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Le Petit Marche plans for a comeback in June

Le Petit Marche
Le Petit Marche

Photograph by Sam Worley

When homegrown Kirkwood breakfast spot Le Petit Marche closed in March, Atlantans were aghast. But hope was quickly restored when chef Anthony Sanders, co-owner of Atlanta Breakfast Club, purchased the restaurant, promising to keep it intact. This month, Sanders plans to reopen Le Petit Marche with the same quaint decor and a similar menu. However, the new Le Petit Marche will offer table service rather than counter service.

“I was the consultant on Le Petit Marche 14 years ago, and before it closed, [previous owner Marchet Sparks] sent me an email saying she wasn’t going to continue with the business but that it’d be a great place for Atlanta Breakfast Club,” Sanders says. “She loves Kirkwood. She wanted to make sure no one had to change their routine and would still be able to get breakfast and lunch there seven days a week.”

Rather than convert the Le Petit Marche space to an Atlanta Breakfast Club, Sanders decided “the best thing would be to show respect to [Sparks] and her family by keeping it the same,” he says. “I love the decor. It’s perfect. It’s New Orleans meets the South of France meets Atlanta meets Afrogenius.”

The menu will continue to reflect guest favorites, such as oatmeal, French toast sandwiches, panini, and soup; but Sanders says he’ll offer a fresher approach to the salads and beverage menu. Nitro coffee may soon be an option, in addition to libations like mimosas and bellinis.

Breakfast will continue to be available all day, and Sanders may even extend the operating hours to 6 or 7 p.m., depending on demand.

Sweetgreen, the popular salad chain, is finally opening at Ponce City Market

The blackened catfish bowl is exclusive to Sweetgreen Atlanta.

Courtesy of Sweetgreen

The words “cult following” often bring to mind thoughts of Star Trek, Arrested Development, or even In-N-Out burgers. But fast-casual salad chain Sweetgreen, too, has a dedicated fanbase—a group likely celebrating and eagerly anticipating its Southern arrival. With more than 120 locations across the United States, Sweetgreen is finally here in Georgia. Its Ponce City Market location soft opens this Friday and Saturday (June 4 and 5), with the official grand opening on June 8 (more on that below). Additional locations are planned for Colony Square and Lenox Square.

“We’ve been excited about Atlanta and drawn to this community for quite some time, and we’re thrilled to be joining the Ponce City Market neighborhood,” says Nicolas Jammet, Sweetgreen cofounder and chief concept officer. “Between the award-winning culinary scene, vibrant arts and entertainment districts, and strong community culture that permeates through the city, Atlanta felt like the next natural home for Sweetgreen.”

Sweetgreen’s menu includes a build-your-own option with bases such as warm quinoa, shredded kale, baby spinach, and arugula. Toppings include seeds, nuts, fruits, vegetables, and proteins such as roasted shrimp and hard-boiled eggs. Pre-designed salads and bowls include kale Caesar and roasted tomato harvest with blacked chicken, goat cheese, basil, roasted almonds, shredded kale, warm wild rice, and balsamic vinaigrette. The Atlanta locations will be home to an exclusive item: a blackened catfish bowl with baby spinach, warm wild rice, shredded cabbage, raw carrots, red onions, basil, spicy sunflower seeds, and a Green Goddess ranch dressing.

Many ingredients will be sourced locally from purveyors like Allison’s Honey (wildflower honey), Calyroad Creamery (chèvre), Alon’s Bakery (rosemary focaccia), and Genuine Georgia (yellow peaches). Local artists affiliated with TILA Studios—a Black female visual arts incubator—were commissioned to decorate the Ponce City Market location.

To celebrate the grand opening on June 8, numerous promotions are planned, including free delivery for the first two weeks for mobile app orders. Hardcore fans who are among the first 50 in line on the 8th will receive a Nourish Botanica floral bouquet. The company will also contribute to Project South in support of Black Lives Matter.

Correction 6/8/21: The original headline of this story described Sweetgreen as an L.A. salad chain. While the company is currently based in the Los Angeles area, it was founded in Washington, D.C.

