clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Eternally Innovative Ponce Restaurant 8ARM Closes for Good — and Earlier Than Expected

The critically acclaimed restaurant permanently closed this past weekend with former 8ARM chef Maricela Vega back in the kitchen to create one last memorable menu

A nighttime shot of restaurant and bar 8ARM located on Ponce de Leon Avenue in Atlanta with cars rushing by Ryan Fleisher

After previously announcing their intention to close 8ARM in October due to the sale of the property to a developer, Skip Englebrecht and Nhan Le (Fishmonger, Octopus Bar) instead permanently shuttered the restaurant this past weekend.

An announcement was posted to Instagram on Sunday following what Englebrecht describes as a “quiet, memorable, and sweet end” to the restaurant, which Le first opened in 2016 with the late chef Angus Brown. Brown died suddenly five months after 8ARM opened, leaving the restaurant without a chef or a leader alongside Le.

chef Maricela Vega
Chef Maricela Vega.
Ryan Fleisher

Partnering with Englebrecht, 8ARM became best known for its regular reinvention that featured a rotating lineup of chefs offering ever-evolving menus. This included chef Maricela Vega, who transformed the menu into an homage to Meso-American cuisine, before her departure in 2021. The menu and dedication to using locally grown food and heirloom corn from Mexico in her dishes garnered Vega a semifinalist nod from the James Beard Foundation in 2020. She’s since gone on to open tortilleria and masa business Chico.

Like the food, the bar at 8ARM, led by beverage director and general manager Joshua Fryer, was equally well-known for regular reinvention and its innovative cocktails and deep natural wine list.

8ARM itself underwent multiple physical transformations over the last six years. The space adjacent to the dining room beyond the kitchen first served as a coffee shop, followed by the opening of wine bar Ink, and then finally a sushi bar led by chef Allen Suh. Even the parking lot received a makeover during the pandemic, becoming an open-air kitchen with outdoor seating and a space to host regular events like summer cocktail and dance party Chaka Khan Hacienda.

“We always knew we wanted to do our last run with Maricela, and the rest of our 8ARM family. She has some obligations in October, as do some others,” Englebrecht tells Eater of the decision to close earlier than expected. “It was starting to get confusing because we would be open one week and not another. When does it really end?”

Sidepiece at 8ARM
The 8ARM parking lot became a patio for outdoor dining and events during the height of the pandemic.
Ryan Fleisher

Englebrecht says the more subdued goodbye last Saturday evening allowed 8ARM staff, their families, and good friends to close the restaurant on their own terms and not with a “rager”.

“I think throwing the nuclear bomb party switch on this like we’ve done in the past would have taken some of the sweetness out of it. This was much more appropriate for the moment.”

With 8ARM now officially closed, Englebrecht and Le are free to focus on expanding their seafood restaurant and market Fishmonger. The partners recently announced plans to open a second Fishmonger at the Pratt Pullman District in Kirkwood, four months after opening the original location in Poncey-Highland just up the road from 8ARM on North Highland. He and Le are also looking into the possibly of opening Fishmonger locations in Buckhead, on Atlanta’s west side, and eventually in Sandy Springs.

“We’re placing some of our 8ARM staff over there at Fishmonger, and as many as possible at the new location, which should open in October,” says Englebrecht. “We can house a lot of those people over at the new location, and we’ll just bring the vibe we created at 8ARM over there.”

Engelbrecht and Le, along with their Fishmonger partner chef Bradford Forsblom, are also opening Small Fry at Atlanta Dairies on Memorial Drive later this year. The counter-service restaurant with a walk-up window will serve fried chicken and fried fish sandwiches, falafel burgers, fish nuggets, and shrimp baskets.

8ARM

710 Ponce De Leon Avenue Northeast, , GA 30306 Visit Website

Octopus Bar

560 Gresham Avenue Southeast, , GA 30316 (404) 627-9911 Visit Website

Atlanta Dairies

777 Memorial Drive Southeast, , GA 30316 (770) 434-2400 Visit Website

Fishmonger

225 Rogers Street Northeast, , GA 30317

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Eater Atlanta newsletter

The freshest news from the local food world