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2nd update: Buckhead’s Joël Brasserie closes

Joël Brasserie — an elegant restaurant that for nearly a decade has helped define the upper echelon of Atlanta dining — shut its doors abruptly on Friday.

In the morning, the restaurant contacted guests with reservations and told them the news. Later in the afternoon, manager Jennifer Groese sent out a brief note to past customers that read, in part: “As of June 25, 2010, upper management has made the necessary decision to unfortunately close Joël Brasserie. We apologize for the inconvenience that this may cause.”

“It had a great heritage and really led the charge for fine dining in the city,” said veteran restaurateur Bob Amick of Concentrics Hospitality.

“The first thing I thought was we should’ve eaten there more often,” said Anne Quatrano, owner of Bacchanalia.

Joël Brasserie opened with much excitement in 2001 as the showcase retail property at the Piazza at Paces development in Buckhead. Chef Joël Antunes was an internationally recognized chef coming off a stint at the Dining Room at the Ritz-Carlton Buckhead. He won the James Beard award in 2005 for best chef in the Southeast. In 2008 he left the restaurant for a prestigious post as the chef at the newly renovated Plaza Hotel in New York. Antunes had made such a name for the restaurant that his own name stuck, even though longtime sous chef Cyrille Holota took over the kitchen.

In recent years, the restaurant tried to move away from the fine-dining segment by reducing the size of its showy dining room, adding the word “brasserie” to the name and adding more approachable items and prices to the menu.

But times have been tough for upscale restaurants of any ambition nationally. In Atlanta, the closing of Joël Brasserie follows last week’s closing of Repast in the Old Fourth Ward.

“The closing is not reflective of Joël, but of the times,” said Amick.

58 comments Add your comment

Puerquito

June 25th, 2010
12:34 pm

They should rename the restaurant JoëlBurger and serve drinks made with organic liquid nitrogen. POOF! instant succes.

Rick

June 25th, 2010
12:59 pm

I ate there 3 weeks ago, on a Friday night, it was less than half full.

Rodney

June 25th, 2010
1:24 pm

I ate there several times when Chef Joel was still here (served me my first sweetbreads and a love affair began!) – since his departure, I have to admit I’ve not been. Now I feel bad, especially for the employees who are out of work.

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by . said: [...]

Sons of Joe Dale

June 25th, 2010
2:47 pm

Overrated, too expensive. Yes, I have eaten there. There are not enough people in today’s economy who see food as Art.

UgotBlaised!

June 25th, 2010
3:04 pm

I ate there three weeks ago, on a Friday night it was less than half empty. Maybe if they’d served drinks made with organic liquid nitrogen, it would loosen some people’s sticks up! Bye, bye Joel. Or should I say, Via con Blais-O suckas!

Really?

June 25th, 2010
3:10 pm

Sorry to side track, but why all the Blais hate? The guy opened some of the most forward thinking spots in this city and they were not supported. Now he opens something that is well received by diners and critics, but the “foodies” online love to blast him. Grow up.

Bill

June 25th, 2010
3:12 pm

Sucks about Joel. Repast…no big loss.

M. Johnson

June 25th, 2010
3:12 pm

Joel will be missed. It was a lovely restaurant.

Dave in Marietta

June 25th, 2010
3:15 pm

I don’t want to eat at a restaurant where the e has 2 dots over it.

BPJ

June 25th, 2010
3:16 pm

Sorry to hear this. We’ve been twice in the past year, and it was first-rate.

Mark N

June 25th, 2010
3:20 pm

The executive chef invited my food and beverage management class for a tour. He was a great guy that was working his tail off to try to make the restaurant successful. I feel bad for him and the rest of the staff.

RK

June 25th, 2010
3:20 pm

This is terrible news. This restaurant was fantastic, as was Chef Holata. I was concerned that this could happen, as they had been tinkering with a lot of ideas over the last year (the $40 brunch? Awesome). I’m usually not one to be concerned with staff, but they were top-notch.

UGA Fan

June 25th, 2010
3:26 pm

Expense-account restaurants, in the $$$-$$$$ category, are hurting more than the regular $-$$ eateries in this economy. I hate to see serious chefs have to close their boutique kitchens, but maybe the silver lining for ITP dining is that a stronger and more resilient middle range of restaurants will open in their place.

Ronald McDonald

June 25th, 2010
3:28 pm

Get used to it folks. There are fewer and fewer nouveau riche foodies (a/k/a yuppie a**holes) to pay $250 for fine dining. It’s food – not art. Want to know how I know this? Unlike art, in 24 hours, it’s sh*t. If you like French cusine or Italian cooking or authentic Mexican, learn to cook, grab a nice Bordeaux, Chianit or bottle of Patron and create your own art.

UgotBlaised!

