30th Street Cakes Now Open

“Ring by Spring”, a common phrase thrown around on the local campus of Samford University. The idea that many graduating seniors will be engaged by  their spring semester has led engaged Samford senior Mary Michael Maddox to capitalize on the phenomenon, and her passion for baking, and open up her very own local wedding cake company. 30th Streets Cakes officially launched March 2 in the kitchen of Mary Michael’s little apartment in Highland Park.

 

After years of helping her mom out in the kitchen of their family farmhouse in Dothan, Alabama, her daily rituals became her youthful passion which has now led to the start of her first business as she begins the journey of “adulting”. Mary Michael believes in the essence of celebration and strives to create a cake worthy for anyone’s BIG day or  anything else worth celebrating. In her biography online she talks about the abundance of celebrations and parties her family threw growing up, she says, “basically anything you can think of, we threw a party for. And when there was a party, there was a cake.”

Mary Michael’s love for the small and simple details of a celebration are visibly seen in her work. Her cakes are simple and elegant with whimsical strokes of frosting laced with wild botanicals. “I believe that our generation has moved passed the desire for perfect elegant cakes and more towards the desire for the natural and simple look.” She finds joy in not only the finished product but also in the process of creating a cake, an art of sorts.  “My goal is to create more of an artisanal style of cake.” says, Mary Michael.

If you are throwing an upcoming party or looking for the perfect wedding cake, send Mary Michael an email or stop by her website: www.30thstreetcakes.com. She would love to sit down with you over a good cup of coffee and talk celebrations.

My Magic Sity Success: Brandon Cain

This is the second installment of a three-part series that explores the nature of successful businessmen and women in Birmingham.

________

“Find a mentor. Learn from their mistakes and successes. Then, find someone to pour into and ‘make a deposit in their emotional bank account.'”

As the chef and co-owner of Post Office Pies, Saw’s Soul Kitchen and Roots & Revelry, Brandon Cain has gone through the trials and triumphs of running a successful business. With elite culinary training, Cain worked under some of Birmingham’s nest chefs and learned as much as he could before stepping out into the industry on his own in 2009. He recalled sleepless nights and countless hours of creating, refining and polishing plans that have evolved into restaurants filled with culture that keeps customers coming back for more.

Cain and best friend John Hall dreamed up Post Office Pies, and when Hall returned to Birmingham from working at New York City pizza restuarants, they began putting their plan into action.

“We are just gourmet chefs that want to make an honest pizza,” Cain said. And with the dream in mind, Cain has followed some fundamental guidelines that have helped him build successful restaurants over the years.

Developing a business plan can be overwhelming and daunting. But whether it’s finding a template online or creating one from scratch, the business plan will be the most important material you can have when going to the bank, Cain said. Using this plan, demonstrate to the bank that you are a trustworthy client that is prepared to take the next step. Businesses can succeed or fail, and banks are a deciding factor in the beginning phase, so maintain a good relationship with your bank.

As you get farther along into the process, you will also have to seriously realize the cost.

“Once you get funded, it becomes fun and stressful at the same time,” Cain said. Sometimes he wasn’t able to afford the whole dream all at once, and he was OK with that. As you work out what is within your means, you can start physically structuring and maneuvering parts of the business to create your vision.

Especially if you’re in the food industry (or looking to get into it) inspections are a big hurdle that business owners have to get over before the doors open. Therefore, you need to go to the city officials early. Sending in paperwork and making sure everything is up to code early prevents mishaps from occurring later in the process.

“If you can have the city on your side, then you’re 50 percent of the way there,” Cain said. He also noted that while the first time you go through this process it feels personal, it’s not, and the officials are doing their best to create a safe environment.

Once a business is up and running, staying close to the core of the project can be tricky. In some instances, Cain has had to fight his corporate business sense in order to keep the culture of the restaurant in tact, even if it means spending an extra hour peeling the skins off tomatoes or making pizza dough from scratch. These basic measures preserve the authenticity so that when customers walk into the restaurant, they feel like they’re in a neighborhood pizza place.

“The culture is what everyone’s buying into,” he said. “All people care about is a good time and a good quality product that is consistent.”

Establishing a reliable atmosphere will comfort customers, who know they will have a better experience each time they come back. “Trust is the biggest thing in growing our brand,” Cain said. He strives to push Post Office Pies as well as his other restaurants to improve their technique and efficiency each day they serve the community.

Birmingham Without Walls

Proximate

Hollie Woodis, a student at Samford University, said she was given insight to a different perspective of homeless by sheer happenstance.

“My boss went out of town and asked me to run errands while he was gone,” Woodis said. “He asked me to run a check to the post office.”

But the trip that was supposed to be a straight-shot to the post office took a turn that Woodis did not expect. That was the day she met a Birmingham citizen living without a home.

“I saw a man walking on the side of the road,” she said, “and he had his big bag and was looking down on himself, like he wanted a ride.”

Woodis picked up the man, whose name she later learned was Lonny Williams, and gave him a ride to the post office.

“Our relationship formed out of that,” she said. “I gave him my number and he calls me when he needs a ride, usually to the post office or to his nephew’s house.”

When Woodis was confronted with this image of homelessness—one that she said she had never seen before—it gave her the opportunity to view homelessness differently. Woodis said it was this personal relationship with a member of the houseless community that allowed her to combat houselessness in Birmingham—not through ministry or activism, but through simple understanding and friendship.

Mallory Pettet, who works with homeless people in Five Points recalls a conversation she had with a local activist. “One thing he told me that raised my hair is this: ‘In order to change the narrative we have cast, we must proximate ourselves with the parts of our city that are broken,’” Pettet said.

“We just want to know them,” Hannah Baker said. “So many [of the homeless] are so broken and are so willing to admit ‘I did wrong, I made a mistake and now I’m stuck.’ It’s not because they are a different kind of people. There is just a lot of hopelessness in trying to get out of that.”

This is the final installment of a five-part series. 

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

Birmingham Without Walls

Homeless in Birmingham

Hamilton-Schumacher frequently tells the story of the best newspaper seller he ever met.

“If all our time invested in The Voice came down to one story and one life that was changed, this would justify it all,” he said.

“The story is of this man that came to us. I don’t remember his name,” Hamilton-Schumacher said. “He was a builder—a contractor—living paycheck to paycheck.

“He came from up north and all of his jobs were numbers in his phone and he lost his phone one day. And losing his phone created a snowball effect. This guy who had been his primary contact wasn’t able to communicate with him and probably interpreted his silence as the inability to follow up on a job.

“He lost his work and was evicted from his apartment. Because he had no money coming in, he lost his car insurance. Since he was no longer able to drive it, he sold it because he needed cash. He eventually ended up on the streets. And he is a skilled builder that—because of the loss of his phone—ended up on the streets.”

Hamilton said those circumstances play out over and over; one mistake or one slip sentences people to years of poverty to be served on a street corner or in transitional housing. In the city of Birmingham, the rate of unemployment is 5.4, comparable to 5.0 in Atlanta and 5.2 in New York and a half a percentage point higher than the national average.

“I feel that homelessness is systemic and there are not only current but also historical events that have led to what we are experiencing today,” Hamilton-Schumacher said. “There are individuals in this city who are living paycheck to paycheck.

This is the fourth installment of a five-part series. 

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

Birmingham Without Walls

A Voice for the Homeless

Ryan Hamilton-Schumacher and his wife, Hope, noticed a hole in Birmingham. When the couple relocated to Birmingham from Nashville in 2009, they noticed a clear division between two communities in the city.

“We recognized the privilege that we didn’t earn, but were born into,” Hamilton-Schumacher said. “That privilege unfairly gave us a larger voice than others.”

The computer programmer and his wife, a doula, decided to fill that hole by creating a newspaper catering to Birmingham’s homeless community.

“We wanted to provide a medium for those who didn’t have a voice to have a voice, whether it was creative writing, poetry, drawing or reporting on occurrences in the city,” Hamilton-Schumacher said.

The street paper, aptly named The Voice, was a carefully designed business model intended to lead Birmingham’s impoverished citizens back into the work force.

“What we saw as a problem was that if you’re experiencing homelessness, it’s difficult to earn a job. Employers ask for all these key pieces of information that someone who is homeless will not have,” Hamilton-Schumacher said.

“So, this was an avenue to reintroduce individuals to the job market. We wanted to be able to provide some infrastructure to their work and help them earn their own money. They also have someone to put as a reference. We say it is a tool to help individuals pursue other jobs.”

Hamilton-Schumacher said that combatting homelessness begins with employing people who are experiencing homelessness. According to Hamilton-Schumacher, the inability to maintain a reliable source of income aggravates the cycle of homelessness.

“There is a large community of people in the religious community that want to help homeless and houseless people, with all the best intentions in the world,” he said, “but the issue of homelessness cannot be solved just by giving money and feeding people. You can’t rent an apartment, pay for food and send your children to daycare while working at McDonald’s. There is no way to survive. You have to get more than one job, but you won’t be there for your family.”

This is the third installment of a five-part series. 

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

Green Eggs in the ‘Ham: Gyro Edition

Birmingham is a city filled with history, culture, and food. While we’re not complaining that new restaurants open around town all the time, it’s hard to choose where to eat when there are countless options right in front of you. But don’t worry! The Local is here to help you find the most authentic and trendiest spots to grab a bite the next time you’re looking to eat out.

gyro

Original Gyro, Glory Bound Gyro Co.

Greek food in the South can be hard to come by, but Glory Bound Gyro Co. brings its Mediterranean twist right to Birmingham. Owners, Will Taylor and Chris McDonald, found inspiration for this Mediterranean-style restaurant while traveling in Greece. It’s been a hit since they opened the first Glory Bound in Hattiesburg, Mississippi in 2009.  

Glory Bound opened in downtown Birmingham during the summer of 2015 right along the new Rotary Trail corridor. The blend between Mediterranean dishes and American concepts create familiar recipes, and the open, light atmosphere draws customers in.

“Our uniqueness in this kind of business really sets us apart,” said manager Parker Smith.

So what should you get? If you are new to the gyro game, then the Original Gyro is for you. The lamb and beef filled tortilla is topped with lettuce, onions, and tzatziki sauce.  The meat and sauce pair well together as you get a blend of both sweet and savory flavors, creating a simplistic taste that will leave you wanting more.

If you’re adventurous with your food, the award-winning Pepperjack Gyro is sure to call your name. Topped with bacon, pepper jack cheese, and comeback sauce, this gyro will surely never disappoint.

Have you found a restaurant that you think we should try? Email us at hdiamond@samford.edu.

Welcome to The Local

Mission Statement:  The Local provides contemporary coverage and insight on a historical city from a youthful perspective. We foster a culture that challenges young people to engage in the growth around them. The Local captures powerful moments that reflect the vibrant character of the Magic City.

This mission statement provides focus that aligns our team as we work to create The Local. It embodies our desire collectively, and as individual journalists. Each member of our team offers unique talents and perspectives that enable us to see deeper and discover untapped writing potential.

Birmingham is beaming with vibrant character that has found its place in history. The Local is inspired by the city of Birmingham and the way it is constantly reinventing itself. Birmingham is ever evolving alongside the inhabitants of this city. The Local is inspired by these people’s stories, their goals and defeats, and how they converge to shape this diverse culture.

We believe that stories matter because people matter.  These stories are just glimpses we have captured and now want to share with you, the reader.  Our goal is to capture the human experience in a way that the reader can connect with deeply as we aim to bring moments to life through vivid colors, details and striking stories.

The re-launch of our website thelocalbham.com is an overflow of our growing vision for the magazine.  In this continuing narrative, we hope to paint a picture on this online canvas.  Continue to follow our progress and growth here.  All that we ask of you, the reader, is that you experiment, engage and allow yourself to be enchanted by the “Magic City.”

IT’S HERE!

The Local magazine is holding a launch party today from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Ben Brown Plaza to celebrate the debut of its Spring 2016 print edition. In conjunction with Sojourn, Samford University’s literary publication, Local staff members will be handing out magazines and churros– a nod to Thursday’s Cinco de Mayo holiday.

After switching the publication’s name from Exodus to The Local at the beginning of the 2015-2016 academic year, magazine staff members have sought to report on stories that highlight the trending people, places and organizations that contribute to Birmingham’s unique flavor. The Spring 2016 edition marks The Local’s second published volume

Samford Gives Back

This Saturday, April 16 from 8a.m. – 1 p.m. join Samford University’s in giving back to the community of Birmingham as the Samford Gives Back campus-wide initiative seeks to serve the city.

Students from sororities, fraternities, and different organizations across campus will come together Saturday morning in Samford University’s Sievert gym to receive their assignments before going out into the community. Many students don’t know what they will be doing that day, but they come with open hands and eager hearts to serve wherever there is a need.

The Frances Marlin Mann Center for Ethics and Leadership will be sponsoring the initiative by partnering with local organizations. This year’s theme is “love your neighbor” and that is exactly what the Samford community will be doing that day. This initiative is not required for any student but more than 600 students come out to serve every year and each year the number surpasses the last.

Spring Festivals

The weather is warming up, which means that the outdoor festival season is just beginning. There are so many food, music, and cultural festivals happening in Birmingham. You can experience so much without ever having to leave the city. We came up with a list of just a few that are coming up over the next few weeks.

2016 Alabama Asian Cultures and Food Festival 
April 9, 2016, 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Zamora Shrine Temple
3521 Ratliff Road, Irondale

              This festival has been hosted by the Alabama Asian Cultures Foundation for 8 years now. There will be many different music and dance performances and art displays. A a food court  will be open from 11:15 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. serving many different kinds of Asian cuisines. Admission is 8 dollars for adults and 5 dollars for teens, veterans, and college students with ID.

18th Annual Lebanese Food and Cultural Festival
April 8 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.  abd April 9 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
St. Elias Maronite Church
836 8th Street S, Birmingham

      This two day event hosted by the St. Elias Maronite Church community is not to be missed.  Traditional Lebanese food such as kibbee, grape leaves, tabouleh, grilled chicken, homus, baklawa will be served. There will also be dancing and music performances. Admission is free. 

Bhamburger Battle
April 15 6 .m. to 9 p.m
Cahaba Brewing Company
2616 3rd Ave South, Birmingham

       Birmingham’s inaugural burger competition will have 4 local chefs. There will be  a live auction and music and proceeds will go to Crestwood Day School. The cost is 25 dollars which includes 4 slider sized burgers, bag of chips and a drink. 

Turkish Food Festival 2016
April 16 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.  and April 17 12 a.m. to 6 a.m.
Istanbul Cultural Center
2146 Centennial Dr, Hoover

Traditional Turkish food will be served and there will also be a raffle for traditional Turkish gifts. Admission to the festival is free, however you must pay for food.

Barons Bash presented by Vulcan Material
April 16 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Railroad Park
1600 1st Ave S, Birmingham

      Celebrate the first Barons game at Railroad Park There will be food, inflatables and games. The event is free and some events will be ticketed. All proceeds will go to the Railroad Park Foundation.