Food Chatter: Kevin Rathbun on KR Steakbar


Perhaps the buzziest dining news so far this year arrived last week when Kevin Rathbun’s company sent out a PR release announcing a new restaurant: KR Steakbar in the Peachtree Hills neighborhood, inside of the Atlanta Decorative Arts Center (ADAC), slated to open by late summer.
According to the presser, the Iron chef champion’s fourth restaurant will be designed by the award-winning Johnson Studio as an intimate neighborhood restaurant featuring “small plate steaks meets Italian fare” and will seat 120, including a full bar and an outdoor patio.
Rathbun corresponded via email late last week before departing to Indianapolis for Taste of the NFL, where he represented Atlanta at the annual Super Bowl event, to share some details about the project.
Q:  What is the inspiration for KR Steakbar?
KR:  The inspiration comes from a few things: Everyone likes Italian, and our experience with Spanish tapas at Krog has proven to be a hit in the local market. And since there are so many tapas bars opening up, I thought that the small plate Italian element would be popular as well—sharing possibilities galore.

The small steak element comes from our small cut steaks a Kevin Rathbun Steak, which have proved to be popular as well. At KRS we offer six-, eight-, and ten-ounce prime cuts. I would like to believe that people would like prime meat the size of a deck of cards (the way one should eat). So we will deliver three-, four- and six-ounce cuts of the best beef possible, roasted and sliced like the steak for two and three at KRS, and meant to be shared. You will be able to order more if you like. The main reason is value, to offer prime beef at a price range all can afford.
Q:  Will KR be a wine bar that serves steak or a steakhouse that has a strong wine program and where does the Italian influence fit in?
KR:  We will have a large bar at KR Steak, lounge area and high top tables to attract groups and extroverts of all kinds, as well as an eighty-seat dining room. There will be an extensive Italian wine program with Italian-style cocktails as well, but we are very food focused as always. We will have an outdoor patio with a fire pit, and possibly some cooking out there if we can. I’ve always loved Italian food and would like to pass on the comfort of what Italian cuisine is. Sharing small plates will be the focus items; they will hit the table as they’re prepared, as in a tapas-style format.
Q:  You have collaborated with the Johnson Studio on all of your projects. What made you choose them for this project?
KR:  Bill Johnson, oh Bill Johnson. First and foremost, I am somewhat loyal to the people who have helped pave the path: Bill is a true friend and a huge talent. Traveling around and seeing restaurants all over the world, I would say that the Johnson Studio’s ability to impart ambiance through lighting is second to none.
Q:  What attracted you to the Peachtree Hills neighborhood/ADAC?
KR:  Looking for space around town is always challenging, I wanted to diversify into other areas that need seats therefore Peachtree Hills fit the profile. Parking is always one of my priorities; ADAC has 200[spaces], that being a significant reason to take a hard look at the neighborhood.

Running a business is the other main reason this location works. The occupancy rate of a restaurant is on top of the list in maintaining profitability and sustainability. After all, off the beaten path with affordable rent and long-term lease terms have worked well for us. And as always, we pray it will work again.

On Saturday, February 25, Bravo TV will hold an Atlanta casting call for Top Chef Season Ten at Empire State South, from 10 a.m. until 1p.m.
Food site Serious Eats is organizing International Serious Eats Day on Saturday, February 25, featuring self-organized meet, greet and eat events to be held across the globe. Atlanta is one of the chosen sites, and Ormsby’s will be the Atlanta host:

Buckhead. Already widely reported but worth mentioning here again: Both MF Buckhead (first announced by Kessler) and the Morton’s Buckhead branch have closed.
American Roadhouse, the twenty-three-year-old Virginia Highlands institution, is opening a second Atlanta location in the Pencil Factory Flats &Shops at 349 Decatur Street this spring.

Midtown. Campagnolo—the new restaurant opening in the former Big Red Tomato space and operated by Maureen Kalmanson, who also runs Downtown’s Peasant Bistro—is scheduled to launch in March.

What Now Atlanta noted that Evos, the “healthy and environmentally sound” fast food chain located in the Viewpoint building, has closed for the second time.

Livingston Restaurant and Bar is rolling out a barrel-aged cocktail program that features classic cocktails, like Manhattan and Negroni, that are aged for five to seven weeks in whiskey barrels before being served.

Morningside. Nick Melvin, whose resume includes stints at Farmhouse in Serenbe, Parish and Empire State South, has left Rosebud to open his own resto, according to the AJC.

Roswell. Kennesaw-based Keegan’s Public House is opening its second location at 4401 Shallowford Road.    
Question of the Week: Which restaurant was named Buckhead business of the year by the Buckhead Business Association?

P.S. The answer to last week’s QOTW—What legendary New York City resto will launch a national pop up series that will land in the ATL later this year?—is Le Cirque, according to Eater.