Atlanta Orders In: LLoyd’s shifts focus outside, but hasn’t lost its humor and spunk

LLoyd’s offers a fresh take on the classic fish sandwich — with both slaw and a parsley and shallot salad inspired by St. John restaurant in London. Wendell Brock for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Wendell Brock

Credit: Wendell Brock

In its pre-pandemic heyday, LLoyd’s Restaurant & Lounge was the sort of place where you could nurse a beer alone on a bar stool, then have a stranger standing next to you, then a whole posse — everybody jostling for drinks and breathing the same air.

A tribute to blue-collar Americana — red-vinyl booths, knotty-pine paneling and fried-bologna sandwiches — LLoyd’s purposefully was designed as a riff on a classic dive. “The idea was to be like a Cheers," said co-owner Ian Jones of Victory Brands, which unveiled LLoyd’s in late 2018.

Thanks to $5 happy-hour drinks, ketchup-glazed meatloaf with all-you-can-eat mashed potatoes, and a faux-snarky attitude, it didn’t take long for LLoyd’s (“Where Nobody Knows Your Name”) to develop a following.

ExploreMore Atlanta Orders In
LLoyd’s dinner salad comes with tomato, cucumber, cheddar and bacon. Wendell Brock for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Wendell Brock

Credit: Wendell Brock

That all changed March 16, when Jones and partner Caleb Wheelus shut down all their restaurants, furloughed about 100 employees, and spent a couple of months plotting a comeback.

One by one, starting with Victory Coffee and Calamity on May 28, and concluding with Little Trouble on Sept. 8, they have relaunched their portfolio, making sure to follow the rules of social distancing while trying hard not to water down the fun.

They’ve had to implement some rules, though.

ExploreMore Intown Atlanta dining news
Some of the takeout offerings from LLoyd’s Restaurant & Lounge: fish sandwich with fries, dinner salad, shrimp cocktail, and meatloaf with mashed potatoes. Wendell Brock for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Wendell Brock

Credit: Wendell Brock

At all their spots, you must wear a mask, and you can’t hover at the bar. "There are no seats at the bar,” Jones said. “There is no standing around anywhere.”

With this reimagining, the restaurant group studiously has shifted the focus of each of its spaces to the patio, adding creature comforts, such as tables, tents, umbrellas and planters. Though dine-in service is offered at each, people tend to head outside.

A staffer brings out a takeout order at LLoyd’s Restaurant & Lounge. Wendell Brock for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Credit: Wendell Brock

Credit: Wendell Brock

Jones, 41, who has an interior-design degree from Georgia State University, created the original vibe of each Victory Brands space: the indoor-outdoor openness of the Beltline-adjacent Victory Sandwich Bar; the apocalyptic glow of Little Trouble; the rummy tropicality of S.O.S. Tiki Bar; the retro tackiness of LLoyd’s.

LLoyd’s Restaurant & Lounge is trying to re-create its dive-bar vibe outdoors. Wendell Brock for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Wendell Brock

Credit: Wendell Brock

While the company was shut down, the Victory team took apart each space, scrubbed, painted and decluttered — and put them all back together again. “It feels like the first time we just opened our first store, but we just did it four times in a row," Jones said.

The process has been nostalgic. “It kind of moves you a little bit, because you’ve been out of your space so long you kind of experienced it again for the first time,” he said. “It makes you really want to keep it alive, because it makes you realize how much you missed it.”

The owners of LLoyd’s have added red fake-glass dividers between the booths of the main dining room — appropriate to both the retro-tacky design and the era of COVID-19. Wendell Brock for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Wendell Brock

Credit: Wendell Brock

One thing that’s new to this team is takeout. A self-described “control freak," Jones never thought Victory’s small sandwiches would travel well. The pandemic changed that. At LLoyd’s, in particular, he’s embraced the carryout life — commissioning takeout boxes and cups with a “Varsity-esque” feel.

And, what of LLoyd’s vintage bar stools? They’re packed into a shipping container outside company headquarters in Avondale Estates, waiting for the pandemic to end — a time when regulars can sidle up and order a Bud.

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

LLOYD’S RESTAURANT & LOUNGE

Menu: mostly sandwiches and nightly dinner specials (snow crab, meatloaf, fried chicken, lasagna, fish fry)

Alcohol: yes

What I ordered: shrimp cocktail; fish sandwich with fries; meatloaf; dinner salad. The shrimp cocktail was fresh and delightful; the fish sandwich nicely perked up with both coleslaw and a parsley salad inspired by London’s St. John restaurant. Pretty crazy about the meatloaf and mashed potatoes, too.

Service options: dine-in; takeout; no delivery

Safety protocols: follows standard CDC guidelines

Address, phone: 900 DeKalb Ave, Atlanta; 404-228-7227

Hours: 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Mondays-Fridays, 5 p.m-11 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays.

Website: lloydsatl.com

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

About the Author