Atlanta Orders In: Wrecking Bar offers novel, safely distanced patio service

Takeout from Wrecking Bar Brewpub: The meatloaf with tiny dumplings; seasonal and pickled veggies and an order of fried okra. Courtesy of Wendell Brock
Takeout from Wrecking Bar Brewpub: The meatloaf with tiny dumplings; seasonal and pickled veggies and an order of fried okra. Courtesy of Wendell Brock

Credit: Wendell Brock

Credit: Wendell Brock

When Stevenson Rosslow moved to Atlanta in 1997 to work at Buckhead Diner, he stumbled upon a Moreland Avenue mansion with a striking portico and Corinthian columns. It was an architectural salvage business, but he mistook it for a bar. “I was going to grab a beer while I was driving around trying to figure out where to live,” Rosslow recalled.

In 2011, after an impressive run as a Buckhead Life Restaurant Group manager, he and his partners converted the Victorian-era Victor H. Kriegshaber house into exactly the kind of spot he was looking for when he arrived in town. Today, Wrecking Bar Brewpub has become a Little Five Points institution, a place that makes delicious beer, and food to match.

Even in pandemic mode — with abbreviated hours, a streamlined menu and a radically different beer program — it remains a vibrant and convivial spot.

Takeout from Wrecking Bar: crispy cod sandwich with fries, corn pups, fried okra and the Juice Willis: What’s Just Hoppened IPA. 
CONTRIBUTED BY WENDELL BROCK
Takeout from Wrecking Bar: crispy cod sandwich with fries, corn pups, fried okra and the Juice Willis: What’s Just Hoppened IPA. CONTRIBUTED BY WENDELL BROCK

Credit: Wendell Brock

Credit: Wendell Brock

On March 17, as the COVID-19 pandemic rattled the city, Rosslow told his staff that Wrecking Bar would close its cozy basement pub, pivot to takeout-only, and move from draft to canned beer. In mid-June, it debuted its so-called “barrel service,” a novel al fresco arrangement whereby guests sit at socially distanced tables and have servers drop their orders on old whiskey barrels, repurposed as tray tables.

“It’s been really well received,” Rosslow said. “People like it.”

At the same time, “now that we have dining outside, people just want dining inside,” he noted. The restaurant is in the process of opening its upstairs Marianna room, previously a rental space for private events, for dine-in service. Tables for a limited number of guests will be placed next to 6-foot windows, which will be kept open to allow for ventilation.

ExploreMore Atlanta Orders In
Wrecking Bar Brewpub offers outdoor “barrel service,” meaning the order is placed on a barrel by the table as a distancing measure. 
Courtesy of Wendell Brock
Wrecking Bar Brewpub offers outdoor “barrel service,” meaning the order is placed on a barrel by the table as a distancing measure. Courtesy of Wendell Brock

Credit: Wendell Brock

Credit: Wendell Brock

“We just can’t open the pub, and probably will not open the pub this year,” said Rosslow, 47, who worked at Buckhead Life’s late Nava and Bluepointe before Wrecking Bar. He’s down from 46 employees to about 20; business is about 40 percent to 45 percent of what it was, he said.

The culinary program was refined during the almost seven-year tenure of former Executive Chef Terry Koval, who left last year to open the Deer and the Dove and B-Side in Decatur. (Koval no longer oversees the Wrecking Bar kitchen, but he remains a partner.) The brewpub just named Michael Staniewicz executive chef. Previously of the Optimist, Staniewicz arrives shortly, and no doubt will put his own stamp on the food.

Meanwhile, Wrecking Bar has been diversifying its offerings — everything from frozen drinks on the patio, to Saturday carryout specials. And, it’s using its cellar to make and sell provisions, such as malt vinegar, hot sauce, sauerkraut, mustard, pickles, kimchi and fermented and aged sour beers. Also, it’s partnering with Georgia Organics to offer a pop-up market. From a link on Georgia Organics’ website, customers can order directly from farmers and makers for Wednesday pickup in the Wrecking Bar parking lot.

“I’m going to fight hard through all this,” Rosslow said. “I’ll be here next year. But, things will change between now and next year. We’ll have to have a different conversation.”

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WRECKING BAR

Menu: bar snacks, cheese, charcuterie, sandwiches and a few ambitious entrees

What’s new: frozen drinks; canned beer; house-made provisions; weekend specials, with a main, sides, bread, four-pack of beer, hand sanitizer and a roll of toilet paper

Alcohol: beer and wine to go

What I ordered: corn pups; crispy cod sandwich, with side of fried okra; meatloaf entree; four-pack of Juice Willis: What Just Hoppened IPA. I never can refuse those corn pups, stuffed with house-made cheddarwurst. The fish sandwich was wonderful; I was happy it came with fries anyway. No doubt, the fried okra is good hot; alas, it was a bit chewy at room temp. The meatloaf, with sweet peas, summer squash, pickled veggies and tiny buttermilk dumplings, was excellent. Loved the IPA.

Service options: patio service; carryout; no delivery; preparing to offer limited dine-in service

Safety protocols: follows CDC guidelines; employees wear masks and gloves; workers’ temperature and oxygen level checked before each shift; owner Stevenson Roslow said staff is interviewed to make sure they have been socially responsible

Address, phone: 292 Moreland Ave. NE, Atlanta; 404-221-2600

Hours: dinner, 4-9 p.m. Tuesdays-Sundays; drinks, provisions and beer to go, 1-4 p.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays

Website: wreckingbarbrewpub.com