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What does a safe (yet beautiful) restaurant look like?

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The Iberian Pig in Buckhead
The Iberian Pig in Buckhead

Photograph by Martha Williams

At first glance, the dining room at Iberian Pig in Buckhead appears to be no different these days. The eggplant and gold–hued space, designed by vintage-meets-modern pro Elizabeth Ingram, has the same warm, textured vibe as when the restaurant opened in the spring of 2019. However, upon closer inspection, things have changed. The room still buzzes but more softly, as if someone turned down the volume. Servers donning masks and gloves cautiously flit around stations stocked with hand sanitizer. To limit interactions with servers, guests are given double-sided tokens reminiscent of the ones used at Brazilian steakhouses: One side says “service please”; the other, “fine for now.”

Restaurants COVID-19
Diners use red and green flashcards to minimize interaction with servers.

Photograph by Martha Williams

Under the state’s COVID-19 restrictions on in-person dining, restaurants must rearrange or remove tables to ensure social distancing, increase cleaning and sanitization, and require employees who interface with customers to wear masks and gloves. Those rules, which are necessary to save lives, add to the cost of doing business. They also can create a stark and austere dining room—at a time when restaurateurs want guests to feel more comforted than ever.

Of course, for beleaguered restaurants, a total redesign that takes into account these new constraints is out of the question, financially. But many owners are cleverly reimagining their dining rooms to offer as pleasant and safe an experience as possible. “We just try to be creative and not make it look so empty at the same time,” says Tamar Telahun, owner of Feedel Bistro. Telahun didn’t want to strip her intimate dining room of every extraneous table, so she instead spaced out the tables and placed magazines on the ones that can’t be seated with guests. “Then, of course, we’re wearing masks to serve and talk to customers, so that’s just super awkward—they don’t know your expression. I’m always saying, ‘I swear, I’m smiling behind the mask.’”

Certain tables are permanently reserved for social distancing.

Photograph by Martha Williams

Even the taxidermy at Iberian Pig dons PPE.

Photograph by Martha Williams

Some of the changes are subtle. At Morningside’s Whiskey Bird, co-owner Anthony Vipond installed an island in the center of the dining room. Topped with rolled silverware and glasses, as well as plants and candles, it’s both practical for servers and aesthetically pleasing for guests. It was an easy way for Whiskey Bird to get place settings off the table (a state requirement) while also filling some of the emptied-out space where more tables once were.

Because restaurant dining is safer outdoors than inside, restaurants are creating new patio spaces or revamping and expanding the ones they already have. They’re also trying to open up indoor dining rooms to the outdoors as much as possible, to improve airflow while relying less on air conditioning, which can spread the virus. Those adjustments actually work to create a different mood, says John Bencich, founding principal of Square Feet Studio, the design and architecture firm behind such restaurants as Kimball House, Bar Mercado, Watchman’s Seafood and Spirits, and the recently opened Little Bear.

“It’s a little more European, it’s a little more open,” Bencich says. “Everything doesn’t have to be full air-conditioned com- fort all the time. Restaurateurs are doubling down on that.”

One such restaurateur is chef Ronald Hsu, who expanded Lazy Betty’s underutilized covered patio after he realized diners felt safer outside. “We’re doing it on a budget, and a lot of our cooks and servers are now turning into landscape designers and craftsmen and helping us doll it up,” Hsu says. A fresh coat of paint, new outdoor furniture, and the installation of aqua subway tile (left over from the restaurant’s build-out) spruced up the patio. Throw in some planter boxes and bistro lights and you have a mini-oasis on the edge of a parking lot.

At Miller Union, Steven Satterfield worked with prop stylist Thom Driver to
solve the problem of the tables that can’t be occupied by guests: They placed ceramics and arrangements of leafy fronds on them. On the patio, the empty space was filled with planters spilling over with English Ivy and Autumn Fern. The pandemic gave Satterfield a chance to slow down and appreciate how green Atlanta is, and he wanted to bring that joy into his restaurant. “It’s just so lush and beautiful everywhere you look,” he says.

As Telahun points out, a restaurant’s space is about more than decor: It’s people that make a dining room feel vibrant. Since reopening Feedel Bistro, Telahun has found that, despite there being fewer guests by necessity, the conversation is more robust, with diners unwinding on the patio over cocktails for a couple of hours. “We need one another—that warmth from one another—to survive,” she says. “You don’t realize how much you miss people until it’s all gone, right?”

This article appears in our August 2020 issue. 

Atlanta’s latest coronavirus updates: Sunday, August 9

Atlanta coronavirus news updates
People get tested for COVID-19 at a free walk-up testing site in Fulton County on July 11.

Photograph by Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images

In early June, we paused our daily coronavirus updates. However, we will continue to provide updates weekly. Here’s what you need to know right now.

