Sweet Georgia’s Juke Joint opens Downtown

ATL Food Chatter: February 22, 2011
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Last week the multi-million-dollar Downtown location of Sweet Georgia’s Juke Joint opened with a party that drew a crowd to its lush layout, musical offerings, and Southern cuisine. The new venture—part restaurant, part music venue—is the first non-airport endeavor for Global Concessions, Inc., an Atlanta-based company that operates food and beverage concessions in airports across the nation.

Starting with the dramatically lit entrance sign, Sweet Georgia’s Juke Joint’s design is an upscale interpretation of the rural Southern African-American shacks where music, drinking, and dancing nurtured the roots of jazz and blues. It opened in the recently renovated 200 Peachtree Street building—formerly an iconic Macy’s location—and features a dance floor, a stage for live music, and a 3-D mural by local artist Stacy Brown.

The menu—not surprising, given the theme and the raging Atlanta trend—draws from the Southern lexicon. Executive Chef Jackson Loos (with creative input from Duane Nutter of One Flew South) offers classic Dixie dishes such as fried chicken, catfish, greens, mac-n-cheese, smoked brisket, and shrimp and grits alongside more ubiquitous American fare: roasted turkey sandwich, BLT wedge salad, and bone-in ribeye. Cocktails lean to the sweet side and have names like “Miss Ceely’s Fruit Punch” (remember the juke joint where Shug Avery sang in The Color Purple?)

The stage, located in the dining room, will feature multiple performers seven days a week at both lunch, dinner and late into the evening. During the lunch hour, students majoring in music from Georgia colleges and universities will have the chance to perform. Established local artists and bands will perform in the evenings and on weekends

At the preview party, one the owners asked me, “Are you coming back once we are open?” That is the ultimate question for this ambitious endeavor: Will conventioneers, Downtown office workers and, most importantly, the local dining come and keep returning?


Billy Allin (Cakes and Ale), Kevin Gillespie (Woodfire Grill), Joshua Hopkins (Abattoir), Steven Satterfield (Miller Union), and Ryan Smith (Empire State South) are the Atlantans vying among other Southerners for Food & Wine magazine’s “The Peoples Best New Chef” 2011. Vote here.

It’s old news at this point, but congrats nonetheless to the Georgians who made the semifinals for the James Beard 2011 restaurant awards, announced last week.

Alpharetta. Look for Legends Deli & Cafe to open next month at 5430 McGinnis Ferry Road.

Downtown. We reported this unofficially last week, but a press release sent out yesterday verifies that Fifth Group will indeed open a Mexican restaurant in the former Il Mulino location—though not until sometime in the fall.

Midtown. What Now Atlanta got the official scoop that Riccardo Ullio is planning to open a restaurant called El Escorpion in the former 5th Street Café/Eno site.

Poncey Highland. Kessler reports on the shutdown of Pura Vida’s El Burro Pollo and The Fry Guy by Fulton County’s Department of Health and Wellness over the weekend

Virginia Highland. Cliff Bostock reveals that Sugar Coated Radical is expanding its operation into an adjoining space and, starting March 6th, will add baked goods to the menu.

Question of the Week: What bakery known for its boozy cakes is moving from Downtown to Grant Park?

PS. The answer to last week’s QOTW- What national chain may test market its newest seafood concept in Metro Atlanta- is Ruby Tuesday.