Local entrepreneurs team up on new all-day breakfast spot Breakfast at Barney’s

Rashad Sanford (left) and “Barney” Lee Berry Jr. at their restaurant, Breakfast at Barney's.
Rashad Sanford (left) and “Barney” Lee Berry Jr. at their restaurant, Breakfast at Barney's.

Credit: Terri Nash

Credit: Terri Nash

Menu will feature breakfast classics, plus a $1,000 brunch tower

When Morris Brown College alumni “Barney” Lee Berry Jr. and Dr. Rashad Sanford starting brainstorming ideas for a restaurant earlier this year, Berry knew what people would expect from him.

The former nightclub promoter thought briefly about opening a club, but he and Sanford saw a void in Atlanta that they wanted to fill, and it wasn’t through nightlife.

Tired from being gone for long stretches of time as the owner of freight transport company Fast Lane Logistics, Berry was looking for a venture that would plant him back in Atlanta.

“A lot of people know me in the city, and when I said I was going to create something of my own, they figured it was going to be in nightlife,” he said. “They didn’t know I was over that, that I’m past that.”

He and Sanford, the owner and CEO of Atlanta Spine Doctors, settled on an all-day breakfast spot, “somewhere nice for people to go and socialize without being in a club,” Berry said. They got to work, met with chef and restaurant consultant Lorenzo Wyche of Lorenzo Wyche Restaurants, and settled on a location in downtown Atlanta.

Then, COVID-19 hit, and they had to make a decision: Forge ahead, or scrap their plans.

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The interior of Breakfast at Barney's.
The interior of Breakfast at Barney's.

Credit: Terri Nash

Credit: Terri Nash

They decided to move forward. The result, set to open Aug. 31, is Breakfast at Barney’s, a breakfast and brunch eatery and daytime social club that its owners hope will “bring everyone together and share food, culture and good times,” Wyche said.

Wyche, who also helped to open Atlanta restaurants Gocha’s Breakfast Bar and Rock Steady and owned the now-shuttered Social House, said the restaurant’s concept was “exactly in my wheelhouse.”

The resulting all-day breakfast menu features “sophisticated Southern” fare, Wyche said, with dishes including 14K Gold Pancakes complete with edible gold; New York Steak and Eggs; and Bananas Foster French Toast. Beginning at 10 a.m., brunchier options like Fried Catfish and Spicy Spaghetti; Lobster Mac and Greens; and Queen City Shrimp and Grits are added to the menu.

Wyche said Sanford and Berry “put themselves into the fabric” of the menu. For instance, it was important to the pair for the menu not to have pork on the menu, so they offer turkey bacon instead; for every dish with a protein, a vegan option is available.

When the restaurant secures its liquor license, patrons expect mimosas on tap, bloody marys and a curated cocktail list. In the meantime, customers can quench their thirst with juices, smoothies, teas and nonalcoholic cocktails, including a virgin watermelon mojito.

Of note on the menu is the Mansa Musa Tower, named for the tenth Mansa of the Mali Empire, an Islamic West African state. Fashioned after elaborate seafood towers found in some restaurants, the $1,000 item comes with the 14K Gold Pancakes, Yard Bird Platter, Fried Lobster and Grits, one bottle of prosecco, two bottles of Veuve Clicquot and a variety of juices.

“You only live once,” the tower’s menu description reads.

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The interior of Breakfast at Barney's.
The interior of Breakfast at Barney's.

Credit: Terri Nash

Credit: Terri Nash

“We’ve always enjoyed the luxuries of life,” Berry explained. “I’ve been in the scene where people are purchasing bottles and having fun. We wanted to create something where you get the same feeling, but on a classier level.” He said the item’s name is also “an opportunity to teach the history of our culture.”

To that end, Wyche said it was important to the pair, “successful African-American entrepreneurs,” to have “Black excellence running through the veins” of the restaurant.

Designed by local interior design firm manner.co, the interior is “very art deco, but not thematic like Disney World,” Wyche said. “It has the feel, shapes, richness and colors of the 1920s without being so literal.”

The 78-seat space feature plush booths and a bar, as well as limited outdoor seating along the restaurant’s storefront.

Though COVID-19 delayed the restaurant’s planned July 4 opening, Berry said the vast majority of the original vision he and Sanford had at the beginning of the planning process remains intact.

“It’s definitely nerve-wracking to be opening now, but at the same time, we’re providing a service to people to still feel good,” he said. " We still want to bring joy to people.”

Breakfast at Barney’s will be open daily from 7 a.m.-4 p.m. and will offer dine-in, takeout and delivery.

349 Decatur St., Atlanta. 404-549-6042, breakfastatbarneys.com

Scroll down to see the opening menu for Breakfast at Barney’s:

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