Team behind Lazy Betty to open Vietnamese eatery Juniper Cafe in West Midtown

A rendering of the interior of Juniper Cafe. / Courtesy of Juniper Cafe
A rendering of the interior of Juniper Cafe. / Courtesy of Juniper Cafe

Ron Hsu and Aaron Phillips, chef-partners behind Candler Park restaurant Lazy Betty, are expanding their Atlanta footprint with a new restaurant in West Midtown.

The pair are set to open Vietnamese cafe and bakery Juniper Cafe this summer in the Westside Village development at 2250 Marietta Blvd NW. Carl Van Tyle Gilbert, currently general manager and beverage director at Lazy Betty. will also be a partner.

Named for Hsu’s niece and also a nod to the name of a street in the Midtown neighborhood, Juniper Cafe will be open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

The eatery will feature Vietnamese specialties including pho, noodle salads (bún), banh mis, summer rolls and housemade sausages, as well as made-from-scratch pastries and shaved ice options including coconut shaved ice with mochi, mangoes and strawberries.

Tim Rufino – currently a senior line cook at Lazy Betty – will oversee the kitchen as executive chef.

Gilbert will manage a full beverage program, with a focus on cocktails incorporating Vietnamese flavors and ingredients, French and American wines and beer. A non-alcoholic beverage menu will offer low-sugar sodas like kumquat and yuzu and acerola and spices, as well as a selection of coffees, espressos and teas.

A rendering of the exterior of Juniper Cafe. / Courtesy of Juniper Cafe
A rendering of the exterior of Juniper Cafe. / Courtesy of Juniper Cafe

The restaurant’s design, which will be overseen by local architecture and interior design firm PRAXIS3, ”will include modern takes on traditional forms,” according to a press release, “with stepped ceiling elements reminiscent of the terraced Vietnamese countryside and a patio structure that will incorporate interpretations of time-honored details from historic Vietnamese homes.” Look for “bright tones,” and “casual and relaxed furniture”.

The space will also offer two patio areas as well as an outdoor takeout window for pastries, coffee and to-go food and drinks.

In anticipation of Juniper Cafe’s opening, the restaurant team will host pop-ups at Lazy Betty to preview the forthcoming food and beverage menu. The first pop-up will be held 6-9 p.m. Tuesday, April 13 (or until sold out) and will be first come, first served. COVID-19 protocols will be in place.

An Atlanta native, Hsu grew up working in his family’s Chinese restaurants. He worked at restaurants in New York City, including Michelin-starred Le Bernardin, where he met Phillips, who also spent time in New York kitchens before returning to Atlanta. The pair opened Lazy Betty in 2019 to much acclaim, including a three-star review from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The restaurant was also named a James Beard Award semifinalist for Best New Restaurant in 2020.

With the announcement of Juniper Cafe, Phillips will now serve as Lazy Betty’s executive chef and act as Juniper Cafe’s corporate chef; Hsu will be culinary director for the two restaurants, and Gilbert will be beverage director for both concepts.

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