Chef Drew Van Leuvan announces departure from Seven Lamps

Chef Drew Van Leuvan puts the final touches on a dish before sending it out. 
Becky Stein for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Chef Drew Van Leuvan puts the final touches on a dish before sending it out. Becky Stein for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Yvonne Zusel

Credit: Yvonne Zusel

Chef Drew Van Leuvan has said goodbye to Seven Lamps. Van Leuvan has announced that he is stepping away for good from his position as executive chef and operating partner of the restaurant he launched in Buckhead’s Shops Around Lenox complex nearly eight years ago.

Van Leuvan attributed the decision to the accumulated strains of running the restaurant during the pandemic.

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The dining room at Seven Lamps has been rearranged for social distancing.
Courtesy of Seven Lamps
The dining room at Seven Lamps has been rearranged for social distancing. Courtesy of Seven Lamps

Credit: HANDOUT

Credit: HANDOUT

“The Lamps location hinged on hotel business and food traffic and office business. That dried up really quick,” he said.

Keeping the restaurant operationally viable required massive cost-trimming and took a personal toll on Van Leuvan. “I was working with minimal staff at best, multiple days a week working two stations,” he said. “It took an incredible amount of work. It’s really hard to watch something slowly disintegrate.”

While he found it in his best interest to move on from Seven Lamps, Van Leuvan said that he will especially miss his staff. “I have lots of people who have been there for all eight years, which doesn’t really happen very much.”

Seven Lamps executive chef Drew Van Leuvan (right) and the restaurant's bar manager and general manager Vinnie Dugan pause from filling Easter brunch to-go orders earlier this year. 
Courtesy of Drew Van Leuvan
Seven Lamps executive chef Drew Van Leuvan (right) and the restaurant's bar manager and general manager Vinnie Dugan pause from filling Easter brunch to-go orders earlier this year. Courtesy of Drew Van Leuvan

Credit: Handout

Credit: Handout

The announcement comes after weeks of planning the transition. “The restaurant is not closing. It’s just transitioning,” he reiterated.

Robert Rambo has been hired as Seven Lamps executive chef. Rambo previously ran the kitchen at Alma Cocina downtown, which restaurant remains closed during the pandemic.

The patio at Seven Lamps in Buckhead. 
Courtesy of Seven Lamps
The patio at Seven Lamps in Buckhead. Courtesy of Seven Lamps

Credit: HANDOUT

Credit: HANDOUT

The rest of the Seven Lamps ownership group will remain. That group also operates Cypress Street Pint & Plate, Hearth Pizza Tavern, Howell’s Kitchen & Bar, Parma Tavern, Atwoods Pizza Cafe and Tavernpointe. The latter has yet to re-open after temporarily closing due to COVID-19.

Speaking from a family cabin in the mountains of North Carolina, Van Leuvan stated that he will take some time to formulate his next career move. “I’m going to use this time to reflect,” said the 2000 Culinary Institute of America graduate who apprenticed under esteemed chefs like Jean Louis Palladin, Guenter Seeger and Wylie Dufresne, and has run kitchens at some of Atlanta’s most well-known dining establishments.

“For the first time in my life, actually, I can think. Maybe read a few books,” he said. “It is really nice up in the mountains right now.”

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