• As of publication time, a total of 216,596 COVID-19 cases have been confirmed in Georgia. 4,199 people have died. 1.8 million viral tests have been conducted, and 10.9 percent of those have been positive. 2,865 people are currently hospitalized with COVID-19. [GA Dept. of Public Health/GEMA]

• The biggest story of the week came out of North Paulding High School in Dallas, Georgia, which started in-person classes on Monday. Not long after, photos of crowded hallways packed with students, most of them not wearing masks, went viral on social media. Then, the story exploded—a sophomore was allegedly suspended for posting photos (her mother told CNN the suspension was for using a phone and social media during the school day and violating student privacy by posting the photo), while the superintendent stressed that the photos showed students in passing periods where they were only in contact briefly. The sophomore later had that suspension canceled. A recording also leaked of students being warned over the school’s intercom system not to post additional photos and videos that would put the school in a negative light. On Saturday, the school announced that six students and three staffers had tested positive for COVID-19. And finally today, the school announced to plans to close and shift to virtual learning for the next two days. While North Paulding made national headlines, it wasn’t an easy week for other school districts that opened for in-person learning on Monday, with Cherokee County Schools reporting that 10 staffers and 7 students have tested positive for COVID-19. [AJC 1/AJC 2/CNN/Marietta Daily Journal/Cherokee County School District/WSB-TV via Twitter]

• Meanwhile, closer to home, Atlanta Public Schools pushed back its first day of classes, which are set to begin virtual-only, to August 24. The school system also changed the dress code to require students to wear masks if and when in-person learning does resume. Gwinnett County Schools, which will begin classes virtually on August 12, announced plans to begin in-person learning in phases beginning August 26, with hopes for all students who chose in-person learning to be back in classrooms by September 6. Some parents in Gwinnett held protests in late July calling for in-person learning, while some teachers protested this week against opening too soon. Cobb County Schools, which begin virtually on August 17, also announced plans for a phased return to in-person learning but did not set dates. [AJC 1/AJC 2/Gwinnett Daily Post/WSB-TV/AJC 3]

• Governor Brian Kemp signed a bill on Wednesday that will protect businesses and health care providers alike from being sued for negligence in light of the pandemic, provided that they follow social distancing and safety guidelines from the health department. Those entities can still be sued for gross negligence. The protections sunset next July. [AJC]

• A new “mega-testing” site is set to open tomorrow at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport parking lot (1800 Sullivan Road), which is set to be able to do 5,000 tests per day. It will be open for at least 12 days and is free. Register here. [CBS 46]

• The owner of Sweet Auburn Seafood announced plans to close the restaurant at the end of August, citing a combination of financial impact from COVID-19 and violence in the area. In Grant Park, cocktail bar Cardinal and neighbor Third Street Goods have closed permanently due to the pandemic. [WSB-TV/Eater Atlanta]

• Atlanta United has announced a series of six games, three at home and three away, as the next part of its season. The home games will be played with no fans present. [ATLUTD]

23 Days: Stories from the occupation of the Wendy’s where Rayshard Brooks was killed

The call came into the Atlanta Police Department’s 911 center around 10:30 p.m. on June 12: A man had fallen asleep while parked in the drive-thru of the Wendy’s on University Avenue. Police roused Rayshard Brooks, the 27-year-old father of three young girls, and gave him a sobriety test, which he failed. Officer Garrett Rolfe tried to handcuff him. Brooks resisted, grabbed Rolfe’s Taser, and ran. Rolfe shot him twice in the back.

Roughly three miles away, at Centennial Olympic Park, protesters who’d spent weeks expressing their outrage over the death of George Floyd heard about the shooting of Brooks. By the end of the night, people started gathering at the Wendy’s. Twenty-four hours after Brooks died, as the crowd gained strength, at least one of the protesters set the Wendy’s on fire.

Over 23 days, the site of the fast-food restaurant became a rallying place, activist encampment, and ad hoc community resource center, providing tents and meals for the homeless and supplies to protesters and mourners. Nearby business owners, concerned about vandalism and looting, boarded up their windows and shut their doors. Hundreds of officers, exhausted from the nonstop protests downtown, watched over and clashed with protesters. Politicians paid visits and tried to broker a compromise.

I visited the Wendy’s several times in those weeks. On the first night, I found protesters linking arms and staring down police; they had shut down the exits on the nearby Downtown Connector and blocked southbound traffic. The occupation that followed included nearby residents, predominantly peaceful activists, and a smaller, violent faction that brought a tragic end to the effort. On the night of July 4, someone opened fire on a car turning around near the Wendy’s, killing eight-year-old Secoriea Turner, who was sitting in the back seat.

On one of my last visits—the night after Secoriea died—I parked on the other side of the Connector and made my way to the Wendy’s on foot. As soon as I reached the property, I was stopped by two occupiers, one armed with a rifle, and was told to leave. Protesters were forced out by police soon after, and within days, demolition crews razed the Wendy’s, leaving behind only a concrete slab.

In an attempt to better understand the many perspectives that collided at this site, I asked four people to share their recollections of what unfolded between the deaths of Rayshard Brooks and Secoriea Turner. The stories that follow—from a gas-station manager, a councilwoman, a protester, and a police officer—also express hope for what will happen going forward, both at the site itself and in a wounded city.

