Smith Hanes on Watershed’s new look


ATL Food Chatter: November 22, 2011
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The “new” Watershed restaurant, set to open in Spring of 2012 in South Buckhead’s Brookwood Condominiums at 1820 Peachtree Road, is being designed by Smith Hanes. A master at creating a casual dining environment that mixes urban and rustic elements, Hanes has won praise for his previous work at No. 246, JCT Kitchen and Bar, and Bella Cucina. He will also design the spaces for Ford Fry’s next project, The Optimist and its adjoining oyster bar.

Q: What will be different about the relocated Watershed beyond the larger dining room size?
SH: There will also be a bar that seats forty people. The Decatur Watershed always lacked a great bar, where guests felt like they could just hang out. This will be a full bar with a great wine selection. I’ve heard they are even going to do a special Champagne selection with the famous fried chicken.

Q: Did the space inside of a condo tower pose any problems; if so, what is your solution?
SH: The building is actually an asset: It sits prominently on Peachtree, with a great terrace for dining and eating. The commercial storefront will be removed and we are adding wonderful functioning windows designed by the architect, Michael DeCarlo, making the bar room play beautifully to the outdoor terrace.

Entering through screen doors, a big open bar room welcomes diners. Ceilings and floors, covered in limed oak boards, evoking a Southern feel, soften the dramatic concrete bar and walls. One can progress to the outdoor terrace for drinks and a casual meal under large colorful umbrellas, or to the dining room sporting antique wood tables and richly colored booths along the walls.

Q: Given the recent popularity of Southern themed restaurants in Atlanta, how will your design distinguish Watershed from the competition?
SH: I don’t think of Watershed fitting into a particular genre of “Southern restaurants.” The design has only to do with Watershed and keeping it the causal, unassuming place it’s always been. We are warming the aesthetic up with colors of faded tobacco and warm wood, using galvanized metal and gray felt for contrast. In fact, we are actually galvanizing (in the old fashioned way) metals in many of the tables and such. The materials reflect the origins of Watershed’s progressive beginnings in Decatur. It was the original modern farm restaurant for the Atlanta metro area. While others have come after, Watershed was at the forefront in this movement of farm-to-table, and clean modern aesthetics rooted in a “today” southern vibe. The use of zinc metal will give a nod today’s hip farm aesthetic while honoring Watershed’s history.


Speaking of Watershed, its executive chef, Joe Truex, is teaming up with Julia LeRoy for a Sunday Supper event on December 4. They’ve given it the tongue-in-cheek name “Anything But Fried Chicken” (LeRoy’s fried chicken venture recently closed). The price (technically, in underground supper speak, a “donation”) is $85 for four seasonal courses with wine pairings. The location will be revealed after you make reservations at

Due to freelance cutbacks, Creative Loafing decided to restructure Cliff Bostock’s contributions to its food section. He will no longer write the weekly “Grazing” column (ending a twenty-year run), but CL’s food editor Besha Rodell tells us that Cliff will contribute a monthly “Grazing” column for print as well as continue to blog on Omnivore.

Bacchanalia, Park 75, and Quinnones at Bacchanalia were awarded four stars in the 2012 Forbes Travel Guide.

Aria, Canoe, and Milton Cuisine and Cocktails were named as three of OpenTable Diners Top 100 American Fare Restaurants.

The Local Three owners—Chris Hall, Todd Mussman, and Ryan Turner—were presented with the Georgia Restaurant Association’s award for Restaurateur of the Year on Sunday, November 13th. Other GRACE Awards presented that evening include Lifetime Achievement for Ted Turner of Ted’s Montana Grill and Will Harris of White Oak Pastures for Innovator.

Brookhaven. Thrillist notes that Tre’za—featuring pizza, Italian sandwiches and homemade gelato— has opened in Town: Brookhaven.

Buckhead. The Atlanta Business Chronicle first reported that MF Buckhead has filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy protection.

Brian Lewis, owner of Bocado, told us his new Italian joint on West Paces Ferry is slated for a February opening. The restaurant will focus on pizza but will also offer a serious wine program spotlighting Italian varietals.

What Now Atlanta is reporting that Czar, a vodka bar whose furniture will be primarily made of ice , is opening in December at 56 East Andrews Avenue.

Doraville. Gene Lee on the AJC blog reports two new Vietnamese restaurants on Buford highway: New Saigon Vietnamese Bistro, 5145 Buford Highway, featuring basic items like pho and Hello Dau Hu, 5150 Buford Highway, featuring food to-go items and prepackaged items like rice cakes.

Downtown. The Fifth Group named December 6 as opening day for its modern Mexican restaurant, Alma Cocina, in the One Ninety One building on Peachtree.  

Midtown. Jeremy Miller, former executive chef of Bluepointe, and Marcus Marshall, formerly of Concentrics Restaurants, have joined the STK team as executive chef and general manager respectively, according to a press release. The Atlanta location of the New York-based One Group’s chic steakhouse chain is slated to open next month at 1075 Peachtree Street.

Creative Loafing is reporting that a former sous chef at Rathbun’s, George Brooks, has joined The Lawrence’s culinary team. The Lawrence is slated to open next month.

Smyrna. According to a report by What Now Atlanta, Lime Taqueria & Tequila Bar is now Village Taqueria & Tequila Bar due to Florida based Lime Fresh Mexican Grill’s threat of legal action regarding copyright infringement.

Westside. To add detail to the venture mentioned above, Ford Fry’s new seafood restaurants, slated to open in the spring of 2012 at 914 Howell Mill Road, is named The Optimist, according to a press release from Melissa Libby & Associates. Fry’s father, who enjoys sailing, suggested the name a few months back. In sailing terms, an optimist is a small, single-handed sailing dinghy intended for use by children. The menu will focus on sustainable seafood prepared in a wood-burning oven. Adjacent to the new restaurant, Fry will also be opening Oyster Bar at The Optimist, a more casual “fish camp” style venue, featuring an outdoor patio, live music and an oyster bar.

Question of the Week: What restaurant was chosen as a landmark for Atlanta’s Legoland Discovery Center slated to open in April 2012 at Phipps Plaza?

P.S.: The answer to last week’s QOTW- What local food and wine industry leader was named on of rising young leaders of Atlanta by a leading business publication? – Is Dominique Love, co-founder of the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival, named one the Atlanta Business Chronicle’s 40 under 40.

Do you have restaurant openings, closings, or other news to share? Email James Oxendine at