After agreeing to buy the building for $1.385 million in a sales agreement with Decatur’s Downtown Development Authority (DDA) earlier this fall, the 136-year-old former train depot is now officially owned by the restaurateurs behind Kimball House. In purchasing the historic building, Bryan Rackley, Miles Macquarrie, Matt Christison, Jesse Smith, and Kizzy Patel have also secured the long-term future of Kimball House.
“There are so many things in this business that are out of our control, but we’ll never have to worry about a staggering rent increase. There will always be plenty of concerns, but prohibitive occupancy costs will not be one of them,” Rackley tells Eater. “We have taken some pretty lengthy strides over the last couple of years to make sure the people that want to be here with us are taken care of. Having control over this piece of the puzzle really strengthens that ability,” he adds.
Funds from the sale are slated for reinvestment by the city of Decatur to make improvements to its downtown district. Rackley says he’s unsure what projects the city is specifically targeting with the funds from the sale, but Decatur is currently working on a master plan in relation to its parks and recreational areas.
Since opening Kimball House in 2013, Rackley says he and his partners have invested more than $750,000 to maintain the building and preserve some of its most integral design details. The building continues to be protected under an ordinance by the local Historic Preservation Commission in Decatur, and any changes to the exterior of the restaurant will still need approval by the commission.
But Rackley says they are now “even more committed to the preservation” of the Decatur landmark as its new owners, who have just received building permits to cover a portion of the patio in front of the restaurant. Barring any delays, construction should finish just in time for the summer patio season.
The area around Kimball House has experienced exponential growth over the last decade. DDA chair Conor McNally says much of that growth is due to the success of Kimball House. East Howard now includes a number of new residences, retail shops, and restaurants like BBQ Cafe, Kelly’s Market and Deli, and the future home of Opo Coffee, from the owner of Taproom Coffee in Kirkwood.
Kimball House has been both locally and nationally recognized numerous times for its cocktails, bar program, and oyster service. Rackley is the co-founder of Oyster South, a non-profit focused on teaching and maintaining sustainable oyster farming practices in the Southeastern and Gulf Coast regions. He, along with his Kimball House partners, also operate a small oyster farm called Shiny Dimes, which they created out of rustic marina in Spring Creek, Florida. The small 1.5 acre parcel is part of Cypress Point Farms with beds containing close to 55,000 oysters.