After the pandemic-related closure of his chefs counter hidden inside Poncey-Highland restaurant Southern Belle last March, Joey Ward reopens Georgia Boy, the intimate restaurant-within-a-restaurant, on December 2.
With no visible signage, Georgia Boy is only accessible via Southern Belle. People enter the tasting room from behind a bookcase beyond the bar. Arriving at the library-like waiting area to the chefs counter, diners are ushered into Georgia Boy for a 16-course tasting created by Ward with sake, cider, and wine pairings from sommelier Cate Hatch and beverage director Kevin Bragg. Four seatings are available nightly.
The intimacy and close quarters of the Plaza on Ponce tasting menu restaurant prompted Ward to immediately shut down operations at Georgia Boy in March 2020. He needed to focus on shifting restaurant and cocktail lounge Southern Belle to takeout and outdoor seating.
“The reason we kept Georgia Boy closed for so long is for safety and wanting to make sure the general public felt comfortable dining in intimate spaces again,” says Ward of the decision to finally reopen. People will be required to show proof of vaccination before dining at Georgia Boy. Those who choose not to comply won’t be permitted to dine.
Georgia Boy’s re-debut menu features playfully named courses like “A trip down Buford Highway” with a trio of chicken liver herb banh mi, chicken heart chorizo taco, and Chicken 65 poori, followed by uni cheese toast, and “Fall is in the air” with UGA sturgeon in pickle brine and mayo paired with fries and caviar and a duck breast coated in warm spices accompanied by chestnuts, apples, caramel, and sunchokes.
“One of the best parts of Georgia Boy is the element of surprise.” Ward says. “I don’t want the experience to be compromised by posting photos of current dishes.”
As for Southern Belle, Ward plans to keep the four-course tasting menu and add back the option to order a la carte nightly once Georgia Boy reopens in December. The restaurant currently carries on the spirit of Georgia Boy by offering both a four-course and seven-course tasting menu in the dining room and on its back patio. Launched earlier in October, an a la carte menu now served on Thursdays includes a selection of dishes from the tastings with other dishes teasing future menus for Southern Belle.
Having opened Georgia Boy and Southern Belle in November 2019, Ward and his team were just hitting their stride when the pandemic shut down dining rooms across the globe last March. Like many in the restaurant industry, it’s been a rollercoaster 18 months for Ward, who closed one restaurant at the start of the worldwide health crisis and struggled to keep the lights on and staff employed at the other through takeout and outdoor dining.
In January, Ward temporary halted operations at Southern Belle, citing cold weather making outdoor seating “unbearable”. Takeout wasn’t sustainable either. He and his staff just needed a break. To help offset the costs of rent and utilities while Southern Belle was on winter hiatus, Ward offered the space to Perc Coffee for a month. The coffee shop has since opened a permanent location nearby in Virginia-Highland.
Ward finally reopened Southern Belle again in March, first for outdoor seating, then for indoor dining this summer. Now, Georgia Boy returns for service on December 2.
Georgia Boy, Thursday - Saturday, seatings at 5:30 p.m., 6:30 p.m., 8 p.m., and 9 p.m. Reservations required. Proof of vaccination required.
Southern Belle, Thursday - Saturday, 5 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Reservations highly encouraged. Outdoor seating available.
- Poncey-Highland Restaurant and Cocktail Bar Southern Belle Includes a Secret Chefs Counter [EATL]
- Check Out the Menu for Southern Belle, Now Open at Plaza on Ponce [EATL]
- Perc Coffee Temporarily Takes Over Poncey-Highland Restaurant Southern Belle During Its Closure [EATL]
- Two Atlanta-Area Restaurants Close While Another Temporarily Closes for the Winter [EATL]