Atlanta Orders In: Holiday orders keep bakers busy at Gabriel’s in Marietta

The dessert case at Gabriel's Restaurant & Bakery is stocked with seasonal pies and cakes.  
Ligaya Figueras / ligaya.figueras@ajc.com
The dessert case at Gabriel's Restaurant & Bakery is stocked with seasonal pies and cakes. Ligaya Figueras / ligaya.figueras@ajc.com

Credit: Ligaya Figueras

Credit: Ligaya Figueras

If the pandemic-filled days and weeks blur together so much that you no longer know what month it is, one look at the pies in Gabriel’s bakery case will set the calendar straight: Pumpkin, pecan, tollhouse, fudge and Dutch apple can only mean November.

Put on your stretchy pants, because the shop founded in 1996 by Johnnie Gabriel, aka “Marietta’s Cake Lady,” is gearing up for the holidays like never before.

“It’s all hands on deck when this time comes,” Director of Operations Susan Hutchinson said. “We are suspecting that, since people aren’t traveling as much this year, we might be a little busier with our casseroles and dessert orders.”

If Thanksgiving and Christmas orders go has hoped, business will be as brisk as eight months ago.

“When COVID first hit, our dessert sales went up. I think it was stress eating,” Hutchinson said.

Calories, be damned. There’s nothing like a slice — or two —– of Gabriel’s hummingbird cake to calm the nerves.

ExploreMore Atlanta Orders In
Strawberry cake (foreground) and hummingbird cake are staples in Gabriel's bakery case. Ligaya Figueras / ligaya.figueras@ajc.com
Strawberry cake (foreground) and hummingbird cake are staples in Gabriel's bakery case. Ligaya Figueras / ligaya.figueras@ajc.com

Credit: Ligaya Figueras

Credit: Ligaya Figueras

While strawberry cake continues to be the bestseller with brides, and the crispy fried chicken a favorite among the lunch crowd, Gabriel’s has seen its fair share of changes during the pandemic.

Due to decreased staffing, it no longer is open for breakfast. In addition, a few newbies have found their way onto the Southern-inflected lunch menu, including Gabriel’s tomato sandwich, a vegetarian offering that features fresh and fried green toms, with cucumber and arugula, on ciabatta; and fried chicken and meatloaf packaged into family meals.

ExploreCobb County dining news
Grilled pimento cheese (right) and tomato sandwiches are among the lunch offerings at Gabriel's. Ligaya Figueras / ligaya.figueras@ajc.com
Grilled pimento cheese (right) and tomato sandwiches are among the lunch offerings at Gabriel's. Ligaya Figueras / ligaya.figueras@ajc.com

Credit: Ligaya Figueras

Credit: Ligaya Figueras

Just in time for the holidays, the restaurant relaunched the Market at Gabriel’s, turning the front of the spillover dining room into a shop that sells food products and kitchenware by local artisans.

“We started thinking: How can we help our community — artisans that don’t have that kind of brick and mortar?” Hutchinson explained. Before, shelves were stocked with tubs of pimento cheese and chicken salad bearing the Gabriel’s label. Now, those items share space with honey, coffee, pottery platters, cutting boards, tea towels and more made by area food producers and craftspersons.

The Market at Gabriel's is stocked with tubs of pimento cheese and chicken salad, as well as honey, coffee, pottery platters, cutting boards, tea towels and more. Ligaya Figueras / ligaya.figueras@ajc.com
The Market at Gabriel's is stocked with tubs of pimento cheese and chicken salad, as well as honey, coffee, pottery platters, cutting boards, tea towels and more. Ligaya Figueras / ligaya.figueras@ajc.com

Credit: Ligaya Figueras

Credit: Ligaya Figueras

Shoppers can expect to find plenty more handcrafted gifts when the restaurant and bakery holds a holiday market from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Dec. 12. Weather permitting, the socially distanced event will be held outdoors.

By then, Executive Chef Amberley Grier and her kitchen staff will have filled all those Thanksgiving orders for squash casserole, cornbread dressing, macaroni and cheese, gravy, rolls, biscuits, and enough pies and cakes to feed all of Cobb County (deadline for ordering is Nov. 20), and they’ll be baking December sweet treats, such as yule logs, peppermint brownies and ginger cookies.

Amberley Grier is Gabriel's Restaurant & Bakery's executive chef. Ligaya Figueras / ligaya.figueras@ajc.com
Amberley Grier is Gabriel's Restaurant & Bakery's executive chef. Ligaya Figueras / ligaya.figueras@ajc.com

Credit: Ligaya Figueras

Credit: Ligaya Figueras

Plans are in the works to keep the 21-person team busy, even after the holiday season ends. Hutchinson said Gabriel’s is working on mass producing a few sweet and savory items that would be sold at local grocery stores.

“We have this beautiful bakery that we built a few years back,” she said. “We’re anxious to use it to its full extent, and looking forward to what we can do year-round. COVID has really pushed everybody to get creative and think outside the box.”

Is there a restaurant you want to see featured? Send your suggestions to ligaya.figueras@ajc.com.

Selections from Gabriel's lunch menu include (clockwise from top left) squash soup, chicken and dumplings, fried chicken club sandwich and tomato-basil soup. Ligaya Figueras / ligaya.figueras@ajc.com
Selections from Gabriel's lunch menu include (clockwise from top left) squash soup, chicken and dumplings, fried chicken club sandwich and tomato-basil soup. Ligaya Figueras / ligaya.figueras@ajc.com

Credit: Ligaya Figueras

Credit: Ligaya Figueras

GABRIEL’S RESTAURANT & BAKERY

Menu: Southern-inflected soups, salads, sandwiches and sides; extensive dessert selection; specializes in cakes and pies

Alcohol: no

What I ordered: squash soup; tomato basil soup; chicken and dumplings soup; fried chicken club sandwich; tomato sandwich; grilled pimento cheese sandwich; slices of hummingbird cake and strawberry cake. All of the soups were fresh, flavorful, filling and comforting on a chilly fall day. The fried chicken held its crispness through transit. The strawberry cake is both delicate and divine, but the hummingbird remains my favorite Gabriel’s dessert.

Service options: takeout (curbside available); order by phone, online or in person; no delivery

Outdoor dining: patio

Mask policy: required for all employees; encouraged, but not required, for guests

Address, phone: 800 Whitlock Ave NW, Marietta; 770-427-9007

Hours: lunch, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. daily; bakery, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays; market, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays and 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Sundays

Website: gabrielsdesserts.com

Read more stories like this by liking Atlanta Restaurant Scene on Facebook, following @ATLDiningNews on Twitter and @ajcdining on Instagram.

About the Author

ajc.com

In Other News