Historic former Meadowlark restaurant up for auction

Published 4:14 pm Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Cates House, which previously was known as the Meadowlark Restaurant, is up for auction in Alabaster. (Contributed)

The Cates House, which previously was known as the Meadowlark Restaurant, is up for auction in Alabaster. (Contributed)

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

Those who remember eating at the former Meadowlark restaurant off Industrial Road in Alabaster now have a chance to own the property, as the former restaurant and entertainment venue recently was put up for auction.

Kingwood Church, which currently owns the property, is working with the Alabaster-based Pearce and Associates auction firm to sell the more-than-4-acre property to the highest bidder.

“That is a really cool place,” said Pearce and Associates owner Chip Pearce, noting bidding on the property ends at noon on Dec. 7. “It’s just a piece of Shelby County history.”

The property on Bunting Drive has been owned by Kingwood Church since the church purchased the property from original owners Nicholas and Raphael Cairns in 2005. For the past several years, Kingwood Church has been operating the property as the Cates House special events venue.

The Cairns family opened the Meadowlark Farms restaurant in 1970 after significantly adding on to the property’s original farmhouse, which was built in 1946.

In 1980, the Cairns added a two-story apartment building next to the restaurant, in which Nicholas and Raphael Cairns lived until they closed the restaurant and moved to Columbiana in 1997.

Over the years, the gourmet restaurant became well-known throughout the Birmingham area, and was even visited by the Rolling Stones when the band played in Birmingham in 1992.

Because the property sat vacant from 1997 until Kingwood Church purchased it in 2005, Kingwood recently made more than $175,000 in upgrades to the facility, including new carpet, creation of a bridal suite in the apartment building and the addition of kitchen equipment.

Kingwood Church decided to put the property up for sale after deciding “to transition out of the special events business,” read the property’s description on Soldalabama.com.

“Because of the church’s Bible-based policy discouraging the consumption or sale of alcohol, the Cates House could not allow alcohol as part of any events,” read the description. “Consequently, more than 50 percent of prospective customers indicated that they would look elsewhere based on that single criterion.

“Realizing that fact, church leadership felt that it would be best to sell the operation,” read the description. “Kingwood Church looks forward to making a transition that will be a win-win for buyer and seller.”