Westside Works expands its West Nest food stall at Mercedes-Benz Stadium

Fans stand in line for food and drink at West Nest

Courtesy of Mercedes-Benz Stadium

The Westside Works Culinary Academy—which provides free culinary training to west side residents in hopes of creating employment opportunities—is expanding. In the past, Westside Works employed select graduates at West Nest, a Mercedes-Benz Stadium food stall on the 300 level. Starting tomorrow, West Nest will have second location at section 115, with a portion of the proceeds from both stalls benefiting the training program.

The Westside Works graduates who work at West Nest implement menu changes, cook, and manage the food stalls. This year, the menus feature maple buffalo wings, a country-fried chicken sandwich with jalapeno-apple slaw and bacon jam on brioche, and straight-cut natural fries with house-made dipping sauce.

“People come into the program with little expectations about their skill set, and graduate with the most passion I’ve ever seen,” says Latisha Rodgers, culinary instructor and program operating manager for Westside Works. “I’m giving these people hope that they can come into this industry and be successful.”

In the past couple of years, the program was shortened from eight weeks to six, yet graduates still achieve their food management certification and learn knife skills, protein fabrication (such as how to break down a 22-pound Atlantic salmon), baking, culinary math, and more.

Despite program pauses due to the pandemic, from late 2019 to December 2020 Westside Works graduated 23 students and achieved 100 percent placement in places like the Pig and the Pearl, JCT Kitchen, and Proof of the Pudding. Approximately half of the graduates go on to work at West Nest or Westside Works’ “fan-friendly” food truck at Mercedes-Benz. Wages start at $13.50 per hour.

Westside Works has other tracks for those who aren’t culinarians. Nearly 500 west side residents worked on the construction of the stadium, and more than 800 are employed in some function of it.

For more information, visit westsideworks.org, or support the nonprofit by visiting West Nest at the next Atlanta Falcons or Atlanta United game.

The Interlock rises on the Westside: Here’s what you’ll find inside

A patio at the Interlock

Courtesy of Stream Realty

If you’ve been to the Westside recently, you likely noticed the L-shaped building rising at the corner of 14th Street and Howell Mill Road. This is the Interlock, a two-phase, work-live-play creation boasting a boutique hotel, techy, interactive golf, and soon, a lot of food options. The first tenants just opened, with many more planned for the future.

“The goal is to create a walkable, mixed-use environment, says Justin Latone, who oversees the Interlock leasing for developer S.J. Collins. (If you’re wondering, S.J. Collins also developed Chamblee’s Peachtree Station shopping center and the North Decatur Square shopping center.) “Jamestown’s redevelopment of the Westside Provisions District was the catalyst to everything we’re seeing in West Midtown now. This area is unique and authentic and has expanded rapidly.”

He says the Interlock is designed to complement existing hospitality options in the areas, as well as provide day-to-day necessities that don’t currently exist in the area, such as a grocery store and a bank, both of which are planned for the Interlock in the future.

Here’s what to expect and when:

Puttshack Atlanta

Courtesy of Puttshack

Puttshack
The first Interlock business to open, Puttshack is an indoor, interactive entertainment zone complete with a restaurant and bar. Confused? Think mini golf, but all grown up. The neon-lit space accepts reservations for golf games, but walking in spontaneously is okay, too. Fill up on crispy popcorn cauliflower, wood-fired Thai octopus, and hatch chile cheeseburgers. Wash it down with a Porn Star martini (yes, that’s really the name), made with Absolut Vanilla vodka, passionfruit liqueur, vanilla syrup, lime juice, rose, and passion fruit smoke, or opt for the less provocative-sounding spiced pineapple mezcal margarita.

