The decision to close a restaurant is never easy, especially if that restaurant is beloved or an institution in the city. Atlanta saw plenty of closures in 2019, some more shocking than others. However, the closure of these six restaurants simply stunned or saddened Eater Atlanta readers this year.
2019 kicked off with the news that brewpub 5 Seasons had closed its flagship location in Sandy Springs after 19 years at the Prado. The closure left readers and faithful regulars to the brewpub wondering about the fate of the remaining location on Marietta Street. Sadly, readers learned its fate one month later. In February, owners chef David Larkworthy and brewer Crawford Moran said they were “unable to renew” the lease and would close 5 Seasons-Westside after a decade at the Brickworks.
The space remains unoccupied. A second location of Malaysian restaurant Food Terminal has since opened next door. Neighboring beer shop Hop City plans to close at the Brickworks by the end of the year.
Five years after opening in downtown Decatur, owner Jenny Levison announced she would close the soup and sandwich shop by the end of February. Levison alluded to the restaurant’s eventual closure last June, while announcing the opening of a Souper Jenny in Roswell. She claimed high rents and parking problems to be big factors in her decision to shutter the shop.
Decatur breakfast staple Thumbs Up Diner closed after a decade in October 2018 and also blamed rising rents in the city east of Atlanta. The restaurant’s owners even urged residents to speak out against recent rent hikes in Decatur. DaVinci’s Pizza broke its lease earlier in 2018 due to the high rent at its Decatur location.
A month after the closure of party bar Deep End, the now defunct 10 Apart Hospitality Group announced the closure of their Ponce City Market cocktail lounge and restaurant, The Mercury. The group had been dealing with the fallout from filing Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2018. Shots were fired when co-owner Brooks Cloud described the “legal battle” with Ponce City Market property owners Jamestown over the lease. Cloud claimed the group had the rent money owed to Jamestown but that they “decided not to allow” the Mercury to continue operating at Ponce City Market. A spokesperson for Jamestown shot back with a bit of a dig at the group’s financial woes, “It’s unfortunate that over expansion and poor finances have forced a successful restaurant like The Mercury to close its doors.”
The Mercury closed in May, a little over two years after opening on the second floor of the market’s central food hall.
After sustaining serious damage caused by a fire apparently set by former employee Rickey Thomas, the owners of the longtime Decatur coffeehouse made the difficult decision to close for good. Java Monkey opened 25 years ago on Church Street and regularly hosted spoken word artists and poetry slams and readings.
However, the fire may not have been the lone factor in the decision to shutter the Decatur institution. It seems the new owners had recently made a few changes to the longstanding business, including not serving wine and beer in the evenings. That was due to issues with the liquor license, which were eventually resolved. But other changes hadn’t gone over well with regulars, according to a report by Decaturish. Java Monkey closed in July.
Perhaps one of the biggest and most stunning closures of 2019 was that of fine dining pioneer Restaurant Eugene. The Buckhead institution, owned by James Beard award-winning chef Linton Hopkins and Gina Hopkins, closed in August after 15 years. Hopkins said at the time he was shifting focus “away from special-occasion dining to neighborhood restaurants.” Restaurant Eugene opened on Peachtree Road in 2004 offering a set menu of pristinely plated dishes that changed daily. The restaurant helped usher in a new dining era in Atlanta.
A la carte restaurant Eugene and Elizabeth’s (named for his grandparents) is poised to replace Restaurant Eugene next year. Neighboring Holeman and Finch relocates to a larger space at Colony Square in Midtown next spring.
The sale of beloved Cheshire Bridge institution Hong Kong Harbour is likely one of the saddest Atlanta closures of 2019. The news the 40-year-old Chinese restaurant had been sold to new owners and would be replaced by an “Asian-American street food” restaurant called Street Bistro rocked readers, many of whom had been faithful Hong Kong Harbour regulars for years.
In June, longtime Creole-style seafood restaurant Red Snapper (another Cheshire Bridge institution) was sold to a new owner. However, it seems the new owner, Randy Mercer, chose to keep the menu relatively intact. Cheshire Bridge is also home to the 92-year-old Southern restaurant The Colonnade and popular Thai restaurant Little Bangkok.