This month’s one on one conversation touched on all things entertaining, from dining to music. We paired Chef George Reis up with musical entrepreneur Brian Teasley to talk about the growth of the city’s entertainment scene and just where we go from here.
Photos by Beau Gustafson
Brian Teasley, one of the founders of the recently closed Bottletree Café, resurfaced this spring with a new music venue and coffee shop/bar in the Avondale neighborhood of Birmingham. The new ventures are right next door to each other on probably the city’s hottest, hippest street: 41st.
Teasley partnered with the Bowery Presents, a concert management company based in New York, to open Saturn and Satellite.
“The biggest thing that we are trying to achieve is to keep Avondale growing in the right direction. We want to keep a cutting edge element to Avondale. The neighborhood is very dear to me. I have lived there for years and it is very exciting to see how individuals are interacting with the new place,” he says.
“I wanted it to be more than a rock club where great bands are playing…although I certainly want that, too,” he explains. “But making it a central part of the community is one of the things we are trying to achieve. That is one of the great things about having the coffee shop there. Having people and energy there throughout the day is really fulfilling and exciting to me. When you look around the coffee shop you can just see the ideas being generated.”
With his history as club owner and touring performer (Teasley says he has performed 3,300 shows in 40 countries), he finds the equation for a great music venue to be quite simple: “Happier bands equal happier patrons.”
George Reis was born in the Midwest and raised in upstate New York, which gave him an appreciation of the greatness of farm fresh foods and the blending of world flavors. After living and working in New York, Dallas, the Gulf Coast, and Atlanta, Reis was able to realize his dream by moving to Birmingham and opening his award-winning seafood restaurant Ocean in March 2002. Four years later, he opened a sister restaurant next door, 26. Reis has been an active member of the Birmingham Originals since 2002.
His latest major undertaking has been the re-imagining of the space that has held 26 for almost 10 years. “We opened 26 in 2006. It had a great run and did great food. In 2006 it felt like it was cutting edge in décor. But lately to me, it started to feel kind of tired. The food was always good and interesting, but I knew I wanted the look to be updated,” Reis says. Once he came to that realization, he decided to go all out. “I started looking at ways to create something that was really very different from Ocean.”
What he came up with is Five Point Public House and Oyster Bar. He has been working on the new place nonstop since 26 closed in March. Most of the staff has been able to stay on during the renovations at full salary and they have been deeply involved in creating the new space.
Five Point will feature, in Reis’s words, “chef-driven casual and comfortable food.”
“We will have 30 taps for beer, eight wines on tap, and an exciting menu of craft cocktails. The food menu is going to be an all-day menu.It is an oyster bar, so we will have great seafood. We are doing some great sandwiches and wonderful plates. A few pizzas in the oven. Things like that,” Reis says.
“To me the key to growth is to stay fresh, both in food and decor. It is important to always do small improvements,” Reis says. With the transformation of 26 into Five Point, Reis and company have taken that credo to a new level.