First Look: New Mayawell bar in Lakeview

by Hanno van der Bijl, Birmingham Business Journal

A new cocktail lounge specializing in agave-based spirits is scheduled to open this Friday in Lakeview.

As we reported, Carrigan’s Public House veteran Neill Crook is opening Mayawell at 2900 Fourth Ave. S. between Pepper Place and Automatic Seafood & Oysters.

The new bar is housed in the former RMR 4X4 space across the street from the new Lakeview Green development.

While Mayawell focuses on various types of tequila and mezcal, it will also include a full bar of local craft and Mexican beer, wine as well as spirits and cocktails. It will be open Monday through Thursday from 4 p.m. to midnight and Friday and Saturday from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. The bar will be closed Sunday.

We caught up with Crook ahead of opening day to learn more about the bar and what’s next for the Birmingham native.

What is one of your favorite drinks to make and why? 
My favorite drink to make on the menu is our take on the classic drink called a Carajillo. It is a drink that has origins from Spain, but is vastly popular in Mexico. It mixes a sweet vanilla liqueur, Licor 43, with espresso over ice. We are using cold-brew coffee and serving it hot with a Kahlua-whipped foam on top. It is very caffeinated and decadent, perfect for the winter.

What has been one of the most surprising things about gearing up to open Mayawell? 
The most surprising thing to me has been the Birmingham bar community. I came up with the concept for Mayawell three years ago, but never had any work experience in bars. So, I started at Carrigan’s, working my way up through the ranks. I feel like I was welcomed into a family and a community that helps each other. I’ve gotten to know the other bar owners in Birmingham, and everyone has always been more than willing to offer advice or help. I’m sure in other cities people would view me as competition and would not like to offer advice, but this has not been the case for me. I am very proud to consider myself a small part of a community who works hard and helps Birmingham to be the awesome city that it is.

What would you say to aspiring small business owners? 
You can do it! It takes a lot of hard work and a lot of patience. It’s a big jump from working at a business to running one. However, if you have a dream and a passion, you should go for it. It is also important to know your limits and what your strengths are. Surround yourself with good people who complement your weaknesses and have different backgrounds and insights. Also, don’t be afraid to ask questions or to ask for help. There are plenty of people who have been in your shoes and know what steps you need to be taking to get things done.

What can Birmingham do to take its bar scene to the next level? 
I feel like we are heading in the right direction. There has been so many new bars and restaurants opening around town. It’s very exciting to see the city grow and be revitalized with new energy. It’s the “If you build it, they will come” philosophy. The more development, the more of a draw it is for people to live and to play in the city. Bars have this magical way of creating fun and happiness that promotes lasting memories with your friends and family. We get to help celebrate big occasions with people and help them to have a fun and memorable night.

What is next for you and Mayawell? 
We are planning on opening Friday, December 6. We are so excited to open our doors to the people of Birmingham. Can’t wait to have everyone come stay with us for awhile and have us take care of you. After all, all’s well that ends Mayawell!

Photos by Bob Farley.

This article originally appeared in the Birmingham Business Journal.