The Lawrence closes Monday, January 30, after nearly 11 years on Juniper Street in Midtown, co-owner Darren Carr tells Eater. But Carr and partner Eric Simpkins plan to replace it with a new restaurant later this year and are opening cocktail bar the Waiting Room above their other Midtown restaurant Bon Ton soon.
“Neighborhoods change. The restaurant just needs a new breath of life. Do we keep sinking money into fixing the bathroom one at a time, fixing this, fixing that? Or do we try again with something fresh,” Carr says. “Midtown is such a different neighborhood now from what it was when the Lawrence opened over a decade ago. It’s much more walkable and neighborhood driven, especially this side of Peachtree. I live in Midtown and there are so many more people living here in these new high rises.”
While he and Simpkins haven’t nailed down a specific concept for their new Juniper Street restaurant, Carr says it will center on the neighborhood and local residents with creative food and cocktails.
The Lawrence became a cocktail destination in Midtown, known for serving a mix of classics and innovative originals, led by a team trained under Simpkins, who got his start under pioneering bartender Audrey Saunders at Pegu Club in New York City.
During the final two weeks of service, the cocktail menu will reflect drinks most enjoyed by the current staff of the Lawrence, including a bartender’s choice non-alcoholic cocktail, the house Vesper and Manhattan, and a hat tip to executive chef Maximilian Hines and sous chef Melanie Dionne in a duo of Old Fashioneds. Hines and Dionne leaned into experimenting with flavors and ingredients in dishes for the Lawrence, like crispy duck confit served over spaetzle in tomato broth, fried pig’s ears spiced with Thai chilies and Chinese mustard sauce, and grilled snapper collar with nuoc cham sauce atop sushi rice.
Hines is set to become the executive chef of forthcoming bar and restaurant Breaker Breaker in Reynoldstown and will also continue operating his chefs collaborative supper club Stolen Goods. Breaker Breaker opens at the redeveloped Stein Steel and Supply Co. plant along the Eastside Beltline trail later this spring.
This is the second restaurant closure for Carr and Simpkins in the past two months. The pair closed their Memorial Drive restaurant Wonderkid in late November at Atlanta Dairies. Wonderkid opened in December 2019, just three months prior to the start of the pandemic.
Following the closure of the Lawrence at the end of the month, Carr and Simpkins will turn their attention to opening cocktail bar the Waiting Room above Viet-Cajun restaurant Bon Ton on Myrtle Street. Described by Carr as a “sexy, cozy” somewhat “mysterious” bar oozing 1970s throwback vibes, the Waiting Room takes over the former Top Flr space offering classic cocktails and shareable decanter drinks, bar snacks, and live music. The Waiting Room should open by early February.