Au Pied de Cochon and the XO Bar at the InterContinental Buckhead Atlanta will be re-branded and reconcepted in the coming months. Au Pied de Cochon ("foot of the pig" in French) will become a "Nouveau Southern" restaurant and the XO Bar will supposedly become a bourbon bar. While this move is far from a surprise, it's still sad to see. Both outlets opened as a part of the hotel's opening in the fall of 2004. The hotel was heralded as the first luxury hotel to be built in Buckhead in over a decade and is the North American flagship for the InterContinental Hotel.
Helming the InterContinental's new restaurant will be Art Smith. Art Smith is currently listed on the Streets of Buckhead website as opening a restaurant within the troubled project and it's unknown if that will ever happen. More likely, the restaurant at the InterContinental will be in lieu of the S.O.B. eatery rather than in addition to it. Streets of Buckhead was recently taken over by San Diego-based OliverMcMillan who pledged to breath new life into the troubled project. While the number and level of retailers and restaurants have decreased from the press release, Art Smith's (addition) to the project went seemingly unnoticed in the local foodie world.
Art Smith currently owns and operates two restaurants, TABLE fifty-two in Chicago (where he lives), and Art and Soul in Washington D.C. Smith was born in Jasper, Florida, not far from Tallahassee, and has cooked for countless celebrities and politicians, but is best known to many as Oprah Winfrey's personal chef until 2007. "Art and Soul: South" has been discussed as a possible name for the southern eatery. Smith's specialty is southern cuisine, and he won the James Beard Award in 2002 for his book Back to the Table: The Reunion of Food and Family.
At a recent employee meeting, "Red Velvet" was announced to be the name of the new restaurant but that name has already been scrapped due to a trademark issue. It's likely "velvet" will still be present in the name of the new eatery. Official word should come within the next month, with work on the restaurant set to begin in June, with a planned grand re-opening in September. While the restaurant is currently open 24 hours a day, it is not yet known whether this will continue with the new concept. At times, the late night and early morning patrons of the restaurant are what some may view as "unsavory" and this may lead the restaurant to operate with normal hours rather than the 24.
Au Pied de Cochon's original location in Paris remains open as does their eatery in Mexico City. A location opened on Washington Avenue in Miami Beach in late May 2009, but closed before Christmas of the same year.
Locally, the InterContinental Hotel has gone through a number of changes. Completed in November 2004, the property was until last fall owned and managed by IHG, InterContinental's parent company, with North American headquarters in Dunwoody. This past fall, the hotel (and in-house restaurant & bar) were sold to Pebblebrook, a REIT based in Bethesda, Maryland.
Across from the InterContinental, Buckhead Life Restaurant Group opened their French concept Bistro Niko in fall, 2009, and its success surely played a part in the decision to reconcept APDC. Just down the road at The Mansion hotel, their in-house restaurant, NEO opened as an Italian concept but I'm told currently features American cuisine. Their additional restaurants Craft and craft bar, both closed in February, and there has been no definitive answer as to what will take their place.
The St. Regis opened in 2009 and their in-house restaurant Paces 88 features a seasonal menu currently described as "Contempory American with a Southern Twist and French influence." Across the street from the St. Regis, Here to Serve's Posh restaurant was re-concepted and re-named Home. Then Top Chef finalist Richard Blais helmed the kitchen and prepared southern favorites making it near impossible to land a favorable reservation. When Blais left to work with Barry Mills and open FLIP Burger Boutique, the restaurant suffered and it was again re-concepted. Today it's Coast Seafood & Raw Bar.
Full disclosure: I work for IHG. While I've been aware of this impending change for months, only recently was I able to disclose the details above.