Chez Lulu was born of my desire to showcase the beautiful artisan breads we were creating next door at the Continental Bakery and to share with Birmingham my passion for the flavors and spirit of French café society. With this in mind, I designed a simple, clean menu featuring fresh, local produce and top quality ingredients. Daily offerings would include specialties from the Nice region, fresh soups and European tartes, delectable dips and spreads, and gourmet sandwiches on our gorgeously rustic hearth baked breads.
For the look of the café, I discussed with a French friend my vision of lush red walls, swag lamps, leopard prints, golden hues and crushed velvet curtains. He replied, “My, you’ll have a real Chez Madame Lulu on your hands!”, alluding to the French euphemism for a bordello. I fell in love with the name, its slightly risqué connotation conjuring the lively and exotic feel I had pictured for the cafe. Chez Lulu was born.
Local artist Tracy Martin pitched in early on, designing and welding heavy iron tables as a tribute to Birmingham’s iron days, and creating table tops from retired baking pans inlaid with hand wrought mosaic tiles. Her fanciful wall mural and glass etchings added the finishing touches to our little jewel box, contributing to the spirit of fun and creativity that embodies Chez Lulu.
Over the years, we at Chez Lulu have introduced the Birmingham public to opera singing professional wrestlers, Robert Burns Night dinners, the city’s earliest tribal belly dancers, jugglers, Sunday evening accordion pulls, Indian karaoke dance parties, late night poetry jams, a Brazilian drum corps that played on the street in front of the café (the same band featured on Paul Simon’s Rhythm of the Saints), an African mbira quartet, wine tastings with Randall Graham, a Springalingadingdong parade and street festival reenacting the beheading of Marie Antoinette as a rite of spring, a midsummer storming of the Bastille and watermelon festival, a Fall Ooh Lala solstice lantern parade, Moroccan gypsy fiddlers, a French Acadian band, and an accordion playing, cowboy boot wearing, wandering Jewish minstrel named Shalom Sherman, and that’s just in the last 20 years!
So, as one of our early hand bills suggested, “Come as you are. Or as you please!” Enjoy.