Chef Adam Evans, formerly of Ford Fry’s The Optimist and Jonathan Waxman’s Brezza Cucina, is opening Automatic Seafood and Oysters on Fifth Avenue South in downtown Birmingham, Alabama. The restaurant should open in late January.
Automatic, named for the Automatic Sprinkler Company that once occupied the windowless, 1940s warehouse, will showcase fish sourced primarily from the Gulf of Mexico, as well as oysters from the waters along the Southern and Eastern coastlines.
Evans also plans to include fresh caught sardines and seasonal bycatch — fish caught unintentionally in nets while fishing for other species — on the menu. His idea is to present diners with a fresh, clean, and fun approach to the Southern seafood restaurant.
“You can go to a lot of restaurants in the South and get grouper or snapper, but there’s way more out there in the Gulf than overfishing those two fish. I want to showcase the Gulf’s variety,” Evans says of his menu. “People may not realize, for instance, you can get octopus or spiny lobsters out of the Gulf and don’t have to buy from California or elsewhere.”
But, the chef hasn’t forgotten steak and vegetable lovers. There should be a healthy amount of turf to balance out the surf on Automatic’s menu.
The restaurant is located close to two popular dining neighborhoods in Birmingham — Five Points, home to Hot & Hot Fish Club, owned by James Beard Award winner chef Chris Hastings, and the Lakeview entertainment district.
Evans, who grew up in Muscle Shoals, left Brezza Cucina at Ponce City Market in 2016 after only ten months to move back to Alabama to open the restaurant with wife Suzanne, an interior designer whose past work includes Ralph Lauren in New York City and Smith Hanes Studio in Atlanta. In addition to being a co-owner, she is also handling Automatic’s design. Evans told Eater Atlanta at the time of his departure from Brezza Cucina, he intended to open his own restaurant.
Renovations are already underway, including the installation of windows along the front and sides of the building. The couple found the ramshackle warehouse after a year of searching for properties in Birmingham. They instantly fell in love with its potential and industrial past as the largest sprinkler manufacturing company in the Southeast. A large, cast iron plate was discovered still intact on the building during demolition bearing the name “Automatic.”
Evans says the vibe at Automatic will be “comfortable, elegant, and classic.”
2824 Fifth Avenue South, Birmingham, AL. automaticseafood.com