PresS FOR THE CANTEEN
BEST RESTAURANT GROUP REVOLUTION. Why have one when you can have four? That’s the theory in play at Midtown newbie THE CANTEEN, which pushes the boundaries of the term “food hall” by splitting up a space that formerly housed one restaurant (the Spence) into three food stalls (Yalla, Fred’s Meat & Bread, TGM Bagel) and a full bar (Square Bar). It’s a bold and, dare we say, revolutionary repurposing of the real estate overlooking the Centergy One plaza in Tech Square — and clearly one built off lessons learned by partners Todd Ginsberg, Jennifer and Ben Johnson and Shelley Sweet at their Krog Street Market locations of Yalla and Fred’s. From coffee and a bagel in the a.m. to decadent sandwiches at lunch to a burger and a beer as the sun sets, the Canteen packs plenty of punch to keep both residents and office-goers well fed all day.
BEST OF ATLANTA 2017, CREATIVE LOAFING — SEPTEMBER 2017
WHERE TO OPEN NEXT: Food halls, mixed-use developments and more . . .
MIXING IT UP, restaurant informer — OCTOBER 2017
At lunchtime one sunny afternoon, Ginsberg was hanging out amid a sizable crowd queued up at the Canteen, and talking about why a food hall was the next step for his team, which includes business partners Jennifer and Ben Johnson and Shelley Sweet. “The big idea came from owning and working at Krog Street,” Ginsberg said. “The malls did this kind of thing years ago, where they could appeal to people who were coming to the food court. Here, we can appeal to students and business people and neighborhood people.” Asked about his transition from fine dining to more casual concepts, Ginsberg said it was all part of a continuum of handling food and managing people. “I think fine dining was important to learn how to run a walk-in, how to look for and treat the best ingredients, and how to set expectations for the people working around me,” he said. “It’s all about the quality things that make restaurant food excellent, and that’s what we try to do, even it’s a cheesesteak or a hamburger.” As to the breadth of menu items on offer at the Canteen, Ginsberg said that was a bit of serendipity. “Fred’s and Yalla are kind of opposites in a way,” he said. “Everybody wants a great big sandwich. But for people who might want something less heavy or more healthy, they can go next door to Yalla and have some hummus or falafel, and feel good. “But Fred’s has some new, lighter sandwiches here. We have a chicken Parmesan instead of the meatball. And we did a grilled chicken sandwich, where we cover it in tahini and broil it under the salamander.” But clearly, TGM Bagel has the newest of the new things to eat at the Canteen, and everyone, including Ginsberg, seems excited about that. “We’re doing all of the bagels here,” Ginsberg said. “As a matter of fact, throughout the day, we bring out hot bagels about every 15 minutes. Honestly, there’s nothing quite like a fresh bagel out of the oven. And then we have a pretty extensive build your own section of the menu. “That’s an experience we don’t have at the General Muir. So something like smoked sturgeon on a pumpernickel bagel, with cream cheese and a little red onion and capers, that’s a classic for me.”
This "mini food hall" headed for Atlanta's Midtown neighborhood comes from the owners of brunch-and-more spot West Egg and the acclaimed The General Muir, where chef Todd Ginsberg draws inspiration from Jewish deli traditions to great success. The team currently operates two food stalls in hip Inman Park complex Krog Street Market: sandwich and burger counter Fred's Meat & Bread and the Middle Eastern Yalla. The Canteen will feature smaller versions of both, adding two new counters: a bagel-focused offshoot of the General Muir and a cocktail spot called Square Bar.
With not one but two food halls lining the Atlanta BeltLine Eastside Trail, not to mention Q Trinh’s We Suki Suki “Global Grub Collective” in East Atlanta Village, it was only a matter of time before someone started a food hall the other side of town. And that someone is chef Todd Ginsberg. He, Shelley Sweet, and Jennifer and Ben Johnson (the team behind Fred’s Meat & Bread, Yalla, the General Muir, and West Egg Café) are opening a micro food hall called the Canteen in Midtown early next year.
What you’ll find at The Canteen, atlanta magazine — september 2016
The Spence, the Tech Square eatery that was launched by Concentrics Restaurants and celebrity chef Richard Blais in 2012, shuttered late last month. The rumormongers indicated a potential takeover of the space by The General Muir team was in the works, and now we have official word. Jennifer Johnson tells Eater Atlanta she and her partners will open a "micro-food hall" called The Canteen at 75 Fifth St. NW.