Chef Guy Wong is closing Miso Izakaya after nearly ten years on Edgewood Avenue. The restaurant’s last service is Saturday, July 28. Miso Izakaya, known for Japanese small plates and late night ramen, opened in the Old Fourth Ward at the tail end of the recession—when the future of the neighborhood and BeltLine were both uncertain.
Wong announced the closure Tuesday evening, first on his personal social media accounts and later on Miso Izakaya’s public Facebook page. Friends, diners, and other Old Fourth Ward restaurants immediately began expressing their sorrow as well as their gratitude for Wong and his pioneering izakaya.
“I want to thank everyone over the years for all the support. I never thought we would have made it past the first year, let alone 10 years,” he says in the statement. “I believe this is the right time to move into a new direction.”
The decision to close his flagship restaurant was difficult, but the lease is ending on the property and Wong was unable to negotiate new terms with the current landlord.
This is a story many of the city’s small, independent restaurants are all too familiar with in recent years. Particularly in the case of chef Jay Swift and the closure of his seminal restaurant in 2016, 4th & Swift. Swift felt the opening of Ponce City Market across from his restaurant on North Avenue and neighboring mixed-use development Inman Quarter impacted 4th & Swift’s bottom line. “You can look at the calendar, and when Ponce City Market and Inman Quarter opened, our sales dived,” Swift told Eater Atlanta at the time.
Property values in the Old Fourth Ward and along the Eastside BeltLine corridor have skyrocketed over the last five years as more portions of the trail are completed and developers continue buying up land in the area. A new extension from Irwin Street to the Edgewood Avenue bridge (where Miso Izakaya is located) opened last year.
Small businesses, like independently-owned restaurants which carry high overhead, are getting squeezed as the cost of doing business in Atlanta continues to rise.
Miso Izakaya debuted during a time when the Atlanta dining scene was focused on transforming the reputation of Southern food through its new restaurants. In a 2013 interview with Creative Loafing, Wong told Atlanta food writer Brad Kaplan, “It’s [Miso Izakaya] been a bit like an R&D lab. For example, I just loved ramen, and noticed that Atlanta had so little of it compared to places like New York. So that’s how the ramen lunches started out. ...it was clear that we were onto something. And we continued to try new things.”
Empire State South owner chef Hugh Acheson named Miso Izakaya one of his top five restaurants in 2013. And, in 2016, Jonathan Fox of Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q called the izakaya one of his go-to restaurants for dan dan ramen.
Eater Atlanta has reached out to Wong for further comment.