It’s no secret that the past Atlanta Hawks season was a rough one—it ended with the team tied for the third-worst record in the NBA. With a new head coach and a young roster of new players, a lot of things will be different this year for Hawks fans—including the new Philips Arena, which is undergoing a $192.5 million renovation that is expected to be completed this fall.
And even if some fans are cautious about championship hopes, one thing fans will most definitely look forward to is good food.
Working with executive chef Joe Schafer, formerly of Bacchanalia and King + Duke, Philips Arena is introducing several local favorites to its dining options. It’s a trend among Atlanta’s new sports stadiums: SunTrust Park launched last year with the Terrapin/Fox Bros B-B-Q Taproom and Hugh Acheson’s First & Third sausage shack, and Mercedes-Benz Stadium continued the trend with Farm Burger, Delia’s Chicken Sausage Stand, Kevin Gillespie’s Gamechanger, and, again, Fox Bros Bar-B-Q.
“We said to Joe, we want you to curate and pick restaurants that are true to Atlanta, that fans would love,” said Hawks CEO Steve Koonin at a media preview event Wednesday night.
On Wednesday, they did just that, announcing many local favorites including Old Lady Gang, J.R. Crickets, B’s Cracklin’ Barbecue, and Gio’s Little Italia will be joining the arena’s list of local eats. They join national dessert chain Rita’s Italian Ice and the already-announced Zac Brown’s Social Club, which will bring the Grammy Award-winning musician’s Southern-style food in front of Hawks fans.
J.R. Crickets, of course, is best known for its acclaimed Lemon Pepper Wet wings, B’s Cracklin’ for smoking Atlanta’s best barbecue, and Old Lady Gang for its Real Housewives of Atlanta connection—Xscape singer Kandi Burruss owns this Southern restaurant in Castleberry Hill. Gio’s Little Italia, from Giovanni di Palma, will bring dishes from all of the eateries in di Palma’s Home Park restaurant hub of the same name—Antico, Gio’s Chicken Italiano & Maccheroni, Caffe Antico, and Bar Amalfi, according to the arena’s website.
“This is just the first list that we’re going to announce,” Koonin said. “Going to Philips Arena early and eating at [the arena], enjoying these great restaurants at very attractive prices for our fans is going to make our unique arena even more special for the folks in Atlanta.”