"The Local at Collier" will soon open in what was most recently "Hong Li" on Collier Road. You may be asking yourself, as I did, why such a simple name, a name so similar to other businesses? I have no good answer. The new restaurant is owned by Mark Tew, who also owns nearby eatery De Palma's Italian Cafe. For the record, De Palma's has beenin the area for 22 years, and is unrelated to the De Palma's Italian Cafe in Athens. The Athens restaurant now has three locations and is franchising. The Collier location is a single unit and is seemingly less high-end. Strange, though, as both concepts seem to be so similar to other, unrelated eateries.
The restaurant was at first to be called simply "The Local" but seeing as there is an existing bar & restaurant on Ponce de Leon Avenue called "The Local," "at collier" was wisely added to the name to help avoid possible confusion (and potential litigation). When I stopped by to see what was being done, I got the feeling that Tew hopes to create an environment similar to that of "The Ivy" in Buckhead. The IVY opened last year in a large space on Roswell Road in Buckhead that for 25 years was home to Carbo's Cafe before becoming Chastain's Neighborhood Sushi Bar & Tavern in 2008. Just a few months after the conversion, the restaurant caught fire and never reopened. Since The IVY opened last year it has attracted plenty of the "frat-tastic" Buckhead residents as well as students from Georgia State and elsewhere. Surely taking some business from nearby Kramer's, Churchill's, Five Paces and other Buckhead Village bars, The IVY has manged to attract a key demographic in droves, something I'm betting Tew's "Local" hopes to do as well.
Having only been to The IVY a handful of times, I'm not sure to what degree the upstairs is used on a nightly basis, but its enclosed, a little different than The Local. As some may be able to observe from the photo, with the structure's barn-like shape, The Local's building was originally home to Dairy Queen some 40 years ago. The building's architecture has enabled Tew to construct an outdoor deck that significantly increases his capacity.
The restaurant sits between Pizza Hut, to its left and the Big Easy Grille and upcoming Verde Taqueria to the right. I first broke news of Verde's intention to open in the shuttered Fox & Hounds space last October and after plenty of delays, a sign posted on the building states the taqueria will open in the fall.
Having attended Georgia State myself, I can say without a doubt that plenty of GSU, Georgia Tech and other college students live in the Collier / Howell Mill / Defoors Ferry vicinity. With Fox & Hounds closed, this type concept, if run well, with college friendly pricing, would seem to be well situated for success. I'm told capacity is around 250 and that the parking lot can accommodate 50 cars. The ample on-site parking would seem to be a major plus considering (most) Buckhead bars greatest issue could be their less than favorable parking situation.
Food and beverage wise, it's a little unclear as to what exactly The Local will be. I'm told they will feature a variety of tapas dishes as well as some typical American entrees. Hoping to avoid being sterotyped as a "sports bar", the Local will have plenty of TVs and a full bar.
I walked the exterior of the restaurant and peeked in through the kitchen to get a sense of how far along the project was. From what I saw, my guess would be that they'd be open in early August but after hoping to be open in June, I'm told the current plan is to be open in 2 weeks. Apparently permits and certifications, which could be attributed to the age of the building, has slowed work.
In other nearby news, LeRoy's Fried Chicken on Howell Mill Road is scheduled to open this Wednesday the 29th. Chef Julia LeRoy, who previously partnered with Clay Harper and Mike Nelson of Fellini's and La Fonda to craft artisan frozen yogurt for Three on The Tree, will now have her own digs. The restaurant will be open for lunch and dinner for takeout only and is located adjacent to La Fonda Latina, and across the street from The Real Chow Baby.