Last July, HD1’s executive chef Jared Lee Pyles announced he was leaving the haute doggery to open a sandwich shop with FLIP’s Jason McClure and Grindhouse Burgers’ Alex Broustein. In September, the boys held a pop-up at Miso Isakaya, showcasing their “wickedly good” sandwiches, which they had initially planned to sell from the Old Fourth Ward. Fast forward a few months, and the chefs have instead secured the Little Azio space in Midtown, with Villains set to open there in February 2013. McLure gave us the scoop on what we can expect.
How did the name Villains come about?
Alex, Jared and I were sitting at a bar one night talking about how there are no really great, identifiable sandwich shops in Atlanta. Food has become so bland because of the health movement, and we wanted to create a place where the sandwiches just feel decadent. I’ve always had a passion for bad guys—the coolness of it, and I’ve had this running joke with my son about how Darth Vader has more fun than Luke Skywalker. We wanted a place that could feel a little counterculture and that’s Villains—wickedly good heroes.
How will that theme come to life in the restaurant?
The sandwiches will be named after the bad guys in comic books and movies, but nothing too obvious. We want the movie buffs to be rewarded that they are in-the-know when they come here and recognize the sandwich name and can tell their friends “hey that’s the villain from that movie.” [The sandwiches will have] names like Bugsy Siegel, Megatron, Odd Job and David Lo Pan.
I fished out my old 1980s comic books from mom’s house and we got our color palette inspiration from there. We’re thinking black, toxic green, electric orange with some blue, purple, and stark white. We wanted a logo that could be spray painted near the entry point of the restaurant, like a graffiti tag.
So aside from the colors, what do you envision for the décor?
We’re about two weeks away from nailing down the final vision, but we want to use a lot of metals. The entrance will look like an evil lair—the space already has subway tiles and an arched roof. We’ll have maps, schematics, and countdown clocks . . . things that are worth a chuckle but not Disneyesque. Once inside, it’ll be more like a canteen (the villains’ secret meeting space). Studio Fong (who worked on Grindhouse) is helping with the build out.
What kind of sandwiches will you focus on, and what sides will you offer?
We’re doing plays on classic regional sandwiches like the reuben and banh mi. There’s the King Pig of Crime, a roast porchetta; and the Odd Job, a Korean fried chicken sandwich tossed in an Asian buffalo sauce with pear slaw. We’ll have a couple of side salads, like the Cherry Bomb (tomato and charred tofu), and one full-size—the Hail Niro—an Asian-style Caesar salad with white miso dressing and kale instead of romaine, topped with fried ramen. We might do a soup, plus chili, vegetarian chicharrones, braised radish with bacon in the winter, and rotating popcorn specials.
We’ll keep with seasonality. We’re trying to lock down a menu and execute consistently, but let’s put it this way: I forbade Alex from putting up a menu board that we couldn’t change easily. I think all menus should be chalkboards [laughs].
We’ll have a full bar and do some sort of roast pork entrée for dinner Thursdays through Saturdays. Later, we might do a rotating chef series on Saturday evenings. That’s something I got to do at Miso Isakaya. It was a powerful experience and I want to share that with other young chefs.
Anything else we should know?
We’re thinking about some sort of delivery function—maybe bikes with fake gun mounts to keep with the theme. Jared is an avid urban biker so he’s into that. . . Also, I’m not sure if we’ll actually do this, but we’ve been joking about having a list of evil people in the restaurant and if your name shows up on the list, you’re too evil to eat there and you won’t be allowed in. Like Bobby Petrino, after what he did to the Falcons.