Interviews have been edited for length and clarity.

What happened at the University Avenue Wendy’s Rayshard Brooks AtlantaLARRY: The gas-station manager
(not his real name)

Larry is the supervising manager of the BP next to the Wendy’s; he was interviewed at the store on July 15.

I manage two stores for the owner, this one and one a few miles away. When the owner opened this location a year ago, I told him I like that area. The people are very happy. I like all the customers, the people who live in the neighborhood. It’s a nice area. But now, it’s a very bad situation.

The night of the shooting of Rayshard Brooks, the cashier called and said there was an incident. Another manager was there, and he said people already had begun gathering. The day after the shooting, I came to work, and people were protesting. They had signs. They were chanting. I went home. That night, more people came, and the protest grew.

One of my employees that day said he didn’t feel safe, and he quit. He got scared. I was trying to get there. The [other employees working that shift] called me and said they wanted to leave. They had already locked the doors. I arrived and told them to go home. I stayed here all night. My cashier said to the police officer, Please help me get to my car a few miles away. They would not help.

After the fire, my regular customers were telling us, This is not from us. I don’t know where the people came from, but the customers are scared, saying they don’t want to come to the store. We still don’t have business. It used to get very busy in the store. Right now, no one wants to come over here.

The protesters were outside. We had shut down the store and they wanted to come inside to buy stuff. We decided to just give them free bottled water.
Everybody has a right to protest. But you can’t hurt somebody else. We’ve been in business over here for a year. When they broke our window, I said, Please don’t do it. We don’t have any fault. A lot of people didn’t listen.
My cashier called me and said they’re starting with gunshots, fighting outside. They called and said someone got hit, someone got killed. After [the death of eight-year-old Secoriea Turner], we got security. Two of my employees have left. I used to have five. It’s been hard to find people to fill the positions. After they hear the name of the street, they don’t show up.

It’s changed Atlanta. People are talking like Atlanta is not safe anymore. But this is not from us. In this community, you know everyone. I think many people came from other states or counties to protest.

The area is still good. I believe it’s going to be a couple more weeks, and then, it will be normal.

What happened at the University Avenue Wendy’s Rayshard Brooks Atlanta

COUNCILWOMAN JOYCE SHEPERD: The politician

Sheperd represents Atlanta City Council district 12, which includes the stretch of University Avenue where Rayshard Brooks was killed and where protesters gathered, as well as several surrounding neighborhoods.

There wasn’t any reason for Mr. Brooks to have been killed. Looking at the videos, he wasn’t trying to be confrontational. He was doing everything the police asked. They could have said, Mr. Brooks, how far do you live from here? Can we call your family? You seem to be intoxicated. He didn’t do anything that should’ve caused them to be aggressive with him. He made a bad decision when he resisted as they put the handcuffs on. But again, I don’t believe it had to go to that point.

I went to the Wendy’s literally the next day to do an assessment of what was going on. People there were protesting; they were hurt. I was hurt. I visited regularly until I went out of town over the Fourth of July weekend. There were people who were peaceful; there were people who were mad. I listened. I got into dialogues and debates. There were philosophical differences in terms of what the police should do.

When the police officers came, people saw the police as the enemy. They would say, Why you got all these white police officers out there? I talked to the police department and said, Don’t have white police officers in the front position at this point.

People would be in my face arguing and saying what they think needs to happen. I said, So, you live in the community? And they said, I’m from Washington, D.C. I’m from New York. I’m from Sandy Springs. I’m from College Park. So, you don’t live in the community? Well, we are part of this movement. The majority of people said they didn’t live in the community. When things are over, I thought, they are gonna be gone. And the real people of the community will be left with what happens out here.

I began to organize the residents of the neighborhoods that actually touched that Wendy’s. The first meeting was at a church down the street. The biggest factor that the neighborhood was concerned about were the streets being barricaded. There was this group of people who literally were stopping traffic. They were attacking cars, doing crazy stuff. It was ridiculous.

At night, it shifted. I wouldn’t go out there at night. There was a whole different element of people. A lot of people in the community thought that some of the people out there were actually infiltrators. And it got to a point where you could feel the energy between the two.

I met this woman out there they called Lady A, Ashley Brooks. She says she was Rayshard Brooks’s sister. Ms. Brooks was a leader. I talked with Ms. Brooks and her group of people, and she said how hurt she was over her brother being killed. She wanted to make the Wendy’s into a Peace Center. She had a cadre of young men out there who were basically saying that we’re here to protect this Wendy’s, and we’re not a negative element—we’re not that element [the one that was barricading the street]. We’re out here to make sure that there’s no more craziness.

I explained I was working with the mayor’s office to relay their concerns. We listened to them. And we talked about the fact that at some point you may have to leave here. This property is not yours to just take.

