Chef Lance Gummere’s Mercer Street Meals brick-and-mortar now open in East Atlanta

Three-course dinners available for pre-order

Outside Mercer Street Meals

Photo by Kenzi Tainnow

What started as a pandemic project has become a full-time operation for chef Lance Gummere. Founder of Mercer Street Meals, a mom-and-pop company that prepares hot takeout dinners for busy Atlantans, Gummere recently opened a physical location (845 Flat Shoals Avenue) where customers can pick up their preordered meals.

Mercer Street offers five meals a week, sold in portions of two ($25) and four ($45). “It’s really market-driven. Things are best at peak of seasonality and cheapest,” Gummere says. “I honestly believe it’s the best deal in town.”

Recent meals include chicken piccata, steak salad, oven-fried pork loin, and Cajun chicken thighs. Each meal includes a starter (such as deviled eggs or soup), a main, a side (usually a vegetable), and dessert. Since opening the new shop, Gummere has doubled his business.

Risotto balls

Photo by Gracie Gummere

“Everything is handled by me and my wife, so I can pass the savings onto the customers,” he says. “Everything comes hot and ready. You could eat it in your car going home. Most customers tend to be busy parents.”

We spoke to him to learn more.

Steak salad

Photo by Gracie Gummere

How did Mercer Street Meals get its start?
I lost my job in the pandemic lockdown. I was frightened—no one was hiring. My neighbors missed restaurants. They asked me to cook for them. Before long, I was serving all the people on my street, so I called it Mercer Street Meals. I would write a menu and put it on our neighborhood Facebook page. People were asking if they could pass it along to their friends and families. I was nervous because I wasn’t zoned to do it. I set up a time frame (5 to 7 p.m.) for them to stop by and pick up their hot meal.

Why did you decide to turn it into a brick-and-mortar?
It wasn’t fair for my family for me to be there working all the time. My kids would want something to eat after I’d cleaned the kitchen and I’d get annoyed. What I built is a tiny kitchen with a little counter. It’s a pickup store. We’re totally legal, in a business district, not residential.

Now I can do a larger number of meals. I was doing 15 families a night. Now it’s 40 families a night.

Inside Mercer Street Meals

Photo by Kenzi Tainow

Why did you wait three years?
When we saw Mercer Street Meals gaining traction, I went to the bank. They said they wanted two years of financials before I could get the loan. Then, it’s taken a year of permitting and construction.

How often do the menus change?
I have about six weeks’ worth of menus. People can note their dietary restrictions on the website. We do our best to accommodate. We do Meatless Monday with an all-vegetarian menu.

How far in advance do people need to order?
The menus are posted one week prior. Meals sell out pretty quickly—it’s been awesome. They’re almost always sold out by the time the day comes around. The neighborhood has really welcomed us to the new space.

Are you planning to expand to accommodate more sales?
All I did for 10 years was work. At this moment, I’m enjoying working alone, but it’s pretty clear I better hire someone so I can do more business.

Chimichurri cauliflower

Photo by Gracie Gummere