Chef Kevin Gillespie expects to open Slabtown Public House on April 22, replacing Cold Beer on the Eastside Beltline, a more casual restaurant serving as an everyday hangout for neighborhood residents and home base for the chef’s charitable food foundation.
Gillespie and Red Beard Restaurants partner Marco Shaw closed Cold Beer in January, telling Eater at the time that the restaurant no longer fit the demographic of the surrounding neighborhoods, which includes a younger population of people looking to regularly dine out at restaurants in Inman Park, Cabbagetown, and Old Fourth Ward.
Unlike the menu at Cold Beer, the menu for Slabtown leans into everyday dining and pub favorites. In addition to nachos and a burger, look for weekly specials and a “greatest hits” section on the menu offering dishes from Gillespie’s other restaurants, including his take on the Chick-fil-A biscuit the C.O.S. (closed on Sunday) chicken sandwich. Expect cocktails and beer from the bar, some on draft.
“With Slabtown, we’re bringing an even more fun and welcoming concept to the ever-diversifying audience along the BeltLine,” Gillespie says, who is a 2022 James Beard finalist for outstanding restaurateur. “We want this to be a place where you go and hang with your friends multiple times a week.”
The restaurant is named for the former red-light district along what is now present-day Decatur Street in downtown Atlanta. The area was initially created by Atlanta mill owner Jonathan Norcross in the late 19th century who provided slabs of wood to poor mill workers so they could build homes for their families.
Slabtown Public House doubles as both a restaurant and permanent home for the group’s charitable meal program, Defend Southern Food Foundation. Gillespie and Shaw founded Defend Southern Food Foundation (DSFF) in 2020 to provide meals to children and families who rely on free lunches served at schools in the Maynard Jackson High School cluster, a district within Atlanta Public Schools (APS) that includes six elementary schools and one middle school. The work done by DSFF supports local farmers and food purveyors and seeks to decrease food waste through composting and rescued food.
A portion of daily food and drink sales at Slabtown benefits the foundation.
With two patios, one on the rooftop, and an expansive dining room, Cold Beer was Gillespie’s most stylish restaurant, one he says tapped into his love of art and architecture. While the overall layout of Slabtown remains the same, a representative speaking on behalf of Red Beard Restaurants says the paint and artwork “have changed to match the casual atmosphere” of the new restaurant.
Slabtown Public House will only open four days week, part of a structural shift in ethos by Red Beard Restaurants to offer livable wages and a better work-life balance for its employees.
“The pandemic forced us to stop and take a look at what we were doing, what was working, what wasn’t, who we were serving and who we weren’t,” Shaw says. “It forced us to take notice and to listen to the people in need around us. Slabtown and Defend Southern Food emerged as a result.”
Open at 5 p.m. on Thursday and Friday and at 11 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday.