You wake up Saturday morning a bit later than usual, enjoying waking up without the aggression of your typical alarm. You start to open the blinds around the house, welcoming the sunshine coming in through the windows as you slowly make your way into the kitchen. As you’re reaching for your coffee pot, you pause. You think to yourself; I should treat myself. Placing the store-brand coffee grounds back on the shelf, you throw on some clothes and step outside — a day this beautiful deserves a good cup of coffee. After a quick walk to your local café, you open the door to the aroma of strong espresso and freshly baked goods, followed by a greeting from the barista. By the time you make your way up to the counter, your latte is waiting for you — as a regular, the barista knows your order — and you leave the coffee shop with a smile on your face. Today is going to be a good day.
There is something special about buying your coffee from people who know your name and order, yet Birmingham has seen multiple coffee shops close their doors due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Here, we say farewell to one of the best coffee shops Birmingham had to offer.
Offering “simple hospitality in an inviting atmosphere,” Urban Standard aimed to make Birmingham a home. Ran by Tom Wrzesien, the coffee shop displayed art and antiques, attempting to “create a community space where people could gather and share ideas and inspiration.” After opening in 2007, Urban Standard became a hotspot for college students, young professionals, job interviews, meetings and fellowship with friends.
Urban Standard invited customers to join them on June 17, 2020, as they closed their doors for the final time. In an Instagram post, they made the following statement.
“Urban Standard loves our community deeply and are so grateful for your support. Unfortunately, due to this pandemic, we have to close our doors for good this Wednesday, the 17th… All of the over-the-counter talks we’ve had will be so greatly missed. Thank you for everything you’ve done for us… Come by and say goodbye and grab your last latte; we want to see you before you close.”
The response on Instagram was instantaneous — everyone was sad to see Urban Standard go.
“Much appreciation for your long-standing commitment to high-quality local flavor and valuable contribution to the independently owned restaurant community,” said Instagram user @bhamoriginals, continuing, “Your presence will be greatly missed but not forgotten… You’ll always have our support!”
Instagram user, @optikalblitz, said the coffee shop was the first he called home, and even after leaving Birmingham, he was always sure to visit.
“Whenever I flew back to BHM for work travel, I’d finish out my work day there,” he said. “I’ve met new friends there; reconnected with old ones… I’m so sad to see it go.”
The comments continued to flood Urban Standard’s page, garnering 346 comments, all from customers expressing their love of the coffee shop and their sorrow at its closing.
While Urban Standard has no plans to reopen, the Birmingham community hopes to one day see Urban Standard back on the coffee map, remembering with fondness the good times they had in the coffee shop on the corner of 2nd Avenue.