Updated August 29, 2022:
8Arm is no more. After previously announcing plans to close on October 8, the 8Arm team quietly closed up shop this past weekend, about six weeks sooner than expected. On Sunday, the 8Arm team posted a staff picture to Instagram with the message, “In case you didn’t figure it out, last night was our last night. It came sooner than any of us expected or wanted, but we gave you everything we had. Thank you, Atlanta, for shining a path for us to walk.”
Co-owner Skip Engelbrecht told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the early closure was partially due to “confusing” scheduling for diners, as the restaurant could only open when its rotating pop-up chefs had availability. Maricela Vega, 8Arm’s head chef from 2019 to 2021, was the last chef to cook at the restaurant. “She’s our family, and we wanted to make sure she was the last chef in that building,” Engelbrecht told the AJC.
Just over a week ago, Engelbrecht and Nhan Le announced plans to open a second location of seafood spot Fishmonger in the Pratt Pullman District, which is set to open in October. They’re also still working on comfort food spot Small Fry, also set to open this fall.
Original June 21, 2022 story:
8Arm’s Instagram followers were in for quite the surprise today, as owners Nhan Le and Skip Engelbrecht used the forum to announce the beloved restaurant’s impending closure. Due to the sale of the quaint brick building on Ponce de Leon, (which Le and Engelbrecht lease), 8Arm will cease operations October 8.
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Until that time, 8Arm will do what 8Arm does best: Evolve. 8Arm as we know will stop service July 2. The following Thursday, Le and Engelbrecht will open the kitchen to local chefs (both familiar and new) for dinner pop-ups ranging from a week to a month (Thursday through Saturday only). Josh Fryer will continue to serve drinks from the 8Arm bar.
“We’ve always worked with—and given back to—the community,” Engelbrecht says. “We’ve always changed. In the spirit of that, in navigating change, we thought this was appropriate. The people we’ve been working with are our homies—people we’ve worked with forever, people we love. It’s our way of saying thank you.”
The building next to 8Arm (that housed Paris on Ponce and Le and Engelbrecht’s Three Hearts Roastery) caught fire in late 2019, and the landlords declined to rebuild. Because of 8Arm’s proximity to the space, it was purchased for redevelopment.
“We’re not certain what the long-term future holds for our adorable little building, but it will not include 8Arm,” reads the Instagram story.
Engelbrecht declined to comment as to whether he’d consider reopening 8Arm elsewhere.
What started six years ago as a creative—some might say revolutionary—spot led by the late chef Angus Brown transformed numerous times over the years. The founding chef’s sudden death in 2017 forced Le to change course, promoting then-sous chef Kevin Remes. Then came Maricela Vega of Chicomecoatl (now known as Chico), touting her homemade tamales and vegetable-forward menu. Later, 8Arm metamorphosized into a Japanese izakaya with sushi, a natural wine bar, and patio seating.
“While our future is not long, we are incredibly humbled by the talents and dedication of our staff and partners, and the amount of support the community has shown us over years past,” reads 8Arm’s Instagram story. “We hope that support continues for all the chefs that pass through our kitchen and our remaining staff in these final months, and beyond.”
The current lineup of returning chefs includes Vega and Duy Huynh of Yee’s Vietnamese. New chefs set to take over 8Arm’s kitchen include Cleophus Hethington from Ebi Chop Bar, Molli Voraotsady from SoSoFed, and Mike and Shyretha Sheats from the Plate Sale.
“We hope these next few months will be a celebration of the diverse people, delicious food, refreshing drinks, and great parties that graced 8Arm over the last year years. Please help us go out in style, and shine bright the spirit of Angus Brown,” the post states.
“We’re going to go out with a bang,” Engelbrecht adds.
Meanwhile, he and Le will continue to focus on their new Poncey-Highland seafood market, Fishmonger, as well as their upcoming comfort food spot, Small Fry.