No beach but making waves

Story by H.M. CAULEY/Photos by JASON GETZ

Hammock Trading Company’s low-ceilinged, three-room space had many lives before owners Jason Sheetz and William Sigley moved in during the summer of 2012.

The structure was built in 1977, and locals might recall it as Wuv’s burger joint or the Bridgetown Grill in the 1990s. Prior to becoming Hammocks, Sheetz says it was a “smoking bar with pool tables.” But the location stood out for several reasons.

“When we first looked here, the economy was not working,” Sheetz recalls. “But my partner and I drove around and noticed there wasn’t a foreclosure sign anywhere in sight. That means stability. And for the past few years, Sandy Springs has been on fire.”

Sheetz knows the territory well. He grew up in the area, graduated from Riverwood High School before attending the University of Georgia, and has worked in some of Atlanta’s top restaurants, including Buckhead’s Blue Ridge Grill, as well as Bones and Twist. At first sight, he knew the casual comfort of the Roswell Road space was a good fit.

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“We call this our beach house,” Sheetz laughs. “We wanted to maintain the building’s comfortable feel.”

Inside the eatery, striped hammocks hanging from the ceilings, casual metal chairs and wooden tables are part of the seaside-inspired décor. “We wanted to maintain the building’s comfortable feel,” Sheetz says.

The only thing missing is the beach.

Even so, chef William Sigley’s seafood suits the space.

There’s spicy crab and shrimp gumbo, jalapeno hush puppies and cornbread, and chorizo tacos. However, the bulk of the menu offers a range of classically prepared dishes, from the Maryland crab cakes to oysters Rockefeller. “I like to call it Southern coastal meets Baja, California,” Sheetz says.

Diners delight over the salmon baked with potatoes, fennel, parsnips, tomatoes and herbs in a fine parchment that the servers expertly roll back upon presentation.

A grouper sandwich, served grilled, blackened or fried and topped with a remoulade sauce, is another big seller.

But in keeping with that beach theme, most patrons go for the red-plastic baskets of oysters, catfish, scallops, shrimp or the day’s fresh catch, paired with French fries and coleslaw.

Those craving the call of the sea can grab their favorites from 11:30 a.m. each day. The menu doesn’t vary, though the catch-of-the-day options do. Rainbow trout, sushi-grade tuna or redfish might show up at any given moment — and when they’re gone, they’re gone.

Sheetz also knows his local patrons sometimes just want veggies, and it’s possible to make a meal from that section of the menu only. Sweet potato fries, grilled asparagus, squash casserole, sautéed spinach, mashed potatoes, cheddar-rosemary grits and spicy creamed corn with bacon are a few of the options.

As busy as the space gets for dinner, the Hammocks bar keeps pace. By late afternoon, the big square that encloses bottles of wine, beer and cocktail ingredients is often lined with patrons sitting elbow-to-elbow.

“It’s like that every day,” Sheetz says. “It’s also a popular place for local politicians to come and unwind. Here, they can loosen their ties and hang out.”

Sheetz fuels that hang-out comfort with his easy-going tableside manner, managing a busy dining room as though it were his own backyard clambake.

“It’s beachy here,” he says. “And people love it that way.”

Hammocks Trading Company. 7285 Roswell Road, Sandy Springs. 770-395-9592. hammockstradingcompany.com

Insider Tips:

Oyster lovers will find nirvana with Hammocks’ 4 to 6 p.m. daily special that features all raw oysters at half off.

Following Hammocks Trading Company, owners Jason Sheetz and William Sigley opened Under the Cork Tree restaurant at the Prado shopping center, where they feature more than 200 wines and a Mediterranean cuisine.

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