The Start

Safari Cup Birmingham, Alabama (2002-2009)

Safari Cup, coffee, espresso, latte, Downtown Birmingham

In 2002, we took a long lease on a location previously housing a Bank. It was a solid grand old building – The Title Building – on the North side of Downtown Birmingham, Alabama.

Title Building was seriously rock solid. We spent a fair penny converting this bank location into a functional coffee retail store selling coffees, espresso’s, breakfast and luncheon items made from scratch. Plus we had the upstairs mezzanine floor for events.

Along with a full range of coffees, espresso-drinks, specialty teas and smoothies, we had a full food menu made-from-scratch. Breakfast and lunch. From croissants to some incredibly imaginative and delicious lunch sandwiches, Sharon made them all.

Click here or on the picture below to find out more about all the breakfast and luncheon items Sharon made from scratch onsite at the Safari Cup

breakfast, coffee,

We also had a significant space upstairs which we used for functions and, a few years after we had been in operation, we installed an in-house movie theatre complete with an upstairs.

Oh yes. We had a full liquor license too.

Events at Safari Cup

Hosting the cast and crew of the River Dance (2005)

In 2005, the River Dance came to Birmingham, Alabama. I sent out an invite to the management. They put it to the cast who gladly signed up for an incredibly fun evening at the Safari Cup.

Young 10-11 year old girls from the local Celtic Tap Dance Classes were dancing with the favourite tap dancing hero’s from the River Dance.

Local band members from Celtic music bands were sitting together with musicians from the River Dance band.

It was a stunning evening. We laid on a Guinness stew (and free Guinness) for the cast. They danced and sung and let their hair hang down. The Party lasted until the sun came it. It was one of the very most memorable nights of my life. If I was given back 3 days of my life, that would be one of them.

fresh ground comics

One of the very special moments came late one afternoon in 2003 when a young man, Russell Ehertt, wandered into the Safari Cup asking if he could use our premises as a venue for a group of local stand-up comedians. Of course I agreed and Fresh Ground Coffee was born. And they are still operating today, 15 years on, with one of the original guys Chris Davis running the show. Click here…………..

Fresh Ground Comics

I can’t tell you how nervous I was for these young folks. Sometimes they would bomb. Sometimes they would knock it out the park. In the beginning, in honesty, they were shyte. But they quickly grew their confidence, improving their performances a hundred-fold and then challenged themselves to better and bigger things. I was always proud of this Group. Really courageous and hilarious.

pine hill haints

Many bands played at the Safari Cup. It was a great little venue for up and coming bands. But the one band which certainly was all ready well established and one which will always stand out for me was the Pine Hill Haints. A truly original, authentic, Alabama Hillbilly rock band. If you haven’t heard them, you are missing a unique, original sound that’ll hit you like a cannon ball from 10 paces.

Pine Hill Haints, Hilly Billy rock

Base guitar was a long thick cord tied at one end to a long bow. The other end went through the bottom of a tin bath turned upside down and knotted to hold the cord in place as the player strummed it. The guy playing it had on a red handkerchief worn like he was a train robber.  He’d strum that cord and bang on the upturned tin bath with his one foot smacking out a rhythm unforgettable in the sweet summer sultry nights of Alabama. Unbelievable.

The drummer had one drum. Just one drum. He used the case for the drum as his foot drum. Together with the Base guitarist they drove every song down the track like a whistling steam engine fully loaded and flying.

There was a lady playing the rhythm section – a washboard – with spoons. This was the real thing.

Finally, the lead singer sang into a huge old 50’s microphone (like the one’s Elvis used to use). His voice crackled and fired powerfully away leading the band on to deliver their stunning sound.

At the end of the evening they all climbed in their beat up 60’s VW Combi heading for the next show in the next town.

They were hugely popular and we soon became too small a venue to host them any longer. I was happy for them but sad to know I would see them playing at the Safari Cup anymore.

I will never forget the Pine Hill Haints (by the way, Haints means spirits or ghosts). Click here to link to their FaceBook page…. 

SHILLELAGH law

Local guys loving Celtic music. Always a pleasure to have these guys playing at the Safari Cup. Very good Guinness drinkers – and their followers.

first fridays

Young African American business folks getting together and having a huge party together. They grew exponentially and soon our location became too small. Great folks. Great events.