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Chris and Amy Slayton have lunch at The Brick Deli on Tuesday. The restaurant reopened for business Monday.
Daily photo by Jonathan Palmer
Chris and Amy Slayton have lunch at The Brick Deli on Tuesday. The restaurant reopened for business Monday.

'Better than ever'
The Brick reopens to rave
reviews from loyal customers

By Paul Huggins
phuggins@decaturdaily.com 340-2395

The "B" painted on the new stage floor obviously represents The Brick, but it might as well stand for "bionic."

Like the Six Million-Dollar Man, the new Brick is bigger, stronger, faster.

Bigger because it seats nearly twice as many customers as the burned-out location on Second Avenue Southeast.

Faster because the kitchen has two food preparation lines for sending out its popular Smokey Joe or Father Guido sandwiches.

And stronger because —well, because it will have new stout beers as part of what the owners believe will be the largest tap selection in North Alabama. At least it will when the restaurant gets its liquor license in the mail any day now.

The Brick, which re-opened Monday at 112 E. Moulton St. after a Sept. 17 fire destroyed its old home, was a hit with loyal customers who waited outside the door for it to open at 11 a.m. For its owners, including Tina Hall, it was a painful but worthwhile wait.

"The day it burned, we kept saying, everything happens for a reason," she said, looking around at the new setup with parental pride. "This was supposed to happen."

Checking things out

Mike Armstrong, a server at Simp McGhee's, was among the regular patrons who checked out the new layout Tuesday for lunch. He said he sometimes visited the old place two or three times a week and said the community sorely missed it.

"There was a hole in Decatur when it closed, for music and for food," he said. "I'm really happy to have it back. It has a lot of the same feel and appeal of the old place."

The Brick salvaged items from the old place. The exposed brick walls feature some of the posters and pictures, even a few charred ones. The Tiffany lamps over the bar are the same, as are most of the tables and chairs.

The owners took the heavy slate tops from the ruined pool tables in the old place and cut, sanded and polished them into the new bar counter. Most importantly, Hall said, all the employees are back, along with three new ones.

As for the changes, one of the most obvious is the new stage in the front. Passers-by will be able to see performers from the sidewalk, much like on Nashville's Broadway.

Hall said the eatery has a non-smoking section in the front two-thirds. Higher ceilings and a special ventilation system should relieve the smoke problems of the old place, she added.

The Brick now features a square-shaped bar with different tap handles displayed on the wall.

When the license comes in, possibly in time for Wednesday night's musical guest, The Uh Huhs, The Brick will start with 10 new draft beers: Grolsch, Dos Equis, Bare Knuckle, Miller High Life, Beck's, Blue Moon, Michelob Light, Sam Adams seasonal, Shiner Bock and Harp. Eventually, The Brick will have 25 brews on tap.

"We had always said, if we get a new place, we're going to have a fabulous beer tap hall," Hall said.

The smoking section features three new pool tables in back, and the billiards league starts tonight. The new dartboards should arrive this week, too, and Hall said the dart league will restart as soon as the boards are in place.

Janis Hart, who has worked in the kitchen since the Brick opened in 1998, said the old kitchen only had enough space for one food line, worked by three or four people. The new kitchen has two food lines with six working at once.

That's good, considering The Brick now seats 140 compared to the old 80. Its capacity has increased from 160 to 400.

Dr. Kathy Sparacino and four of her office staffers said the larger crowd made the place noisier, but they said it didn't affect the taste of the food. They missed the potato salad and banana pudding and took five orders of the latter back to work with them.

Pam Terry sat at the bar and had a Smokey Joe sandwich with its smoked turkey, smoked cheddar, sprouts, Thousand Island dressing and fresh sourdough bread.

"I hadn't had it in so long I forgot what was on it," she said, re-reading the menu.

She said she used to visit two or three times a month and will be back Saturday night when her husband, Kirk, performs with the Trinity Mountain Boys bluegrass band. The food, music and friendly servers make The Brick special to Decatur, she said.

"I don't really go to any clubs in Decatur, but I could always come here and listen to good music. It's just a nice place to hang out," Terry said.

"I love the new layout," she added. "They kept it true to the old Brick as best they could. It's just bigger and better. Better than ever, really."

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