An exciting day has arrived in Avondale! Elysian Gardens, a brand new entertainment experience featuring shipping container restaurants and bars surrounding an open-air venue and a sprawling art garden, has come to the 41st Street area. We were fortunate enough to speak with Elysian owner William Colburn in the past, and were excited to catch up with the artful entrepreneur ahead of his new venue’s first full week in business. The gardens are open Thursday through Sunday, and will have live music favorites performing with Anthony Sutton on Friday and the Steel City Jug Slammers on Saturday. Both shows are free and the gardens are also hosting a happy hour special from 7:30 to 10pm Thursday. 

“It’s pretty shocking,” Colburn shares of seeing customers in Elysian Gardens for the first time last weekend, “This was a long process. This has been a 10-year dream that’s finally coming to realization.” While it’s been a bit longer than Colburn (and every other business owner we’ve spoken to in recent years) expected to get everything situated between construction and the other details of opening a business, the experience has been a fairly smooth and rewarding one. The artisan wood designs come from lumber found in a sawmill in Hayden, Alabama. The crew also built their own doors, windows, and countertops. The beautiful butterfly chairs and stools located throughout the venue are a project William worked on with Iron Age Studio during the pandemic.

Colburn’s famous sculptures are strategically placed throughout the enclosed green space that contains a long bar, plenty of covered seating, a stage, and space for two restaurants. One space is already claimed by Bill Knapp and The Barbecue Box, which will feature a smoking room and a pick-up window for Birminghamians who want to order whole chickens and more to take home. The BBQ spot plans to open in October, and William says the neighboring restaurant will soon be open as well. 

William Colburn has created the perfect environment for the world to enjoy his beloved sculptures. 

The gardens have been a well-thought-out plan, and it shows already. Last weekend was a celebration of William’s daughter's birthday, and provided a glimpse of the Elysian experience to come. “A lot of people felt like it was a respite from the city. It was like they were in a park setting. We’re sort of out here by ourselves, so it has a real sort of relaxed vibe with it. Real comfortable,” Colburn shares, “It’s just a relief. When you build something and it takes this long to build. You put this much of your energy, blood, sweat, and tears (into it). It’s like this weight is off of you when you see people actually moving around in the space.”

William Colburn’s family has been in the Woodlawn and Avondale areas since the 1800s, and the direction he’s taken their legacy in the area is a beautiful experience for us all to enjoy.

Cover image provided by Elysian Gardens