Fawn and Adam Freis moved to Birmingham from Hattiesburg, MS looking for a bigger town with more opportunity.
After working in restaurants for years, they were ready to take a chance. Hattiesburg is tamale country and they have lots of experience in both eating and preparing them.
They rented the former Cobb Lane restaurant in Southside, a charming space with a patio and plenty of parking, to make Delta Blues Tamales.
They gutted the kitchen down to the studs and rebuilt it into a brand new kitchen. But they ran into problems with the building inspectors who held up their application on conflicting issues with a hood. Many restauranteurs have had issues over the years with the conflicting rules between the city and the county in Birmingham, so the Freis’ experience was not uncommon.
After 4 months of additional delay, the Freis’ were running out of money as the rent continued to be due and the restaurant was still not open.
LiftFund was able to step in and provide a short term (36 month) loan and even rolled the closing costs into the total of the loan. The loan saved Delta Blues Tamales. “The Lift Fund Birmingham staff were so kind and helpful in helping us fill out the paperwork and get the loan done. It only took about a month start to finish. “said Fawn Freis about her experience in working with the Lift Fund.
After over a year of sweat, waiting and working, Delta Blues Tamales opened in December 2015. The day the Birmingham Post Herald interviewed the Freis’, Delta Blues had had its busiest lunch rush to date – all the tables were filled and couriers were busy delivering to go orders.
And the tamales are outstanding.
The Lift Fund is the largest nonprofit microlender in the U.S.
Started in Texas in 1994, the microlender has made over 15,000 loans worth $180.5 million.
The Lift Fund is not a government entity, although some funding comes from government sources. The Lift Fund provides loans between $500 and $250,000. They are able to work with business owners that might not be able to get a traditional loan. The Lift Fund has different lending criteria than traditional banks. For example, the average credit score of borrowers we work with is 575, much lower than a bank will consider or may be considered too inexperienced. Part of the Lift Fund’s goals is to help borrowers improve their credit status.
For more information, go to the Lift Fund Alabama website at
Application materials, an FAQ and contact information is all available on the website.