Buckhead Life, the restaurant group behind Atlanta Fish Market, Chops Lobster Bar, and Kyma, announced the closure of its longtime restaurant Buckhead Diner this week after 34 years on Piedmont Road. The closure of the iconic diner, first reported by Atlanta Business Chronicle, follows the $6 million purchase of the property on which the restaurant resides by Trillium Management Inc.
With the lease up in July and the restaurant closed since the start of the pandemic in 2020, Buckhead Life decided it was finally time to pull up stakes. Much of the diner’s business came from customers during lunch, many of whom worked at nearby offices and businesses. While no plans are currently in place to relocate Buckhead Diner, its relocation isn’t entirely out of the question.
For now, Buckhead Life will focus on the revamp of upscale steakhouse Chops Lobster Bar on West Paces Ferry Road, expanding a la carte dining and its bar and seating areas and adding a 50-seat private dining space. The group also plans to continue to grow new offshoots of the business, including recently launched delivery-only restaurant Lamb Shack, run out of its Greek restaurant Kyma.
As Buckhead Diner departs after three decades on the Atlanta dining scene, here are a few fun facts to know about the restaurant, the fate of its most popular dishes, and a few famous folks who have dined there over the years.
That distinctive exterior
For as much as the restaurant was known for its food and celebrity clientele, it was also known for its distinctive design take on the American diner that included valet parking. With its chrome-like facade wrapped in the glow of green, blue, and red neon lights, Buckhead Diner was hard to miss, even on busy Piedmont Road.
Chef Pano Karatassos, Sr. worked with restaurant designer Pat Kuleto to build out Buckhead Diner. Kuleto is known for his ambitious, singular designs and was considered the first commercial interior designer to incorporate the open kitchen as a design element at restaurants. He is responsible for the designs of Chops Lobster Bar and the group’s Italian restaurant, Pricci, too.
Buckhead Diner’s most popular dishes and returning to the menus at other Buckhead Life restaurants
Since announcing its closure, people have taken to social media to lament the loss of some of Buckhead Diner’s most popular dishes. This includes the warm blue cheese chips, on the menu since 1987, “sweet-heat” Thai chili calamari, the quarter-pound jumbo lump crab cake, and veal and wild mushroom meatloaf. Then there’s the diner’s award-winning white chocolate banana cream pie.
Longtime Buckhead Diner customers need not fret. The calamari is listed on the menu at Atlanta Fish Market and Chops Lobster Bar, as is the crab cake and the diner’s grilled Atlantic salmon BLT. Chops Lobster Bar serves the famed banana cream pie, and the meatloaf will soon be offered at Pano’s Retail Market. For folks seeking Buckhead Diner’s four cheese grilled cheese and roasted tomato soup, they can find a similar version at the group’s restaurant Corner Cafe.
Buckhead Diner was a frequent stop for celebrities and musicians in Atlanta filming for TV shows or movies or performing at concerts. Over the years, several famous faces have appeared in the dining room here, including Jimmy Buffet, Robert Downy Jr., Atlanta Hawks basketball legend Dominique Wilkins, Ben Stiller, and Mick Jagger.
One of the last celebrities to be photographed here before the pandemic and the restaurant’s closure last March was actor and director Sylvester Stallone.
Buckhead Diner was chosen by Euro Disney, now Disneyland Paris, as one of seven American restaurants to represent the design aspects and food often associated with U.S. restaurants.
The group also claims that Buckhead Diner was the first restaurant in Atlanta to feature an open kitchen, something attributed to aforementioned interior designer Pat Kuleto.