For Immediate Release:
“This train is bound for Glory, this train”
August 1, 2018. The Lumberyard starts a week of celebration opening their “Blue Bayou” dining car.
7/20/2018 Huntsville, Alabama
For almost a decade the Smith Family has been re-purposing a 1924 passenger railcar into the most unique dining/party opportunity in Alabama’s burgeoning rocket city. Huntsville’s mayor, Tommy Battle, recently bestowed an award to AM Booth’s Lumberyard, saying “This Place Matters”, and it does, in more ways than one. Founded in 1895 as a working lumberyard, it’s now a 2-acre restaurant. There are huge indoor/outdoor spaces for hundreds of guests, all connected by a maze of nooks with fountains and fern-filled crannies. All leading to dining rooms, patios and multiple bars with stages for live music. At the epicenter of downtown’s backyard, sits a 65ft., two-hundred-thousand pound piece of history, where you’ll be able to dine starting August 1st.
The imaginative bits of the sprawling venue spark like fireflies on a hot summer night. In one bar, “The Kiln”, there’s an upright piano spouting a dozen craft beer taps. On the sidewalk outside you’ll discover a 25ft. working juke box playing hits from Muscle Shoals. Other whimsical items of note can be found upon looking upward; a pre-computer helicopter simulation landscape hanging from the veranda ceiling, circus bikes in “Booth’s Alley”, and a pig with wings on a telephone pole soaring high above it all. Patrons can relax in a hammock under an overturned boat or cozy up on a bench beneath a flowering crepe myrtle. For now however, it’s all over-shadowed by the 94 year-old newest “chill spot” in this self-contained entertainment center.
Christened “The Blue Bayou”, this dining car never leaves the platform. But once inside, your ticket transports you to a destination meal with four courses served family style. The dinner depots spotlighted were all once hotspots on the L&N line. Each night a different city for a different meal, served to groups of six in six spacious booths, 36 guests in all. There are multiple “runs”; The “Blue Bayou Express” boards shortly after 5:00 PM for an affordable kid-friendly meal that ends with dessert in the courtyard on big-wheels and trikes. There are “Tasting Tours”, weekend “Brunch n’ Booths” and seasonal specials planned ala “Polar Express”.
Advertising “more than a meal, it’s an experience”, doesn’t quite do justice to how good the train’s menu plan really is. For a mouth-watering example, passengers board Thursdays for “The Memphis Train”. This meal serves a feast of ribs that starts with cornbread baked with local beer, portabellas stuffed with fresh spinach and sautéed in lemon and garlic then drenched in marinara and sprinkled with rich goat cheese. Second course boasts an herb-speckled sliced tomato salad topped with crème fraiche and balsamic vinaigrette. Memphis-style ribs stretch out on a lazy susan beside bowls of roasted asparagus and crusted mac & cheese. For dessert, in an homage to the king, indulge in PB&J banana french-toast bites served a la mode and drizzled with warm syrup.
As for the experience, The Blue Bayou launches with dinner excursions Tuesday through Sunday for an average fare of $50 for the 4-course meal including tax and gratuity. When the dinner bell rings and the conductor bellows “ALL ABOARD”, those who haven’t already had a sneak preview will be stunned by the details of the restoration. At first look the spacious car is a pictorial symphony that almost always elicits some uncontrolled variation of “WOW!”. Original mahogany walls with lanterned sconces, marbled tabletops, period tile floor, arched copper ceilings and a 50ft. hand-painted sunset mural crescendos on the high clerestory ceiling.
And the experience doesn’t stop there. Once your seated, the Blue Bayou’s staff team up for a multi-media “Welcome Aboard” presenting vignettes on railroad history, time travelling and yes, even a good old-fashioned sing-along is possible.
“When pigs fly”, translates to, “It’s impossible”. The people of Huntsville have never prescribed to that thought. Not any of the scientists and engineers in the Tennessee Valley and certainly not the talented folks who re-purposed a very large bucket of rust on wheels into a “train bound for glory” think impossible. The Blue Bayou – let the good times roll.