Inside Bellyard

Photo by Caleb Jones

Bellyard
Now open, boutique hotel Bellyard has 161 rooms, including suites—each with luxurious amenities such as Japanese soaking tubs and foldable writers’ desks. Guests have 24-hour access to a fitness center with Peloton bikes. The hotel will have numerous public spaces, too. There will be 7,000 square feet of event place (inside and out), a 160-seat American tavern called Drawbar, and fresh coffee and pastries from a Saint Germain French Bakery outpost. (More on both of these below.)

Drawbar
Serving breakfast, dinner, and late-night drinks—including 250 spirits—Drawbar boasts an open-air terrace with skyline views. Expect bar-centric snacks and craft tavern fare, plus beer, wine, and cocktails. Dishes include Coca-Cola short ribs toast, tomato and ricotta Johnny cakes, and a garden frittata.

Pastries from Saint Germain French Bakery

Saint Germain French Bakery
Founded by Decatur native Heather Jourdan-Gassin, Saint Germain French Bakery opened in Ponce City Market’s Central Food Hall in 2016. When it opens in June, the Westside patisserie will feature a coffee and tea bar, as well the croissants, chocolates, and macarons the brand has become known for. There will be 30 types of freshly baked French pastries like opera cake, eclairs, fruit tarts, Napoleon, and lemon meringue, plus 18 flavors of gluten-free macarons (including strawberry basil and mango mimosa). For lunch, there will be croque monsieur, quiches, grilled sandwiches, and soups. A wine and champagne list will focus on French, organic, and women-owned vineyards.

Velvet Tacos from left: spicy tikka chicken, buffalo chicken, and brisket

Courtesy of Velvet Taco

Velvet Taco
A funky taco shop with locations in Texas, North Carolina, and Illinois, as well as here in Buckhead, Velvet Taco features a casual, colorful atmosphere with counter service. The menu lists more than 20 unique options including a chicken and waffle taco served in a waffle shell. Other items are more traditional, like grilled flank steak and shrimp tacos. The tortillas are hand-made, sauces are mixed in house, and the brisket is slow-roasted for more than 18 hours. There’s a weekly taco special, and red velvet cake for dessert. Look for the Interlock location to open in June with a walk-up window, a covered patio, and a mural paying a tribute to the historic Interlock train system.

A rendering of Holiday Bar

Courtesy of Square Feet Studios

Holiday Bar
Establishment co-owner David Reed is opening this bright-and-airy drinking hole across from the Westside Provisions District with his business partner Ryan Covert. Tentatively scheduled for a July launch, Holiday Bar will feature high-top seating, firepits, and fairy lights strung across the space. Primarily an outdoor venue, Holiday will focus on cocktails. The beverage menu is still in the works but may be divided into Old Timey, Negronis, Tiki, Spritzers, and ‘80s/’90s. Everything will be served to-go, as the Holiday space is only 850 square feet and the Interlock has an open-container policy. Not up for alcohol? Holiday will have its own brand of coffee used in espresso drinks (as well as coffee cocktails).

Cathy’s Gourmet Ice Cream Sandwiches
Cleveland, Ohio-based Cathy’s serves design-your-own ice cream sandwiches on cookies and churros. Cookie dough, ice cream scoops, and milkshakes are on the menu, too. When Cathy’s opens in the Interlock in July, patrons can choose from seven types of cookies including snickerdoodle and chocolate brownie, 15 flavors of ice cream (coffee ‘n’ cream, anyone?), and 10 toppings, such as toffee and Fruity Pebbles. Sugar rush make you crash? Coffee is available, too.

Slater Hospitality Rooftop
Opening before year’s end, the yet-unnamed Slater Hospitality rooftop includes a 13,000-square-foot restaurant and bar (think of their restaurant Nine Mile Station atop Ponce City Market), private event space, and a second bar with garden seating and firepits. Instead of boardwalk-style games, the roof at the Interlock will have a wading pool and cabanas, so guests can get their sun on.

TruFusion
In time for the winter holidays, exercise brand TruFusion is opening a gym on the Westside. Expect yoga, barre, circuit, HIIT, and Pilates, including numerous heated classes. TruFusion currently has locations across the country.