Wendy’s said one of the things they wanted to do was take care of the site. It had become a public safety problem. It was a liability. We came back [to the protesters] as a committee and let them know: At some point, [access to the Wendy’s] is gonna have to be cut off. They were adamant. They were saying, We’re not leaving. There were a couple of them out there with guns. Communication with Brooks and our group broke down on June 25.

The mayor’s office and the police were trying be sensitive; they didn’t want to get like Rambo and just move stuff out, because that would escalate things. I said, I can’t guarantee what’s going to happen at this point. Coming up to the Fourth of July weekend someone barricaded the street. Then, the Fourth of July night, Secoriea Turner got killed.

I was in shock. As soon as I got the call that night, I advised the mayor and police that the streets should be cleared. This has gone to the end. I’m through. I’m done. A young girl got killed out here. This changed all the dynamics. All bets are off. This is over.

“You can’t keep begging these people for humanity when they are literally paid to stop seeing yours.”


EVA DICKERSON: The activist

Dickerson is part of a collective of organizers called the People’s Response, a mutual aid network that was assisting Atlantans in the time of COVID-19. After the killing of George Floyd, the group transitioned its efforts from COVID response to protest response.

On Juneteenth, we went to the Wendy’s to pass out protest kits: PPE, helmets, gas masks, first-aid kits, phone numbers for jail support. We realized people were taking to the streets not knowing that they will be confronted with a fully militarized police force.

Once we were there [at Wendy’s], we learned protesters had occupied the space and turned it into an autonomous zone. We also have connections to and are inspired by the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone in Seattle. We realized that instead of making our own occupation, we should just support [the protesters already occupying the Wendy’s]. So, from Juneteenth (June 19) to July 4, we brought resources, taught organizers and activists how to successfully do an occupation, and tried to get the message out that this site is now the Rayshard Brooks Peace Center.

People brought beauty to that space that otherwise would have sat as an ugly monument to anti-Blackness. These people were transforming a site of immense community harm and violence into something that would bring solutions and joy to not only that community but the community surrounding it, for a long time. In the world we were creating at the Wendy’s, there were people talking about what they want the Peace Center to look like and what communities they want to serve in. We wanted to outfit them to not only hold the space but to resist the space from possible demolition by APD. We had installed the garden. We were installing housing, showers. We were building out a system for responsibly disposing of waste. We were in the process of building a Peace Center in real time. It felt right at the cusp of it transforming into something that could be maintained for a long time. Then, tragedy struck.

[Someone in a group of occupiers unrelated to Dickerson’s group shot at the car carrying Secoriea Turner on the night of July 4, killing her. The following day, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms ordered that the Wendy’s site be cleared of protesters, and APD officers removed them and the tribute they had built to Brooks.]

The day they demolished it, cops were laughing and smirking as they were destroying an altar. I keep praying and hoping that APD will tap into their humanity and their compassion. I’m sitting here, crying. Who destroys an altar? The same people who busted into an old woman’s home and killed her. The same people who destroy homeless encampments across the city. The same people who terrorize trans sex workers. You can’t keep begging these people for humanity when they are literally paid to stop seeing yours.

The misperception that really hurt me was when someone on my Facebook page wrote: “Why would you burn down the Wendy’s? It’s creating jobs in this community.” It’s this idea that the people who are at the bottom of our society—and who intentionally are at the bottom of our society, it’s not by mistake—should just be okay with being at the bottom. We’re in the middle of a pandemic. People are losing their housing at record rates. And you’re worried about a Wendy’s because it creates minimum-wage jobs?

What remains brilliant and critical about this moment is that these protests fall within a legacy in Atlanta of resistance. And I’m not talking about “Atlanta has an all-Black City Council” or “Atlanta is a Black Mecca.” Atlanta has been a city that is rooted in Black resistance. Trap music is resistance—it’s a form of protest. Atlanta is known for its protests. Atlanta is known for being a vanguard of the South, which means that we as people who are in the streets right now have the responsibility to continue the momentum of this moment and take the energy from the streets and plug it into a broad, activated political base.

What happened at the University Avenue Wendy’s Rayshard Brooks Atlanta

SGT. C.J. MURPHY: The police officer

Sgt. Murphy works in APD’s civil disturbance unit, which is trained to respond to protests and civil unrest.

We had been working protests throughout the city, working 12- to 14-hour days since Friday (June 5) at Centennial Olympic Park and Marietta Street. We were exhausted. We had been standing on the front line for hours. We witnessed one of our officers get run over by an ATV. To understand all the mental stress that we were going through, you have to take into account everything that happened that week.

The night Wendy’s caught fire (June 13), we got the call. And it was very chaotic at first. We were deployed to the highway, because protesters had climbed up onto I-75. And then from the highway, we went to the Wendy’s.

A lot of my guys were hurting not only physically but mentally. We felt terrible for our city. We felt terrible for the people that we swear an oath to protect. As someone from Atlanta and especially as a Black officer, I’m here to help my community move forward—we’re Black before we’re blue. There were so many mixed emotions.

