Atlanta Orders In: Roswell’s Loyal Tavern is working its way back, thanks to takeout, delivery

The Big Greasy brisket burger at Loyal Tavern comes topped with white cheddar cheese curds, lettuce, tomatoes, house-made bacon jam and garlic aioli, and is served on a toasted bun. Mia Yakel for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
The Big Greasy brisket burger at Loyal Tavern comes topped with white cheddar cheese curds, lettuce, tomatoes, house-made bacon jam and garlic aioli, and is served on a toasted bun. Mia Yakel for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Bob Townsend

Credit: Bob Townsend

Operating a sports bar in the middle of a pandemic hasn’t been easy, Bob Campbell said during a recent phone conversation.

Campbell, who spent years opening and operating multiple Taco Mac locations around Atlanta, debuted Loyal Tavern in May, 2018. Since then, the cozy storefront space on Canton Street in the Roswell historic district has become a go-to for beer, elevated pub grub and multiple big screen TVs.

“Obviously, we’ve had to limit seating,” Campbell said, “but the way the seasons have been broken up, with everybody calling this an asterisk year for sports, the excitement hasn’t been there as much as it used to be. Georgia games do pretty well, but people didn’t get excited about the Masters being in November this year.”

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Loyal Tavern offers barbecue nachos, chips and cheese covered with brisket, jalapenos, pickled onions, black beans, cilantro and barbecue sauce. Mia Yakel for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Loyal Tavern offers barbecue nachos, chips and cheese covered with brisket, jalapenos, pickled onions, black beans, cilantro and barbecue sauce. Mia Yakel for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Bob Townsend

Credit: Bob Townsend

Campbell and his business partners also own and operate Loyal Q and Brew, offering barbecue and multi-tap draft beer, in the former Five Seasons space on Old Milton Parkway in Alpharetta.

Not surprisingly, both Loyal Tavern and Loyal Q went into full takeout and third-party-delivery mode in March. And, since reopening for dine-in service, both have continued to count on that combination to bolster the bottom line. So far, though, barbecue is beating sports.

“At Loyal Q, sales are now up over last year’s sales, mainly because of takeout and delivery,” Campbell said. “Tavern, on the other hand, is not back, mainly because, logistically, it’s hard for people to come to the restaurant to do takeout with the parking situation in Roswell.”

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Loyal Tavern's fried fish tacos feature fried cod served on fresh corn tortillas with house slaw and house-made sriracha. Mia Yakel for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Loyal Tavern's fried fish tacos feature fried cod served on fresh corn tortillas with house slaw and house-made sriracha. Mia Yakel for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Bob Townsend

Credit: Bob Townsend

Loyal Tavern uses some smoked meat delivered from Loyal Q, including brisket for barbecue nachos, brisket tacos and a brisket cheesesteak. But, the bestseller for takeout is the double-patty Tavern Burger, while deep-fried chicken wings with house-made sauces are another favorite.

Beyond that, there are small plates for sharing — such as beer-battered cheese curds and Buffalo shrimp — and big plates, including New England-style marinated steak tips. Healthier choices appear on the menu, too, with several salads, a superfood bowl, and a cauliflower burger.

But, hefty sandwiches and beefy burgers remain staples, and range from the Nashville hot chicken to the half-pound Big Greasy burger, topped with cheese curds, charred onion jam and garlic aioli.

Writing about Loyal Tavern in the past, I’ve enjoyed many items on the menu, including the Tavern Burger, the brisket nachos, and, of course, the wings. On my recent visit, I wanted to try the New England-style steak tips, which are a newish offering. They came with nicely roasted fingerling potatoes.

Going forward, Campbell thinks both barbecue and sports bars are restaurant concepts that have proved to be successful perennially. And, he believes that, next year, both of his businesses will be back, and will be better.

“We know we can get through this; we know we can get to the other side,” he said. “We already get a sense that people are more confident, with the vaccine coming. And, we’re thinking that, by the spring, things will get back to some normalcy. Also, I think this has really helped our to-go business. We’ve learned how to do it better, and that’s going to help us in the long run.”

LOYAL TAVERN

Menu: elevated pub grub

Alcohol: beer, wine and cocktails

What I ordered: New England-style steak tips, with roasted fingerling potatoes; the dish traveled really well, and, after reheating in the oven, still remained juicy and flavorful

Service options: indoor and limited outdoor dining; takeout; order online for pickup or third-party delivery

Outdoor dining: four sidewalk tables

Mask policy: employees wear masks and use gloves for food handling

Address, phone: 950 Canton St., Roswell; 678-659-9412

Hours: 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Sundays-Thursdays; 11:30 a.m.-1 a.m. Fridays-Saturdays

Website: loyaltavern.com

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