After five years in downtown Decatur, Souper Jenny will close Saturday afternoon. The Buckhead, Brookhaven, and West Midtown stores will remain open, with a new restaurant coming to Roswell in mid-March.
“We loved building the Decatur community. It’s bittersweet leaving,” owner Jenny Levison says. “It’s the right decision, and all of our staff has been relocated to our other stores, so no one is losing their job.”
The closure comes during the soup-salad-sandwich shop’s 20th anniversary year. Levison is commemorating first with 1999 prices in Decatur on Friday and Saturday, then throughout the year with monthly specials at each Souper Jenny location.
We spoke to her to learn more.
Why are you closing the Decatur location?
Parking was our biggest issue. When we first moved in, street parking was free. Now it’s all metered. All of our customers complain about it. We’ve noticed a steady decrease in foot traffic over the years. We think of Decatur as a walking town, but it’s much more that way on the weekends and in the evening. Our main audience was coming from the courthouse and the people working in the walkable area. Compared to our other stores where there’s a lot of parking, we see a big difference.
Rents were going up. Our lease was over. It seemed like it was time.
How will you commemorate the closing?
Friday and Saturday in Decatur we’ll roll back to our original 1999 prices: $5 sandwich or salad or bowl of soup, or $10 combo.
Originally, you planned to relocate. Will you keep looking for locations in the Decatur area?
We’re always looking, but I’ve been looking for two years and nothing’s hit me. I think we’ll focus on the Roswell opening. We’re always looking for cool neighborhoods. I recently took a small interest in the downtown Vinings area. I’m also trying to get into the airport, but I don’t have any solid plans yet.
What do you have planned for the Roswell location?
There will be a soft opening the week of March 18 and will be officially open March 25. It’s behind the Roswell Visitors Center and the Little Red Playhouse at 259 Atlanta Street. It’s a freestanding building with plenty of parking. It’s the first time I’ve had to do a true buildout on my own. It was an office space. We gutted it and put in a kitchen. It’s 2,500 square feet—about the same size as the Westside Souper Jenny.
I go for a very Bohemian look. We do mural work on the walls. This one is a little warehouse-feeling, like the Westside. It has a garage door that rolls up and some outdoor seating. We’re hoping to reinstate grilled cheese night.
What other projects do you have in the works?
My dream is to have a takeout spot on 30A [in the Florida Panhandle]. It’ll be a high-end spot for salads, sandwiches, and cold soups.
This year is Souper Jenny’s 20th anniversary. How are you celebrating?
Every month we’re doing something for our customers and something for our employees. This month, we have quart sales 3 days a week for $9 instead $12. The staff is having a bowling night. The celebration will culminate in September with a big evening open house-style party at the Atlanta History Center [where Souper Jenny Buckhead is located].