When people are screaming at you, there is only so much communication
that you can do. For safety reasons, when we’re on the front line, it’s best for us to keep our focus on the crowd. We’re always looking, watching if there’s something being thrown at us. There could be fireworks to make us think it could be gunshots. When someone is like, Why are you doing this? How can you be Black and wear that uniform? Why aren’t you over here with us?, I will say, Well, do you want to have a conversation? And if they reply yes, I would take a position where I was able to talk, and a lot of my guys would surround me so I could take my helmet off for a moment.

Why do I do this? I do it because I love my city. A lot of times, people think being a police officer is just a job. It’s not. It’s a calling. I have a degree. I have a business background. I could leave if I really wanted to. It’s not about money or power. It’s about making a difference—and when we’re able to have those conversations, that’s when you can see the difference.

When people started to throw things at us, the ones that we had talked to started to protect us. They started kicking the fireworks away from us. There was one particular male who was just livid, screaming at me, and protesters stepped in front, like No, no, not her. That’s because we had that conversation.

After the first night at Wendy’s, when we got back to where we were stationed at, it was bad. The officers were losing it. We wanted to be able to do what we were taught to do. We want to be able to help. But we just felt helpless, like there was nothing that we could do to help calm the city or to express how we felt. Some citizens actually stopped and started speaking to us, and I think they could see the frustration in our face. And that gave me a little glimpse of hope.

I started receiving text messages and phone calls from all over the country from people I know, whether from my different roles at APD or just on a personal level. Just checking and making sure, are you all right? We appreciate the things that you do. And we need that. The officers right now need a morale boost, because they’re tired.

Honestly, I feel responsible for everything. I feel responsible when my officers are sad. I feel responsible when crime happens and I’m not there. We want to be the superheroes, these gatekeepers of the city. So, when I got the text message that a child had been shot [near the Wendy’s protest], I was livid. I wanted to suit up. I texted my lieutenant and said, Can I go? Let’s go. But we’ve got to be smart—because if you react with a large amount of force and with innocent people around, bad things can happen. So, the powers that be had to make a decision on how to go in and get the people that were armed and causing the trouble out of the area.

I had attended some training at the King Center and met one of the Black Lives Matter leaders, and I developed a rapport with her. She’s a photographer. I was out there on the front lines at Wendy’s. She came over to me, shook my hand, and said, Hey, are you okay? I said, Yes, you okay? And everybody stopped and looked at us, because they knew who she was. You can see who I am because of my uniform. With that exchange, we understood where and what role we played, but we still respected each other’s opinions and feelings. We want to be that change.

This article appears in our September 2020 issue.

Epidemiology is a science we tend to take for granted . . . until there’s a pandemic

EpidemiologyWhat is epidemiology?
It is the field of medicine that studies the causes and spread of illness and injuries within a community—tackling problems like salmonella outbreaks, air pollution, birth defects, anthrax, and, of course, infectious diseases. Think of them as doctors for the world, says Dr. James Buehler, a former epidemiology professor at Emory who worked at the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for two decades and now chairs Drexel University’s Department of Health Management and Policy: “Physicians monitor an individual’s health and recommend ways to stay fit. If you get sick, they try to figure out what’s going on and then recommend a response or intervention. Epidemiologists monitor the health of populations. It’s about controlling problems and preventing them.”

Is it a misunderstood field?
Films like Contagion and Outbreak evoke images of men and women wearing spacesuits to battle superbugs in jungles and top-secret testing centers. And, yes, that happens. Epidemiologists at the CDC keep suitcases packed for sudden deployment in times of crisis. But you’re just as likely to find them in labs studying the link between vaping and lung disease. And they’re not just sleuths tracking down the source of a threat. They also study factors that contribute to a disease’s spread, such as airflow, sanitation, and lifestyle choices, and test ways to prevent it. “It’s often said that if we do our job well, we’re invisible,” Buehler says. “But it’s in a crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic where the importance of epidemiology comes to the public’s attention.”

What is Atlanta’s role in epidemiology?
The CDC is the training ground for the world’s top epidemiologists. Every year, the agency welcomes a class of roughly 80 students to the Epidemic Intelligence Service, a two-year program that places doctors, researchers, and scientists in positions at the federal agency and health departments across the country. EIS officers build case studies, monitor outbreaks, and research new ways to tackle disease. Its graduates, Buehler says, have formed the backbone of the country’s and world’s public-health infrastructure, leading organizations such as the CDC, WHO, and nonprofits, or working as private physicians and medical journalists. Because the director, currently Dr. Robert Redfield, is appointed by the U.S. president, the agency sometimes comes under political fire—though most staffers are career public servants who have worked under multiple administrations.

How have these scientists responded to the COVID-19 pandemic?
Epidemiologists have mapped the spread of the novel coronavirus since it was first reported in Wuhan, China, and are experts on the type of pandemic contact tracing we’ll need as the country reopens. They study methods of transmission (Can touching that Amazon box make you sick?), preventive measures (Should everyone wear face masks?), morbidity and mortality patterns (Why are Black and elderly patients at greater risk?), and potential remedies (Which vaccines and treatments might prove effective?).

