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History

How it Started...

Built by the Louisville & Nashville (L&N) Railroad Company, the historic building
that houses 301 Bistro, Bar, and Beer Garden was L&N’s passenger station in
Tuscaloosa from 1912 through the 1940’s, was a Trailways bus station between
1950 and 1967, and then fell victim to neglect for more than a decade.
From the late 1960’s through the late 1970’s, the beautiful marble that adorned
the walls, as well as the decorative plaster scrollwork, were sold as scrap – that is,
the pieces that weren’t stolen or vandalized. The original domed ceilings fell into
disrepair, and we have even heard stories of birds nesting in the rafters.
In 1978, a group of investors came to the rescue. They renovated the building and
opened HaddaCall Station, a restaurant and bar. Legend has it they chose that
name because they “hadda call it something.” HaddaCall operated for about two
years. Over the next twenty-five years, several other restaurants and bars
occupied the space. These included J.R.’s Crystal Palace in the early 1980’s –
complete with mechanical bull – and Hooterville Restaurant in 1983.
Built by the Louisville & Nashville (L&N) Railroad Company, the historic building that houses 301 Bistro,
Bar, and Beer Garden was L&N’s passenger station in Tuscaloosa from 1912 through the 1940’s,
was a Trailways bus station between 1950 and 1967, and then fell victim to neglect for more than a decade.
From the late 1960’s through the late 1970’s, the beautiful marble that adorned the walls, as well as the decorative plaster scrollwork, were sold as scrap – that is, the pieces that weren’t stolen or vandalized. The original domed ceilings fell into
disrepair, and we have even heard stories of birds nesting in the rafters.
In 1978, a group of investors came to the rescue. They renovated the building and
opened HaddaCall Station, a restaurant and bar. Legend has it they chose that
name because they “hadda call it something.” HaddaCall operated for about two
years. Over the next twenty-five years, several other restaurants and bars
occupied the space. These included J.R.’s Crystal Palace in the early 1980’s –
complete with mechanical bull – and Hooterville Restaurant in 1983.
In the mid-1980’s, it was resurrected as L&N Club, a private music venue and bar.
When that closed, the building stood vacant and the city of Tuscaloosa rented the
parking lot.
Between 1992 and 2005, more businesses came and went, included the first
barbecue restaurant opened by Tuscaloosa’s Fernandez brothers. This means
that, technically, the original Moe’s Barbecue was in this building. The pit still
exists in our kitchen, behind the wall where our grill operates. Then came a
martini bar and restaurant called The Cotton Club, and after that came The
Station, a student bar and party venue.
In 2005, local restauranteur Bill Lloyd took over the building and made it a private
event and catering space, specializing in wedding receptions, sorority parties, and
charity fundraising events. After ten years, Lloyd decided the time was right to
turn it into a restaurant. He undertook a seven-month renovation – the first major
one since 1978 – and in December 2015 the “old train station”, as Tuscaloosa
residents affectionately call it, received new life and opened as 301 Bistro, Bar,
and Beer Garden.
With 301, Lloyd and his wife, Bebe, honor the building’s history and have tried to
maintain its architectural integrity. Even after everything the space has been
through, the original mosaic tile floors remain and have an incomparable grand,
aged beauty. In addition, the gasolier in one of the dining rooms is original to the
building. It was wired for electricity many decades ago and is one of only a few of
its kind in existence. Nearly every day, we hear wonderful stories from locals as
well as former Tuscaloosa residents about the old train station and how it is
woven into the fabric of their lives. It is truly a Tuscaloosa landmark.
301 Bistro thrived throughout the last five years but like many other restaurants,
our industry was stricken with the devastating effects of the 2020 Coronavirus
Pandemic. Changes were made throughout the city but as restrictions continued,
it was obvious that 301 would need to go in a different direction to avoid being
another casualty of Covid-19. In June of 2020, the original owner, (Bill Lloyd) of
301 Bistro teamed together with Brandon Hanks of Downtown Entertainment to
create a new and original concept like no other in Tuscaloosa, the Druid City
Social. We managed to keep many of the best culinary and craft cocktail highlights
from 301 Bistro, but we created a completely new identity when it comes to
finding the perfect gathering spot in T-Town. “The Social” as it has been referred
to used the large outdoor areas to the fullest, the famous 301 Biergarten added
large screen TV’s with superior stage and one of the largest 4K video screens in
the entire city. The inside has been updated as well with full sounds and multiple
TV’s for the ultimate gameday watching experience. In its first football season, it
has been a huge hit among both its past “301” guests, along with the newly added
clientele looking for something different.

SEE YOU AT THE SOCIAL!

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