Anne Quatrano, the local James Beard Award-winning chef/restaurateur behind Star Provisions, Bacchanalia, and Floataway Cafe, announced Tuesday that she and husband/business partner Clifford Harrison are closing Abattoir, their Southern chophouse in Westside Provisions District. As it turns out, local empire builder Ford Fry is moving in to take over the space. In a phone conversation with Eater Atlanta Wednesday afternoon, Quatrano shared details on reason for Abattoir's shutter and what to expect at Dub's Fish Camp, her forthcoming Ponce City Market venture, and a new restaurant downstairs at Bacchanalia.
Why did you decide to close Abattoir, and when did you come to that decision?
I think it was a combination of things coming together at one time. There was a lot of interest from other restaurateurs for this space. This side of town is hot. I think that we had realized we probably couldn't — I think the kind of restaurant that was needed there wasn't what we were offering, and I'm not sure that it was our expertise. We're ingredient-driven restaurants, and we we don't really — high volume, seven days a week is not really what we're good at. And I think that's what's needed there for other tenants and for the success of [Westside Provisions District]. Although I think restaurants are really important to complexes, they're even more important than we even give them credence for. A lot of retail businesses, a hundred people walking in in a day is a gold mine, right? For us, it's what we do. But I think for all involved over there, they wanted to see more traffic, and that probably would mean being open more.
I think we've had a great run there, and we love Abattoir. It's certainly my favorite space that we have, and I've loved the transitions with the chefs that we've had there. It's been a fantastic run, but a few things came together and we were about to open our new restaurant, and it just seemed like maybe this was a good time to step aside. It wasn't easy; it's never easy. We've never closed a restaurant before, so it isn't an easy decision, but I don't think it's a bad decision. We have places for all of our people, so we feel pretty good about that. And with the opening of Dub's [Fish Camp], I think we'll have more opportunities for people as well. So, all of it's good.
Will [Abattoir executive chef] Joe Schafer stay on board at one of your new places?
Joe's certainly staying with us, as far as I know. I mean, I hate to speak for him. Although he knew [Abattoir closing] was a real possibility, we all didn't know how real until yesterday. So I don't think I can speak for his future, but he's invited to stay with us for sure. He's a talent and we really like him.
How long have you been talking to Ford Fry about taking over the space?
I think maybe a couple of months, we've been talking. But it wasn't just Ford Fry and I; it had a lot to do with [Westside Provisions District developer] Jamestown Properties, the building, too. There's been a lot of negotiation in the periphery and around and outside of my realm too. I'm not privy to everything that went on. I know that my lease was non-transferable, so I know there was certainly discussion with them and the building as well.
Can you share details on your forthcoming restaurant downstairs at Bacchanalia?
We closed down Quinones at the end of last year — we were only open on Saturdays at that point. We feel like maybe that multi-course dining — I don't think it's as currently popular with the public, so we made a decision to stop serving down there. We have plans on renovating the space slightly and opening a cafe — I hate to say "cafe," because that implies things — a small restaurant, a bit of a throwback. We're thinking continental cuisine, so a very limited menu; classic, high-end ingredients; but a la carte. We're looking forward to getting that on the way. We're not exactly sure what comes first, Dub's or our little restaurant, or maybe concurrent, but they're both in the works.
We're going to put in a small bar there too, so we'll have a full beverage service. We're going to concentrate on classic cocktails and classic cuisine. Really, every time we start taking the pen to the paper, it's always continental. I know it sounds crazy, but we want it to be that kind of old world, comfortable cuisine.
Do you have a name for the new restaurant?
Yeah, The Little Restaurant at Bacchanalia [laughs]. No, we don't really, but it will have something to do with Bacchanalia because it is such a tiny space. We just want it to be an offspring, an a la carte version of maybe a little more basic cuisine, but like Bacchanalia. [UPDATE: The restaurant will be called Little Bacch, and Joe Schafer is in as executive chef.]
What's the timeline on your new restaurants opening?
We're thinking May, and a lot of it has to do with powers outside of ourselves. Certainly there's a lot of things coming together at Ponce City Market that have to be in place for us to get open. But, they're really pushing. They think it'll be early May, so we're going with that. It that's true, it'll be a little later to get downstairs [at Bacchanalia] open.
Do you have any new details on what we can expect at Dub's Fish Camp?
That's strictly casual, so it's sandwiches and salads and bowls of seafood. The prices, I don't think there's anything over $20. We will be offering some raw seafood, raw oysters, and it's basically counter-service only. We have some counter seating, but most of it will be, order at the counter and we bring you your food. To me, it's an incredibly liberating endeavor. We're in a food court, which I think sounds so unappealing, but it's pretty appealing in that you can really concentrate on what you want to serve. So we're doing just seafood; we're not throwing in a chicken [dish], throwing in a vegetable plate or something for the people who don't want to eat seafood. We're just seafood, so we're really embracing that. Of course, we'll get the best seafood we can, and hopefully make it delicious — even more delicious.
What about beverages at Dub's ?
We're going to have beer and wine and we're going to make our own soda, and that's kind of it for beverages. All of it will be on tap, so it'll be pretty casual. The space is pretty lovely. The finishes are great, and I think it's very exciting.
This interview has been edited for brevity.