Restaurant openings in spring 2011 and beyond: confirmed and rumored

ATL Food Chatter: April 4, 2011
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With the arrival of spring, our anticipation for imminent restaurant openings rises like sap. While new spots from local talent are launching at a cautious pace, the lineup of confirmed restaurants certainly seems more ambitious than during the last couple years. And the rumors for what’s ahead next year and beyond sound even more impressive. Here’s a look at what we know for sure and what we’re hearing whispers about:


No. 246. The most closely-watched Decatur restaurant opening since Cakes & Ale. Ford Fry, chef/owner of JCT Kitchen, and Drew Belline, long the chef de cuisine have Floataway Cafe, have partnered on a 100-seat venture in the former Eurasia space with inspiration drawn from both Italy and California. Except pastas, pizzas, wood-roasted fish, and lemon pudding cake on the starting menu. Excepted to open in May.

—Also in Decatur, look for The Big Tex Cantina from Texan natives Jonathan and Justin Fox—who own Fox Bros. Barbecue—in the former Nathalie’s Fish House at 308 W. Ponce de Leon Avenue.

—In the same vein, Fifth Group restaurants will open a Tex-Mex restaurant in the 191 Peachtree building Downtown in the fall. The Fifth Group also just announced today that it will be taking over the former Vickery’s space on Crescent Avenue, but no details yet as to what type of cuisine the restaurant will serve.

—East Atlanta’s Holy Taco partners have taken over the Inman Park space that was formerly Shaun’s, with chef Robert Phalen in charge of “organic sustainable new cuisine with European undertones,” as he told Creative Loafing. Look for a summer opening.

—Riccardo Ullio is taking over the Midtown space on 5th and Peachtree that was long Eno and briefly, most recently, 5th Street Cafe. El Escorpión will serve Mexican food—emphasizing dishes from the country’s Southwestern region—and is being designed by Patti Krohngold, whose previous restaurant spaces include Mumbo Jumbo and Buckhead’s Fusebox. We’re hearing May for opening, but that sounds optimistic.

—For months Little Five Points locals have been watching the work on the Wrecking Bar Brewpub, which will be in the basement of the historic building at 292 Moreland Avenue. From the chatter on their Facebook page, it seems that it will be open within a month.

—Doug Turbush, former executive chef of Bluepointe, is opening his own restaurant in East Cobb’s Merchant’s Walk, called Seed Kitchen and Bar, in the fall.

Double Zero Napoletana, opening at 5825 Roswell Road in Sandy Springs, is the next restaurant from Castellucci Hospitality, which operates the suburban Sugo restaurants and the always-busy Iberian Pig in Decatur. The owners are aiming for a mid-April opening.

Rumors and speculations:

— Tomohiro Naito announced in 2009 that he would be opening a second Tomo in Buckhead’s Ritz Residences. We asked about the project the last time we were in the original Cobb Parkway location, and Naito told us he hoped for a May opening. (The restaurant is closed on Mondays, but we’ll call tomorrow for an official update.)

Kevin Rathbun’s next venture will apparently involve more of a market concept, and he would like it to be within a three-block radius of his current Old Fourth Ward restaurants. Depending on the scale of the project, local star architect Bill Johnson could be involved.

—Speaking of Old Fourth Ward, Jamestown Properties and Green Street Properties hope to finally close on the long-simmering City Hall East project, according to Ken Edelstein on Green Building Chronicle. The mixed-use space will begin by opening commercial spaces, including restaurants.

Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steak House, a Dallas-based luxe chain, is rumored to be looking at the Atlanta market for a new midpriced concept.

—As new Streets of Buckhead owner OliverMcMillan moves forward with its plans to reenergize construction of the moribund eight acres, word is that the company has released the previous restaurant lessees (most of them national high-end concepts) from their agreements and are seeking local restaurants to open in 2013. Names like Pano Karatassos, Shaun Doty and Kevin Rathbun have been tossed around as potential tenants.

—Pano’s and Paul’s reincarnation, to be named Pano’s, remains on the drawing table but still has no definite home. In the meanwhile, the Buckhead Life Restaurant Group is considering launching a cheaper eats restaurant concept—perhaps burgers or tacos.
—Newly crowned Top Chef Richard Blais may or may not open the “dream restaurant” discussed on the show in Atlanta, as he tell’s CL’s Besha Rodell.

The new owners of Midtown mega-development Atlantic Station have pledged to remove restaurants that operate as nightclubs and to seek local restaurateurs as they reengineer its culinary components. They have already sought the input from locals as to what they would like to see in Atlantic Station. The recent closure of Geisha House was a first step.

Street Food Thursdays, a partnership between Jamestown Properties, The Midtown Alliance and the Atlanta Street Food Coalition, will kick off Thursday, April 7. The scheduled events will feature fresh lunch fare in plazas and parking lots along Peachtree Street from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. On opening day, Jamestown will introduce a “pop-up chef series” at the 999 Peachtree courtyard, offering lunch fare prepared by a prominent chef each week. Among the scheduled chefs are Jay Swift, Steven Satterfield, Hugh Acheson and Ford Fry.

—Atlanta’s Alton Brown, host of Iron Chef America, has inked a new three-year deal with the Food Network and is scheduled to shoot season ten of the show this summer. Also on Brown’s menu: guest spots on Food Network Star, coming in June; a fourth season of The Next Iron Chef; and a three-hour-long Good Eats special, which he will produce. (via a report on Variety)

One Flew South chef Duane Nutter was featured on Eatocracy’s 5@5 segment last week.

. Denver-based Smashburger is slated to open the first of a projected thirty metro Atlanta units over the next five years at 2625 Piedmont Avenue, according to What Now Atlanta.
Downtown. What Now Atlanta also reports that Rising Roll Gourmet is slated to open its second Downtown store at 200 Peachtree in the former Macy’s building.

Tomorrow’s News Today
noticed that Baba Louz Cafe at 66 Broad Street has closed.

. Tomorrow’s News Today first reported that Cowlicks Yogurt & Floats, a new frozen yogurt concept from Martin Sprock, founder of Raving Brands, will open at 1100 Hammond Drive.

Little Five Points. Serious Eats featured the LP5 Vortex’s hamburger(s) last week.

. Food & Wine magazine has named Steven Grubbs of Empire State South as one its Top Sommeliers of 2011.

Aaron Rocco’s Bistro, a locally owned and operated restaurant featuring a fast-casual soup and sandwich menu, has opened in Colony Square.

Old Fourth Ward. Creative Loafing is reporting that Cafe Circa will begin serving Sunday Brunch—featuring a Cajun influence with items like jerked steak and eggs, and caramelized plantain pancakes with Captain Morgan’s syrup, in mid-April from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Peachtree City. The AJC is reporting that Dickey’s Barbecue Pit, a Texas-based chain featuring the usual barbecue staples plus Polish sausages and an assortment of stuffed baked potatoes, has opened its second Georgia location at 460 Crosstown Road.

Question of the Week: What intown sweets shop has added a bicycle delivery service?

PS. The answer to last week’s QOTW—What long-awaited, chef-owned pub opens in Morningside this week?—is Ron Eyester’s The Family Dog, which opened on Friday.