Garage Café

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Garage Café's courtyard in May 2002

The Garage Café was a bar and sandwich shop located at 2304 10th Terrace South off Highland Avenue in Southside. The bar, opened in 1994 by Jimmy Watson, occupied part of a former complex of 1930s-era covered garage stalls arrayed around a courtyard.

The rest of the stalls are filled with antiques for sale by landlord Fritz Woehle. The bar's seating extended into the courtyard where wisteria vines shade casually-arranged piles of old lawn statues, architectural fragments and plumbing fixtures.

The Garage served a limited menu of thick sandwiches served on Big Sky Bread Company bread.

In 2003 GQ magazine named The Garage Café one of its "10 Bars Worth Flying To". It has since been written up in Esquire and other publications as well. The bar's resident Garage Kitty was struck by a car and killed in 2007. In 2010 Hot and Hot Fish Club owner Chris Hastings considered building a new restaurant in the adjacent spaces and covering the courtyard, which would be shared with the bar. He dropped those plans in the face of a popular backlash and unfavorable cost estimates.

In 2014, Southern Living named the Garage Café as one of the "Top 100 Bars in the South."

Watson traditionally closed the bar during the week of Labor Day and treated his staff to a trip to Grayton Beach, Florida.

Jimmy Watson died in March 2014 from injuries suffered in a vehicle collision. His brother Kenny ran the Garage Café until it closed on Saturday August 30. After that time, Fritz Woehle's daughter Kay opened a new bar, called The Garage, in the space after the traditional Labor Day closure. Longtime bartender Jyl Williamson stayed on as co-manager. Most of the staff and decorations, with exception of the Watson brothers' personal belongings, stayed the same.


  • Harris, Neely ( ) "Garage Café". Esquire magazine.
  • McAlister, Laura, Joe O'Donnell, Mary Ellen Stancill and Carla Jean Whitley (2009) "The Drinker's Dozen" Birmingham magazine
  • 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
  • Carlton, Bob (January 23, 2014) "Birmingham well-represented on Southern Living's list of '100 Best Bars in the South'." The Birmingham News
  • Carlton, Bob (August 28, 2014) "Birmingham treasure the Garage Cafe is changing hands after 20 years." The Birmingham News

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