These days, every time I drive up and down Buford Highway I can’t help but think about the restaurant industry and those who have come and gone. It’s been over four years since the Great Recession began rearing its ugly head, and you don’t even have to be on Buford Highway to see its overall effect on the industry.
Even though I’ve been in and out of metro Atlanta going on 20+ years now, I’m beginning to lose sight of places that used to be around.
Do you remember:
Mirror of Korea? This sat in the plaza off the intersection of Ponce De Leon and North Highland and was run by a friendly Korean couple who outfitted the front window with a huge water wheel. I believe a Fedex delivery office is now in its place.
Toyotaya off Buford Highway? Oh my Lord, the thought of sushi buffet is not appealing as it was in the early 1990s when I was a college student and on a slim budget. But this all-you-can-eat sushi restaurant was a favorite with my peers and had an amusing sign at every table that read “Do not waste the rice of the sushi.” I guess Dr. Atkins had a firm grip on people twenty years ago as he does now.
Happy Hermans, Cheshire Bridge Road? I loved this place and it introduced me to the New York-ish deli before I knew what they are like. Happy Hermans didn’t close too long ago, and I was sad to see it go for nostalgic reasons more than anything else.
Two Pesos (speaking of Cheshire Bridge Road)? Taco Cabana is what this place is called now, and it pretty much looks the same (at least on the outside) before it changed its name. In college, a lot of late night runs were made here followed by an indigested wave of regret the next morning.
Hanwoori? At the time, this was probably the fanciest Korean restaurant in metro Atlanta and sat perched and aloof from the rest of its Buford Highway peers. The front door was a smoky glass automatic sliding door, and the inside was large and in charge. The last known time it was open for business was around late 2004, early 2005-ish.
Dinho Frank Ma in the Chinatown Shopping Center? Before the likes of Peter Cheng and Yiquan Gu (Gu’s Bistro) became the rave, Frank Ma was killing it with flavors that danced on your tongue. Ma then left and reemerged intown as a menu consultant to some hole-in-the-wall off Briarcliff Road. Ma didn’t stay there that long either and decided to call time on the business altogether.
Sakanaya in Norcross? I don’t remember too much about this Japanese restaurant other than our local critics loving it. I went a couple of times and enjoyed some izakaya favorites and sampled its lauded oden once. I believe it shuttered around the early 2000s.
Cedar Tree in Emory Village? Whoa nelly, this was a Middle Eastern favorite back in the 1990s. The restaurant made these delightful kebab wraps swabbed with a tangy hummus that is making my mouth water thinking about it right now. As is the story with most businesses in Emory Village, it eventually closed. The original owners opened a new place nearby called Mezza, which has completely fallen off my radar all these years until now.
A Taste of Thai, Norcross? This was the very first place I sampled Thai food, circa early 1990s, and it began a scorching love affair with the cuisine. I can’t recall when it closed, but I’ll always remember it was the first time I sampled tom yum goong (hot and sour shrimp soup), and it was love at first spoonful.
I know I am only scratching the surface here, so lay it on me… What else can you recall?
By Gene Lee, Food and More blog