Chef Erica Barrett to open next area of SOCU Southern Kitchen & Oyster Bar in Birmingham

Erica Barrett, the executive chef and operator of SOCU Southern Kitchen & Oyster Bar in Cellular is set to extend her culinary manufacturer into Birmingham.

Barrett will open up a 2nd Alabama area of the well-known Southern seafood eatery at the food corridor in downtown Birmingham’s Pizitz setting up.

Slated to open in 2022, SOCU will transfer into the complete-company restaurant space formerly occupied by Fero, the contemporary Italian notion which shuttered in 2018. Considering that then, the house has housed occasional pop up gatherings, these as a 2019 edition of the Alabama Multicultural Organization’s night out, that includes libations from Dread River Distillery and a preview of Unos Tacos, the Mexican-encouraged taco thought from Chuy Mendez and chef Vinh Tran, the operator of Ono Poké. A yr later on, Unos Tacos opened its foodstuff stall throughout the summer season of 2020.

“The Pizitz Foods Corridor is thrilled to welcome SOCU Southern Kitchen & Oyster Bar to Birmingham. From the signature oysters to the fried hen and waffles, SOCU will deliver something fresh new and thrilling to the downtown Birmingham food stuff scene,” reported DeeDee Shashy, leasing manager for authentic estate enhancement firm Bayer Properties in a push release. “SOCU will supply our company with a new culinary expertise that is contrary to something else in Birmingham. We can not wait for the metropolis to working experience this distinctive idea from Chef Erica Barrett.”

Cellular native Erica Barrett opened SOCU Southern Kitchen & Oyster Bar in 2019 on Mobile’s Dauphin avenue. (Courtesy, SOCU Southern Kitchen area)

Bayer Qualities begun renovating the historic Pizitz making in 2015. The combined use enhancement of flats, office environment areas, merchants and dining establishments opened in 2017.

The foodstuff hall at the Pizitz– a assortment of 14 food stalls, two comprehensive services places to eat, and a most important bar– opened in late wintertime with a range of culinary tenants, which include Alabama Biscuit Business, Ono Poké, and the Ethiopian restaurant Ghion Cultural Corridor.

Hailed as a reflection of Birmingham’s culinary renaissance, the foodstuff hall has professional a natural rotation of tenants around the past 4 years. 4 of the first eateries that opened with the meals corridor in 2017 are nonetheless operating: the Louis, the Pizitz anchor bar, Tran’s Ono Poké, Mo:mo, chef Abhi Sanju’s Nepalse eatery and the very hot puppy and hamburger joint, the Conventional.

The Pizitz has also welcomed a amount of new tenants, which includes bakery Endolyn’s Pies, Indian avenue food stall Silver Kati, and Pho Pho. In 2020, popular “gourmet to go” eatery Ashley Mac’s opened in the previous Ghion Cultural Corridor room. Months later on, Mendez and Tran’s really anticipated Unos Tacos opened in the stall across from the Louis. Previously this yr, the food items corridor welcomed Nola Ice – Broad St. Peaux Boys, a mashup of Kelli Caulfield’s two hugely profitable foodstuff vans.

It’s a churn that is bred measurable results for a number of the foods hall’s culinary talents, both as a result of simple manufacturer expansions or new places. Nola Ice-Wide Road was Caulfield’s to start with brick and mortar enterprise. 3 alums of the Expose kitchen area, REV Birmigham’s culinary incubator, have continued their concepts right after their tenures. Puerto Rican eatery Tropicaleo, the Reveal kitchen’s first tenant, opened it’s entire assistance restaurant in Avondale. Chef Kimberly McNair Brock of Bitty’s Living Kitchen area sales opportunities cooking courses and sells her plant-dependent foods in partnership with Bama Well being Foods. After a temporary run with her possess restaurant in Five Details South, chef Andrea Foster of The Preservery however caters and operates a series of pop ups and supper golf equipment.

