A preview of Gunshow

Kevin Gillespie’s first restaurant is scheduled to open May 8

Plenty has already been written about the controversial name of Kevin Gillespie’s forthcoming restaurant, Gunshow. Despite some objections, he decided to keep the name as a tribute to his father, who worked seven days a week to feed his family, yet would make time to occasionally visit a gun show on Sundays with his son. Gillespie dreamed up the Gunshow concept after hearing from his mother that his pop never quite felt comfortable dining at Woodfire Grill (where Gillespie worked for nine years).

“Gunshow is founded on the values that I hold truest—humility, the desire to create a healthful dining experience,” he says. “Success is driven by sacrifice. It was really hard to leave Woodfire, but my heart was just not in it anymore. That makes every piece of this a little harder because of the tremendous personal connection I have to it.”

Keeping it personal for diners as well, Gunshow is designed to make people feel like they’re at home—not in the sense that the restaurant looks like a house (it doesn’t), but instead focusing on a convivial transparency to the experience.

“You can sit anywhere in the restaurant and see everyone else. It has this feeling of ‘We’re all in this together,’” he says. “The walk-in cooler’s in the dining room—you can see the fridge at home, so why not? There are no mysteries or secrets; it’s just dinner.”

Gunshow will have three circulating carts from which diners can select food. Despite rumors that stated otherwise, Gunshow will have menus, which will change weekly. They describe almost all of the food served that week with the exception of the snacks and desserts, to allow for more flexibility in the kitchen. Snacks might be Swedish meatballs made with lamb and pork, salmon chicharrones, to short rib tamales, and headcheese nuggets (similar to pork fritters). Desserts may include bonbons, candy and cookies.

The rest of the menu is as varied as the inspiration for the way the food is served—a cross between Brazilian churrascarias and Chinese dim sum. Items may include spring vegetables in Georgia pollen, pork skin risotto, braised short rib with lemon spaetzle and “stroganoff sauce,” and tunnbrodsrulle—described as hot dog, potato, shrimp, dill, and “another Swedish thing.” They’ll be prepared by Gillespie and his team, whom diners can watch in the completely open kitchen. Gillespie himself will likely be pushing one of the food carts! And when Gillespie has to go out of town—say, for a book tour—his good friend Marco Shaw, formerly executive chef at Piedmont in Durham, N.C., will fill in.

For such a personal restaurant, it may come as no surprise that everything from the food to the decor is sourced locally. Gillespie’s grandfather built the butcher blocks. The napkins (gray Americana bandanas) come from the last independent bandana manufacturer in the country. A guy in Cartersville made the burned wood tables that so perfectly reflect the color of the barns where tobacco was hung when Gillespie was a child.

Gillespie’s parents—who inspired the very foundation of Gunshow—have not seen the restaurant yet. They have plans to come in for the Friends and Family night, which is scheduled for next Tuesday but will likely be delayed due to inspections and permitting. “We’ll find a way,” Gillespie says.

Gunshow is scheduled to open May 8. For reservations, call 404.380.1886.