Atlanta Orders In: Longtime patrons help keep Ziba’s going in Grant Park

Chicken piccata with basmati rice, zucchini, lemon beurre blanc and capers from Ziba's Restaurant in Grant Park. Bob Townsend/For the AJC
Chicken piccata with basmati rice, zucchini, lemon beurre blanc and capers from Ziba's Restaurant in Grant Park. Bob Townsend/For the AJC

About 10 years ago, Marcie Meirndorf opened Ziba’s Bistro and Wine Bar in Grant Park.

Since then, the cozy storefront space has become a neighborhood favorite for casual dining and drinking, live music and events. In fact, Meirndorf said 2019 was one the restaurant’s best years, ever. But, 2020 quickly became the worst, because of COVID-19.

“We celebrated our 10th anniversary in March of 2020,” Meirndorf said. ”We depend on the neighborhood, and neighbors who can walk or bike here.”

She said Ziba’s provides the neighborhood “a gathering space for birthdays, anniversaries, weddings and other celebrations, or, coming in by yourself and having a great meal with a glass of wine.”

Most of Meirndorf’s staff have been together for eight years, she said, and she believes that the continued interaction between employees and customers has been key to the success of the business.

ExploreMore Atlanta Orders In

Ziba's Bistro apple salad with cranberries, dates, crumbled blue cheese, and creamy Italian dressing from Ziba's Restaurant in Grant Park. / Bob Townsend for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

“We are a family; we work together as a team,” she said. “Also, the neighbors and the regulars play a huge part in our specials and our regular menu. Sometimes, when we try to change out items, they revolt. They have emotional attachments to so many items on the menu. And, in March, when we started doing takeout, it was important the items were consistent, and the same as if you were here at Ziba’s.”

In addition to the bestsellers — including mussels and fries, whole fish and chicken piccata — old standbys, such as bowtie pasta and turkey meatloaf, have been added to the menu. Still, even with all the tweaking, and doing takeout, it has been tough.

“We’ve been doing 50% to 60% less for 10 months, and we still have the same fixed costs,” Meirndorf said. “I still have to pay the full rent, gas, water, power and taxes. Food costs have gone up, and, with a new year, we have all the permits to renew. It’s unbelievable when you start looking at the numbers and doing the math.”

Fortunately, Aaron Gomez-Lugo and his family, who are longtime Ziba’s patrons, organized a GoFundMe fundraiser on Meirndorf’s behalf.

“Every time they’ve come in, they’ve asked me if I needed help,” Meirndorf said. “I’ve been very positive through this, and Pollyanna-like, keeping everybody uplifted. But, I finally came to realize how depressed I really was, and how upside-down the numbers were. Now, my heart is overflowing with gratitude and joy. I’m extremely humble.”

ExploreIntown Atlanta dining news
Tres Leches cake with housemade whipped cream and strawberries from Ziba's Restaurant in Grant Park. Bob Townsend/For the AJC
Tres Leches cake with housemade whipped cream and strawberries from Ziba's Restaurant in Grant Park. Bob Townsend/For the AJC

Credit: Bob Townsend/For the AJC

Credit: Bob Townsend/For the AJC

Beyond the rescue of her restaurant, Meirndorf pointed to one thing she thinks has been a positive during the pandemic.

“With the unknowns of this whole year, a lot of us have come back to our core values and our roots in this business,” she said. “And, bringing the dinner table back to families has been one of those things. Whole families are cooking dinner together in the kitchen, and sitting down and dining together. Over the past 20 years, our society has lost that. I think that’s very important, and I so love hearing about that.”

ZIBA’S BISTRO AND WINE BAR

Menu: neighborhood bistro with Mediterranean influences

Alcohol: beer, wine and cocktails for dine-in and takeout

What I ordered: creamy portobello mushroom soup; apple salad with cranberries, dates, crumbled blue cheese and creamy Italian dressing; chicken piccata with basmati rice, zucchini, lemon beurre blanc and capers; tres leches cake with house-made whipped cream and strawberries. All of the dishes were simple, hearty and a good value, plus very well-packaged to go.

Service options: indoor, outdoor, takeout; call for takeout or curbside delivery; reservations at Open Table

Outdoor dining: sidewalk patio with 20 seats

Mask policy: employees wear masks; customers wear masks when not seated

Address, phone: 560 Boulevard SE, Atlanta; 404-622-4440

Hours: 5-10 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays; closed Sundays

Website: opentable.com/zibas-bistro

About the Author

In Other News