Politan Row, the new food hall in Colony Square, officially opens to the public on June 25. But lest you roll your eyes at the opening of yet another food hall in metro Atlanta, there are a few things that set Politan Row apart. For starters, it’s small with a unified design. Its vendors are independent chefs and up-and-comers. The food is served on china. There’s a photo booth and a central bar. Seated dinners? No problem.
The development of a new Colony Square food hall has been in the works for years after North American Properties—which developed Avalon and revitalized Atlantic Station—acquired the historic property in 2015. Steve Palmer, founder of Indigo Road Hospitality Group (O-Ku, Oak Steakhouse, Colletta), was associated with the food hall project in 2017 when it was still called Main & Main. Later, Texas-based food hall operator Oz Rey signed on—before parting ways with North American Properties. Last year, Politan Row, a New Orleans-based group that operates six other food halls around the Southeast, stepped in, announcing that the Atlanta hall would be its largest yet.
“Atlanta was on our bucket list,” says Politan Group founder and CEO Will Donaldson.
“We had worked together before. I liked Will’s philosophy and approach to business,” says Adam Schwegman, partner and senior vice president of leasing at North American Properties. “We wanted something true to Midtown with that balance between sophisticated and approachable, something people haven’t seen before.”
Politan Row takes over the space previously home to Colony Square’s food court, but you’d never know it. The more than 50-year-old building—the Southeast’s first mixed-use development—at the corner of Peachtree and 14th streets in Midtown underwent a $400 million renovation. Portions were gutted. Ceilings were dropped. An IPIC movie theater now resides above the food hall. There are three new outdoor spaces dubbed the Grove, the Plaza, and the Patio, including a stage, shuffleboards, and an outdoor bar.
When development is complete, onsite restaurants outside the food hall will include counter-service spots Sukoshi, Freshii, Brown Bag Seafood Co., Starbucks, Sweetgreen, Chick-fil-A, and Moe’s Southwest Grill. Full-service options will include Holeman and Finch Public House, Rumi’s Kitchen, 5Church Atlanta, Establishment, Serena Pastifico Italian, and Saints and Council (from the Café Intermezzo CEO). At least half of these are open now, but come June 25, Politan Row’s opening will add at least nine other food and beverage options to the list. Here’s what you can expect:
A carefully selected mix of vendors—“a wide variety of options without overlap,” explains Schwegman. Vendors include:
- Belli Pizzeria, serving Neapolitan pies and charcuterie
- Bun Mi Grill, a Vietnamese spot that focuses on banh mi and pho (its previous location in Buckhead recently closed)
- Federal Burger by chef Shaun Doty (formerly of the Federal). This is Politan Group’s first burger concept in one of their food halls.
- Gekko hibachi bowls and sushi from Jack Bai, who runs a food truck with the same name
- Locale Café, a Caribbean spot specializing in jerk chicken, stewed oxtail bowls, and Jamaican meat patties
- Pretty Little Tacos, launched in Triton Yards and quickly gained notoriety for founder Michaela Merrick’s birria, a decadent beef taco dipped in broth. Expect chicken, steak, shrimp, oxtail, and vegan tacos, plus dessert options like a strawberry shortcake taco.
- Unbelibubble Tea recently opened a stall at the Works on the Westside. Now it is bringing its vibrant bubble teas to Midtown.
- YOM juices, smoothies, grain bowls, and toasts by Atlantan Rob Green
A unified design that makes you feel like you’re in a restaurant. The mid-century modern approach pays homage to Colony Square’s 1970s roots. Every stall features the same yellow/orange tiled counter with rounded edges, two horizontal mirrors, and navy menu board. The 11 stalls line the exterior walls so you can see them all at once. “When you come into this room, it’s one experience,” Donaldson says. “You don’t want to overcrowd the senses because it feels chaotic.” The piece de resistance, Bar Politan, is in the center. With striking LED strip lights and warm woods coming down from the ceiling, it provides a focal point—and a central meeting place.
Quality libations. “We’re trying to meet where speed and craft come together,” says Politan Group beverage director Sophie Burton. To do so, she’s created a drink list with spritzes, margaritas, and hard seltzers on tap, and six additional shaken cocktails. A full bar means guests can order any classic cocktail, too. Expect 10 wines by the glass, plus eight beers on tap, as well as few cans.
Plated dishes served on china and drinks poured into stemware. Food halls are the modern-day equivalent of a mall food court, right? Not this one. Food from every stall is served on the matching china, and drinks are served in appropriate glassware. A “guest ambassador” will greet diners, tell them about his or her favorite dishes, and even introduce them to the chefs upon request. “Guest assistants” can bring diners extra silverware and water, and remove empty dishes. “We’re taking more of a neighborhood restaurant approach [to hospitality],” Donaldson says.
A chef’s table. Sure, you can order via an app and take your food to-go if you so desire. But if you want a sit-down experience, that’s what you’ll get. For $30 per person for 2 to 20 guests, Politan Row will serve your party eight dishes representing a signature offering from each chef. “It’s a rock-star experience for an everyday budget,” Donaldson says. (Reservations recommended.)
Not your average event space. The 250-seat hall includes a private event space with its own bar—and a built-in photo booth. There’s plush, throwback furniture, black-and-white photos of Colony Square’s early days, and floor-to-ceiling windows that bring the outside in. The space is fully equipped with A/V capabilities for meetings and presentations.