This article appears in our July 2020 issue.

Pizza Jeans goes from pop-up to permanent at Ponce City Market

Pizza Jeans
Red pie with mozzarella, tomato sauce, local basil, and pecorino

Photograph courtesy of Pizza Jeans

Pizza Jeans—the popular Friday night pop-up from Root Baking Co. founders Chris Wilkins and Nicole Lewis-Wilkins—is opening as its own food stall on the second floor of Ponce City Market on August 7. The Root Baking Co. space has been divided in two, giving Pizza Jeans a larger amount of space, and redesigned to reflect the distinct personality of each business. Pizza Jeans will have new offerings and hours, too.

Named after Designing Women and Watchmen actress Jean Smart—who once ate a sandwich at Root Baking while in town filming the latter—Pizza Jeans will serve pizza by the slice and the pie, along with salads, subs, breadsticks, and desserts. The pizzas are made with naturally leavened dough and topped with ingredients from local farmers. The menu will change frequently, but there will always be at least one traditional red sauce pie.

Desserts include New York-style classic cheesecake, sourdough doughnuts, and Italian lemon ice. Beverage manager Drew Gillespie, formerly of Little Trouble, will be pouring sustainable wine and wine from female-owned vineyards, as well as local beer, a craft cocktail, and lemon soda on tap.

Red pie (top) and white pie with peas, ricotta, and leeks (bottom)

Courtesy of Pizza Jeans

The Pizza Jeans space is inspired by a neighborhood pizzeria in Wilkins’ upstate New York hometown. It features leather booths, dark drapes, and a nine-seat bar. There will eventually be seating for 35 people; however, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, only takeout and delivery will be available for now.

“Safety is at the top of our minds,” Wilkins says.

As such, takeout customers will order with disposable paper menus and golf pencils. Call-in orders and curbside pickup are also available.

“We want to meet people where they are comfortable,” Wilkins says.

For the time being, Pizza Jeans will operate on Fridays and Saturdays from noon to 8 p.m. Wilkins says he hopes to soon offer take-and-bake pizzas, baked ziti, and lasagna Monday through Thursday. He adds that the restaurant will “be seven days a week when the world goes back to normal.”

Root Baking, now occupying the smaller half of the space with a counter-service menu, will remain open on Saturdays and Sundays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., serving all-day brunch with breakfast sandwiches, a grit bowl, pastries, and breads, plus cocktails.

Check out the full menu below. (Tap to enlarge.)
Pizza Jeans Menu

6 spots for great sushi takeout in Atlanta

Where to get takeout sushi Atlanta
Mujō

Photograph by Jennifer Zyman

The pandemic has changed the way we dine, perhaps indefinitely. While the notion of a shoulder-to-shoulder omakase meal at a sushi counter is certainly a less safe dining option right now, people still crave sushi—and it’s not something most can easily whip up at home. But Atlanta’s sushi chefs have accepted the takeout challenge and are serving rolls to-go alongside elegant omakase meals. Here are a few of our favorites, from both newcomers and classic Atlanta restaurants:

Where to get takeout sushi Atlanta
Mujō

Photograph by Jennifer Zyman

Mujō Atlanta
Mujō is a pop-up collaboration between Federico Castellucci (of the Iberian Pig, Cooks & Soldiers, Recess, and more) and chef J. Trent Harris, a Kentucky native who most recently worked as the executive sous chef at NYC sushi hotspot Shuko. Harris also worked at Sushi Ginza Onodera in Tokyo and New York City, where he worked alongside Master Sushi Chef Masaki Saito. Mujō serves modern Edomae sushi and small plates, which means some fish is aged and cured to add complexity. The bamboo packaging and attention to detail, such as the tiny squeeze-bottle of soy sauce and matching matchbox-sized sauce dish that comes packaged with your order, are exceptional. It manages to feel bespoke and also ensure the omakase meal makes it home without losing quality. A curated selection of sakes, wines, and beers is also available for an add-on to make it a fantastic night.

Where to get takeout sushi Atlanta
Sashimi bowl at Nakato

Photograph courtesy of Nakato

Nakato
This family-run Cheshire Bridge restaurant has been open since 1972 and now, using an online portal, you can order things like gloves, masks, or wine from their online marketplace, in addition to any Japanese food your heart is craving. Nakato offers specials based on seasonality or in celebration of several Japanese holidays, and their sushi is always fresh. The restaurant also offers family-style hibachi meals and grill-at-home skewer kits. Owner Sachi Nakato writes personalized thank you notes that she attaches to all takeout orders, which also include a QR code for people to donate to Nakato’s employee relief fund.

Sushi Hayakawa
All of Chef Hayakawa’s takeout meal are packaged in a portable bunch of boxes to make sure each piece stays as pristine as the chef made it. Takeout options include a Chirashi-don (raw fish arranged over a large bowl of rice) or a dinner bento with items that changes weekly. Hayakawa also sometimes offers specials, such as unagi donburi (grilled freshwater eel over rice). Every Tuesday, Hayakawa delivers a family-style meal to the emergency room nurses and doctors at Emory University Hospital. If you want to help this effort, you can add five dollars to your order. The restaurant is also open for in-person seasonal omakase and prepaid reservations for parties of up to two people.

