A special part of Birmingham is its secret gems that you may only discover through word of mouth. For example, a coffee and vintage shop nestled in the East Lake area or a competitive women’s roller derby league you can watch on Saturday nights. Learn something new from the conversation between East 59 Vintage & Café owner Anna Brown and Tragic City Rollers president Brittany Garner.
When Brown and her husband moved to the East Lake area a year and a half ago, they noticed that residents didn’t have many options to grab a bite to eat and gather together in their neighborhood. “So we thought, ‘Let’s open a coffee shop!’” she says. “Our whole family got on board. One of our family members had a vintage shop, so it seemed like the right fit.” East 59 Vintage & Café has been open a little less than a year, but is already becoming a local favorite. The restaurant offers breakfast and lunch options in addition to drinks, including everything from an old-fashioned root beer float to an iced tea latte, which many have described as the equivalent of drinking a cupcake. The vintage shop (also available online) is the perfect place to shop for unique finds, including jewelry, clothes, and home décor.
Brown says the restaurant works hard to employ East Lake residents and also has a large community calendar they like to keep updated with local events. “It’s different, but that’s what it makes it fun. We have people come in and leave telling us they have a new pride in their neighborhood,” says Brown. “East Lake is back!”
Garner grew up playing sports and after graduating college, she decided she didn’t feel like stopping. While she would have been fine with something traditional like softball or even the Olympic sport curling, Garner was pleasantly surprised when she stumbled across the Tragic City Rollers, Birmingham’s competitive women’s roller derby league. The team, now in its 11th year, is made up of librarians, nurses, social workers, teachers, and more.
“When people think of roller derby, they may think it’s just a bunch of girls hitting each other. It’s much more than that,” she says. “It’s a lot of women from different backgrounds supporting each other. We also want to support the larger Birmingham community. We choose a different charity to give back to each year.” The team plays on Saturday nights at the Zamora Shrine Temple. Guests can sit further away or in what is considered “suicide seating,” which puts them right against the track. Garner enjoys seeing people attend games for the first time and is excited to be a part of Birmingham’s vibrant future. “A lot of us like to put on our skates, meet up at Railroad Park, and roll through downtown,” Garner says. “It’s a great time to be a part of this city.”