Kinjo Room & La Lau
MF Sushi’s Alex Kinjo is looking to open a 20-seat, a la carte sushi restaurant called Kinjo Room next year. He’s also opening a more casual Vietnamese spot called La Lau. Expect a takeout window for grabbing Vietnamese coffee and banh mi on-the-go.

Pour Taproom
This popular, self-service, wine-and-beer bar on the BeltLine’s Eastside Trail is bringing its variable-size pours to the Westside. Expect it to open before Thanksgiving.

Other tenants
Additional Phase 1 and 2 plans include Resident Home furnishings, a Georgia Tech incubator, WeWork, Stream Realty, Chase Bank, S.J. Collins, Lovesac Furniture, and Publix.

Snackboxe Bistro’s new Duluth location will have a patio and full bar

Snackboxe second location Duluth
Pork belly skewers

Courtesy of Snackboxe Bistro

Owner and chef Thip Athakhanh opened Snackboxe Bistro in Doraville in 2018. After a short-lived location in the Battery (thanks, Covid-19), Snackboxe is expanding again—this time to Duluth, where Athakhanh says most of her customers live. Occupying a corner spot just off the highway (1960 Day Drive Northwest), Snackboxe Duluth, set to open in early September, will be a similar size to the Doraville location with the addition of a patio and a full bar.

Likewise, the menu will offer Doraville favorites like laap, lemongrass ribs, crispy pork belly, seen savanh (sweet and savory fried beef jerky), and nam khao (crispy coconut rice salad with fermented pork or tofu in a lettuce wrap). However, the menu will be streamlined to accommodate the limited kitchen space. Nevertheless, Athakhanh will introduce about 10 new items focused on Laotian barbecue comforts.

Lao sausage meatballs

Courtesy of Snackboxe Bistro

“Laos always smells like garlic and lemongrass with cooking in the streets,” Athakhanh says. “This is adventurous, jungle-type food.”

Expect skewers with prawns, squid, chicken livers and gizzards that can be self-grilled on the patio. Though fans will have to go to Doraville for the Snackboxe noodle soups, Duluth will have one noodle dish called khao piek sen. Athakhanh describes it as a chicken noodle soup with house-made tapioca noodles, a staple in Laos. The beverage menu will feature Thai iced tea and coffee, as well as Laos-inspired cocktails, such as a Mekong, a Laotian version of a Michelada with tamarind powder and chile powder on the rim.

Snackboxe second location Duluth
Fried chicken skins

Courtesy of Snackboxe Bistro

The space will be more fun and formal than the original, designed for date night or hosting out-of-town guests. It will have a lot of wood and greenery, including banana plants. There will be art on the walls and a garden outside.

“We want it to feel more like a home, like you’re in Luang Prabang, Laos,” Athakhanh says.

Barbecue is smokin’ in Atlanta: What’s next for Bryan Furman, Fox Bros., Lake & Oak, and more

Brisket from Lake & Oak BBQ

Photo by Tom Pritchard

The past few weeks have brought a flurry of announcements from some of the most popular pitmasters in Atlanta and the Southeast. Celebrity pitmaster Rodney Scott is bringing his popular ‘cue to Atlanta, while local mainstays like Fox Bros. are expanding even further into the city. The timing couldn’t be better, with summer right around the corner and family and friends finally dining together as Covid-19 vaccination rates continue to climb.

“Barbecue brings people together just like all soul food,” says Todd Richards, chef and co-owner of Lake & Oak BBQ. “I always say that it’s impossible to be mad at someone across the table while you’re eating a delicious meal.”

Black pitmasters, too, are finally getting more credit for their culinary expertise.

“Back in the day, you had the Black man in the kitchen or in the pit, but the white man who owned the restaurant was labeled the pitmaster, and the black man was labeled nothing,” says pitmaster Bryan Furman, who is opening his own restaurant next year. “To me, barbecue has always been hot. It’s just starting to get the attention [it deserves].”

