A little over a year after opening in the former Lawrence’s Cafe space on West College Avenue, regular dinner service will cease later this month at Decatur Mexican restaurant and mezcaleria Tortuga y Chango.
An announcement on social media states that starting November 27, Tortuga y Chango will shift service to hosting parties, agave tastings, and other events at the Decatur restaurant space. Tortuga y Chango is not open for lunch, but does serve dinner and Sunday brunch, which is also discontinuing at the end of November.
“The Tortuga concept is a passion project for Samantha and me. While we love the place, the mezcal, and the community that we have built, the day-to-day volume has not been enough to make it sustainable,” co-owner Alan Raines tells Eater. “Maybe the economy/climate/times, maybe our concept/location/choices bring us here - likely lots of both.”
The pivot to events isn’t a closure, Raines says, adding that they have several holiday parties booked in December. He and co-owner Samantha Eaves will evaluate how best to move forward with Tortuga y Chango and utilizing the West College Avenue space after the new year.
Tortuga y Chango began as a series of mezcal dinners hosted at El Tesoro in Edgewood, owned by Raines and Eaves. The dinners grew into a passion for the spirit made from agave for Raines and Eaves, who eventually evolved the dinner series into Tortuga y Chango in Decatur.
Raines fashioned Tortuga y Chango after three of his favorite mezcal bars in Oaxaca: Selva, Savina Sabe, and El Destilado. Dishes served at the restaurant are meant for pairing with mezcal and cocktails created by beverage director Orestes Cruz, who hails from Mexico City. Tortuga y Chango continually draws mezcal enthusiasts from across Atlanta, who come to sample the bar’s collection of small producer mezcals, tequila, and sotol available for sipping.
As for the name, it’s a nod to Eaves and her spirit animal the turtle (tortuga), which works at a steady, reliable pace, and the monkey (chango), the spirit animal of the mezcaleros who produce the mezcal which causes people to dance. Chango is also the affectionate nickname the El Tesoro kitchen staff gave to Raines as he worked outside preparing the patio for the Edgewood restaurant’s opening day in 2019.