Posted by: Ted D. Davis
Founded in 2014 by Lawrence Chapman and manned by his charismatic, energetic, soulful and funny aunts who organize and implement all of the food preparation, the food truck that is Granny’s Fish N’ Grits has a become a Birmingham staple, particularly among Birmingham’s late night food hunters. Inspiration came by way of a meal which prompted Chapman to launch the venture in honor of his beloved deceased grandmother. What was then an idea is now a labor of love that by all accounts looks to spread like wildfire through our city.
MCR spoke with Mr. Chapman about his bustling enterprise at 324 9th Avenue North, Birmingham 35204, how he made it happen, and his plan to turn a staple into an icon.
MCR: What is Granny’s Fish N’ Grits and how did it come about?
LC: “My aunts and I were sitting at the house Christmas 2014 eating fish and grits. I’d talked about creating a food truck but hadn’t decided what the food choices would be. In that moment we agreed it should be a fish and grits specialty truck and we’d name it after my grandmother. She taught my aunts to cook, and we wanted to name the venture after her.
It took a lot to get it up and running. The truck has been up for two years, but we’ve been operating out of it for since 2015”.
MCR: Have you been in this location the entire time you’ve been in operation?
LC: “No, not the entire time. We’ve moved around at times, but this spot has been where we’ve stayed for the past six months”.
MCR: Do you have a culinary background? Are you a cook who started a food truck?
LC: “My aunts do (chuckling). It’s a family affair, and they know how to cook everything on the menu.
I just learned to cook (laughing with me)”.
MCR: I haven’t tried your food as yet, but I’ve seen the variations on the web. The food looks amazing. What’s the best dish in the house?
LC: “They’re all the best (we’re both laughing)”.
MCR: You chose the menu?
LC: “My aunts created the menu primarily. I came up with some dishes, but most of the food is their creation”.
MCR: You say it took a lot to get started. Was it difficult to get a permit to do this?
LC: “Yes! I won’t say it was extremely difficult, but you do have guidelines to follow to own and operate a food truck. We are blessed to have one of my friends I grew up with serve as a commissary (in this instance, “a person to whom some responsibility or role is designated by a superior power: a deputy) for us. My friend’s dad owns Top That Grille (a hot spot for brunch, lunch, and dinner in the Birmingham metropolitan area for over twenty-five years, it serves as the deputy to Granny’s Fish N’ Grits).
A lot of prospective food truck owners have a hard time finding a restaurant to use as a commissary because they don’t know any restaurant owners personally, and those that do find those owners dubious in their treatment of their subordinates”.
MCR: Really? Wow! I wish I could say I’m surprised. Why choose this location for operation?
LC: “One of my friends suggested I try the area around the daiquiri bar (Birmingham Daiquiris, same location, one block down from the truck, an upscale lounge that offers domestic and imported beers, top shelf and well liquors, and specialty daiquiris. See www.birminghamdaiquiris.com for more information), I tried it, and I’ve found the area to literally usher business to us”.
MCR: I can imagine it would, with club Platinum and the various businesses that inhabit the area.
LC: “Yes! The Four Seasons (bar and grille), the daiquiri bar, Platinum, the Plum Bar, and the rest make our business successful. That and we’re right off the expressway.
MCR: Location location location! Plans for another location?
LC: “There are. I won’t jinx myself and say when or where, but there are plans for another location in the works”.
MCR: And you can be found on the World Wide Web?
LC: On Facebook and Instagram at Granny’s Fish N’ Grits.
MCR: Fabulous. Thank you, man.
LC: Thank you for putting the word out about us.