The year in review: The top Atlanta dining news of 2015

Ponce City Market comes online, Ford Fry goes on an opening spree, and a long-standing restaurant group shutters
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Ford Fry opened the most expensive steakhouse in Atlanta with Marcel on the Westside.

Courtesy of Andrew Thomas Lee

We saw a record number of openings in 2015 (or maybe we’re just thinking of Ford Fry). Highly anticipated restaurants like Staplehouse and Atlas opened their doors, along with big names in Ponce City Market and Krog Street Market. We also saw a number of closings, including two major restaurant groups, which lefts hundreds unemployed. Below, a recap of 2015.

January

New Jersey pizza maker Anthony Spina opens Old 4th Ward Pizza in the Irwin Street Market, later winning awards from us and from Creative Loafing. Atlas, the St. Regis restaurant known for its extraordinary art collection, opens in Buckhead with Gerry Klaskala as its consulting chef. Meanwhile, Krog Street Market begins to fill up with the Kevin Ouzts’s first restaurant, the Cockentrice.

February

Thirteen Atlanta chefs and restaurants are nominated for James Beard Awards, including Ford Fry, Lusca, Bacchanalia, and Billy Allin of Cakes & Ale.

March

Gu’s Bistro, a local favorite among Sichuan fanatics, closes its Buford Highway location. A new location may be in the works, but for now, Yvonne Gu and her family are focusing on their Krog Street Market dumpling stall.

April

Urban Cannibals owners Calavino Donati and Doria Roberts announce plans to open three new restaurants, including Virginia-Highland tea shop Tipple + Rose, the Latin-Southern spot Madre + Mason near Piedmont Park, and a relocated Urban Cannibals in Midtown. And just as the weather turns, all 23 locations of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream shut down after a listeria outbreak in their production kitchen.

May

After 22 years, Buckhead Life Restaurant Group’s Veni Vidi Vici shutters. Executive chef Jamie Adams announces that he’s taking menu favorites to his new Italian restaurant, il Giallo, in Sandy Springs.

June

The same foodborne bacteria that kept Blue Bell ice cream off shelves for months hits Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream again, forcing all three Atlanta locations to close temporarily. Tyler Williams, formerly of Woodfire Grill, moves to Lake Burton to sling pies at By Hand Pizza. Brothers Chris and Alex Kinjo return to Atlanta to open MF Sushi in Inman Park. And the biggest news of the month, AJC food critic John Kessler leaves the paper after 18 years and moves to Chicago.

July

Popular bartender Tom McGuire helps open Burn Social Club in the East Andrews Entertainment District, but the Rat Pack-style music venue is short-lived, as the whole complex is sold in December.

August

Decatur cocktail bar Paper Plane closes, making way for the tiki bar-themed S.O.S. Adam Evans leaves the Optimist for Jonathan Waxman’s Ponce City Market restaurant, Brezza Cucina, and is replaced by Wesley True, formerly of the Spence. Resurgens Hospitality also sees some chef shuffles as Brian Jones is promoted to executive chef at Restaurant Eugene, allowing Linton Hopkins and Jason Paolini to focus on the group’s other restaurants, including Holeman and Finch and the Café at Linton’s. Bon Appetit names Krog Street Market one of the 50 Best New Restaurants in America.

September

Adding to the dining options at Buckhead Atlanta, LDV Hospitality concept Dolce Italian opens. Sushi House Hayakawa closes for remodeling, with no future opening date in sight, and H&F Bread Co. targets national distribution. After opening Marcel, Superica, and State of Grace earlier this year, Ford Fry opens Bar Margot in Midtown, possibly setting a record for most (non-franchise) restaurant openings in 12 months.

October

All 11 Here to Serve restaurants close suddenly, leaving hundreds out of a job. Just a week later, Ron Eyester closes Rosebud and the Family Dog to focus on Diner. In more positive news, after years of delays, Jen and Ryan Hidinger’s supper-club-turned-restaurant Staplehouse opens, using the city’s first ticketing reservation system. Jenny Levison announces she’s moving the original Souper Jenny location down the street to the Atlanta History Center. And finally Greg Best and Regan Smith open Ticonderoga Club in Krog Street Market with Paul Calvert.

November

Umi’s reservation-only cocktail lounge Himitsu opens in Buckhead. Joe Schafer takes over the kitchen at Bacchanalia and Little Bacch in Anne Quatrano’s Star Provisions complex. In the most disappointing closing of the year, Angus Brown announces that he’s converting Lusca into a catering facility.

December

Here to Serve founder Tom Catherall announces his return to Atlanta with plans to reopen the original Noche space in Virginia-Highland with a tapas spot called Tom Tom. Cody Taylor and Jiyeon Lee decide to close Sobban, wanting instead to focus on a Heirloom Market expansion in South Korea. And just before the year’s end, Billy Allin of Cakes & Ale opens his new cafe in Inman Park, Bread & Butterfly.

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