Built in the early 1900s, the Castle mansion in Midtown has sat empty, on and off, for years. But that is about to change with the opening of restaurant and lounge Rose + Rye on October 17. An elaborate multi-story building located at 87 15th Street, the Castle served as home to local artists in the late 1940s. Rose + Rye owner Thaddeus Keefe—also owner of 1Kept Kitchen and Bar in Buckhead—aims to pay tribute to this history with a focus on artistic, creative, and globally-inspired dishes, along with a “warm” aesthetic.
Rose + Rye will be led by an all-female culinary and management team, focusing on “refined American fare with a global reach,” Keefe says. Chef Lindsay Owens, who arrives from Minneapolis, will lead the kitchen, working with sous chef Anu Adebara, pastry chef Charity Everett, general manager Jessica Schilling, and assistant general manager Seewai Sayavong.
We spoke to Keefe, Owens, and Everett to learn more.
Where does the name Rose + Rye come from?
Thaddeus Keefe: Rose is a flower, it’s female, and symbolizes fragility. Rye is coarse, it has a dry nature, and can be made into something better. It deals with the literary and artistic aspect of the history of the building.
The Castle building has been empty on and off for years. Why did you decide this was the right time to open a restaurant there?
Keefe: Atlanta has been my home. I moved here from Germany at age 7 and went to Atlanta International School. I’ve grown up in hospitality here. I wanted to be the one who is privileged to, respectful of its history, give the Atlanta diners a unique experience in a really unique space. I have a background in writing and painting and did tons of painting shows [before moving into hospitality]. 1Kept is the experience of the writer. Rose + Rye is the experience of the painter. And the Castle is located in the center of the arts for the city, right by the High Museum and Woodruff Arts Center.
It’s a large building. How will Rose + Rye be set up?
Keefe: On the first floor we’ll have a [cocktail] lounge that will seat 40 people. On the second floor will be the main dining. To the right there’s a separate bar with 16 seats and to the left is the main kitchen. The third floor will have three private dining rooms.
What will it look like?
Keefe: The first floor [which is nicknamed “the Grotto”] will have eclectic furniture paired with the dramatic backdrop of the [floor-to-ceiling stone wall] behind the bar. We’re trying to make it feel very warm because most people would assume a castle would be cold and wet. We’re mixing furniture in velvet, leather, wood, and gold. We’ll be projecting Hitchcock films and old black-and-white movies for a nice visual effect. Upstairs we’ll have pretty glass chandeliers, soft lighting, sheer curtains, and varying shades of white and wood. We’re working with two artists: one is doing a mural of a silhouette of a woman. The other is known for working with neon. The third floor will have a library-like feel. There will be floor-to-ceiling bookcases and fireplaces in each room.
Where do you get your inspiration for Rose + Rye?
Keefe: It’s a culmination of my history with Atlanta restaurants, plus my experiences on the road as a consultant. We’re crafting elements taken from concepts from LA to New York to Bangkok in terms of lighting, standards of service, flow of service, and culinary trends.
How will you reflect these inspirations in the food?
Lindsay Owens: I’m from Texas originally, so I’m trying to stay true to Southern heritage dishes. We’re bringing an elevated refinement to comfort food with a rustic approach, while staying local and regional. I work with a very classic, old French style of long, slow cooking that I mix with an old Southern approach. Each dish will be very visually artistic and colorful.
How will the menu be set up?
Keefe: There’s 20 to 24 items: appetizers, salads, entrees, and pastries. For lunch (starting in November), we’ll offer an even mixture of salads and sandwiches with a hefty offering of lunch-sized entrees. [Dinner menu items include Caesar with smoked yogurt-Parm dressing, tile cookie crumble, and soft-boiled, beet-soaked egg; snapper with wheatberries, celery root puree, and wild cherry redux; and glazed pork belly with gnocchi and apple slaw. There will also be oyster mignonette with hot sauce pearls and lemon drops, and lamb Wellington with carrots.]
What’s the price point?
Keefe: For dinner, appetizers will be $10-$14, with entrees from the low $20 to the low $30s.
Can you give us a glimpse of the dessert options?
Charity Everett: There will be four or five items, and others for brunch later on (starting in January). One I’m excited about is an olive oil cake with whipped mascarpone and pickled plums. I love interesting flavor combinations that are less expected and not overly sweet. [Also expect buttermilk panna cotta with spiced honey fig jam, balsamic reduction, and rosemary shortbread.]
What can we expect from the bar program?
Keefe: Nothing on tap. We’ll have both local and popular bottled beers. There will be elevated cocktails, nothing pretentious, but interesting and engaging. The wine will be approachable, geeky, and eclectic with options from Greece and Croatia. We’ll have 14 to 16 by the glass. There are some consistencies in the approaches from 1Kept to Rose + Rye. We’ll have balanced cocktails and use both brown and clear liquors. We’ll have our cold brew cocktail, too. Downstairs the cocktails will be more elevated with a concise list of 6 to 8, whereas upstairs we’ll offer 8 to 12. We’ll be serving cocktails in the lounge until midnight and savory snacks as well.