Monday, June 17, 2024

[EXCLUSIVE] Ansley Mall to Add Big New Barbecue Restaurant Along Recent BeltLine Extension

A South Carolina barbecue joint is looking to make its Peach state premiere.  Planning documents reviewed by ToNeTo Atlanta suggest that Lewis Barbecue, based in Charleston, is coming to Ansley Mall in Midtown. The new barbecue restaurant would open in the suddenly BeltLine facing space to the rear of the landmark Atlanta center located at 1544 Piedmont Avenue.  

Exterior elevations of Lewis Barbecue.  Click to enlarge

Specifically, the new restaurant would come to previously retail and bar space that owner Selig Enterprises announced this past December it planned to convert to restaurant space given its prime location along the recently opened Atlanta BeltLine Northeast Trail - Segment 2.  The barbecue restaurant will, among other spaces, occupy suites previously home to The Laundry Lounge, which relocated last year to Cheshire Bridge Road and to The Hideaway, a popular local gay bar that closed this past July after more than 50 years in business.  

Documents suggest that the new barbecue restaurant, designed by Atlanta-based Terminus Design Group, will span about 11,000 square feet and include a second floor patio.  As described in the planning documents, the restaurant will consist of a 4,300 square foot full-service kitchen and dining room, a 3,700 square foot bar, and a 3,000 square foot smokehouse with a total of six 1,000 gallon offset smokers.  

The restaurant will welcome diners from the Atlanta BeltLine via a new pedestrian bridge that Selig added to the rear of the center late last year but is not yet officially open for use.  

Pitmaster John Lewis, 45, grew up in El Paso, TX, and after honing his skills in Austin and Denver, moved to Charleston in March 2015.  Lewis, along with his "barbecrew," - Ben Garbee, Manager, and Philip Powers, Chef - opened his eponymous barbecue restaurant in June 2016.  John opened a second concept, upscale Mexican eatery Rancho Lewis, along Charleston's King Street in April 2022.  Later, in August 2022, the barbecrew opened their second location of Lewis Barbecue in Greenville, SC.  

Robert Moss, Southern Living's Contributing Barbecue Editor, named Lewis Barbecue #8 in his list of The South's Top 50 Barbecue Joints Of 2023.  In his report, Moss notes,  "Everything about Lewis Barbecue is impressive, from the flawless brisket that headlines the menu to the sublime cowboy beans served alongside."  (Atlanta's Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q landed at #49 on the list) 

Lewis Barbecue's Triple Threat: Pork Ribs, Brisket and Hot Guts

Lewis's flagship Charleston restaurant sports an impressive 4.8 star rating on Google with nearly 7,000 reviews.  The restaurant's sibling location in Greenville maintains a 4.6 star rating with nearly 1,100 reviews.  

In coming to Atlanta, Lewis is looking to capture the same success that chain barbecue eateries like City Barbeque and Jim 'N Nick's have found, but avoid the "pitfalls" (pun intended) that led to the January 2020 closure of Florida's 4Rivers Smokehouse after less than three years in business.  Whereas 4Rivers was located along Marietta Street in what many would consider a "tweener" location, Lewis's prime spot along the BeltLine paired with easy vehicular and pedestrian access, plus a second floor patio, should put the Carolina import in a good position to thrive.  

To be fair, Lewis is also opening less than a mile from Fat Matt's Rib Shack, an Atlanta barbecue destination for more than three decades, but one that is far less a gourmet experience than Lewis Barbecue seems to be.  

When reached for comment late Monday, Lewis said he had little to share yet as the endeavor is in the very early stages of development.  Lewis did indicate that he plans to do several pop-ups in Atlanta in advance of the restaurant's opening and that he intends to spend a good amount of time in the area in the months to come.  

Given the infancy of the project, Lewis was reluctant to provide an opening timeline, but given the size and scope of the restaurant and Atlanta's planning and permitting department's history of working at a glacial pace, it's unlikely the restaurant will open before next fall.  

A potential catering spread 

If you simply can't wait to try Lewis's meats, the restaurant sells their smoked meats, sauces, and rubs on their website with shipping offered to the continental U.S. 

Have you tried Lewis Barbecue?  Who in Atlanta do you think offers the best barbecue?  Are you excited about the changes coming to Ansley Mall?

Please share your thoughts below. 

20 comments:

Ham said...

Community Q does a great job with their meats and their sides. Fox Brothers is also good, but parking is so hit or miss.

Anonymous said...

I haven’t tried Lewis, but maybe I’ll give it a shot sometime if I’m in the area.

I was very disappointed to learn (a while back) that there was a 4Rivers in Atlanta (and near my GT stomping grounds, no less) that closed before I knew about it. I’ve had it a few times in Florida and really liked it.

Anonymous said...

As a Charleston native in Atlanta, I've never had brisket nearly as good as Lewis'.

Anonymous said...

The two businesses this restaurant is replacing are across a breezeway from each other. This breezeway provides access to the Beltline for the rest of the mall. Hopefully the layout provides another route.

Anonymous said...

Been to Lewis in both their locations. Best BBQ and sides we’ve ever had.

Anonymous said...

Lewis is fantastic. Best Texas style cue in the south - only Prime BbQ in Kinghtdale NC and ZZQ in Richmond are even in the conversation.

Anonymous said...

Lewis’ might be the best BBQ restaurant I’ve ever been to it’s extremely good

Anonymous said...

I’m so excited to read this! We first tried the restaurant in Charleston years ago on a visit, and ended up going 3 times over a long weekend. Now we go to Greenville just to eat there once or twice over a weekend. They have amazing brisket! We can’t wait.

Anonymous said...

Barbecue is personal. The best is always where you grew up, or the one at your favorite beach or mountain town. I imagine Fresh Air Barbecue on Lake Jackson, Socks Love Barbecue in Cumming, and DBA Barbecue now at Chastain would have followers that say they are the “Best”.

Anonymous said...

As a Georgia native, I can't get excited for brisket.

Anonymous said...

Love the blame city permitting, I've built 5 commercial buildings and with proper plans and NOT trying to build outside of zoning it took 5 weeks start to finish for multistory

Anonymous said...

You'll be HIGHLY disappointed in Lewis if you like either of those, his stuff is much better but very different, especially Community

Anonymous said...

I thoroughly enjoyed the meat here when it was the Hideaway, and now I can enjoy it again! Great big juicy sausages.

Anonymous said...

I used to have good things to say about community Q however from their initial opening, which was great they never really kept up with cleanliness or quality - very overrated. People like the idea of it and that is where it ends. I am looking forward to Lewis. From responsible reviews I think it looks like they have a great quality product and they’re going to have a very “fun”tastic location.

Anonymous said...

I hope you fall off your barstool.

Anonymous said...

Will you be under me if I fall?

Anonymous said...

Break out that handkerchief, hun. You’ll need it again.

Anonymous said...

@12:57 and 6:20, get some help

Anonymous said...

That’s cool, I am going to call everyone, “Hun”. Thanks hun!

Anonymous said...

Sure thing, hun. Toots!

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