Monday, July 11, 2016

Longtime S&S Patron to Open Similar Concept in Tucker

The S&S on its final day 
S&S offshoot planning fall debut in Tucker.
As I hinted at in my prior post announcing the closure of the S&S Cafeteria on Chamblee Tucker Road, a similar restaurant is in the works.  Yesterday, the S&S closed its Embry Village location after 43 years in business. In place of the S&S, a vacant hotel nearby, and other smaller spaces, Kroger intends to build a new 113,000 square foot "Kroger Marketplace" to open in late 2017 or early 2018.  

Longtime S&S patron "Mr. Louis" (as he's affectionately known by employees), a resident of nearby Northcrest, plans to open a similar restaurant later this fall in Tucker. 

Mr. Louis had not originally intended to open a new restaurant. "We tried but failed to convince Dekalb Planning and Nancy Jester that closure of the S&S was a real harm to the community." He heard countless residents and customers' heartfelt pleas, like his, for the S&S to remain open.  Mr. Louis sees the S&S as part of Atlanta's history, something that should be preserved, not forgotten.  

With Kroger's plan approved and the S&S on borrowed time, Mr. Louis knew he had to do something.  In an effort to not only save the dining experience for the many customers, but also to save the jobs of the S&S's dozens of dedicated employees, Mr. Louis began exploring options of where to open a similar restaurant.

The new establishment, "The Magnolia Room," is meant to carry on the legacy, hospitality and southern goodness of the S&S.  The Magnolia Room was the beloved dining room at the Rich's flagship downtown Atlanta store.  "It's a tribute to fine traditional southern cuisine that was served in the old downtown Rich's." (If anyone has the recipe for the famous Magnolia Room chicken salad, Mr. Louis wants to hear from you). The goal will be to "provide the same dining experience [as was enjoyed at the S&S.]
The would-be home of Magnolia Room 
Mr. Louis has already purchased the FF&E (furniture, fixtures & equipment) from the S&S, and plans to employ as many of the former staff as possible.   The restaurant will be located in "Shops at Heritage Place," a mid-sized strip center on Hugh Howell Road, home to a Moe's Southwest Grill, among other tenants.

The Magnolia Room would occupy the 5,300 square foot "anchor" space in the middle of the center.  The space was previously home to DMARC Cafe, a live music venue and restaurant. Should things go well, The Magnolia Room may eventually expand into an adjacent 2,400 square foot former nail salon. 
While lease negotiations are progressing, Mr. Louis stresses that "while we are optimistic, several hurdles remain to be overcome.  Please understand that this is still a dream and a work in progress."  

Should a lease be finalized and the dream realized, Mr. Louis envisions adding some mid-century modern charm to the new restaurant. While nothing will be as fancy as the mid- century modern focused "The Mercury," which opened earlier this year at Ponce City Market, minor updates to the restaurant's theme will be made to update it a bit.  

Dean Ashley, a 19 year S&S employee and general manager of the Embry Village location, will not be making the transition. Ashley, who was previously GM at the North Augusta S&S which shutterd in 2011 after 41 years, has been "offered Knoxville," and will likely relocate there with his wife and kids to stay within the S&S family.  

It's worth noting that the nearby The Greater Good BBQ was for a short time in the mid 90s a satellite location of midtown's Mary Mac's Tea Room. Mary Mac's occupied what was originally a Western Sizzlin' and later Farmer's Daughter, while more recent occupants have included Golden Dolphin, a seafood restaurant, and now The Greater Good BBQ.  
While the Magnolia Room would be close to another longstanding cafeteria, Matthews, on Main Street in downtown Tucker, there seems to be a division of those who support each establishment.  I visited the S&S a number of times this past month and countless patrons enumerated their reasons for preferring the S&S over other cafeterias, Piccadilly and Matthews among them.  Patrons drove in from the likes of Loganville, Snellville, Stone Mountain, Norcross and elsewhere, passing similar cafeteria or southern food options, to dine at the S&S.  

If all goes well, many former S&S staff members follow, and the management team is strong, there is good reason to think that Magnolia Room will be a success.  Based on current progress, the Magnolia Room plans to debut in September.  

Are you excited that there is hope that the S&S will live on?  Does the name Magnolia Room Tucker resonate with you?  What do you consider the quintessential cafeteria menu item?

Please share your thoughts below.   


Anonymous said...

This is exciting. Please keep us updated on Mr Louis' venture. Looking forward to dining in his Magnolia Room concept.

Anonymous said...

