Wednesday, September 14, 2011

From Sports to Southern, New Eatery Opening Soon Downtown

Alan LeBlanc of Max Lager's Wood-Fired Grill & Brewery will soon open a second concept, a stone's throw from his current eatery. Having sat vacant for years, the space at 270 Peachtree Street, formerly home to The Official All Star Café, will reopen in the coming months as "White Oak Kitchen & Cocktails." White Oak I'm told, is the wood used to make barrels for whiskey and bourbon, both southern favorites.

The Official All Star Café was a sister concept of Planet Hollywood and opened a few locations in the mid to late 90's but all have since closed. Similar to the (recruited) celebrity backers of Planet Hollywood, athletes Wayne Gretzky, Joe Montana, Shaquille O'Neal, Ken Griffey, Jr., Andre Agassi and others were recruited to invest in the Café.

If memory serves, The Café closed in 2000. (ESPN Zone, a similar concept, opened in Buckhead in 1999 and closed in 2009)

Last year there was talk that Kaiser Permanente would open a clinic in the space but the landlord, rightfully so, thought the proper use of the space would be for a restaurant. The many large windows on both Baker and Peachtree Streets provide plenty of natural light and LeBlanc tells me he plans to take full advantage.

The restaurant will feature contemporary southern cuisine, prepared with locally sourced ingredients in a casually upscale atmosphere. With Pittypat's Porch serving somewhat similar cuisine not far away, and the recently opened Sweet Georgia's Juke Joint a few blocks south on Peachtree, this addition may seem unneeded to some. Personally, I went to Sweet Georgia's Juke Joint once and will never go back, for many reasons. Pittypat's Porch has been on Andrew Young International Boulevard (formerly Cain Street) since 1967 and is a bit dated, if you asked me.

White Oak would seem to be just what the downtown area needs. After all, aside from local favorites like Mary Mac's Tea Room on Ponce de Leon and The Colonnade on Cheshire Bridge Road, there have been few really good southern eateries until recently. Hugh Acheson's Empire State South opened last year in Midtown and Art Smith will soon open Southern Art at the InterContinental Hotel in Buckhead, but Buckhead was lacking a new, contemporary southern option.

Alan LeBlanc, a graduate of the Cornell University School of Hotel Administration previously expanded the Max Lager's concept to Buford, opening at the outdoor village area at the Mall of Georgia in 1999 but closed the restaurant two years later. A lifelong resident of the metro area, I can attest to the fact that there seems to be a disconnect between the dining habits and options of those ITP vs OTP. That being said something tells me the closure had more to do with the mall and its owners than with the restaurant itself.

I've been holding this story until today as it was just finalized, so work on the space has yet to begin. Although I was not provided an actual opening date, I'd anticipate there being at least 60-90 days worth of work to be done.

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4 comments:

396 said...

Really good news.

That corner of the intersection is so dead in the evenings, with nothing in that building open. All-Star Cafe has been gone for so long that I'd forgotten there even used to be a restaurant there.

With all the downtown workers and hotel guests within a few blocks of that corner, they should be able to do well...I hope.

Anonymous said...

This is good to hear. My office is across the street in the SunTrust Plaza (303 P'tree) and the lunchtime dining choices have become stale - hopefully this will be a nice addition.

Anonymous said...

It's nice to see more investment in Downtown. Now if someone would do something with the old Goodfella's and Pig Sty locations that would be great.

iamnigel said...

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