Johnson Studio’s ATL style wows Windy City


ATL Food Chatter: July 10, 2009

Bill Johnson
, whose architectural alchemy has elevated Atlanta’s dining scene with numerous projects, has lately been moonlighting in other cities. His Johnson Studio recently designed three projects for Chicago’s Wit hotel, and the spaces have captured the attention of the national trade magazines, the local press and the New York Times.

Cibo Matto is the Wit’s centerpiece Italian restaurant, featuring a ten-foot glass-enclosed cheese and salumi display and a 4,000 bottle wine vault; State and Lake, the hotel’s more casual spot, serves “seasonal, chef-driven American” food; and Roof, a 7,000-square-foot bar, 27 stories up, that serves “small plates” and cocktails and features dramatic views of Chicago’s skyline.

A recent New York Times’ travel feature described the Wit as “a modern, sleek hotel that … houses Chicago’s hottest new rooftop bar …” And, according to Johnson, Bob Amick—whose Concentrics Restaurant group manages the three projects—has stated that Roof may be the most successful venue he has ever opened.

While he is enjoying the stir created by of his latest Chicago triumph, Johnson has previously designed some of the city’s most renowned restaurant, including the acclaimed Tru. He has also been busy in other cities: Over the last couple of years, the Johnson Studio has designed for the Ritz-Carlton (his multi-room design of Fearing’s in Dallas is dazzling) and is currently working on a restaurant for the Ritz Carlton at Lake Tahoe, to be run by famed San Francisco chef Traci des Jardins.

But there just might be a project on the drawing board that will soon bring some of the elements that have wowed the Windy City to the ATL. Stay tuned.


Buckhead. A correction on a piece about a coffee shop coming to the Terminus complex: It isn’t an Emeril Lagasse project but a location of Emerald Coast Coffee & Grill.

Dunwoody. Taki Japanese Steakhouse—with locations in Macon and Hiram, Georgia—is slated to open its third outpost in the Perimeter Village shopping center this fall.

Downtown. Downtown Atlanta Restaurant Week is scheduled for July 27 to August 9 and will feature more than twenty restaurants.
The Ellis Hotel is “re-concepting” its restaurant, Terrace. The new menu will feature locally produced, organic ingredients and is being developed by famed chef and food activist, Michel Nischan. The new menu will be unveiled this fall.
East Point. Thrillist is reporting that The Blackwood, a pizzeria/ nightclub featuring house made dough and live entertainment, has opened at 3560 Camp Creek Parkway.

Grant Park. Redfish, the popular Memorial Drive Creole spot, has closed.

Midtown. As first reported in the Atlanta Business Chronicle, the Oceanaire restaurant chain  has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and closed four of its restaurants. However, the Atlanta location remains open.

Morningside. Jason Hill, whose ATL chef credits include Harvest and Wisteria, has signed on as consulting chef for DBA Barbecue.

Westside. Chef-owner Ford Fry of JCT Kitchen and his “angry mussels” with bacon will appear on Food Network’s bacon episode of its “The Best Thing I Ever Ate” program this Saturday, July 11th at 6 p.m. EDT.

Question of the Week: What downtown chef in a fine dining venue is planning to soon unveil a “smokehouse menu?”

PS—The answer to last week’s QOTW—What local entrepreneur/ restaurateur is rumored to be looking at the former Macy’s building as the site for the first location of his latest concept?—is Mike Blum.