Newly renovated, Mary Mac’s Tea Room reopens after a two-month hiatus

75-year-old Ponce restaurant had closed after rainstorms caused its roof to collapse

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The roast turkey plate at Mary Mac’s.

Photograph by Taylor O'Sullivan.

Quintessential Southern restaurant Mary Mac’s Tea Room is back open after part of its roof collapsed during a rainstorm in March. Luckily, no one was inside at the time. Known for its large portions of signature dishes like fried chicken, black-eyed peas, collard greens, and cornbread dressing, the 13,000-square-foot eatery has become a staple on Ponce in Midtown.

It was one of 16 tearooms (restaurants owned by women) in Atlanta when Mary MacKenzie opened in it 1945. Today, it’s the longest standing from that period. Over the years, it has gone through numerous changes while maintaining the soul of the space. It has been expanded to six dining rooms and hosted politicians, dignitaries, and musicians ranging from Hillary Clinton and John Lewis to the Dalai Lama and Beyonce. During the Covid-19 pandemic, John Ferrell—who’d owned Mary Mac’s for 25 years—sold the restaurant to the group that operates Taco Mac. Harold Martin Jr., Michael Bodnar, John Michael Bodnar, and Bryan Rand were able to get it back in business after seven months.

Like it did then, the leadership team focused on speed in welcoming customers back after fixing the roof. A few sections of the restaurant are still blocked off, namely the Skyline Room, Board Room, and Ferrell’s Bar. Longtime diners may notice some slight renovations, including new paint and rearranged furniture and celebrity photos on the walls. The important items—catfish, cheese grits, banana pudding—carry nostalgia to bring you back in time.

“We can’t wait to welcome you back for a taste of your favorite dishes,” Mary Mac’s posted on its Facebook page. “Your warm wishes and kind words have kept us moving during this difficult process, and we look forward to sharing our incredible Southern food and hospitality with you again soon.”

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