June 25th, 2010
3:29 pm

You are Blaised and Confused my friend. I ain’t hating. I want food I can eat, not look at. If I want to eat snails, I’ll go to Louisiana. Blais is Blaising trails like Louis and Blais, Christopher CoBlaiso, Blais De Leon (but without the dirty blankets.) We didn’t land on Plymouth Blais, Plymouth Blais landed on us!

Elizabeth

June 25th, 2010
3:34 pm

Agreed Ronald!

Chef123

June 25th, 2010
3:37 pm

I used to work in the kitchen at Joel, sad to see them close. It’s one of the nicest kitchens in the country, I’m curious what will happen to the space.

Puerquito

June 25th, 2010
3:40 pm

@ Dave in Marietta: your a a dumbass. First of all, it’s called on umlaut or diaeresis. Secondly, the best band ever has some of those dots in their name – long live the Crüe!

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Michael Erickson and Eli Zandman, Jason White. Jason White said: JOEL Brasserie in ATL closes for good. http://blogs.ajc.com/food-and-more/2010/06/25/joel-to-close/ [...]

Chief Wiggum

June 25th, 2010
3:41 pm

Wow….a $40 brunch is a GOOD idea? There’s a declining population of people willing (or able) to spend that kind of money on food.

Chief Wiggum

June 25th, 2010
3:43 pm

@Puerquito:

You are right, the best band ever has an umlat. Spın̈al Tap

JATL

June 25th, 2010
3:46 pm

Would like to get to the bottom of the Repast closing. My husband had dinner there late last week and was told they were changing the menu, but not closing. I have to say, not too sad about Joel, but Repast was excellent!

Bob from Accounttemps

June 25th, 2010
3:48 pm

Clearly so many of the posters have either not ever eaten at Joel or haven’t eaten there recently. This was not an outrageously expensive restaurant and even less so since the change to “Brasserie”. I am saddened – a true ATL gem with outstanding food and service. Almost every shi-shi, overpriced ATL I eat at I compare to Joel and what I “could” have eaten at this outstanding restaurant. Very sad indeed. I must say, though, the location was always terrible and they didn’t work hard enough to get the word out on their quality and value.

RK

June 25th, 2010
3:49 pm

Wiggum — actually, they were packed for that. But your sentiment is correct…

Lemmy

June 25th, 2010
3:51 pm

Not sure what umalot means and I don’t like no diaria, but I’m gonna go with Motorhead for the two dot bands. I once traited a friendship bracelet for a burger at Flip. I love that place. Just don’t get no restraining orders or you have to eat in the parking lot.

RK

June 25th, 2010
3:52 pm

Ironically, Bob, Repast was that very type of restaurant I hated because the food was nowhere nearly worth what I paid, while the staff was indifferent to awful. More style over substance. At Joel, I had the opposite experience.

Rudy

June 25th, 2010
3:53 pm

As good as it always was, Joel (the restaurant) never made a dime. It was a money pit.

booger

June 25th, 2010
4:04 pm

guess I missed my chance to eat at this fine establishment.

bearcastjacket

June 25th, 2010
4:11 pm

That is sad, but not unusual or unexpected. I watched that endeavor very closely when it was first announced. It was an amazing project, and was driven by such passion for excellence. These are different times, though.

Racer X

June 25th, 2010
4:12 pm

I remember going there for the first time when it first opened, i was treated to a back stage tour of the kitchen. I did the math in my head, and looked how many seats he had in the dining room and knew he could never be succesful.
He spent so much money on design and building that place he couldn’t have turned enough tables in the dining room, he would have to be full 24/7 and he was barely full 2 nights a week and never had a decent lunch following.
Great Chefs usally equal crappy Restauranteurs, you can’t spend more money on design and build than you can possibly generate no matter how great you think you are!
I will admit Joel was/is a great chef and I enjoyed every meal there.

Sorry to see it go! If you want to open a place, call me and I’ll go over the numbers with you!

Beavis

June 25th, 2010
4:26 pm

This place was horrible anyway. I finished my meal and had to ask for another basket of bread to fill me up. I think as far as french food goes, La Madeline gives you more value for a buck. Good riddance.

Auburn Fan

June 25th, 2010
4:34 pm

Not much love for the expensive eateries these days. I have only overspent on upscale dining a couple of times in my life and it always seemed like a waste of good money. Give me Longhorns any day.

Devildog

June 25th, 2010
4:34 pm

Sons of Joe Dale—I miss him.

Reno

June 25th, 2010
4:37 pm

Too bad for Joel. But that’s what you get when you go up against Chic-fil-A across the street!

glenn campagna

June 25th, 2010
4:47 pm

seegers was expensive, but great. joel was somewhat expensive, but mediocre.

dean

June 25th, 2010
4:48 pm

Uh, being away from ATL for so long now, are the Zesto places still open? If so, life is good. :)

kkong

June 25th, 2010
4:58 pm

Sorry…just garbage at best.

