Gunshow executive chef Joey Ward is opening two dining experiences under one roof — restaurant and cocktail bar Southern Belle and the speakeasy-like, chefs counter, Georgia Boy. Both will open next spring at the Island Flowers space in Poncey-Highland. Spencer Gomez (Holeman & Finch) joins Ward as chef de cuisine.
Ward announced in August he was leaving Gunshow in early 2019 to open his own, yet-named restaurant at the Plaza Theatre complex on Ponce de Leon Avenue.
Southern Belle, named for Ward’s wife Emily (an Atlanta attorney and former Miss Georgia,) will offer an abbreviated menu of small plates, along with cocktails, beer, and wine.
While the design is still in the works, Ward says he envisions the interior and the alleyway patio being similar to the intimate, neighborhood bars and restaurants found in the enclaves of Brooklyn and New Orleans. Seating inside Southern Belle should feel more like a living room rather than a restaurant — comfortable chairs and sofas in the foyer for lounging, leading to a long, cocktail bar toward the back. Ward hopes to retain as much of the historic character and charm of the building as possible, like keeping the brick walls and tin roof intact.
“Southern Belle is going to be hyper-focused on local farms and producers and its cocktail menu,” Ward tells Eater Atlanta. “It’s a less-is-more approach. We just want to do a few things very well there in a comfortable space for people to relax and enjoy themselves.”
It’s at Georgia Boy, however, where Ward’s culinary skills will be on full display. The 16-seat chefs counter, accessed via a secret entrance inside Southern Belle, will see diners indulging in a tasting menu of around ten courses, including a vegan menu option. Everything is prepared in front of and served directly to those seated at the high-top counter by Ward and his chefs. Diners can choose beverage pairings to accompany the evening’s tasting menu or order beer, wine, or cocktails from Southern Belle.
Ward wants to keep the mood at the reservation-only Georgia Boy casual and loose — four seatings of eight people, beginning with a welcome toast. Each service is limited to two hours.
“This is where I’ll be cooking Southern cuisine representing Atlanta through my eyes. Food that doesn’t take itself too seriously,” the Cobb County native says. “The whole concept behind Georgia Boy is inspired by friends gathering for a dinner party.”
Ward was recently featured on (and beat) chef Bobby Flay’s Food Network show Beat Bobby Flay and the second season of “Where Hollywood Eats” produced by The Hollywood Reporter where he took viewers on a tour of Gunshow’s unique dining experience and dishes. He was an Eater Young Gun semifinalist in 2015 for his work at Gunshow. Ward worked with Gunshow’s chef Kevin Gillespie at the now shuttered Woodfire Grill and as the executive chef of H. Harper Station, now home to Golden Eagle and Muchacho.
1047 Ponce De Leon Avenue NE, Atlanta.