I did not frequent S&S as much as some others but I could always expect a wonderful meal, good prices,and friendly smiles. I am glad there is a plan in place to save the employees' jobs. I hope it become more than a dream. Good luck!

Ham said...

Well, while I’ll still miss the S&S I can’t say this is bad news and it seems like a good deal for the employees if it all works out. It also adds a little bit to the mini-renaissance that Tucker is going through right now with the improvements on Main Street, several new or renovated restaurants and of course Cityhood.

Now, the $100,000 question exactly how do they and Matthews co-exist. Different groups of customers? Maybe. Most likely many of the same patrons, but hey who eats at the same place every day? I know S&S once owned Sunday, but Matthews new Sunday service seems to be pretty popular. Also, keep in mind a new major upscale retirement community is opening behind Starbucks, so while I hate to stereotype I suspect it may bring more customers for everyone.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps Mr. Louis could consult with a nutritionist a little bit to improve the offerings. Waay too salty food does his customers no good.

KER said...

Here's the only concern I see with this plan, the timing aspect. I know lots of people are excited and vow to visit a new location, but the fact is, if it takes too long for this to open, people will eventually go somewhere else and it will be hard to get them back. Best of luck to him on the new venture, I hope it works out!

Unknown said...

As a resident of Tucker for many years, I've seen good and great restaurants come and go. Aldo's was a great Italian restaurant, and they're gone. The Golden Dolphin looked great, but poor quality of food , poor management, bad service and bad hushpuppies gave them a bad rap, and others gone for some of the same reasons. Matthews is a landmark in Tucker, so they are going to survive no matter the competition. I welcome the Magnolia Room, and if it is managed well, and the food served properly, they will become a favorite Southern Cooking restaurant. Good luck, and I will be supporting you in every way I can, through social media, and via our website: , that has a very comprehensive selection of the best restaurants in and around Tucker. Keep us posted. Thanks. Frank

Anonymous said...

I'm kind of skeptical that the Magnolia Room will ever get off the ground, but I hope I'm wrong. The timeframe seems rather aggressive, the current manager is moving and staying with S&S, probably half (or more) of the employees will have moved on to something else.

I wonder if they considered moving to some location in Northlake Festival?? Seems like there should be some vacant and cheap space over there. IMO, NF would be a much better location.


Anonymous said...

Anonymous Anonymous said... Perhaps Mr. Louis could consult with a nutritionist a little bit to improve the offerings. Waay too salty food does his customers no good. July 13, 2016 at 10:44 AM

BLESS YOUR HEART and hush your mouth!

Anonymous said...

Don't forget your can opener Mr. Louis and teach your help to wash their hands

Anonymous said...

Looking forward to lunch at S&S today and was sorry to see it closed. BUT, we are so excited to have them move to Tucker. Matthews won't be competition; both can survive well as the good, sit-down restaurant pickings in Tucker are slim. In fact, if The Magnolia Room finds the chicken salad recipe and offers the original whipped cream pound cake along with comfortable chairs and a decor that reduces noises, it's likely to do extremely well. Time frame does seem aggressive and hope it is achievable even sooner so that the good S&S employees can survive the wait as well as the customers. We are on your side and will be regulars. Please keep your progress in the news like this blog and the Tucker Times.

F&B Guy said...

I'm not clear if Mr. Louis has any prior restaurant experience other than being a patron? Did he open The Mercury? If he has no prior experience owning/running restaurants then this is a huge gamble for him.
The DMARC location is tucked way back in the complex and is not very visible from the main road. Opening here will require significant marketing investment (signage, print media, social media etc.) just to get the word out.
I encourage entrepreneurship, however, knowing what I do about opening and running restaurants, this is going to be a serious challenge. I'll keep an eye out and hope for the best!

Anonymous said...

Do not adjust your menu to "bland" to suit any customer's health including
mine I come to restaurants for the eats but it is up to me
to choose whether I want to indulge or not. Keep the salt and sugar like
it's always been. I will eat at Magnolia sometime and at Matthews sometime.

Anonymous said...

Seems like "Mr Louis" is blaming Nancy Jester and Dekalb Planning for the closing. That's just illogical and borderline idiotic. The only ones to "blame" for the closing is S&S Corporate. They had more than sufficient time to find another location or make other arrangements with the property management company for Embry Hills, they choose to not do this. Their choice to not relocate leads most logical people to the conclusion that there simply is not a business case in the area for this type of restaurant any longer.

I wish them the best of luck, but I personally would never set foot in such an establishment and know many that agree with me. The older generation that is their customer base is dying off, building a business on a dying customer base simply makes no sense.

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