Banshee, the restaurant from longtime friends Peter Chvala, chef Nolan Wynn, Faielle Stocco, and Katie McDonald, opens tonight in East Atlanta Village (EAV). It’s located a block from Mary’s and 529 Bar on Glenwood Avenue.
The restaurant comes to fruition in a community all four partners live within and have been talking about opening for years. No doubt tonight’s debut on the EAV scene will feel slightly unreal — much like the wailing specter for which Banshee is named.
Elizabeth Ingram handled the design for Banshee. Ingram’s work at Golden Eagle in Reynoldstown garnered her an Eater Award last year. Ingram’s previous work with chef Ford Fry includes Marcel in Westside Provisions District and Inman Quarter’s Beetlecat.
Banshee’s compact dining room and L-shaped bar offer seating for up to 64 people. The partners plan to open the back patio next spring but say they’re focusing their energy on getting the flow right in the dining room first.
Ingram’s design incorporates rich royal blue and jewel-toned turquoise. She leaves the space open to capture the natural light flowing through the large windows in front. Rather than covering the exposed brick and cement walls, wood plank ceiling, and hardwood floors original to the 1940s building, Ingram highlights these elements in her design. The walls are painted to display the textures. The floors are left mostly untouched. And, the wood ceiling is simply resealed.
Two large velvet curtains separate the dining room from the bar.
“The idea was to make the space feel like not much has changed in it in the last hundred years or so — keep it in the spirit of the rest of the neighborhood, which is Scott bungalows and older homes,” Ingram says.
While digging into the history of the building, Chvala and Wynn discovered it had once been an old Army surplus store. Wynn spoke with an older gentleman who came by the restaurant one day during renovations. He brought along a bunch of old photos of Archie’s Army Store where he used to buy fireworks as a kid.
“This building was a little boy’s paradise back in the day. It made us love it even more. It’s part of this neighborhood,” explains Chvala. “The neighborhood was our biggest concern and it was important to us that Banshee was inviting to the community, and not an outlier that randomly moved here.”
Decorative elements are kept as period as possible. The hand-stenciled owls behind the bar were fashioned after old wallpaper found in the building from the arts and crafts era. The chandeliers throughout the restaurant are also of the period.
Old brick heating ducts above the bar and in the dining room are left intact alongside deep, arched windows and an old wooden side door.
“We want Banshee to be as comfortable as possible but still have a reserved elegance about it,” says Chvala. “In the end, this design, Banshee’s food, its drinks...we’re just keeping things very, very casual here and hope to be part of East Atlanta for a long time.”
Open Tuesday-Thursday, 5 p.m. to 12 a.m.; Friday and Saturday, 5 p.m. to 2 a.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Brunch begins Sunday, September 30.
Banshee, 1271 Glenwood Avenue SE, Atlanta. banshee-atl.com.