Bon Ton and the Lawrence owners Darren Carr and Eric Simpkins want to give Atlantans a vibey space to sip creative cocktails after supper. Enter the Waiting Room, scheduled to start serving in mid-December. Located above Bon Ton in the space formerly home to Top Flr, the Waiting Room embraces ’70s vibes full-on with red shag carpet and DayGlo lighting.
“It’s what we think Atlanta nightlife needs,” Carr says. “People are coming out again more post-Covid. With some of the nightlife disappearing on Ponce, there’s a gap that needs to be filled. We’re not an MJQ-type place, more of a sit-down cocktail experience with table service.”
During the past year, the team completely renovated the space, widening it into adjacent offices. It now includes a bar, small kitchen, stage, and large tables. It can seat 50 guests—90 with standing room.
It will offer a concise menu of grandiose items designed to fit the over-the-top theme. These include giant seafood towers and caviar service, led by Bon Ton executive chef David Hartshorn. Simpkins is designing the cocktail list, focusing on large-format drinks served in decanters. The beverage menu is still in development; beer and wine will be available.
“A lot of food and drink is about sharing,” Carr says.
Another part of the concept is live music. Carr expects the venue to host small acts from 7 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. nightly, across a variety of musical genres. “I want it to be quite experimental and for the guests to enjoy the selection we curate for them,” he says.
Carr and Simpkins recently announced the closure of their Memorial Drive diner Wonderkid that opened just prior to the pandemic in late 2019. “We could blame Covid and [other] circumstances, but I just don’t think we were good enough. We should’ve been better in all aspects of the business,” Carr says. “We’re just going to move on from that space and focus on the Waiting Room.” He hopes to kick off 2023 with a “giant raging party” there on New Year’s Eve.