Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Ford Fry's Upcoming Inman Park Eatery Likely to be Similar to The Optimist

Ford Fry planning seafood eatery in Inman Park

The restaurant coming to Inman Quarter (IQ)  previously referred to as "A Ford Fry Concept" will reported be a seafood eatery.  Construction related documents obtained this week refer to the concept as "Inman Park Fish Camp," a seemingly vanilla name amidst Ford Fry's ever-growing  and originally named restaurant roster.  Although I doubt it will eventually become known as Optimist two or Optimist at IQ, it seems likely the menu may be similar to Fry's popular Westside eatery, The Optimist Fish Camp & Oyster Bar. The Optimist was named by Esquire Magazine as one of the Best New Restaurants in America in 2012.  

Inman Park Fish Camp will be joined in the new development by a third Atlanta area location of bartaco, as well as a return of MF Sushi and a new Cacao location.  

IQ is located at the corner of Elizabeth Street and North Highland Avenue and includes 200 "luxury" apartments as well as numerous retail and restaurant spaces.  

After working in senior chef capacities in  number of The Ritz-Carlton hotel properties, Chef Ford Fry landed a corporate chef gig with Eatzi's in Texas, but later moved with the company to Atlanta.  Following Eatzi's surprise closures in Atlanta in 2006, Fry opened his first restaurant, JCT Kitchen, a contemporary southern eatery on the Westside, in early 2007.  

For a few years, JCT was Fry's only restaurant, more recently he seems to announce a new concept or open another every few months. 

No. 246, an Italian eatery, opened in Decatur in 2011.  

The Optimist, a seafood restaurant, opened on the Westide in 2012.  

King + Duke opened in 2013 in the former NAVA space in Buckhead.

St. Cecilia opened in 2014 in the former Bluepointe space at the Pinnacle building in Buckhead.

The El Felix, a Tex-Mex eatery opened late last year at Avalon in Alpharetta. 

Superica, a "Mex-Tex" restaurant opened earlier this year at Krog Street Market.

Marcel is slated to open in July in the former Abbatoir space at Westside Provisions.  The "beefsteak dinner-inspired steakhouse"  gets its name from Marcellin “Marcel” Cerdan, a French boxer of the 1900s.  

Sources say that Fry is also eyeing the former Outback Steakhouse on Roswell Road in north Buckhead for a new Mexican restaurant.  

In Houston, Texas, Fry plans to open "State of Grace," his new hill country inspired restaurant headed for the former space of three shops in the Lamar-River Oaks Shopping Center.

Fry also reportedly intends to enter the Nashville market, but those plans have yet to materialize.  

The holding company behind all of the concepts is Atlanta-based Rocket Farm Restaurants, LLC.  Although many have the perception that Ford himself somehow "runs" all of the restaurants, that is not the case.  Shrewdly, Fry brings on local chefs yearning for their "own place," to help steer the restaurant and helm the kitchen.  Fry supplies the capital, celebrity appeal and mentorship, but in most cases, leaves the menu up to the individual chef at each restaurant.  This plan has proven quite successful thus far, but I worry about the number of restaurants Fry can associate with and still maintain the same level of uniqueness and quality.  

What are your thoughts on Chef Ford Fry's ever-growing restaurant empire?  What Rocket Farm concept is your favorite?  Where would you most like to see Fry open next?  

Please share your thoughts below.  


Unknown said...

I wish Eatzis stayed in business. Loved that place.

Anonymous said...

Can we please stop parroting Fry's use of the term "Mex-Tex"? It doesn't mean anything. It's Tex-Mex. Stop towing the PR company line.

Anonymous said...

That Eatzi's store was gorgeous inside. Sad to think that it was all torn apart for the likes of another CVS.

AJ said...

I can't believe I'm responding, but I have to! So "Mex-Tex" doesn't mean anything, but "Tex-Mex" does? Someone came up with the term "Tex-Mex" many years ago. Just like someone (& I saw it before Ford Fry used it) started using "Mex-Tex". One of the chain Mexican restaurants uses "Mex-Mex". Who cares. It's all marketing. If you think "Tex-Mex" isn't PR jargon, but "Mex-Tex" is, you clearly don't understand much about Marketing. And yes, I understand "Tex-Mex" is a style of Americanized Mexican food that started in Texas, but it is still Marketing language.

Anonymous said...

I tried El Felix and was very unimpressed. They have the greasiest chips I've ever seen.

I like JCT Kitchen though - never had a bad meal there.

Anonymous said...

Superica is awesome.

Although he sat on JCT for a while you have to consider the timing - the Great Recession was in full effect and the restaurant industry was reeling. He slowly dripped new restaurants out and now that he has as close to a cult following as you can get he is capitalizing on it. Good for him.

Anonymous said...

Tex-Mex is a specific type of cuisine with a long history, and the term itself goes back 50+ years. It's not a Marketing term. "Mex-Tex," "Flex-Mex" and "Mex-Mex" are all just PR stunts, sure, but Tex-Mex is a legit thing.

396 said...

Eatzi's. Oh, man. I can't believe it's been gone for almost 10 years. I still half expect to see it there, then feel sad every time I pass that CVS.

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