The General Muir serves its community

The General Muir’s family-style brisket dinner comes with potatoes and carrots. CONTRIBUTED BY BOB TOWNSEND
The General Muir’s family-style brisket dinner comes with potatoes and carrots. CONTRIBUTED BY BOB TOWNSEND

The General Muir was named for the refugee ship that brought co-owner Jennifer Johnson’s Holocaust-survivor family to New York after World War II. That fact, and the restaurant’s location across from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, make it a poignant reminder of troubled times, past and present.

Besides the General Muir, Johnson and her husband, Ben, are partners, along with Shelley Sweet and chef Todd Ginsberg, in several popular Atlanta spots in the Rye Restaurants group, including Wood’s Chapel BBQ, Fred’s Meat & Bread, Yalla and the Canteen.

The smoked salmon comes with cream cheese, tomato, onion and capers on a plain bagel. CONTRIBUTED BY BOB TOWNSEND
The smoked salmon comes with cream cheese, tomato, onion and capers on a plain bagel. CONTRIBUTED BY BOB TOWNSEND

Yalla and the Canteen currently are closed. Fred’s Meat & Bread, a deli-style sandwich shop at Krog Street Market, has remained open for takeout. Woods Chapel in Summerhill briefly opened for takeout, then closed, and recently reopened for takeout with a new menu that includes “take and bake” family meals, and options for delivery and curbside pickup.

The General Muir also is open for takeout. “We’ve been doing the heat-and-eat family-style meals for the past several weeks,” Ginsberg said by phone, “and we implemented an expanded menu last week.” That was a step toward trying to get to “a reopening of sorts,” he said, though he’s not sure yet what that will look like. “It’s to get more people working again, get people in the kitchen.”

Certainly, the General Muir remains the group’s flagship restaurant — celebrated for its mix of deli staples enhanced by Ginsberg’s fine-dining background and inventive entrees. It has been tough to see it struggle during the pandemic, he said, since its success “led us to have our other restaurants.”

Interestingly, some of the neighbors from across the street were among the first to step in and help.

The General Muir’s pastrami sandwich with mustard on double-baked rye comes with a whole half-sour pickle. CONTRIBUTED BY BOB TOWNSEND
The General Muir’s pastrami sandwich with mustard on double-baked rye comes with a whole half-sour pickle. CONTRIBUTED BY BOB TOWNSEND

“The CDC has brought us great business,” Ginsberg said. “They’ve been very loyal customers. They’ve done fundraising for us over the past two months. And, they’ve even had some fundraisers with their employees for our employees, so that’s been great. Between the CDC and Emory, those are the driving forces of our breakfast and lunch service, and we’re very grateful.”

Since opening, the General Muir has been a fixture for the area’s Jewish community, too, and that has continued during the pandemic, with heat-and-eat Friday night Shabbat dinners available for takeout weekly.

“The Friday night Shabbat meal is probably something we should have been doing for a long time,” Ginsberg said. “But, we’ve been so busy that we didn’t really entertain the idea until things slowed down, like so many things in life, now. It’s been kind of fantastic. It’s just another example of the community rallying around us.”

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THE GENERAL MUIR

Menu: heat-and-eat family-style meals for three to six, appetizing and deli packages for eight, smoked salmon and bagels, noshes, salads, sandwiches, soup, sides, desserts, fresh baked bread from TGM Bread (next door), special Friday night Shabbat dinner available weekly

What's new: expanded menu, with more options for pastries and items from TGM Bread; coffee drinks; weekend dinner specials, with fried chicken on Saturdays and Chinese on Sundays coming in late May

Alcohol: beer, wine and other beverages available for takeout

What I ordered: family-style brisket dinner with potatoes and carrots ($39); pastrami with mustard sandwich on double-baked rye ($12); smoked salmon with cream cheese, tomato, onion and capers on a plain bagel ($11). The brisket dinner came in a large aluminum tray with directions for reheating. It easily could serve four, with thick, juicy beef slices, and fresh, chunky veggies. The hefty, nicely fatty pastrami sandwich was perfect on aromatic rye, and came with a huge half sour pickle. Refrigerated, then brought to room temperature the next day, the salmon and bagel set made for a delicious, deconstructed breakfast treat.

Service options: takeout ordering through the website, on-site at the restaurant, online for pickup or for delivery through DoorDash, by phone or email; option for curbside pickup with no-touch credit card processing

Safety protocols: workers following CDC guidelines and wearing masks and gloves; continuous sanitizing of surfaces; hand sanitizer available for customers and staff

Address, phone: 1540 Avenue Place, Atlanta, 678-927-9131

Hours: The General Muir, 10:30 a.m.-7 p.m. Wednesdays-Sundays; TGM Bread, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Wednesdays-Sundays; DoorDash delivery 11 a.m.-6:30 p.m.

Websitethegeneralmuir.com.

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