Blueprint on 3rd, one of Birmingham’s hottest new restaurants, is named, quite simply, for the building it occupies – the old Birmingham Blueprint Company headquarters. But, really, owner Dean Robb’s decades-long career as a restaurateur has been a kind of creative, working blueprint for this place.
Robb understands the value of honoring the past, and he looked at some 25 spaces before deciding on this one with Pepper Place right down the avenue and historic Sloss Furnaces as a backdoor landmark. Maybe that’s because he has his own noteworthy history of regional and local food experience. He worked for 17 years with Frank Stitt as the general manager of Bottega Restaurant and Bottega Café. He spent five years growing Taziki’s Mediterranean Café from 11 locations to 72 in 13 states. He left his position as vice president of Operations after Jim Keet stepped down as Taziki’s CEO, and the two soon partnered to create Blueprint on 3rd.
Brittany Faush and I did a story on Blueprint on 3rd for Alabama NewsCenter, and you can read the entire piece here.
Robb describes his American brasserie as “polished-casual,” which means “it’s between fine dining and casual dining. I want it to be fun and I want it to be approachable. I want you to have a pair of shorts or jeans on or a three-piece suit or an evening gown and feel equally comfortable. It’s about the food. It’s about us not being pretentious in the way that we serve you but serve you correctly.
“We wanted to have something that is American because, for one thing, in this area, I didn’t see a great American restaurant. … You’ve got Chris (and Idie Hastings at OvenBird) doing Argentinian tapas and doing a great job. You’ve got Jorge (Castro at Cantina Tortilla Grill) doing Mexican food. You’ve got James (Lewis of Bettola) doing really good Mediterranean food,” Robb says. “Put me on the other end, and all of a sudden you’ve got American. That also doesn’t limit your creativity very much considering the melting pot that is America,’’ he says. “There are so many elements to doing something American, because America is made up of everybody.”
Robb says Blueprint on 3rd fills a niche in the Birmingham food community with quality and value in a space that is comfortable and versatile. “I don’t know anywhere that you can get this quality of food with this casual and this nice of atmosphere.
The restaurant recently did a wine dinner for TumTum Tree Foundation. A 20-top, long table in the more intimate back of the restaurant had 120 wine glasses down the middle, while near the front door, folks were sitting at the bar enjoying a burger and a beer and a ball game.
“It can’t be everything to everyone,” Robb says, “but it can be anything you want it to be on any given night.”
Blueprint on 3rd
3000 Third Ave. S. (near Pepper Place)
Hours: Monday through Saturday, 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. (bar opens at 4:30 p.m.)
Make a reservation online at www.opentable.com.