Here’s where you can get your fix of pork and ribs in the next couple years:

Sides from Bryan Furman BBQ

Photo by Michael Hrizuk

Bryan Furman BBQ

The pitmaster behind the beloved B’s Cracklin’ BBQ—which we named the best barbecue in Atlanta before it burned down in 2019—Bryan Furman knows a thing or two about smoking meat. The 2019 James Beard semifinalist is currently Chef in Residence at Stone Barns Center for Food & Agriculture, where he’s focusing on barbecue wood selection and heritage hog cooking. He’s also set to mentor aspiring pitmasters as part of Kingsford Charcoal’s Preserve the Pit initiative. But Atlantans may be most interested in his 2022 plans: launching his first barbecue joint under his own name. (He’s also opening a satellite location inside State Farm Arena in the fall.)

Located at 2102 Bolton Road in Riverside, across from the old B’s Cracklin’ space, Bryan Furman BBQ will feature his signature recipes for meats and sides. These include brisket, ribs, chicken, collard greens, baked beans, cole slaw, potato salad, Carolina hash and rice, and banana pudding. The menu will be limited to approximately 15 items, including vegan options. Furman will be smoking North Carolina hogs front and center with both indoor and outdoor seating. His old, destroyed smoker from B’s Cracklin’ will be on display, as well as photos of Black pitmasters of yesteryear. His new smokehouse will be brick and fireproof (just in case). He’s also partnering with Samara Davis, director of the Black Bourbon Society, to create cocktails with Maker’s Mark.

DAS II

The second location of Georgia-meets-Texas barbecue joint DAS BBQ opened at 350 Memorial Drive last month with seven smoked meats and seven sides. (The beef brisket and spicy Mexican-style creamed corn take center stage.) Beer, wine, and liquor are available, too.

The nearly 200-seat restaurant offers ample outdoor space around the smoke house. In addition to general meat-smoking presentations, hands-on pitmaster classes are in the works.

Sliced brisket, jalapeño-cheddar sausage, brisket chili, and slaw from Fox. Bros.

Photo by Andrew Thomas Lee

Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q

Pitmasters Jonathan and Justin Fox are expanding their award-winning barbecue with two new locations. The first—located at the Works on the Westside—is slated to open this summer. The 9,300-square-foot space will feature a to-go window and grab-and-go offerings, as well as indoor and outdoor seating. The menu will be a mix of fan favorites from the original Fox Bros. on DeKalb Avenue, along with new appetizers and sandwiches.

Inspired by the Texas icehouses of their childhood, Fox Bros. Brookhaven will bring the barbecue back to the area it all began: the brothers’ Brookhaven backyard. Located in the Brookhaven Station development at Brookhaven Drive and Peachtree Road, it will offer a menu of Tex-Mex barbecue favorites, alongside some of the Foxes’ traditional smoked meats. The space will have an open-air feel with ample outdoor seating and a pickup window.

Lake + Oak smoked chicken and sides

Lake & Oak BBQ

Chefs Todd Richards and Josh Lee opened the first Lake & Oak BBQ between the East Lake and Oakhurst neighborhoods in July 2020. Later this year, they’ll open another Lake & Oak location—this one in the Lee + White complex in West End. A much larger, custom-built space, the new restaurant will feature a patio facing the BeltLine.

Here, Richards and Lee will continue to cook Southern barbecue over white oak and pecan woods and charcoal using a Big Green Egg. The menu will be expanded to include sides from Richards’ recent cookbook and more of Lee’s family recipes. Favorites from the original location will remain and may include collard fried rice, cabbage slaw, Brussels sprouts, and of course, smoked macaroni and cheese.

Rodney Scott’s Whole Hog BBQ

Located in the historic MET development in Adair Park (680 Murphy Avenue Southwest), Rodney Scott’s BBQ will be the city’s first by this celebrity pitmaster, complementing locations in Charleston and Birmingham. The 4,000-square-foot space will have a disco ball, patio, and most important, Rodney’s Sauce—a mixture of vinegar, cayenne, and black pepper.

