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After 41 years, Marietta Square mainstay Shillings has sold

After more than 40 years, Shillings on the Square has closed. New owners plan a chophouse concept after a renovation and kitchen overhaul. Photo: Jennifer Brett
After more than 40 years, Shillings on the Square has closed. New owners plan a chophouse concept after a renovation and kitchen overhaul. Photo: Jennifer Brett

The historic location has a storied past dating to 1885

Jeff Bunch and Lisa Turner ducked into Shillings on the Marietta Square for lunch on Tuesday.

To their astonishment, they had to make other plans.

“We’ve been going there forever!” Bunch cried.

“They’re an icon,” Turner said.

As of Monday night, Shillings is no more. After 41 years, owners David and Carol Reardon decided the time had come to sell.

The restaurant at a prime Square intersection overlooking Glover Park has been a destination for decades.

“Shillings was a staple of the Cobb County community and I know many, including myself, will miss the atmosphere, friendly staff, and great food,” Gov. Brian Kemp, who stopped in numerous times during his run for governor, said on Tuesday. “Marietta is certainly better today thanks to the Reardon family and Shillings.”

Shillings occupies prime real estate on the Marietta Square. Photo: Jennifer Brett
Shillings occupies prime real estate on the Marietta Square. Photo: Jennifer Brett

The building is owned by former longtime Marietta City Councilman Philip Goldstein. After the sale of the business and new lease agreement were finalized on Monday, the space didn't sit idle for a minute. New owner Randy McCray and his team were in on Tuesday morning. He and his brother, Scott McCray, operate other popular spots around metro Atlanta including The Mill Kitchen & Bar in Roswell and McCray's Tavern in Lawrenceville.

“We’re excited to be involved in this neighborhood,” McCray said.

The location has a storied past. Frederick E. A. Schilling of Hamburg, Germany, sailed for America in 1870, at age 21. After landing in New York, he wound up in Marietta in 1875. Ten years later, he opened a hardware store, Schilling’s.

He and his wife, the former Amanda Agricola, also a German native, had 12 children and are believed to be the first Marietta family to display a Christmas tree.

The building was destroyed by fire in 1930 and rebuilt to house the hardware store until 1972. Upon its rechristening as a restaurant the name became Shillings, minus the C, although the original spelling is evident in the tile at the entrance.

Historical information comes from the excellent book "Marietta: The Gem City of Georgia," by Douglas M. Frey.

Schilling's, then a hardware store, in the 1930s after it was rebuilt following  a fire. Photo courtesy of Robert Crowe via "Marietta: The Gem City of Georgia," by Douglas M. Frey.
Schilling's, then a hardware store, in the 1930s after it was rebuilt following a fire. Photo courtesy of Robert Crowe via "Marietta: The Gem City of Georgia," by Douglas M. Frey.

Shillings in the 1980s, not long after the location became a restaurant. Photo courtesy of the Marietta Museum of History.
Shillings in the 1980s, not long after the location became a restaurant. Photo courtesy of the Marietta Museum of History.

Shillings during a 1980s Marietta Square renovation project. AJC archive photo/Cheryl Bray
Shillings during a 1980s Marietta Square renovation project. AJC archive photo/Cheryl Bray

Credit: Cheryl Bray

Credit: Cheryl Bray

Jan Galt, executive director of the Marietta Museum of History, went Monday for a final visit, having heard the news.

“It was always a great place to go,” she said. “I will miss going to Shillings and hanging out with 20 of my best friends.”

Renovations to upgrade the interior and overhaul the kitchen will take about three months. What to call the spot, tentatively a chophouse concept, is still up in the air.

Diners can expect an expanded bar with a broader wine list and choices of beers on tap. McCray is considering a private-dining area upstairs, where Shillings’ “Top of the Square” offered a slightly upscale alternative to the pub atmosphere on the main level.

“Dave did an amazing job. It was kind of like ‘Cheers,’” McCray said of his predecessor’s folksy charm. “I would like to carry that on.”

Longtime Shillings owner David Reardon. AJC archive photo/Joe McTyre
Longtime Shillings owner David Reardon. AJC archive photo/Joe McTyre

Credit: JOE MCTYRE

Credit: JOE MCTYRE

Randy McCray plans an interior renovation, kitchen overhaul and menu upgrade. After an estimated three months, the new spot - name to be determined - will open as a chophouse concept. Photo: Jennifer Brett
Randy McCray plans an interior renovation, kitchen overhaul and menu upgrade. After an estimated three months, the new spot - name to be determined - will open as a chophouse concept. Photo: Jennifer Brett