By Ashley Whittle Tiedt
Photos by Blair Ramsey
Downtown Homewood is sporting a new upscale sports bar. The Battery is not only a place where you can catch the game, it’s a place to feed your foodie appetite!
The Battery, like many businesses, was a victim of the supply chain crisis, but Chef Jeffrey Compton persevered, transforming the former Little Donkey location into a spot you need to visit. The opening was originally planned for November 2021, but the doors didn’t open to the public until July 2022. But good things come to those who wait, and in Homewood, the wait is over.
This American sports bar is ready to welcome you with arms wide open, delight your taste buds and watch you leave happy. “We have fantastic food and a great atmosphere. We want you to come twice a week and not once a month. We want to serve food that makes you say, ‘I can’t wait to try that,’” Jeffrey says.
The atmosphere is an aspect of the restaurant that Jeffrey feels passionate about. There is a sense of ease and comfort felt by the staff that is passed on to the patron. The Battery isn’t your average sports bar. The marble bar top and sleek aesthetic are second only to the menu. Southern charm and flavors flow throughout the menus and are complimented with American classics like a fancy grilled cheese.
Jeffrey didn’t attend culinary school, so his rise to executive chef is a testament to his raw talent, experience and grit. He was born and raised in Destin, Florida, and joined the hospitality business thanks to a healthy fear of being grounded.
“When I was 14, my parents told me that if I didn’t have a job, I was grounded. I gravitated to the hospitality scene because it is a tourist area,” Jeffrey says. He started at the front of the house, mingling with patrons, but soon he discovered the experience that is the back of the house. “The back of the house has so much fun, I saw that, and I knew I wanted to be a part of it,” he says.
Jeffrey worked at several restaurants, including the famous Red Bar, before deciding to go to college at Auburn University to study accounting. He started to work at Acre shortly after moving to Auburn.
“I started working there part time while I was in school and realized I really hated school. I started working full time with David Bancroft at Acre in Auburn,” he says. When Jeffrey decided that college wasn’t for him, he secured a job back in Destin, but David wasn’t ready to let him go. “I told David that I was going back to Florida to become a manager and he said, ‘Why don’t you just become a manager here?’ I was a Sous Chef there for a while and became a Chef de Cuisine,” Jeffrey says.
Chef de Cuisine is the chef of the restaurant. While the executive chef is running all the restaurants within the group, the Chef de Cuisine oversees the kitchen of his restaurant.
While working at Acre, Jeffrey met his fiancée, who was a member of the wait staff. Around the time that she graduated, Jeffrey felt like he had reached his peak at Acre and was ready for a new challenge. “My fiancée is from Birmingham, so we decided to move here. Shortly after, I was contacted by Ben Chapel at the recommendation of David Bancroft about becoming the chef at The Battery,” he says.
Owner Ben Chapel and Jeffrey worked with Jeremy Stephens, who is The Battery’s General Manager, to prepare the location and the menu. They worked for a year and a half, researching food and atmospheres.
“Ben was saying he wanted a place where people felt comfortable at the bar to sit and order a ribeye steak and watch the game. I was all about it and set out to make his vision a reality,” Jeffrey says. In the name of research and development, Jeffrey and Jeremy visited cities like Chicago, Charleston and Asheville, sampling different restaurants, trying different styles of food and defining the type of restaurant they wanted to run.
The result? The menu is full of traditional Southern food that Jeffrey has taken to a new level by adding his own flair. From fried okra to collard greens, they are serving up something special. He says that serving good food is all in the attitude: “Good attitudes serve good food. Food is love. So, if you are cooking with love then there is no way it’s going to turn out bad. It really does transfer. If you’re mad [while] making a dish compared to when you’re happy, it’s going to turn out differently,” he says.
So, how do they keep spirits high? “It’s almost impossible to be mad when you’re blaring Queen,” Jeffrey says. In the kitchen there is a time for fun and a time to get down to business. When the patrons come in, “Don’t Stop Me Now” is turned down, and the staff begin to make the magic happen.
The kitchen staff is a collaboration of recent culinary school graduates and folks who fell into the hospitality business and realized that all they wanted to do is cook. Jeffrey says that he sees himself as a friend and mentor to his staff.
“The main thing I look for is someone who is eager to learn because then they’re mine. They haven’t picked up any bad habits from other chefs. The only bad habits they have, they learned from me. So, I’m responsible for molding them into awesome employees and future management,” he says. One of the most important things he teaches his staff is that everything has its place. “I don’t care how big you blow it up, but at the end of the night, it needs to shrink back down, and everything needs to go back to its place, clean and tidy. The worst thing to come into is a dirty kitchen from the night before,” he says.
The clean and tidy kitchen is serving up your game day favorites six days a week. It’s closed on Tuesday. Whether you’re looking for a place to spend time with friends, celebrating the win of your favorite sports team or just a place to eat on a random Wednesday, The Battery has created a culture and an atmosphere that will welcome you and invite you back for a meal tomorrow.
What To Eat
Short Rib Poutine *Crowd Favorite
Seasoned fries, cabernet-braised short rib, Thumann’s cheddar gravy and horseradish gremolata.
Korean BBQ Brisket Tacos *Chef Favorite
Two flour tortillas, smoked brisket, Korean BBQ sauce, carrot and kimchi slaw, peanut togarashi and cilantro.
The Smash Burger
Two 3 oz fresh ground beef patties, white American cheese, dijoniase, griddled onion and fries.
The Red Headed Italian *Inspired By Chef Compton’s Fiancé
Soppressata, mortadella, capicola, goat cheese, arugula, pickled peppers, red onion, lemon aioli and sourdough.
Olene’s Fried Chicken
Sawmill gravy, sautéed green beans and mashed red potatoes.
Dill roasted potatoes, lemon-bay aioli, sautéed green beans, capers and grilled lemon.