The restaurant is located in the historic Jones House on South Main Street, which underwent extensive renovation to preserve the bungalow-style architecture, while creating inviting and imaginative indoor and outdoor spaces, with a surprising mix of vintage and modern elements.
Since recently reopening for limited dine-in service, though, only six seats are available at the bar, along with some 25 seats on the patio, while the main dining room remains closed.
But, Neary’s shareable small-plates menu, which regularly features seasonal ingredients from nearby Levity Farms in Milton, has proved to be just the thing for takeout. And, favorites such as seasonal salads, roasted vegetables, pork belly skewers and a tuna poke bowl remain popular.
Because of the pandemic, “in March, we decided to close the dining room and do takeout only,” Neary said. He made use of the Paycheck Protection Program, and was able to keep the core of his kitchen team intact, while furloughing part of his service team — though he said he’s since been able to bring many of them back.
But, he noted, while dine-in service has been steady, and often has resulted in a wait Thursdays through Saturdays, business isn’t predicable at other times.
“It’s kind of all over the place,” he said. “When (Georgia Gov. Brian) Kemp says something people are scared of, to-go goes way up. But, then it comes back down, with more dining on the patio. It fluctuates pretty significantly. And, it’s hard to forecast without more data.”
Despite the pandemic, Neary is opening a second restaurant in late August at the Halcyon development in Cumming. It’s cleverly called Holmes Slice, and the counter-service stall will offer wood-fired pizza, and salads made with locally sourced ingredients.
“I’ve never opened a restaurant in a pandemic,” he said, and laughed. “But, it’s literally 9 minutes from home, in this new mixed-use development, with shopping, hotels and residential. We’re in the Market Hall, which is basically a food court, similar to Krog Street Market.”
Oddly, Neary said the pandemic sped up the build-out, because the Market Hall closed for three weeks, meaning workers were able to have access at all hours, and they used that time to create a lively space.
“The name is true to the brand, and the vibe and the energy for Holmes Slice is similar to Holmes,” Neary said. “It’s eclectic. It’s a little bit edgy. There’s pink, and there’s neon. The pizza oven was made in Italy, and it’s big and black, with ‘Vibes’ written across the front in white tiles. And, there will be skateboard decks on the wall, just like Holmes.”
Menu: seasonal menu focused on small plates and local produce, plus entrees and desserts
Alcohol: beer, wine, cocktails to go; full bar for on-site dining
What I ordered: local watermelon salad with charred fennel jam, cow’s cheese, balsamic vinegar and herbs; roasted cauliflower, with strawberry salsa verde and grilled summer onions; short ribs, with apple and soy marinade and slaw; pork belly skewers, with poblano and pina relish and furikake; strawberry cobbler, with vanilla ice cream. Everything traveled well, including the ice cream, because I brought a cooler. But, the sweet and tangy watermelon salad, glazed pork belly and jammy strawberry cobbler were standouts.
Service options: order by phone, online or at the bar for takeout; delivery and curbside pickup available; walk-up for full-service dine-in at the bar, or on the patio
Safety protocols: adhering to all state guidelines; using a sanitizing log; QR code for ordering
Address, phone: 50 S. Main St., Alpharetta; 678-691-8320
Hours: noon-8 p.m. Sundays-Wednesdays; noon-9 p.m. Thursdays; noon-10 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays
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