Bogartz Food Artz opened in early November at the City Walk shopping center on Roswell Road in Sandy Springs. The restaurant and bar from longtime Knoxville chef Bruce Bogartz mixes homey Southern, Creole-Cajun, and Jewish deli influences with fine dining sensibilities.
Look for starters like cornmeal fried chicken livers, PEI mussels with pork belly, and escargot spaghetti with ham hock broth. Sandwiches include fried bologna, as well as shrimp, catfish, sausage and brisket po’boys. And meat-and-two and chef’s favorites entrees range from pork spare ribs to prime New York strip steak au poivre.
In the former Tin Can Fish House & Oyster Bar space, Bogartz and his brother Scott, who works the front of the house side of the operation, put their mark on the place with family photos on the walls, and white tablecloths and butcher paper on the tables.
The look and feel conjures a shabby chic, chef-centric bistro. But before the move to Atlanta, the brothers tried out a short-lived food truck, also dubbed Bogartz Food Artz.
Last week, Bogartz sat down at a table at his restaurant to talk about his wandering chef’s journey — which includes college days in Atlanta, where he graduated from Emory with a degree in economics, before training at the Restaurant School at Walnut Hill College in Philadelphia.
“In Knoxville, I’ve done everything from being a corporate chef for HGTV to owning and operating a number of restaurants,” Bogartz said. “I became known as the ‘itinerant’ and the ‘rambling’ chef. I was often known to pick up and go. But I had a very loyal following, and I really enjoyed the relationships I developed with my customers.”
Asked what brought him back to Atlanta after all these years, Bogartz said it was a move that had been on his radar for years.
“It was more opportunity in a bigger market,” he said. “I have an 18-year-old daughter, and I was waiting until she graduated from high school to leave Knoxville. Last year, when we did a food truck, she worked with me. But that was a very frustrating experience, honestly. Really, it was not for us.
“With my brother living here, and with him being the backer, the opportunity was to come here and do something. In Knoxville, I got best chef six years in a row, and I’d gotten all kinds of critical acclaim, but we could never put the whole thing together. So here I am.”
Bogartz’s vision for his Atlanta restaurant is still evolving, and he’s taking cues from what customers are enjoying and asking for.
“I have to do battle with myself to not be all cheffy, and not be all down-home, either,” he said. “I’m looking to walk a line somewhere in between. Everything here is made from scratch, whether it’s the Cheer Wine barbecue sauce or the red eye steak gravy or the foie gras.
“I’ve had to make major menu adjustments numerous times, already, and will continue to until we can find both the balance that I feel attached to and that also makes sense for the customers. So it’s finding those things I can be excited about and the customers can be excited about, as well. Still, so far, the po’boys and the meat-and-two have been our biggest sellers.”
As for the future, Bogartz said he’s keeping an open mind: “We’re threatening to do lunch or brunch. We just haven’t gotten bold enough to take the dive, yet,” he said. “I want to play with it a little bit. Maybe we’ll do lox and biscuits.
“But it’s been pretty gratifying. I feel like I’ve actually learned things. It’s probably the first time I’ve been this open to the process, where I’ve listened to the customers, and I’ve really tried to be responsive.”
227 Sandy Springs Place, Suite 502, Sandy Springs. 833-366-3278, bogartzfoodartz.com.
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