Southern restaurant Liz and Leon’s and Sweet Gigi’s bar open this fall along historic Hotel Row on Mitchell Street in downtown Atlanta. Liz and Leon’s resides on the main floor of 231 Mitchell and shares a connected terrace space, with cocktail bar Sweet Gigi’s opening downstairs beneath the restaurant.
Backed by Atlanta chef Bella Jones, Liz and Leon’s explores the African diaspora through food and is a “culinary love letter” to her grandparents, in particular her grandmother, Elizabeth. Jones says she aims to offer a fresh perspective on soul food at Liz and Leon’s.
“Everything I know about family, love, tradition, and African American food comes from [my grandmother,] and the restaurant will have centuries of my ancestors’ stories wrapped up in every dish,” Jones says in a prepared statement. “It’s my mission to reveal stories of victory and triumph through food. These stories focus on how, even when stripped from their homeland, the enslaved created a cuisine that came to be the most recognizable food in America.”
Liz and Leon’s is opening in the building once home to storied cafe Lunacy Black Market, owned by the tenacious chef Paul Luna until its closure in 2014. Liz and Leon’s and Sweet Gigi’s join a number of new restaurants and bars opening in ten century-old storefronts on Mitchell Street currently under renovation by real estate developer Newport Holding. This includes Thai restaurant TydeTate Kitchen, Spiller Park Coffee, and Pizza Clementine and cocktail lounge Thirteenth Floor, owned by Slater Hospitality, the group behind rooftop establishments Skyline Park at Ponce City Market and Leave of Absence at the Interlock. In addition to the pizzeria and bar at Hotel Row, Slater Hospitality plans to open a rooftop diner and cocktail lounge at 222 Mitchell across the street. A location of Ohio-based arcade and game bar Pins Mechanical Company will also open at 222 Mitchell.
In 2016, Newport purchased 48 buildings in what’s been dubbed the South Downtown district with the intention of opening new businesses there by restoring the structures and preserving much of the existing historic architecture. Hotel Row was the main commercial hub in Atlanta during the first two decades of the 20th century after the opening of Terminal Station in 1905 on then Spring Street (Ted Turner Drive). It was the grander of two railway stations downtown — the other being Union Station located nearby at what is presently a parking deck for Underground Atlanta.
Just up the street, the former Norfolk Southern Railroad building flanking the Gulch on Ted Turner Drive, renamed Centennial Yards, is undergoing a multi-million-dollar renovation to eventually include two levels of retail and restaurants, offices, and apartments. A location of LaGrange, Georgia, brewery and distillery Wild Leap is now open at Centennial Yards.
231 Mitchell Street, Atlanta.