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The city of Birmingham’s summer food and drink series starts today

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Birmingham’s Department of Innovation and Economic Opportunity is hosting its inaugural happy hour event starting today.

Magic City Sips is the department’s first-ever food and drink series. Nine local bars and restaurants will host their own happy hour specials from 4 to 7 p.m. every Wednesday. Participating businesses include The Fennec, Bosses@Midtown, Bodega's on 5th, Pilcrow Cocktail Cellar, The House of Found Objects, EastWest, 5 Point Public House & Oyster Bar, Queen’s Park and Michael’s Restaurant.

Businesses will craft their own menu specials. The city will also market their businesses on social media through the months of June, July and August.

Department Spokesperson LaKeela Lowe said the series will strengthen the area’s tourism.

“We absolutely want the residents and citizens of Birmingham to patronize our local bars and restaurants, especially in this area,” she said. “Sometimes even though you may be from here, if you don’t get out a lot, it can still be challenging to navigate our different geographical clusters. Some of these places, people may not even know you exist.”

The series culminates in a voting competition among patrons starting in August. The business with the most votes will be rewarded with the Sippy Cup Award in September, which is based on scores in various categories including Best Cocktail, Best Happy Hour Appetizer and Best Vibe.

The event was inspired by the city of Pittsburgh’s Center City District Sips, which is an annual event that involves more than 70 local bars and restaurants. Lowe said she hopes Magic City Sips will become an annual tradition like CCD Sips.

“They’ve been able to get that program to a point where every summer it has grown,” she said. “It’s something that everyone looks forward to. They’ve been doing it for years.”

Lowe said she also hopes this event gives businesses an opportunity to see new faces and expand their operations.

“We figured that we would do this every week so that we could try to keep the people that come into town who maybe don’t live in Birmingham but who work here,” she said. “If we can keep them here once a week for the Happy Hour, we could possibly help with our bars and restaurants to find out maybe what their needs are [or] what’s going good.”

Registration for Magic City Sips is still open. It opened on May 8 and will remain open until the month of August. Business owners may visit www.birminghamal.gov/sips for more details.

Joshua LeBerte is a news intern for Alabama Public Radio.
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