Gay Atlanta couple takes over longtime Atlantic Station eatery

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Longtime Atlantic Grill patrons Sean Bishop and Reggie Stotts loved the restaurant so much, they bought it.

Now the couple is in the process of making renovations that will bring the Atlantic Station eatery up to date without losing its neighborhood pub charm.

“We’re committed to this place for 10 years, so I want to make sure we set it up for success,” Bishop told Project Q Atlanta.

The couple have lived in Atlantic Station since it opened in 2005. They quickly took a liking to the Atlantic Grill, which is one of only two of the development’s original restaurants still in operation.

“This is the anomaly in Atlantic Station. It’s not corporate owned, it’s not a chain,” Bishop said. “There are regulars that have been coming for 10 or 11 years. It has that ‘Cheers’ vibe.”

The clientele is a diverse mix of various ages, races and sexual orientations.

“We’ve got one guy in here Mr. Earl who’s 91 years old,” the new owner said. “He’s up here three days a week. He takes MARTA from the southside of Atlanta and takes the shuttle over.”

Bishop got laid off last year in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic after a career in corporate marketing. Like many others, it gave him a chance to reassess what he wanted to do with the rest of his career.

“I was leaning towards not getting myself laid off again,” he said. “I wanted to control my destiny from here on out.”

The Atlantic Grill is one of only two original Atlantic Station restaurants still operating. (Photos courtesy Sean Bishop)

New look, new menu on the way

An Atlantic Grill manager told Bishop and Stotts in January that the restaurant’s longtime owner was selling. They met with him the following month and closed on the sale in May.

“He had been running a very successful operation,” Bishop said. “And I could fulfill the live-work-play mantra that Atlantic Station had always talked about in the beginning. I could walk to work and enjoy doing what I do.”

Bishop is now the full-time general manager at the restaurant.

“I’m drinking from the firehose,” he said. “But business has been great actually.”

His biggest obstacle is staffing. The employee shortage caused the restaurant to close Mondays and Tuesdays and close at 8 p.m. on weekdays and 10 p.m. on weekends. But longtime staffers have stuck around to make it work.

“I had a good core group of employees that had been making this place go for five, 10-plus years,” Bishop said. “I never would have considered buying it if I didn’t know the people I’d be managing and the staff I’d be inheriting.”

Bishop hopes to start opening on Tuesdays after Labor Day. He already repainted and installed new TVs and a new sound system, and those aren’t the only changes in store.

The restaurant plans to close in January to renovate the bathrooms and install new kitchen and bar equipment, seating, floors, lighting, patio and patio furniture. Bishop also wants to update the menu and then change it quarterly after that.

“I’m loving it,” Bishop said. “I love being in here, and I love what I do.”

(h/t What Now Atlanta)

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