Atlanta’s cocktail community is feeling shockwaves with news today, March 23, that H. Harper Station in the Reynoldstown neighborhood will close its doors after service Friday, April 1.
When owner, Jerry Slater, converted the 80- year old train depot into a restaurant in 2010, the potential of the Beltline’s Eastside trail passing by its sunny patio, coupled with the city’s blossoming cocktail movement were promising signs Slater could afford the rent, which he called “extravagant.” However, long delays in the Beltline’s progress meant slower than expected gentrification of the neighborhood surrounding Memorial Drive and Bill Kennedy Way, turning potential into five years of struggling to fill tables.
Despite the hurdles, Slater has built a loyal following of cocktail and whiskey enthusiasts with one of the most formidable cocktail programs in Atlanta. In addition. H. Harper Station has churned out many of the city’s finest bartenders, including Julian Goglia, owner of Pinewood Tippling Room and The Mercury, and Mercedes O’Brien of Gunshow.
There is no official word yet as to what will replace H. Harper Station once it closes it doors April 1.
Here is the official statement from owner Jerry Slater on the decision to close H. Harper Station:
“I wish to inform everyone that H. Harper Station will conduct its last service on April 1st, 2016. No, this is not an April Fool’s, but I do hope everyone will pay us a last visit in the two weeks leading up to 4/1/16.
Harper Station opened in late 2010, still in the midst of the economic recession. The promise of the coming BeltLine and potential Memorial Drive development made the extravagant rent seem possible at the time. I guess you can say I was an early adopter, but I loved the idea of having a place in my own emerging and diverse neighborhood of Reynoldstown. While signs point to the area’s impending development coming to fruition, it also brings the pressure of increased costs. After a great five-year run, we feel the model is no longer sustainable. We wish the best to the new tenant and the neighborhood they will service.
This building will always be special to me. Not only did I have the pleasure of meeting my wife at H. Harper Station, I got to marry her at the restaurant in a wonderful ceremony surrounded by friends and family. We have hosted the weddings of other dear friends, or regular guests, who in turn became friends. There has been an amazing amount of memories shared here, both with guests of the restaurant, and the warm hospitality community in Atlanta, which welcomed me eight years ago with open arms.
In September of last year, Krista and I moved to Morgan County, near Madison. We both have been enjoying the peace of a more rural home, and I have gotten to be closer to my parents, who believed in me enough to finance H. Harper Station initially. I have also been able to assist my mom, the person who taught me the hard work and dedication that a restaurant career requires, in doctors appointments and errands. Don’t be surprised to find Krista and me establishing a business in our newfound home. Thanks to all of my hardworking staff, and to all the guests who supported us.”
Thirsty for more news about the Atlanta Bar Scene? Read about these places serving up great cocktails from bartenders who've trained under H. Harper Station's Jerry Slater: