Former One Flew South chef Duane Nutter and restaurateur Reginald “Reggie” Washington are bringing a second location of their Mobile, Alabama, restaurant Southern National to Atlanta’s Summerhill neighborhood.
Last November, the pair announced plans to open a restaurant in the neighborhood’s burgeoning dining district along Georgia Avenue, but had yet to disclose its name.
Nutter departed One Flew South in 2016, the critically acclaimed restaurant he and Washington helped run together for nearly a decade at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. They would go on to open Southern National in Mobile (Washington’s hometown) a year later, but have always hinted at a return to Atlanta.
“We both love Atlanta. The decision to open Southern National in Atlanta was made because it seemed like a natural progression for us and came about organically,” Washington says. He points to the history of Summerhill as a “significant factor in the decision” to open the restaurant in the community.
For Nutter and Washington, they see Southern National as part of the “next chapter” in the history of Summerhill, a neighborhood founded by former enslaved people in 1865, many of whom went on to open successful businesses here. It would later become home to the majority of the city’s Jewish population in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Beyond opening Southern National, the partners say they are committed to giving back to the neighborhood, including hiring Summerhill residents to work at the restaurant and creating a community garden to help provide fresh produce for area residents experiencing food insecurity.
“My family has been in the horticulture business for four generations, so we are planning a community garden that local Summerhill residents can use,” says Washington, who also plans to live in the neighborhood. “We are really excited about that because communities are still challenged by food insecurity, and community gardens can provide access to healthy vegetables for families who need them the most.”
As for the menu, Nutter says while it will likely include a couple of dishes from the current menu in Mobile, the 80-seat Summerhilll restaurant will lean into dishes inspired by the chef’s travels in the Northwest and Louisiana, where he was born, as well as from the South and Atlanta.
“Most important to me is using the regionally and locally sourced ingredients here in Atlanta,” Nutter says. “We are excited to work with local farms and producers dedicated to humanely raised and ethically grown and sourced ingredients.”
Southern National joins a handful of other new restaurants and businesses along Georgia Avenue this year.
How Crispy Express, the fried chicken sandwich restaurant owned by Ticonderoga Club partners Greg Best and Bart Sasso, chef William Silbernagel (The Bookhouse Pub, Argosy) and Atlanta architect Luke Wilkinson, opened earlier this year across the street from the future home of Southern National. Mexican restaurant D Boca N Boca from Helio Bernal should open in the next month just up the road in Summerhill, followed by game bar Press Start, owned by chef Richard Tang, later this year.
72 Georgia Avenue, Atlanta. southernational.com.