By Trent Moore
The Cullman Times
For All Steak Restaurant owner Matt Heim, calling an upgrade long overdue would be an understatement.
Now hosted in the upper-floors of Cullman Savings Bank, All Steak has been a staple of Cullman for decades. The restaurant will hopefully get back to its ground-level roots by the end of January 2013 when a new location on Third Avenue SE opens, just two blocks from the restaurant’s current home.
Heim will hang up the traditional white table clothes for a more hip look, with exposed brick walls, high ceilings and mahogany tables.
“I think the feel will be totally different,” Heim said. “It will be very different from what it is now, and we’ll have all new booths, tables and chairs. I think people will really be surprised by how good it looks. The thought process is to give this 80, or 90-year-old business a face lift, freshen things up and get back to doing what we know how to do.”
With the lease at Cullman Savings Bank set to expire in mid-2013, the April 2011 tornadoes almost served as a blessing in disguise, opening up the Third Avenue block that had been home to the Little Bit of Everything furniture shop.
The new version of the All Steak will be a ground-level facility, with the main dining area housed in a new building currently under construction. The adjoining space that was still standing in the wake of the storm is being converted into a banquet hall, keeping alive the restaurant’s popular event-hosting services.
“We’ll still have the banquet facilities and Sunday buffet, but we’re going to be changing some things gradually,” Heim said. “I’m getting nervous about it, but in a good way.”
The new banquet facility will hold approximately 130 people. The main dining room will seat approximately 150 people, with a new 30-40 person full bar included. Alcohol can not be sold at the restaurant’s current location, as stipulated by the lease. The restaurant will use street access and an adjacent reservoir lot for parking.
“The parking is coming along but it’s still an issue,” Heim said. “But I don’t think it will be as much of a headache as the parking deck is now. We’ll get it figured out.”
The expansive menu is also in line for an overhaul, though stalwarts like steaks and orange rolls will always have a home on the list.
“We’re going to change the menu some, but we’ll still have meat and three vegetables for lunch, but also work up some condensed dishes with me and the kitchen staff and give a good representation of our food,” Heim said.
Heim admitted the move and redesign might be a culture shock for long-time customers, but he hopes residents will give it a chance and embrace the new style for the old restaurant.
“Our plan is to make the All Steak a place where people of all ages feel comfortable, because I don’t think it was ever meant to be a truly high-end type of restaurant,” he said. “It’s a great, local family restaurant with nice amenities that is affordable.”
Keeping one of the oldest restaurants in the city alive is obviously a positive for downtown advocates, and Cullman Downtown Merchant’s Association President Nathan Anderson said the early-2013 opening should also be a boon for foot traffic in the area.
“We are excited to keep a business with the history of the All Steak a part of downtown,” he said. “We’re really excited to see their new location.”
* Trent Moore can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com, or by telephone at 734-2131, ext. 220.