In 2018, Vinh Tran opened a second area of Ono Poke in Homewood and a 3rd site is established to open up in the Summit early upcoming 12 months. Chuy Mendez, who expanded his beverage director place at the Louis to turn out to be an running spouse, teamed up with Tran for Unos Tacos. Past 12 months, Mendez partnered with Jay Williams to open a fourth locale of J Wings, Williams’ common wing location, at the Pizitz. Early future year, Mendez and Tran plan to carry on their culinary portfolio with another collaboration. The duo have introduced ideas for Adios, a margarita bar in the business space of The Dagny setting up on 1st Avenue North in downtown Birmingham.

Mindy Rhor, the director of advertising at Bayer Properties says Chef Erica Barrett’s culinary eyesight is the “perfect fit” for the food corridor.

“Erica is so great” mentioned Rhor, nodding to Barrett’s resourceful talent for spearheading special occasions these as brunches with specially curated menus. “To know her is to know her brand. The principle is incredibly distinctive from every thing we have here at the Pizitz.”

The buildout for SOCU’s entire service area in the Pizitz creating contains a patio in the again of the cafe. The location is even now in the bare bones stage prior to the official redesign, and Rohr suggests she’s thrilled to see how Barrett’s workforce will mould the new place. If Barrett’s Cellular restaurant offers any hints, the decor of the new Birmingham locale may perhaps be equally as warm and cozy, with plush velvet chairs and walls lined with black and white wallpaper.

Barrett opened SOCU Southern Kitchen and Oyster Bar in 2019 on Mobile’s Dauphin avenue. The identify pays homage to the phrases “Southern” and “culture, ” two ideas that have established the tone for Barrett’s culinary occupation.

A Mobile native, Barrett grew up in the town and remaining at 17 to go to Clark-Atlanta College, wherever she majored in enterprise finance and afterwards went on to commence a corporate vocation. Just after web hosting cooking contests with mates, she went on to start off a catering company. She sooner or later expanded her brand with Southern Culture Artisan Foods, a assortment of specialty breakfast goods, rubs, seasonings and coffees. Following providing the products at festivals and trade fairs, the interest of much larger shops served jumpstart Barrett’s trajectory to a countrywide scale. In 2014, she appeared on NBC’s “Shark Tank.” In 2016, Oprah Winfrey included her grits on her list of Oprah’s Most loved Matters. In 2018, her look on CNBC’s “The Profit,” gave her the resources to get out of financial debt and restructure her organization. A yr later on, she’d open up the cafe in Mobile.


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The menu at SOCU Southern Kitchen area and Oyster Bar is a mix of Southern convenience food stuff, from chicken and waffles and braised oxtails, to seafood specialties together with new fish and oysters, as effectively as little plates such as Barrett’s signature fried lobster deviled eggs.

The formal announcement says the Birmingham locale of SOCU “will carry on focusing on seafood and elevated southern foodstuff — with a reinvention on traditional southern traditions.”

According to the release, the menu will consist of: candied bacon/ fried lobster deviled eggs, Cajun hen spring rolls, SOCU’ signature charbroiled oysters, macaroni & cheese, collard greens, jalapeno creamed corn, seafood dressing, Hennessey peach cobbler, fried rooster and waffles, double fried pork chop with crawfish gravy, Cajun lamb lollipops and Oprah’s favorite stone ground grits (which incorporate shaved parmesan and garlic topped with gulf shrimp).

In the announcement, Barrett also reported she was searching forward to SOCU participating in an active philanthropic position in Birmingham with philanthropic functions that contain giving absolutely free foods to family members at the dining establishments once-a-year Friendsgiving occasion.

“We are so energized about coming to Birmingham,” Barrett stated in the same push launch. “Of system, we are seeking forward to assisting increase the city’s economic system by opening our next place there.”

Barrett also has options to expand her cafe empire outside of Alabama. SOCU Prime, a steak and seafood iteration of her SOCU cafe model, is slated to open up in Atlanta in 2022, in accordance to the Atlanta Journal Constitution.


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