The Eastern South Carolina-inspired menu will feature ribs, pulled pork, turkey, wings, and more, all cooked over hardwood coals. (The whole hog barbecue cooks for more than 12 hours.) Expect a menu similar to that at other Rodney Scott BBQ locations, with the addition of a new salad and a chicken burger.

Brash Coffee Roasters is opening a full-service restaurant at the Works

Brash Coffee RoastersBrash Coffee Roasters—the Atlanta-based company known for its single-origin coffee and flagship shipping container shop—is expanding to a full-service restaurant model with the introduction of Brash Kitchen at the Works on the Westside. Brash founder Chris McLeod has partnered with Julia Kesler Imerman of meal prep and catering company Stop Think Chew. Located near the entrance of the Makers Building outside the food hall, Brash Kitchen will offer counter-service, takeout, and table-service options for breakfast, lunch, and afternoon cocktails.

“I’ve always wanted to open a café or restaurant,” Imerman says. “Chris’s Australian background and my South African background are rich in the café culture we want to bring to Atlanta.”

Brash Coffee RoastersBy that, Imerman and McLeod mean they want Brash Kitchen to be a place to eat and drink, but also stay and work or socialize. “Cafes around the world have become very transactional,” McLeod says. “We want to create a place [where] people like the energy and want to stay.”

Inspired by the pair’s favorite all-day cafes in Australia, Israel, New York, and South Africa, Brash Kitchen will offer the full Brash menu of coffees and pastries, as well as new, heartier items from Imerman. For breakfast, there might be shakshuka with chopped salad and pita or muesli with bee pollen and flowers. For lunch, think roasted vegetable salad, peri-peri chicken, a vegan grain bowl, and a chicken schnitzel sandwich. The menu will change seasonally.

Brash Coffee Roasters“I was very taken with Julia’s farmer-forward approach,” McLeod says. “It’s very consistent with how we directly source our beans from Central and South America and our direct relationships with the farmers.”

Open from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., Brash Kitchen will serve approximately 10 natural wines, as well as handcrafted cocktails. These range from light and citrus-forward drinks to classics like negronis and martinis. The space, which will feature brass with accents of color, might be used for pop-ups and private events in the evenings.

Brash Coffee RoastersAt 1,530 square feet, the long, narrow space will put the semi-open kitchen front and center, allowing the community to engage with the Brash team. A cutout to-go window out front connects passersby with the barista. There will even be (gasp) communal tables to promote connection as we emerge from the pandemic.

“We want to foster genuine interaction,” McLeod says.

Emmy Squared’s Detroit-style pizza comes to Glenwood Park

The MVP features a triple play of sauce: red, vodka, and pesto.

Courtesy of Emmy Squared

Matt and Emily Hyland fell in love while sharing a pizza, then built their life together around red-and-white pies. They opened Pizza Loves Emily, serving artisanal, hand-stretched pizzas, in Brooklyn, N.Y., in 2014 with Matt as executive chef. Since then, they’ve expanded their empire with a West Village location, as well as 10-plus locations of their Detroit-style offshoot, Emmy Squared. The first Georgia location opened last week in Glenwood Park in the space formerly home to the Shed at Glenwood (475 Bill Kennedy Way Southeast).

“Atlanta is a great Southern city,” Emily Hyland says. “We value being a neighborhood spot, having regulars who our staff know.”

Emmy Squared offers a selection of appetizers, salads, and sandwiches (think chicken parm), but the primary focus is square-shaped pizza with a crispy, fried, cheesy crust called frico. It’s cooked in a convection oven, rather than a wood-fired oven like that at Pizza Loves Emily.

“This gives us more ability to do quality control and create consistency,” Hyland says.

Emmy Squared Atlanta
Roni Supreme pizza

Courtesy of Emmy Squared

The pizzas are all 8-by-10 inches with six thick slices that easily feed two people. Options include a Margarita and a Classic (just sauce and cheese), as well as the fan-favorite Colony2 with pepperoni, pickled jalapenos, and honey. White pie varieties include the Emmy (banana peppers, red onion, and ranch), and Hot Chicken (Nashville hot chicken, ‘Bama white sauce, and chopped pickles). Though the majority of the menu is standardized across Emmy Squared locations, there is a Shed Pie variety with fried green tomatoes that pays tribute to the Atlanta spot’s origins.

