With today being my regular day off, I made the trek up to Birmingham last night after work. I hadn’t been up there too many times in recent months. It was a chance to spend some time with my father and sit in the La-Z-Boy recliner at his house. It was also a chance to catch up with my mother and visit with my sister and niece. Trips back to Birmingham are also good for shopping with The Summit, Brookwood Village, and the Riverchase Galleria being elite areas to up my wardrobe. I can’t forget about my secret spots of quiet like The View at Stratford Road or my favorite table in the Linn-Henley Research Library. But the best part about the occasional trips home is the food I’m familiar with…the spots that are exclusive only to Birmingham. As I was jetting out of down for the return trip here to Opelika, I stopped by one of the more well-known food spots to get some wings for the road. That brings me to this week’s moment in the Flashback Friday series: Green Acres Café.
How I first came across this moment? I wouldn’t be surprised if I didn’t come across Green Acres Café all the way in the mid-80s, when I was just a small chip off the block. I’m sure my mother and father stopped through the location in the 4th Avenue Historic District with me in tow a time or two. My first real recollection of Green Acres Café was in the Summer of 1998. My family and I were living in the South Avondale neighborhood of Birmingham and there was a location about a block from where we stayed. My father gave me something of a monthly allowance and I wasn’t exactly feeling the stuff my mother was cooking at the time so I would make the occasional trip down the block to order fries. And that’s how it started.
What it meant to me then? In the moment, it was just a spot I got fries from. I particularly liked the way they put the salt and pepper on the fries. It was a perfect blend…added some flavor but it wasn’t overly salty or packed with an extra kick. It was the best $1.30 I spent. The fries were good and the workers were nice too. They always referred to me as “Fry Guy”. Eventually, I started adding their cheeseburgers to my orders and making it somewhat of a meal. Those early days were a textbook example of a simple relationship with a business and a consumer.
What it means to me now? I didn’t really start getting into the wings at Green Acres until 2002. After one of our dates, Valorie Drew was craving some chicken but she didn’t want anything from Al’s—the popular spot near the UAB dorms. She wanted Green Acres so we ventured into Downtown Birmingham and she ordered wings…a 5-piece all the way, if I’m not mistaken. I didn’t get anything but I was enamored by the smell of her food and we ended up sharing. It was my first taste of the “all the way” special. Today, that’s all I go to Green Acres for: the “all the way” special. I usually go to the 4th Avenue Historic District location. If you ask me, they are amongst the best wings in the world.