World of Beer
World of Beer was a bar and restaurant located in Pickwick Plaza at 1005 20th Street South from November 2012 to December 2016. The business, owned by a group of investors headed by Amir Shah, was the 33rd franchise location of the World of Beer chain headquartered in Tampa, Florida. The owners anticipated opening as many as five franchise locations around Alabama.
WOB 1 Acquisitions LLC was organized in 2011 with Shah along with eight investors, including Ward Drennen and Rayford Cook. As vice-president for operations, Cook attended training classes with World of Beer in Florida.
Renovations of the vacant space, last occupied by Halfshells Oyster Bar & Grill in 2006, were approved by the Birmingham Design Review Committee in May 2012. The proposed changes, designed by JVB Architect of Tampa, included new gateway entrance from 20th Street to the Pickwick Plaza's courtyard space. Planners anticipated that the bar, with outdoor courtyard seating and a walk-up counter, would contribute a "festive atmosphere," to Five Points South and serve as an "anchor" to the northern part of the district.
When it opened on November 20, the 3,200 square foot bar promised 500 beers from around the world and 50 draft beer taps that would rotate frequently. Servers were extensively educated on the bar's offerings and repeat customers could keep track of the beers they had sampled while earning points toward "Loyalty Club" discounts. Originally the bar did not offer food, but allowed patrons to bring food or have it delivered to the bar from nearby "partner restaurants" whose menus were kept on-hand. Live music was anticipated on three to six nights per week.
By 2014 the business had abandoned its "partner restaurant" concept and was offering a selection of "Tavern Fare", including sandwiches and flatbread pizzas.
Shah ended his franchise agreement with World of Beer on November 30, 2016 and continued to operate the bar as Magic City Brew. He announced plans for a modest remodeling and reopening in December, but later decided to close the bar. According to Shah, the unsold food was donated to "local charities".
- Swant, Martin (May 9, 2012) "First of five World of Beer openings in Alabama could be in Birmingham." The Birmingham News
- Williams, Roy L. (May 10, 2012) "World of Beer bar in Five Points South gets Birmingham's Design Review Committee approval." The Birmingham News
- Poe, Ryan (September 18, 2012) "Southside's World of Beer signs restaurant partners." Birmingham Business Journal
- Poe, Kelly (December 14, 2016) "Magic City Brew, formerly World of Beer Five Points, is closing." The Birmingham News