Atlanta Orders In: Kevin Gillespie returns to the drawing board for Gunshow

In April, when I talked with Kevin Gillespie about how he was coping with the pandemic, his two Atlanta restaurants, Cold Beer on the Eastside Beltline and Gunshow in Reynolds Park, were closed.

But, he was turning out meals to go at Revival in Decatur, with the help of one other employee. And, by weird coincidence, Gillespie could be seen weekly on the Bravo TV series “Top Chef All-Stars L.A.”

Ultimately, Gillespie didn’t win the competition, though he made it to the finals in Italy.

Credit: Bob Townsend

Credit: Bob Townsend

In June, Revival started offering dining on the covered patio, and in the front yard. Gillespie reopened Cold Beer in July, with “low contact” outdoor dining on the rooftop deck and patio, and in the beer garden. And, in August, he reopened Gunshow, with limited prix fixe dine-in service by reservation only.

Gillespie said his restaurants didn’t make the first cut for Paycheck Protection Program money. “We made the second cut on Gunshow and on Cold Beer,” he said. “So, we made the decision that, since we had that money available to us, we were going to find a way to reopen those businesses, come hell or high water.”

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Credit: Bob Townsend

Credit: Bob Townsend

Gillespie said he knew from the start that Gunshow, as a small indoor restaurant, would be much more difficult to reopen than his other dining spots.

“It’s a restaurant, frankly, that was built around the concept of packed-full density,” he said. “But, we knew that wasn’t going to fly anymore, so we had to go back to the drawing board. We’ve had to take the little bit of square footage that we had and stretch it out, to keep everybody far enough from each other.”

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Credit: Bob Townsend

Credit: Bob Townsend

By necessity, the menu changed, too. Instead of the signature roving dim sum-style carts, it’s now prix fixe, based on the format of Gunshow’s ongoing Hired Guns guest chefs series.

“Coincidentally, the format of Hired Guns works for the post-COVID world,” Gillespie said. “It’s a much lower number of guests in a night, and it’s a slightly different model. But, it still has the flamboyance and the interaction you’d expect from Gunshow. The chefs are still creating the dishes, and they’re still the ones coming to the dining room and explaining them to the guests.”

Credit: Bob Townsend

Credit: Bob Townsend

For those who enjoy drinking as much as dining, custom cocktails remain; they’re just not being made tableside. And, the signature banana pudding is still the favorite dessert.

Beginning last week, though, Gunshow unveiled its picnic to-go option for two, which, like the prix fixe menu, will change every three weeks. Right now, it’s beer can Cornish game hen, with Southern deviled eggs, Parker House rolls, two sides and chocolate chip cookies. Plus, you can order beer, wine and cocktail kits to go.

And, the full Gunshow prix fixe menu soon will be available to go, too, albeit with do-it-yourself tweaks.

“It’s quite possibly the most difficult thing I have done in the last five years, culinarily speaking,” Gillespie said. “Attempting to figure out how to send someone home with what we’re making that night at Gunshow has been really, really hard.”

Credit: Bob Townsend

Credit: Bob Townsend

What Gillespie and his team came up with is an “in-home experiential dining treat,” he said.

“In our minds, this is an alternative to coming in, and sitting down, and having the tasting menu,” Gillespie said. “What we’re calling our picnic series is meant to be really delicious takeout. This other thing is assembly-required. There will be photos and instructions. There will be cooking. There will be plating. It will be Blue Apron on steroids.”


Menu: prix fixe tasting menu for dine-in service; picnic for takeout

Alcohol: full bar for on-site dining; beer, wine and cocktails to go

What I ordered: picnic to go for two, with sweet tea brined Cornish game hen and red eye gravy, Southern deviled eggs, Parker House rolls, Georgia summer bean salad, fried confit potatoes and chocolate chip cookies. The entire meal was absolutely delicious, and perfectly packaged to go, making each dish stand out. A sealed packet with the menu, plastic cutlery, napkins and Gunshow stickers completed the treat.

Service options: limited reservations for dine-in service; order picnic to go on the website the day before pickup

Safety protocols: adhering to all state guidelines; restaurant space retrofitted for social distancing, with Plexiglas shields added between tables

Address, phone: 924 Garrett St., Atlanta; 404-380-1886

Hours: 6-9 p.m. Wednesdays-Saturdays