The Garages

From Bhamwiki
Jump to: navigation, search

The Garages is a group of 1930s-era tile-roofed garage stalls arrayed around a courtyard on the 2300 block of 10th Terrace South for the convenience of automobile owners residing at the Highland Plaza. It is now best known as the location of owner Fritz Woehle's antiques showroom and the Garage Café.

Woehle purchased the abandoned complex in the mid 1970s and moved his design office there. Soon he began leasing individual stalls out to other small businesses. Notable tenants included Charlemagne Records, La Cocina Mexican restaurant, Dick Jemison's art gallery, Cather & Brown Books, and Crackerbox Productions (Grayson Dix). Sculptor Frank Fleming used space there for his studio, and Tom Goad used the Garages to host his "Southside Sundown Cinema" series. Amasa Smith created a full-page advertisement for the Garages that ran in the Birmingham News, but neglected to include a street address, with the result that the site's lone pay-phone rang off the hook for days.

By the early 1970s, most of those businesses either closed or relocated to Five Points South. Woehle began expanding his own estate and antique sales business in the various stalls, gradually focusing on architectural antiques. In 1979 Patrick Cather and Bo Brown, opened their first used and antique book shop, Ex Libris, at the Garages.

In 1981 the Garages was used as a location for a bar scene in "Benny's Place", a TV movie starring Louis Gossett Jr and Cicely Tyson which aired on ABC in 1982. A dozen years later, Jimmy and Kelly Watson leased a connected pair of stalls on one corner for Garage Café and were given permission to use the courtyard for outdoor seating. The bar, which opened in 1994, later expanded to a total of four adjoining stalls.

In 2010 restaurateur Chris Hastings considered building a new restaurant in the adjacent spaces and covering the courtyard, which would have been shared with the bar. He dropped those plans in the face of a popular backlash and unfavorable cost estimates.

References

  • Geiss, Chuck (September 30, 2010) "Naked Birmingham" Black & White
  • Carlton, Bob (January 28, 2011) "Birmingham chef Chris Hastings drops plans for restaurant in Garage Cafe building." The Birmingham News