By BROOKE BOUCEK
Women flock to O’Carr’s in downtown Homewood for their chicken salad and fruit plate.
“This is where I tell all my single friends to come to lunch and meet all the pretty girls,” owner Cameron Carr joked.
Even so, this popular girly lunch spot has its roots in rock n’ roll.
After opening an ice cream parlor/deli on 18th Street in 1975, Cameron and his wife June started catering for Billy Joel, Jimmy Buffet, Dolly Parton, Styx, Little River Band and other various performers on tour in Birmingham. The couple, who had started off working for Kentucky Fried Chicken, often worked from 5 a.m. until 1 a.m. to feed the crew and performers.
“I remember Styx wanted green M&M’s so we had to go through packages of M&M’s just to pull out the green ones for the show,” Carr said. “We even catered a requested Thanksgiving dinner for Billy Joel to eat with his crew.”
O’Carr’s famous chicken salad also started at a concert. When catering for the City Stages Music Festival VIP, the Carrs thought they’d try chicken salad and fruit to feed around 3,500 people. They had no idea at the time that dish would later make up 45 percent of sales at their restaurant. Today they sell 2,000 pounds of chicken salad each week.
It was their City Stages chicken salad invention that made the Carrs’ restaurant business take off. A few years before, the couple had opened their ice cream parlor with the help of a donation of equipment from Jack’s Family Restaurants’ owner Benny LaRusa. By the early 1980s they had a successful lunch and catering business.
Today the restaurant is open for lunch and caters weddings and corporate and personal parties. June and Cameron both partake in the cooking with their “freelance” cooks that come in about once or twice a week.
Along with the loyal customers, most of the staff have been with the Carrs for 20 to 30 years. Cameron calls it his “restaurant family.”
Other than the chicken salad, people rave about the unique cheesecake that‘s served warm. The dessert comes in chocolate, blueberry and strawberry and is lighter and fluffier than the typical cheesecake. Cameron also recommends his favorite menu items, the poached pear salad.
After recently franchising O’Carr’s in Cahaba Heights, Cameron said he is interested in expanding and has gotten several offers throughout the Southeast.
“Every year we close from Christmas to New Years and I always worry if anyone is going to be there when we open back up,” said Carr. “But every year there’s always a crowd.”
2909 18th Street South
Monday, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
Tuesday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.