Chicken Parmesan sandwich

Courtesy of Emmy Squared

There’s also a burger that originated as a staff meal at the first Pizza Loves Emily. Dubbed Le Big Matt, it’s double-stacked grass-fed beef patties, American cheese, greens, pickles, and the tangy, sweet, and sour Sammy Sauce, all on a pretzel bun.

“We’re an American restaurant, so we like burgers and pizza. It’s the ultimate American nostalgia,” Hyland says.

And what better to pair with American nostalgia than beer? Emmy Squared has 15 beers on tap, including local flavors from Scofflaw, SweetWater, New Realm, Orpheus, Creature Comforts, and Terrapin.

General manager Steven Trager (from Ray’s Restaurants) is leading the bar program, using his wine expertise to offer pizza-friendly varietals by the glass and the bottle. There’s also a cocktail menu with seasonal drinks like the Spring It On (gin, lemon juice, dried lavender petals, and lavender sprigs).

Emmy Squared seats 118 diners inside, plus another 46 on a dog-friendly patio. Hyland describes the space as “clean, simple, open, and warm” with high ceilings. The restaurant is currently serving dinner only, with expanded hours planned for the future.

Remembering Tamarind founder Charlie Niyomkul, who never met a stranger

From left: Jeda Niyomkul, DeeDee Niyomkul, Aran Downes, Charlie Niyomkul, Nan Niyomkul, Deklan Downes, Jedi Niyomkul

The founder of Tamarind Restaurant Group, Supichai “Charlie” Niyomkul, died on April 5 at age 70 due to complications from Covid-19. He is remembered for his endless smile, his dedication to his family, and the popular Thai restaurants he leaves behind.

Widely credited for introducing Thai fine dining to Atlanta, Niyomkul immigrated to the U.S. in 1971, working his way from bartender to server and even riverboat captain in New York City. He and his wife, Nantha “Nan” Niyomkul, opened their first restaurant, Tamarind Thai Cuisine, nearly 20 years later on the Upper East Side, attracting celebrity regulars like Brooke Shields and Sidney Poitier.

After visiting friends in Atlanta during the 1996 Olympics, the Niyomkuls decided to move their family—including children Eddie and DeeDee—South, opening Tamarind across from a gas station on 14th Street. It became known for its signature pineapple chicken dish served in a hallowed-out pineapple.

“He was a pioneer in Midtown—there wasn’t even a Starbucks there at the time,” daughter DeeDee Niyomkul says. “You’d see a line around the block during lunchtime.”

Xavier Salomon, executive chef at the Montage Los Cabos, was working at the Ritz-Carlton, Buckhead, at the time when chef Jean Banchet invited him to dinner at Tamarind.

“Charlie sat with us at the table. He was full of life, so proud of his country. We became very good friends,” Salomon says. “He was tireless—an example to follow. Morning, day, and night he was there. It was his life.”

Charlie Niyomkul

The penultimate host, Niyomkul never met a stranger. When pro golfer Vijay Singh and his wife, Ardena, visited Atlanta before the Masters more than 30 years ago, they stumbled upon Tamarind and instantly connected over Charlie’s love of golf and the Singhs’ Asian heritage.

“Charlie made everyone in the restaurant feel important,” Ardena Singh says. “He had a genuine warmth.”

The Singhs enjoyed the Niyomkuls’ company—and their food—so much that they invited them to cater their annual Tournament Players Club party. As word spread about the unique food, including grilled Thai lamb chops, attendance grew from 20 to 200 guests. The Niyomkuls were even invited to set the menu for the Masters Champions Dinner.

The consummate restaurateur, Charlie opened Nan Thai Fine Dining in 2003 and moved Tamarind to Colony Square the following year. (Tamarind has since closed.)