Where to get takeout sushi Atlanta
Send Sushi

Photograph by Jennifer Zyman

Send Sushi
Georgia natives Ron Cheng and Gusan Jang initially started Send Sushi as a once a month, private pop-up omakase meal that showcased Jang’s skills from his time at Nakazawa Sushi and Eleven Madison Park. When the pandemic hit, the concept morphed into an omakase delivery service. All meals come with miso soup, and there are often add-ons like fresh uni, depending on what Jang gets flown in from around the world. Send is still new and finding its footing with keeping the orders cool during summer months. You can find more information on ordering and securing a spot (they go fast) via Tock.

Umi
This Buckhead sushi hotspot was one of the first to pivot into curbside delivery takeout. While it was a brand new endeavor for the restaurant, owner Farshid Arshid ensured that the packaging and branding was consistent with Umi’s sleek style. You can now order most of their menu, including the spicy tuna crispy rice and a chef’s choice of nigiri, for curbside pickup, along with wine, sake, and picture-perfect desserts. They are now open for dine-in reservations and in the process of building additional outdoor seating.

Test Drive: Animal Flow with Atlanta movement coach Jordan Coburn

Animal Flow with Atlanta coach Jordan Coburn
Atlanta fitness coach Jordan Coburn

Photograph courtesy of Jordan Coburn

As a theater nerd, I relished my high school friends’ praise, even as I trotted out the same four poses—hands on hips, crossed arms, wagging finger, shrugged shoulders—to play an ingénue in a painfully outdated 1930s musical. I also dove into drama-class exercises like the “Animal Game,” in which an actor studies an animal as a means to get deeper into a character that has some of the same traits. I was not very good at it, but I figured if Robert De Niro could channel a crab to inform his role in Taxi Driver, the least I could do was try to be a chipmunk.

Fast-forward several decades, and I am (shockingly) not on Broadway, instead mimicking the movements of the Ape, the Crab, and the vague “Beast” during a fitness class called Animal Flow with Atlanta coach Jordan Coburn.

Created in 2011 by celebrity trainer Mike Fitch to improve multi-directional mobility and decrease injuries in key areas like the wrists and hips, Animal Flow is made up of “the Six Components:” wrist mobilizations (circles and stretches), activations (static holds), form-specific stretches, traveling forms (“animal locomotion movements”), switches and transitions (dynamic movements that link into combinations), and flows (where all components come together).

Animal Flow with Atlanta coach Jordan CoburnThere are five poses in this bodyweight workout. The Beast begins on hands and knees, with knees lifted an inch off the ground. You might travel forward, in a tight crawl, or kick a leg under and through (kind of like a breakdancer) to flip over into the Crab. In the Ape, you are in a low, squatting crouch. An Animal Flow class takes you through these poses, using transition moves like the Underswitch, Side Kickthroughs, Scorpion (kind of like “Wild Thing” in yoga), and Front Kickthroughs.

Animal Flow with Atlanta coach Jordan CoburnThis kind of functional exercise is said to recruit a greater number of muscles than traditional weight training while also stimulating the central nervous system. It’s like a solo game of Twister; you have to think about where each limb is going, and that helps forge a strong mind-body connection.

Surprisingly, my heart pumped and my muscles shook after fewer than five minutes of movement. Unsurprisingly, my performance wasn’t the stuff of acting legend. But that’s OK. I’ll keep trying to be a better Ape, Crab, and Beast, and I’ll happily channel their strength in my workouts and my everyday life.

Atlanta’s latest coronavirus updates: Sunday, August 2

Atlanta coronavirus COVID-19 updates
Bad Daddy’s Burger Bar in Decatur on April 27

Photograph by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

In early June, we paused our daily coronavirus updates. However, we will continue to provide updates weekly. Here’s what you need to know right now.

• As of publication time, a total of 193,117 COVID-19 cases have been confirmed in Georgia. 3,840 people have died. 1.6 million viral tests have been conducted, and 10.9 percent of those have been positive. 3,095 people are currently hospitalized with COVID-19. [GA Dept. of Public Health/GEMA]

• The state made some upgrades and changes to its data dashboard this week. While it still has its longtime graph of cases by date of symptom onset, it also now has a graph showing cases by date reported. (The AJC and other outlets have long published this graph.) There are also new maps showing the amount of cases per 100,000 people in the past two weeks. [GA Dept. of Public Health]

• Governor Brian Kemp this week withdrew a motion for an emergency hearing in his lawsuit against the city and Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms. Kemp’s office sent a statement saying that they were pleased with the mayor’s assertion that the city’s “phase one” guidelines—one of the items the lawsuit attacked, in addition to the mayor’s mask order—were only recommendations, not requirements. The lawsuit has not yet been settled. [11 Alive]

