“Not just locally in Atlanta with brunch, but also nationally,” he said. “It’s not just places like First Watch, it’s McDonald’s doing all-day breakfast now. So we went into a category that customers are clamoring for, and that market is so big.”
As a breakfast and brunch destination, College Park boasts a good number of street parking spaces, as well as lots off Main Street. Plus there’s a stop on MARTA’s Red and Gold line at the corner of East Main Street and Howard Avenue.
The city also is notable as a mecca for black-owned businesses, including the Breakfast Boys, Johnny’s Chicken & Waffles, Nouveau Bar & Grill, and Virgil’s Gullah Kitchen and Bar.
Asked about his restaurant’s relationship to College Park, Wyche said, “We wanted to meld into the community but still be a destination where folks will come from all over. It’s Georgia’s biggest little city.
“I used to live over here. From my doorstep to my dad’s doorstep in Brooklyn was two-and-a-half hours on a flight. It’s one of the best locations in Atlanta, and we just want to make people curious about what we’re doing here.”
Crystal Smith, who opened Johnny’s Chicken & Waffles with her singer-songwriter husband, Ne-Yo, and hip-hop artist Karlie Redd, said they chose the location for many of the same reasons.
“It just made sense to put the restaurant somewhere the audience would receive it well,” she said. “In College Park, there’s a lot of young people, and that works, because it’s a music-inspired atmosphere, and there’s a lot of foot traffic, and a lot of culture. We get a lot of people from the airport, so that worked out, for sure.”
This all-day breakfast and brunch spot is a collaboration between chef and restaurant consultant Lorenzo Wyche and partners Gee and Juan Smalls of nearby Virgil’s Gullah Kitchen and Bar.
Formerly a Greek cafe, Kafenio, the space has been transformed to present a cozier and more whimsical style, with big, bold French brasserie touches, and a bright blue neon sign that reads “Brunch is a good idea.”
The food, which Wyche says is made for “ladies who brunch,” tends toward substantial and indulgent dishes, like Jerk Chicken and Sweet Potato Waffles, Coffee Rubbed Steak and Eggs, and Pineapple Upside Down French Toast. Of course, there are signature cocktails, Champagne and mimosas, too.
8 a.m.-3 p.m. Mondays-Fridays; 8 a.m.-5p.m. Saturdays-Sundays. 3387 Main St., College Park. 470-312-2108, eatatbreakfastboys.com.
Johnny’s Chicken & Waffles
Reality star turned chef and meal kit maven Crystal Smith opened this lively spot with her musician husband, Ne-Yo, and hip-hop artist Karlie Redd. The restaurant features a full bar, and on weekends, there’s service into the wee hours.
The star is crispy fried chicken made with a secret spice blend, and served with sauces and classic or red velvet waffles. In addition, you’ll find jumbo chicken wings, chicken tenders and Buffalo wings, plus salads, sides, breakfast platters, sandwiches and desserts.
Chef Crystal’s signature Ne-Yo approved Seared Salmon and Cajun Penne Pasta entrees are available every evening from 4-11 p.m. or until they run out.
9 a.m.-11 p.m. Sundays-Thursdays; 9 a.m.-1 a.m. Fridays-Saturdays. 3725 Main St., College Park. 404-748-4244, johnnyschickenandwaffles.com.
Nouveau Bar & Grill
You’ll find a fancy feel at this bar and restaurant from owner and entrepreneur Ebony Austin. The clubby space features a patio, rooftop deck and VIP room, with live music, nightly drink specials, and karaoke on Fridays.
The wide-ranging menu offers starters, sandwiches and entrees, including the signature Nouveau Impossible Sliders. The big hit on the brunch menu is the Ultimate Cajun Seafood and Grits, with chargrilled shrimp, salmon and crabmeat, Cajun cream sauce, and stone-ground grits.
Speaking of grits, Austin recently announced that her new line of stone-ground grits is available nationwide via Shopify and on-site at Nouveau’s locations in College Park and Jonesboro.
2-10 p.m. Tuesdays-Thursdays; 2 p.m.-midnight Fridays; 11 a.m.-midnight Saturdays; 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Sundays. Closed Mondays. 3775 Main St., College Park. 404-343-6785, nouveaubar.com/college-park.
Virgil’s Gullah Kitchen and Bar
Co-owner and chef Gee Smalls grew up in Charleston, South Carolina, with Gullah family roots in nearby James Island. The restaurant is named for his late father, Virgil F. Smalls, and the recipes for most of the dishes at Virgil’s were passed down from Gullah relatives.
The daily menu prominently features rice and seafood dishes, such as Fried Shawk (shark) Bites, with descriptions playfully written with a nod to Gullah patois. On weekends, the Soul Brunch menu includes French toast sticks, shrimp and grits with crab gravy, and a Geechee vegan bowl.
In addition, there are signature cocktails, lunch specials, happy hour specials, $2 Tuesdays, and Throwback Thursdays, amid a neighborly local bar scene.
11 a.m.-11 p.m. Sundays-Thursdays; 11 a.m.-midnight Fridays-Saturdays. 3721 Main St., College Park. 404-228-4897, virgilsgullahkitchen.com.