With all the recent redevelopment along the Dekalb Avenue and Memorial Drive corridors on Atlanta’s east side, Little’s Food Store is changing things up in order to remain a Cabbagetown staple. The neighborhood bodega and counter-serve biscuit and burger joint is now available for delivery via Uber Eats and announced on Facebook it’s cutting back on dry goods to focus more on its from-scratch food.
Little’s, owned by Brad and Nina Cunard, opened in 2010 on Carroll Street near Oakland Cemetery. They’ve been serving biscuit sandwiches and one of Atlanta’s best lunch counter burgers ever since, while also providing a walkable option for grocery essentials to neighborhood residents. However, with the Glenwood Kroger now open nearby and a forthcoming Publix opening at Madison Yards in neighboring Reynoldstown, the Cunards are seeing less sales for items such as canned broths, pasta sauce, and peanut butter, but increased demand for their burgers and biscuits, which includes the vegan Impossible burger.
“More people outside of Cabbagetown are discovering our little slice of heaven and come down here while visiting the area,” Brad Cunard tells Eater Atlanta. “We are getting more Google reviews than ever, and new faces on the weekend are becoming the norm.”
As to whether these changes to Little’s DNA are proactive or reactive, Cunard says it’s a little of both. Development projects like Madison Yards, Larkin on Memorial, Krog Street Market, and the Beltline (soon to skirt the edge of Cabbagetown) have brought new shopping and restaurant competition as well as residents to the area. Even beer and wine sales at Little’s is transforming.
“Gentrification has brought a different type of neighbor, who is more accustomed to supermarket shopping than daily market shopping. Even beer and wine sales are different,” explains Cunard. “We sell more higher end wine now, and focus on locally crafted beers, as opposed to mass sales of 12 packs of big name brands.”
The Cunards still plan to stock bread, milk, eggs, and orange juice and will begin phasing out the fresh vegetables and canned goods in favor of more Boar’s Head deli products, chips, and cookies.
Over the last two years, the community-minded Little’s has hosted several chefs in its tiny kitchen, including sold out late night ramen pop-ups with the crew from Illegal Food and Bread is Good baker, Sarah Dodge. These pop-ups, along with spots on several of the city’s “best of” lists —including those by Eater Atlanta — have undoubtedly introduced fresh converts to the magical Little’s Food Store.
“We are definitely changing our hours because of gentrification; the service industry people that used to stop in before work no longer live here,” Cunard says. “We feel that later hours will allow those who get home or eat later to have access to our food, either through delivery or in store options. Our early morning customers are simply not here anymore, so continuing to be open those hours is just not feasible.”
Expect hours to change soon. The store plans to open at 10 a.m. rather than 8 a.m., but will extend hours until 11 p.m., with the kitchen shutting down for the night at 10:30 p.m. Cunard is also considering staying open later on weekends and will test the waters, Saturday, January 12, when Little’s stays open until 2 a.m. for burgers.
This isn’t the first time Little’s has faced big changes. In 2016, the Cunards purchased the building from the Little family in order to ensure the bodega and its burgers remained in the neighborhood. This, after facing closure just three years earlier when it was discovered the building needed extensive and expensive renovations. Little’s was spared by the neighborhood residents it so loyally serves, who raised more than $22,000 to pay for the repairs.
Currently open 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.