On the day before University of Alabama students went home for their Christmas break, members of the Crimson Tide football team ate a Southern-style breakfast at Tuscaloosa’s Waysider Restaurant. That visit is a Tide tradition.
With the Rose Bowl game on the opposite side of the country in Pasadena, California, arrangements were quietly made to take one Alabama culinary tradition with the team. Now, the pre-game food for the Crimson Tide includes the unique biscuits from the Waysider.
Bama players and staff got into the biscuit batch Sunday morning for New Year’s Eve breakfast. They hit them again Monday morning. They play at 4 p.m. CT Monday against No. 1 Michigan in the semi-final of the College Football Playoff.
The Alabama entourage has closely guarded the biscuits. There is an unspoken fear that Michigan may try to steal the recipe for the Waysider Biscuits, as they stole signals during the football season — and got caught.
The Waysider was the favorite breakfast place of legendary Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant.” There remains a table in the front corner of the Waysider where Bryant ate. It is complete with photographs and Bryant memorabilia, including a Bryant houndstooth hat on a bust of Bryant. And more photos. Lots of photos. In fact, the entire eatery has dozens of photographs of Crimson Tide magic moments over the decades. There are classic Daniel Moore paintings of Crimson Tide memories.
And there’s the food: Unique biscuits (ain’t nothing like ‘em nowhere”). Local honey. Country ham. Zeigler Bacon. Eggs any style. Sausage gravy. Coffee.
The Waysider’s building was built in 1906 as a residence. The restaurant started in 1948, 75 years ago. It is the oldest restaurant in Tuscaloosa still operating.
Heavyweight boxer Deontay Wilder, a Tuscaloosa native, is a frequent diner at The Waysider.
When national TV networks come to Tuscaloosa to cover major games, the staff usually eats at the Waysider. Sometimes, the video crews take footage there.
The Alabama Crimson Tide is steeped in traditions: “Roll Tide.” Big Al. “Rammer Jammer.” “Yea, Alabama.” “Dixieland Delight.” “Sweet Home, Alabama.” The Million Dollar Band. The cheerleaders.
One long-standing Alabama tradition is the Waysider Restaurant. Breakfast of Champions. Now, the mainstay of that breakfast, the Bama Biscuits, has been flown to California with the team. Roll biscuits at the Waysider, Roll Tide at the Rose Bowl.
Jim Zeigler is former Alabama Public Service Commissioner and State Auditor. You can reach him for comments at [email protected].