In the past, my offices have always been the stereotypical cubical packed rooms stuffed into an office building of like spaces, which was just another building in the midst of a large office park. These offices were close-ish to the major interstates and highways in town and made it easy to zip in and out to where I needed to go.
Fast forward to now and our little space sits on 2nd Avenue North on top of a bar. Yep, you read that correctly, we have an office on top of a bar…the Collins Bar to be exact. There are some days I don’t love the 10+ miles drive, but there are some amazing things about working “in the city”.
#1: The Vibe
I grew up in the Birmingham metro area in a time that downtown Birmingham was considered unsafe and definitely not “cool”. Now, I pull off the expressway and see vibrant buildings, colorful murals, and people walking the streets that are WAY cooler than me. This city has revamped itself over the past 10 years and it exudes confidence, diversity, and cool. Birmingham just has a vibe and I’m here for it.
#2: The Noise
Sure, it’s not ideal to pause in the middle of a Zoom meeting because a firetruck comes blaring by and it is so loud the windows on our old building shake, but I love it. I love to hear the “hustle and bustle” of the city. The cars that come by at lunchtime blaring unexpected music. The conversations of people that walk down the street leave me wanting to know the rest of the story. The ringing of the phone at the bar downstairs at 9 am. Who calls a bar at 9 am? The horns honking in the morning as people are in a race to the next spot. The noise of this city is exciting and pumps me up.
#3: The People
I love people. I love being around people and talking to them. Being around others energizes me. In a typical office setting, I’m only around the people who have the same matching key card to get into the same authorized area as me. Downtown I see and meet new people every day. The artists in the gallery down the road, the lawyers coming in and out of the courthouse, the suit-adorned group from the financial district, and the amazing creative minds of all of the marketing and advertising friends around us. My favorite time is when the weather is good and all of the people come out. So many people in such a small area.
#4: The Food
Man, I love food. I may love the food more than the people. Maybe. Without hopping in my car I can walk just a few short blocks in any direction and be 100% satisfied with my culinary choice. Some of our “Friends on 2nd” faves:
- La Fresca– If you haven’t had the lunch sandwich with hot oil, don’t walk there, RUN!
- El Barrio– I recently branched out and tried the chorizo meatloaf, which is much more manageable with the lunch portion and it did not disappoint. The plantain nachos are also a crowd favorite.
- Paramount – Games, beer, and good food, what more can I ask for. The burgers are off the chain, but I often catch myself getting the cobb salad which is also delicious. Paired with my favorite beer choice of the week and we have the perfect lunch. Confession, I drink beer at lunch.
- Pizitz Food Hall – I’ll be honest, I didn’t understand a food hall until I worked in the city. This one location basically hits all of the reasons above: vibe, noise, people, and food. It is loud, fast-paced, and people from every walk of life all enjoying the same space. My favorites are Ono Poke and grabbing a ramen bowl from Pho Pho.
#5: The History
The history of this city is around every corner. Our office faces the Cathedral of St. Paul. This is the gorgeous Catholic church that has been in our city since 1893. I have dreams of a future rooftop space so I can do my work and look at this beautiful architecture. Watching the old building be revamped and revitalized into something new is exhilarating. My curiosity is always peaked: who lived or worked there? What is their story? What will this place be next?