“I admired his business sense, as well as his huge love for Nan and his children,” says A Legendary Event founder Tony Conway, who befriended Charlie in 1994. The two worked together on numerous charitable fundraisers benefiting Meals on Wheels and Share Our Strength. “He was always happy, always smiling,” Conway says.

Nan and Charlie Niyomkul

A family man, Charlie didn’t let his business get in the way of his relationships. When his children were young, he picked them up from school, attended their sports games, and cooked them dinner while Nan was at work. Later, he developed a close bond with his now 5-year-old grandson, Deklan Downes, teaching him to putt as soon as he could hold a club.

“He was a very hands-on dad and showed me the ins and outs of hospitality,” DeeDee says. She went on to open two of her own restaurants, Tuk Tuk Thai Food Loft and Chai Yo Modern Thai, and is currently taking on some of her father’s responsibilities at Nan and the parent company.

“My dad was the presence. He personified the restaurant and who we are as a hospitality group,” DeeDee says.

Charlie never lost his love of his home country, returning year after year and often bringing friends from Atlanta with him.

“He helped me discover [Thailand] from north to south. It was a life-changing experience,” Salomon says. “I opened this Thai restaurant in Montage Los Cabos because of him. I’m forever grateful.”

At the time of his death, Charlie was planning to move Nan across the street from its current location and modernize the decor. DeeDee will continue with his plans in the next couple years.

“It was my dad’s dream,” she says.

Athens Pizza owners open a new casual Mediterranean restaurant in Chamblee

Rotisserie chicken

Photo by Caleb Jones

Inspired by their annual Greek Easter celebration, husband-and-wife team Sandy and Niki Papadopoulos are opening a casual Mediterranean restaurant called Karv Kitchen. Located in Chamblee (5126 Peachtree Boulevard), Karv (spelled with a K because there’s no C in the Greek alphabet) will serve rotisserie chicken, pork, and lamb off the spit with house-made sauces like peri peri, roasted red pepper feta, and caper chimichurri. Owner of Athens Pizza in Decatur, the Papadopoulos family has been fine-tuning the Karv concept for the past six years.

“This is a dream come true for me,” Sandy Papadopoulos says. “My parents gave me everything through Athens Pizza. I wanted to make sure we got it right.”

Karv will open for lunch Tuesday and begin serving dinner Thursday. Diners can choose from four signature wraps made with pita imported from Greece, or create their own bowl filled with rice, spiced potatoes or fries, plus meat, and sauce. Entrees and family meals, as well as vegan and vegetarian options, are available, too. Sides include eggplant stew, cabbage slaw made without mayonnaise, and eggplant and zucchini chips.

The Greko wrap includes a choice of chicken or pork souvla with tangy mustard, tomato, spicy tzatziki, pickled red onion, radish, and fries.

Photo by Caleb Jones

Braised collard bowl with lamb shank

Photo by Caleb Jones

Loukoubombs—similar to Greek sweet loukoumathes—are Greek donuts topped with Nutella or caramel, nuts, fruit, and Yom-brand ice cream. They can be ordered along with Jittery Joe’s coffee from a separate counter in the restaurant. Greek beer and wine, and a few local brews, will also be available.

At 2,800 square feet, the Karv space is located across from the Alden and Laguarde Eatery and features a patio shared with Five Guys Burgers & Fries.

“Sandy’s family had an Athens Pizza location in Chamblee years ago. We’re excited to get the family back in the neighborhood,” Niki Papadopoulos says.

Karv sauces include peri-peri, caper chimi, red pepper feta, and more.

Photo by Caleb Jones

In designing the space, the Papadopouloses thought about the color of the mountains in Greece as well as how meat changes as it roasts. The result is a warm space with a lot of wood, deep burgundy, and notes of pink.

“We didn’t want it to feel like a big manly meat restaurant; we wanted it to be more comfortable,” Papadopoulos says. “It’s very family friendly.”

The duo plans to open other Karv locations around Atlanta in the future.

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

Karv Atlanta menu

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