Jonathan Burch has his wife’s experiments in bread-making to thank for the droves of regulars that file into Alabama Biscuit Company each morning. “It’s crazy. My wife made these biscuits out of spelt flour one time, and they were the ugliest things I’ve ever seen. But the flavor of the flour was intense,” he recalls.
After she left town one weekend, Jonathan decided to conduct some experiments of his own. “I just stayed home all day making biscuits, testing out different proportions and such, and that’s when the biscuit was developed.”
There’s no secret recipe behind Burch’s nutty, buttery biscuits. In fact, there’s no recipe at all. “It’s an artistic process; it’s not the same every time.”
This is, in part, due to the trickiness in working with whole grain. Jonathan’s homemade biscuits are 100 percent spelt flour, an ancient grain unaffected by modern wheat processing. “If the grain is browner, or the buttermilk is too thin, or the humidity is too high, we make certain adjustments.”
When it comes to ingredients, he settles for nothing less than the finest. He sources all of his spelt flour locally from Montgomery’s To Your Health Sprouted Flour Co. Their product is a huge part of the ABC’s business plan, he says.
Not interested in the nutritional philosophy behind his unique, spelt-grain buttermilk biscuits? He doesn’t care, he just wants you to enjoy them. “It’s my passion and drive to provide something excellent. You don’t have to know how awesome it is; you just have to know that it tastes good. And that’s the main thing: it’s hospitality.”
Jonathan’s appreciation for the good stuff comes from time well spent—with family.
When he was young, he stayed at his grandfather’s home after school, where they’d spend the afternoons flipping through various cooking channels. At only 8 years old he put his newly learned skills to the test in what became a yearly tradition of cooking his parents’ anniversary dinners.
Growing up around his grandmother’s scrumptious Southern cuisine was equally formative for the budding gastronaut. “The memories I have of my grandma’s cooking are powerful because those foods were really humble. They weren’t like fine-latticed pies; they were just really flavorful.”
While cooking has always been second nature for Jonathan, it wasn’t until his landscaping company took off that he found time to indulge his culinary curiosities. “There would be days I’d be done and home around lunchtime, so I’d text my wife and say, ‘Want to go by Whole Foods? I don’t cook a lot of lamb, so I want to give it a shot.’”
In his quest to become a better chef, Jonathan realized he could forgo a formal culinary education with a little self-discipline—and help from the internet. A lust for learning fueled his independent study of culinary ‘greats’ like renowned chef Thomas Keller and Cajun TV cook Justin Wilson.
“I think the people who can really cook are those who can take everything they’ve learned from others, take a step, and create something that’s totally unique but also connected to the past.”
As Jonathan continues to tweak his ever-evolving product, his customers know one thing for certain: it’s only getting better. “The biscuit is still being perfected. What we have now is better than what we had when we opened—it’s a natural product.”
Since setting up shop in Cahaba Heights four years ago, the Alabama Biscuit Company has nestled into its second location at the Pizitz Food Hall downtown. But the ABC’s newest venture is the one with the most potential, Jonathan says.
Housed in the former Serendipity Sweets building on Rocky Ridge Road, the third location will boast grit bowls and fried chicken, in addition to its classic offerings. “I can see our new location at Rocky Ridge becoming our home base.”
Juggling parenthood, lawn emergencies, and three restaurants, the Burches are a busy bunch. But they’re determined to make their mark in the Hills—one biscuit at a time.
Biscuit Fan Favorites
- Croque Madame: Smoked ham, House Lemon + Fines Herbes Aioli, Soft Fried Farm Egg, Grassfed Cheddar
- Goat Cheese, Pecan & Honey: Soaked and Roasted Pecans, Stone Hollow Goat Cheese, Local Honey
- Blueberry Biscake (seasonal): Blueberries, Vanilla Mascarpone Cream, Spiced Maple Syrup
Season by Season
These bis-cakes are topped with seasonal fruit, vanilla mascarpone cream and spiced maple syrup.
- December -January: Apple
- February: Carrot Cake
- March/April: Rhubarb and Strawberries
- May-June: Blueberry
- July-August: Blackberry, Peach
- September-December: Pear