Carson Matthews

June 25th, 2010
5:01 pm

Their website says it will be closed June 27-July 5 in recognition of the 4th of July…Did they actually say they were closing forever?

Fred

June 25th, 2010
5:18 pm

@Really?: I wouldn’t call it Blaise hate so much as hate for over saturation. Think about how many trendy little places that have opened lately that slap anything on a bun and call it a “burger”. It’s not a “pescado burger” you moron, it’s a fish SANDWICH. It’s not a “swine burger” you frickin moron, it’s a HAM SANDWICH. (and so on, you get the point).

@dean: be at peace. Zesto still lives.

dean

June 25th, 2010
5:20 pm

Thanks Fred! (I never could figure out how the Greeks managed to serve up some the best burgers and hot dogs in town. Dang. I want a Chubby Decker!)

JMS

June 25th, 2010
5:22 pm

We live within walking distance of Joels and went there when it first opened, we were not treated very well at all, and I swore never to go back. My husband wanted to give it a second chance thinking it may have been that it was new, so we tried again, the second time we didn’t even get passed the bar area and decided to leave…my thought was there were so many other lovely restaurants in Atlanta that welcome us why spend money in a place where they treated us like an inconveniece!! That is right, it is one thing to not be treat well, it is quite another when you feel unwelcome or looked down upon as a patron…not to mention I was not that impressed withthe food anyway… The first meal I had was a fish dish on a bed of lasagne, or so the description read… the “lasagne” was tomatoe paste spread between two flat sheets of pasta, which was not even 1/4 inch thick. We ordered one bottle of wine for $80 (which was good, it was a South African Pinotage) and our bill total was around $300 with a tip…. and you wonder why they went out of business. Another reason I never went back was, Joel volunteered to be one of 5 chefs for a dinner that would be auctioned off at one of Atlanta’s premier food events, All 4 chef’s were considered Atlanta’s top chefs and all showed up in person for the dinner, as expected. The dinner sold for $15000.00, and no, there is no mistake in the 0 behind the 15, the first year this item sold Joel sent one of his sou chef’s, apparently he was too busy to show, the next year he showed up and apparently got into a tiff about where he was asked to park while unloading his dinner items so he left the premisis in a huff tyres squeeling with the course he was supposed to be serving…. leaving the other 4 chefs once again to fill in his spot. Again a $15,000.00 dinner for 12….. and he throws a fit and no shows…. SO while I see no mention of him on the Joel site his legacy lingers and if he is no longer affilated with Joels Brasserrie I am sorry it is no longer in Business if he is still affiliated , then the way I see it is, you reap what you sew, and sadly if the former is the case his bad karma spilled to the new “guy”….

Ephraim

June 25th, 2010
5:35 pm

Joel Brasserie was a unique restaurant who tried like hell to get Atlantans interested in it’s cuisine. Problem is most Atlantan’s think that cuisine is the french spelling for cousin! And, since so many Atlantan’s are married to their cousins they shyed away! (You know that incestual thing isn’t talked about in the deep south much). Anyway, a sad loss and I wish all past employees of Joel all the best!

janet

June 25th, 2010
6:02 pm

I had a wonderful conversation last night with head chef, Cyrille, from Joel. We discussed food, herbs etc. I offered him many of my organic herbs from my garden. He invited me to his restaurant anytime. He gave no indication that they were closing. This is very surprising to me.

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Spoiled Brat

June 25th, 2010
6:31 pm

For most Georgians, fine dining means “pulled pork and Brunswick stew.” For Atlanta to offer dining at a restaurant like Joel Brasserie is tantamount to throwing pearls to swine.

Puerquito

June 25th, 2010
8:29 pm

@Spoiled Brat – I like your style.

Puerquito

June 25th, 2010
8:33 pm

By the way – JK forgot to mention that Joel got the boot from the Oak Room in NYC…

Reality

June 25th, 2010
9:10 pm

After reading Ronald and Elizabeth’s comments, it’s no surprise that Atlanta’s restaurant scene is declining. They’re used to a trough and some nice hay.

Bill W.

June 25th, 2010
11:13 pm

I loved that restaurant and am sad to see it go. My wife and I have eaten their dozens of times: she threw me a surprise party there for my 40th five years ago and I was there just last week with a few good friends to take advantage of their $30 prix fixe. The space was warm, the service refined, the food inventive and delicious, and it was a place where you could carry on a conversation even when it was crowded. The staff were friends to us over the years, the chef was always willing to let our children tour the kitchen, and I can’t even count the number people I recommended it to over the years (none ever had a bad experience). I’m stunned that so many people seemed to view it with such disdain because though we have eaten in all the great restaurants in the city, Joel was the place we came back to every time we wanted a beautiful, quiet meal in a place that really knew what good service was all about. You will be missed.