Frank Stitt’s uplifting message for Birmingham

Highland Bar & Grill
Highlands Bar & Grill (Photo by Joe Songer)

We are witnessing the re-invigoration of Birmingham.

We’re super-charging our look, our feel, and our brand.

And a dynamic husband and wife team are largely responsible.

Frank Stitt and his wife, Pardis, have fundamentally transformed how we and others perceive Birmingham.

A few years ago, a friend of mine flew across America to Yountville, California to eat at Thomas Keller’s world renowned The French Laundry. The French Laundry had been recognized as one of the best restaurants in the world.

Now my friend, wife, and family can get in their car and drive a few blocks to eat at Frank Stitt’s Highland Bar & Grill-also one of the best restaurants in the world.

Frank Stitt has fundamentally transformed Birmingham

Last year, after nine previous nominations, Stitt’s Highlands Bar & Grill won the James Beard Awards for outstanding restaurant and best pastry chef (Dolester Miles).

“Over these past 10 years, Stitt has heard enough comparisons to Susan Lucci — the soap opera star who infamously went 18 years before finally winning an Emmy Award on her 19th go-around — to last a lifetime.”

Stitt has proven that the grandest dreams in the world can be achieved in a humble city like Birmingham, Alabama

Al.com wrote, “A restaurant from Birmingham, Ala. — which, until an ambitious and imaginative young chef from Cullman named Frank Stitt came along and opened Highlands Bar and Grill in 1982, was better known for its barbecue and meat-and-threes — now stands shoulder to shoulder with some of the finest dining establishments in the country.”

“You see all of these restaurant nominations… “They’re from New York, they’re from Chicago, they’re from San Francisco. Birmingham, people kind of do a double-take.”

And Stitt has trained many chefs, who opened other fine dining restaurants like Chris Hastings of Hot & Hot Fish Club and Ovenbird.

Praise for Birmingham have come from everywhere—Vogue, The New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, USA Today, and Zagat to name a few.

Before Stitt, Birmingham was probably best known for Bull Conner.

Now we’re known as an upcoming city famous for great food.

If Frank Stitt had a magic wand for Birmingham

Earlier this year, Stitt was asked by the Birmingham Business Journal, “How can Birmingham better capitalize on the momentum it is experiencing?”

“I do think that even though it’s a long shot, a metro government — if I had a magic wand, and we could do a little bit like Nashville and Denver and some other cities have done and consolidate all the little, tiny surrounding municipalities into one metro area — I think that would be my magic wand.”

“I think we’ve been divided by racial discrimination, and I think it’s time for us all to work together and work with our commonalities more than our differences. If we could all help to pull the whole community higher, that would be a great common goal.”

Long shot—but we have taken our first step

Yes, it’s definitely a long shot that Birmingham will have a metro government in the immediate future, but we are making serious progress with regional collaboration.

As has been widely reported, 23 Jefferson County mayors signed the Good Neighbor Pledge agreeing not to poach businesses from one another and to work together for the betterment of our Birmingham region.

Most people would have bet against the coming together of our mayors, but our mayors are showing great courage and vision.

Frank Stitt has proven to the world that anything is possible in Birmingham Alabama.

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David Sher is Co-Founder of AmSher Compassionate Collections.  He’s past Chairman of the Birmingham Regional Chamber of Commerce (BBA), Operation New Birmingham (REV Birmingham), and the City Action Partnership (CAP).

Invite David to speak to your group for free about how we can create a more prosperous metro Birmingham. dsher@amsher.com.

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3 thoughts on “Frank Stitt’s uplifting message for Birmingham”

  1. This is a true and very significant posting. These two subjects: 1. the effect the excellence of the Stitt’s work and 2. the one step movement toward metropolitan cooperation really increase the belief that Birmingham with little doubt can get better and be more widely known as a better city.

    Bull Conner was bad history that should not be forgotten, because no city should that kind of character in charge of anything. Knowing that history helps prevent it happening again, but should never even slow down the possibilities of creating a much better city.
    The more the the wider world knows about the better things of Birmingham the better the effect. The Stitt’s have been a HUGE positive contribution.

  2. I have witnessed the change in Birmingham since the opening of Frank’s many successful restaurants and the transformation is truly remarkable. Their addition to the character of the city is obvious.

  3. Agree, Frank Stitt has been absolutely pivotal to keeping Birmingham relevant and on the map. It might even be appropriate to replace Vulcan with a Stitt statue…. Too far? Ok, a Stitt statue right next to it 🙂

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