Mary Mac’s Tea Room, the beloved Southern restaurant on Ponce known for its fried chicken, fried green tomatoes, and yeast rolls, reopens on November 2, and under new ownership.
After closing in March due to the pandemic, Mary Mac’s reopens for takeout and curbside pick-up on Monday, November 2, followed by limited capacity dine-in service on Monday, November 9. According to a press release, local Atlanta businessman and restaurateur Harold Martin, Jr., Michael and John Michael Bodnar, and Bryan Rand purchased the restaurant from John Ferrell, who owned Mary Mac’s for over 25 years. Martin and the Bodnars also co-own Taco Mac. Martin serves as Taco Mac’s CEO.
Martin, Rand, and the Bodnars plan to retain Mary Mac’s 100-plus employees. One of the restaurant’s six dining rooms will be renamed “Ms. Ellen’s Room,” in tribute to longtime Mary Mac’s employee and Martin’s favorite server, Ellen Fraley, who died over the summer.
“I’ve been eating at Mary Mac’s for over 20 years, ever since I moved to Atlanta. As a longtime customer, I understand what makes Mary Mac’s special, and I look forward to working with our team members to maintain those traditions,” Martin says in a prepared statement. “Southern food represents family, and Mary Mac’s always makes you feel like family.”
If the topic is Atlanta’s best fried chicken, Mary Mac’s is one of the city’s top contenders. The new owners say they aren’t making any big changes to the menu and will continue the tradition of offering first-time diners to Mary Mac’s a complimentary cup of potlikker and a cornbread muffin.
“We’ll be using the same recipes that Mary Mac’s has been using for decades and offering the same made-from-scratch dishes guests know and love, served up by the same staff who have become a part of our families over the years,” Martin states in the press release.
The restaurant celebrates its 75th anniversary this year. Mary MacKenzie opened Mary Mac’s Tea Room in 1945 on Ponce de Leon Avenue, just east of the historic Fox Theatre on Peachtree Street. It was one of 16 tearooms in Atlanta at the time and seated just 75 people. Since its opening, the restaurant has expanded several times to accommodate hundreds of people in its six dining rooms. Over the years, Mary Mac’s has played host to a number of local, national, and global dignitaries, like the late congressman John Lewis, the Dalai Lama, Hillary Clinton, and former president Jimmy Carter, as well as legendary musicians James Brown and Beyonce.