By Donna Cornelius
Many longtime residents of English Village have fond memories of Park Lane Supermarket, a grocery store that operated in the Mountain Brook neighborhood for more than 40 years.
“The freshest vegetables in town and hand-cut meat were trademarks of the store, which also carried commodities considered exotic such as imported fruits and coffees,” writes Cathy Criss Adams in her book, “Worthy of Remembrance: A History of Redmont.”
Last month, Iz Neighborhood Grocery opened just a short distance away from the old Park Lane store. The market’s fruits are more likely to come from nearby farmers markets than from other countries, and it has local coffee, too. But owner Kay Bruno Reed wants her newest venture to be as much a part of its community as Park Lane was.
“This is the perfect corner for this store,” Kay Reed said. “It’s something that was lacking here.”
Since she opened Café Iz in Vestavia Hills in 1999, she’s continued to expand her business. Everything Iz includes Iz Café, Iz Catering and Iz the Place, a private event venue. Iz Good Stuff is the company’s wholesale division.
“With our market, we’ve just added one more ‘Iz,’” Reed said.
As a member of the Bruno family, well known in Birmingham for its chain of supermarkets, she found that the market was a natural next step for her expanding enterprise.
“It’s always been a dream to have this,” Reed said. “The grocery store business was in my blood.”
Customers will find almost everything they need to put a meal on the table – whether they want to cook it themselves or buy ready-made dishes.
“You can come here, pick it up and cook it,” Reed said. “We have fresh-cut meats, lamb, airline chicken, filet. We have bread from a local baker, Conecuh bacon, eggs from Alpine and milk from Slocomb, Alabama.
“We’re going to the farmers markets to bring in different vegetables and fruits – most are Alabama grown – and we’re cooking with them, too.”
Prepared as well as fresh foods are plentiful at the market. All-natural roasted chickens are available daily, as are paninis in different incarnations, including a caprese version on focaccia bread with fresh tomatoes.
There’s a wide selection of cheeses, including halloumi, gruyere and Carr Valley Cheese’s Chevre au Lait. On the shelves are cool products such as lemon curd, Bittermilk hand-crafted cocktail mixers, and made-in-Alabama McEwen and Sons polenta, grits and rolled oats.
Several of Iz Café’s trademark dishes are sold at the market.
“Our chicken salad and pimento cheese are what people come in for,” Reed said. “We’re also making our orange rolls and sweet potato biscuits.”
In a large freezer are lasagna, turkey tetrazzini, crawfish and chicken hand pies, and other ready-to-take-home creations.
You can even find hors d’ouevres to get your meal off to a tasty start as well as sweet endings, such as chocolate roulage, lemon squares and caramel cake.
The market has wine and also sells growlers for holding any of the 12 beers on tap.
Complementing the edible offerings is an assortment of fresh flowers.
Reed said she knew her way around the kitchen early in life.
“I learned from my mother and grandmother,” she said. “When I was 12, I could put a meal on the table.”
Those who have grown up watching celebrity chefs on Food Network often don’t grasp the hard work involved in cooking for a living, Reed said.
“Young people see it as so glamorous,” she said. “But if you really love it, it’s most rewarding. After 16 years, we still love what we do.”
Iz Neighborhood Market customers are likely to be greeted not only by Reed, but also by her son, Stephen. Although he’s just 25, he’s not new to the family business.
“He was working long before he wanted to,” she said, smiling.
Stewart Reed, her husband, “does all the logistics” for the company, she said. The couple has another son, Bradley, who’s in the software business in Washington, D.C.
Those who visit the market should be sure to take a look at the chalkboards with food-related sayings, such as this one by Lewis Grizzard: “It’s difficult to think anything but pleasant thoughts while eating a homegrown tomato.” Also posted is Julia Child’s sage advice: “If you are afraid of butter, use cream.”
Reed can identify with folks who truly love food.
“Even after working all day, I love to go home and cook,” she said. “You have to have a passion for food; I’d give it away if I could.”
Iz Neighborhood Market is at 2037 Cahaba Road in Mountain Brook. It’s open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and on Sundays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, visit www.everythingiz.com or follow the company on social media.