Ford Fry’s Optimist spinoff to be called Beetlecat, opening in November

Chef Andrew Isabella will lead the Inman Park kitchen
Beetlecat design inspirations

Courtesy of Alvin Diec

Ford Fry’s Inman Park restaurant, often referenced as “the little sister to the Optimist,” finally has a name. Beetlecat will open in November in the Inman Quarter development and is named after the small wooden sailboats popular in New England. Andrew Isabella, formerly of No. 246, will lead the kitchen, working closely with Kevin Maxey. “We’re at the point where all the chefs write the opening menus together,” Fry says. “Andrew’s style of cooking is perfect. He loves fishing, he’s from Florida; he can kind of do it all.”

Beetlecat will be more casual than the Optimist, with a focus on small, sharable plates that will highlight “big, bright flavors.” Fry says to expect a long menu that departs from the traditional appetizer, salad, entrée, and dessert sections. Offerings will include at least 12 varieties of oysters, plus crudo, wood-roasted clams and crabs; and squid, razor clams, and even chicken sandwiches a la plancha.

The restaurant will be divided into two areas. Upstairs will have an expanded oyster bar (like at the Optimist) with a larger wood-burning oven and a patio. Downstairs in the Den is a darker room reminiscent of a 1970s surf den with another patio, along with a low ceiling, banquettes, curtained off areas, and funky music (retro DJs spinning vinyl). The full menu will be served in both areas. Lara Creasy and Eduardo Guzman are working together on the bar program. It will feature retro cocktails, like tequila sunrise, punch, and maybe a fishbowl for two.

Before Beetlecat opens, Fry says he’ll launch Bar Margot in the Four Seasons Hotel in about six weeks and State of Grace in Houston. He’ll open a second Superica on Roswell Road in Buckhead in early 2016. Nothing else has been signed, but Fry admits he’s been looking at space in Nashville. “I’d love to do seafood or a taco place—we’ll have to see what the neighborhood needs,” he says.