Kimball House owners Matt Christison, Miles Macquarrie, Bryan Rackley, and Jesse Smith have confirmed they signed a lease to take over the former Luminary space at Krog Street Market, where they will open a yet-to-be-named seafood restaurant and bar.
“We are super excited to have one of Atlanta and the Southeast’s most talented restaurant and bar groups join the Krog Street Market lineup,” says Merritt Lancaster of Paces Properties, the current owner of Krog Street Market. “We are looking forward to an innovative new concept to round out our anchor tenants.”
The food hall, which opened in November 2014, was recently put up for sale by Paces and has seen some turnover in its original anchor restaurants, although none of the spaces stayed shuttered for long. The Luminary, a brasserie from chef Eli Kirshtein and the first full-service restaurant to open at Krog, closed in March, and Kevin Ouzts’s Cockentrice and adjoining Spotted Trotter stall closed late last year. The Castellucci Hospitality Group’s Spanish concept Bar Mercado replaced the latter in September, and their health food stall Recess will open next door. (Krog’s other two anchors—Ticonderoga Club and Superica—are still going strong.)
Kimball House has built a strong reputation since it opened in September 2013—particularly for Macquarrie’s superb cocktails and its specialized oyster menus, which include lists of varietals in the double-digits. The restaurant became known for its commitment in particular to Southeastern oysters—all four partners have been involved with Oyster South, a nonprofit dedicated to the advancement of oyster aquaculture in the region—and for supporting local products such as University of Georgia-grown Osetra Caviar.
It’s no surprise then that the Krog Street restaurant is going to be all about seafood, but it will be casual and true to the hospitality that the KH crew is known for. Rackley says the team hopes to open the restaurant in late spring or early summer 2018.
“It’s us, so you know drinks are going to factor into the equation,” Rackley says. “Our food menu will focus on sustainable Southern seafood with an emphasis on Gulf seafood. Part of the inspiration is the relationships we’ve been building with oyster farmers in the region, so we will represent many Southern oyster farms as well. We’re currently working on the building design with our great buds Vivian and John Bencich at [Atlanta architectural firm] Square Feet Studio.”
The foursome has ties that go way back. “The new venture will be the 12th job together for Miles and I, between Publix, pizza joints, and the one random time we sold medical equipment while in college,” Christison told me via email. Smith and Rackley met when they were 18 and have been working together ever since. When all four first joined forces while working at the Decatur beer institution Brick Store Pub, there was no looking back, says Rackley. They opened a joint Washington Mutual bank account in 2006 and met every Wednesday for six and a half years talking shop, planning, and putting money away for a future restaurant.
“We’ve been through a lot together, and it’s been really cool to make the transition from adult children to somewhat more mature adult children,” said Rackley. “I like to describe us a junkyard Transformer. If we are together we can get a lot done.”