• The governor this week also extended Georgia’s state of emergency though September 10, with the state’s current coronavirus restrictions (think no gatherings of more than 50 people and a shelter-in-place order for the elderly and those with underlying conditions) through August 15. [11 Alive]

• Hospitals are feeling the strain of the state’s rise in COVID-19 cases, which since late June have remained significantly higher than the state’s previous case peak in April. Grady Memorial Hospital has been operating at 105 percent capacity (meaning some inpatients are treated in the ER) and is starting to cancel elective surgeries, according to CEO John Haupert. Emory Healthcare reports that the amount of COVID-19 patients across its 11 hospitals jumped 375 percent in July. And all of the ICU beds in the 12-county area that serves Athens are full. Statewide, GEMA reports that 21 percent of general inpatient beds are available, along with 14 percent of critical care beds and 48 percent of ER beds. [WABE/Fox 5/AJC/GEMA]

• The temporary hospital at the Georgia World Congress Center will open on Monday, with 60 available beds that can be increased to 120 beds if necessary. [WABE]

• Former presidential candidate and former Godfather’s Pizza CEO Herman Cain, who was hospitalized with COVID-19 in early July, has died from the disease at age 74. Read his full obituary at the AJC. [AJC]

• On Thursday, the Atlanta Police Department announced they would no longer respond to car accidents where there are no injuries, citing COVID-19 spread as the reason. Instead, drivers are asked to fill out a a SR-13 form, which the AJC notes is used for accidents on private property. An APD spokesperson told the AJC that the change is temporary and that other cities (like Louisville, Kentucky) had also made the switch due to COVID-19. The AJC also says that if a driver calls and insists that an officer arrive to the scene of a non-injury accident, they can be requested. [AJC]

• A CDC report found that 260 cases of COVID-19 could be tied back to the YMCA’s Camp High Harbour in North Georgia in June. The study that said campers did not wear masks (staff did) and three-quarters of the 344 campers and staff they were able to obtain test results for did test positive for COVID-19. The CDC says the report shows that “children of all ages are susceptible to SARS-CoV-2 infection and, contrary to early reports might play an important role in transmission.” Many see the report as a warning as schools around the country debate whether or not to reopen for in-person learning. [AJC]

• Despite all the drama over masks, the AJC found that people going to metro Atlanta retailers where masks are required, including Publix, Kroger, Walmart, and Home Depot, are largely wearing them. The AJC visited five of these stores in Gwinnett County this week and tallied 100 customers in each store. 93 percent were wearing masks. The AJC did a similar study three weeks ago and found 80 percent were wearing masks. [AJC]

• Smaller metro Atlanta cities, including College Park and Union City, say they need federal assistance in order to survive. The loss of income from hotel tax has been a huge hit for these cities, and the mayors are asking for help from the second round of the CARES Act. Previously, only 36 cities nationwide, including the City of Atlanta, received CARES funding. [WSB-TV]

• Atlanta institution the Colonnade, which had been closed since March, is now open for dine-in and takeout. [Eater Atlanta]

A new Reynoldstown coffee shop will honor its founder’s Colombian roots

A rendering of Con Leche

Courtesy of Tim Nichols at NO Architecture

Ivan Romero’s career centered on operations, but his passion lies in coffee.

“Being Colombian, coffee is deeply ingrained in who I am,” he says. “The national soccer team’s means ‘the coffee growers.’ I started drinking it when I was five.”

That’s why he founded Con Leche, a takeout-focused coffee shop at 181 Flat Shoals Avenue in Reynoldstown. Scheduled to open in early October, it will sell Radio Roasters drip coffee, cold brew, cappuccinos, and lattes, as well as espresso. Root Baking Co. pastries and toasts will be offered to complement the coffee.

“We’ll highlight seasonal products like local jams and honey [on the toasts],” Romero says.

Con Leche will offer a membership program to at least 100 people. For $10 a week, participants receive unlimited drip and iced coffee, plus $1 off espresso drinks.

Romero says he selected Radio Roasters for the coffee beans because the company has a partnership with a co-op in Columbia. Plus, he says, “they have a Columbia single-origin that’s not too light or too dark.”

The name Con Leche means “with milk” in Spanish. “Espresso-based drinks usually have milk,” Romero says. “Milk adds a little sweetness and softness. It’s that sentiment we want to portray in the shop.”

The space is intentionally small with just a small bar rail inside and seating for six outside.

“Growing up, I’d frequent third-wave coffee shops in New York and San Francisco. They were the perfect place to camp out,” Romero says. “Now, I need coffee on the go—on the my way to work or the gym.”

Still, the space is designed to be modern yet cozy with concrete floors and countertops contrasting against a brightly colored ceiling. The idea is to instill a sense of the culture of Carnival in Romero’s hometown.

Since the pandemic hit, Romero says many people have started making coffee at home. However, he points out that going out for coffee is “a way to break up the day.”

“We’ll need to focus on people walking around the neighborhood,” he says.

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