Baby Doe's Matchless Mine

From Bhamwiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Logo for Baby Doe's Matchless Mine

Baby Doe's Matchless Mine was a 260-seat theme restaurant located at 2033 Golden Crest Drive atop Red Mountain near The Club and Vulcan.

Baby Doe's was part of a national chain created by Specialty Restaurants of Anaheim, California, founded by aviation collector David Tallichet Jr. The Birmingham location opened in 1979. Other locations included Atlanta, Georgia; Kansas City, Missouri; Dallas, Texas; and Denver, Colorado. General manager of the Birmingham location was Mark Kulisek.

The chain was named for Elizabeth McCourt "Baby" Doe Tabor (1854–1935), the young bride of Central City, Colorado mine owner Harvey Doe. After that marriage failed, she was romanced by millionaire Colorado Lieutenant Governor Horace Tabor. Tabor left his wife and moved with Baby to Leadville where he bought the "Matchless Mine", a silver mine named for a brand of chewing tobacco. The value of silver plunged after 1893, causing the Tabors to plunge into poverty. Tabor was appointed Postmaster of Denver and counseled his bride to, "Hang on the the Matchless. It will make millions again. Several years after Tabor's death in 1899, Baby returned to Leadville and futilely focused her attention on reopening the mine. She was found dead of exposure in her cabin in 1935, having exhausted her supply of firewood. Her story inspired two books, a Hollywood film (Silver Dollar, 1932), and an opera (The Ballad of Baby Doe, 1956)

Like its siblings, the 521-seat Birmingham restaurant was sited to take advantage of panoramic views, specifically of Birmingham's skyline. The building was held up by piers, and was made of weathered wood and tin roofing from old buildings in Tennessee and Arkansas. It featured 10 dining rooms of four floors, with exposed beam ceiling, and rough board floors topped by scattered rugs.

Construction of the $1.2 million restaurant building began in 1977, and involved cutting a new access road above WBMG-TV's studios. A simulated mine portal led into the 200-seat disco lounge, which had an illuminated dance floor. A small gift shop offered branded merchandise and replica copies of old "Denver Post" newspapers. The restaurant prepared all of its foods from scratch, and operated its own laundry. "Boomer", a mule, was tied up in front of the restaurant to greet patrons.

The menu featured broiled steaks, seafood, ribs and roast duckling. Many patrons developed an attachment to the restaurant's beer cheese soup, served with every entree. An all-you-can-eat Sunday brunch included made-to-order omelets and waffles as well as bacon, sausage, cheese blintzes, boiled shrimp, king crab legs, jambalaya, pasta, vegetables and desserts.

In February 1981 new manager Kirk Renn apologized to the public for the shortcomings of its heating and air conditioning system, which it replaced that month.

On August 10, 1983, Wanda Jones was abducted from the Baby Doe's parking lot during a private party, and taken to a house in Pinson where she was raped by several men. Three men, Stanley Wilson and brothers Kenneth and Michael Thornton, later pleaded guilty and were convicted of the crimes against Jones. Publicity about the case negatively impacted the restaurant. Guetram Anderlik was general manager and master chef of Baby Doe's in 1984. Darryl Crook was manager of the restaurant in 1985.

The structure suffered from its exposure, with diners complaining of drafty windows and leaky roofs. Baby Doe's was briefly closed due to health department violations in late 1989. The restaurant was expanded and renovated in 1990, and was closed to the public from February to May for the $800,000 project which included a new roof and a thorough cleaning of the kitchen grease traps. George Sarris took over as general manager. New features included an outdoor waterfall and parking lot lighting. Boomer was replaced with a human security guard. The revamped menu included Raspberry Zinfandel Chicken, Scapi Chardonnay, and Veal Oscar. Several dishes were offered either stir-fried or cooked in champagne.

Baby Doe's roof was severely damaged in the March 13 blizzard of 1993, and the restaurant, then managed by Ladeana Huges, was closed for repairs. It never re-opened, and the building was subseqently torn down.

In 2000, Specialty Restaurants of Anaheim, California attempted to obtain a permit to build Red Mountain Restaurant on the site. After a year and a half of delays, Specialty withdrew its plans. The Club purchased the 6 1/2 acre site on August 8, 2002 for $625,000.



  • Kihss, Peter F. (March 8, 1935) "Wait for Silver, Advised Tabor, And Widow Did--Unto Death," The Washington Post
  • Conway, Chris (March 27, 1979) "Mountain restaurant to be replica of mine." Birmingham Post-Herald, p. C1
  • "Atmosphere at Baby Doe's cant be matched." (July 13, 1979) Birmingham Post-Herald / Kudzu, p. 4
  • Martin, Richard (February 25, 1985) "Tallichet's battle plan built on casual themes." Nation's Restaurant News
  • Jimmerson, Janet & Mitchell Diggs (May 16, 1990) "Reworked Baby Doe's offers mother lode of food, service." Birmingham Post-Herald, p. D9
  • Coman, Victoria L. (October 11, 2000) "Eatery planned for Doe site will offer dining with a view." The Birmingham News
  • "Baby Doe's offers a massive brunch with a great view." (January 15, 1992) Birmingham Post-Herald, p. D6
  • Coman, Victoria L. (January 2, 2002) "Restaurant work to begin in Spring 2002". The Birmingham News
  • Coman, Victoria L. (August 22, 2002) "The Club purchases site where Baby Doe's stood." The Birmingham News

External links

Locate with
Google Maps