Chef Kevin Gillespie and his Red Beard Restaurants partner Marco Shaw are closing Eastside Beltline restaurant Cold Beer on Sunday, January 29. But it appears another Gillespie-backed restaurant will replace it later this year.
“It’s been nearly 3 years since we opened Cold Beer and, in that time, we have seen the world evolve around us in ways we never could have imagined,” a joint statement reads, in part. “We have had to come to terms with the fact that the Cold Beer concept we began dreaming up in 2017 no longer makes sense, and moreover is not what the community as a whole needed it to be.”
Gillespie tells Eater that while he’s not yet ready to announce the restaurant replacing Cold Beer, he says the space will serve “a dual role as both a restaurant” and permanent home for the group’s charitable meal program, Defend Southern Food Foundation.
He and Shaw founded Defend Southern Food Foundation (DSFF) in 2020 in response to the pandemic and the need to provide meals to children and families who relied on free lunches served at schools in the Maynard Jackson cluster, a district within Atlanta Public Schools (APS). They plan to expand the program to other APS clusters and to schools around metro Atlanta. The work done by DSFF supports local farmers and food purveyors and seeks to decrease food waste through composting and the use of rescued food.
“We need a concept that takes into account that the majority of our guests are now Beltline residents, not destination diners. Which means all together younger, more price sensitive, and who eat from restaurants regularly, not just on special occasions,” Gillespie says. “Supporting the restaurant will now directly benefit the community by helping us feed more families.”
In October, Gillespie teamed up with Decatur-based roastery Docent to open walk-up window Docent x CB on the patio of Cold Beer. The window closed at the end of 2021, as the owners of Docent plan to focus on their roastery.
Cold Beer opened in July 2019 and has been described as the “sophisticated sister” of Gillespie’s Glenwood Park restaurant, Gunshow. With two patios, one on the rooftop of the restaurant, and an expansive dining room, Cold Beer is Gillespie’s most stylish and ambitious restaurant, one which taps into his love of art and architecture. One of the restaurant’s most striking design features is the large, custom painting of a polar bear (Gillespie’s spirit animal) hanging in the dining room.
Update, January 21, 10:50 a.m.: This story was updated with comments from Kevin Gillespie.