what our regulars like to eat and drink.”
The menu won’t change, either, although they added hot wings and the bar features 25 types of beer on tap.
“As far as we can find out, that’s the most in North Alabama,” Tina said.
Now, if that much-anticipated envelope will arrive as scheduled Friday, they can finally get the party started and put the past in the past.
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