City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
City & State or ZIP
City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
City & State or ZIP

Beloved chef and restaurateur Ria Pell has died

 Ria Pell (cq), owner of Ria's Bluebird, and her infectious laugh during the lunch hour at her restaurant in 2007. (BITA HONARVAR / AJC STAFF)

Ria Pell (cq), owner of Ria's Bluebird, and her infectious laugh during the lunch hour at her restaurant in 2007. (BITA HONARVAR / AJC STAFF)

[Please read our appreciation of Ria Pell here.]

Ria Pell, the welcoming owner of Ria’s Bluebird on Memorial Drive, has died suddenly according to various friends who’ve posted the news on Facebook.

The cause of death has not yet been determined.

Pell was a well loved personality in Atlanta’s intown restaurant community. Local fans cheered earlier this year when she won the television cooking competition “Chopped.”

GA Voice is following the story, as are we.

Our condolences go out to her family and her many, many friends and admirers.

- by John Kessler for the Food & More blog

39 comments Add your comment


November 24th, 2013
11:00 pm

We’re just in shock about this John!


November 24th, 2013
11:21 pm

She was needed somewhere else…

FM Fats

November 24th, 2013
11:26 pm


November 24th, 2013
11:28 pm

The cause of death seems to be a heart attack. God rest her soul. I remember numerous conversations we had during the years.


November 24th, 2013
11:36 pm

such a tragic loss. Ria was always so positive and inviting. Her talents and charm will be missed.


November 24th, 2013
11:36 pm

This totally sucks.


November 24th, 2013
11:56 pm

She should get credit for revitalizing that side of Grant Park. It was her vision that transformed a defunct boarded up liquor store into a thriving restaurant, which in turn encouraged other businesses to open.


November 25th, 2013
12:04 am


November 25th, 2013
5:46 am

Chris Mills

November 25th, 2013
5:50 am

Goodbye, dear friend. One of the most upbeat and original people I have known in the last few decades.

Kevin Rathbun

November 25th, 2013
8:00 am

Rich with enthusiasm and a heart of gold, she will be forever missed

Laura Molnar

November 25th, 2013
8:48 am

One of the great ones! She will be missed by so many!

Keith Lee

November 25th, 2013
9:01 am

I’m really sorry to hear this. She had an infectious energy and sense of fun that will be missed in this town.


November 25th, 2013
9:12 am

What a tremendous loss. I remember her when she cooked at bars in Little 5 many years ago. One of Atlanta’s true originals. Condolences to her family and friends.


November 25th, 2013
9:20 am

Wow. In shock. She was an important part of Atlanta. She will be deeply missed.

Todd Semrau

November 25th, 2013
9:31 am

With her passing East Atlanta, Cabbage Town and Grant Park will never be the same. What a lasting contribution she made.


November 25th, 2013
9:34 am

I never met her, but I did see her on the TV show Atlanta Eats. She seemed like a real positive force. Sad.

(the other) Rodney

November 25th, 2013
9:44 am

We’ll miss you, Ria. Such a bright light -


November 25th, 2013
10:01 am

Every Thanksgiving for the past several years, Ria sent a truckload, literally, of fresh veggies to Reynoldstown for our Thanksgiving basket drive. More than enough broccoli, sweet potatoes, celery, onions, squash, etc., to feed 40 or 50 families. For this, for feeding our hearts and souls, we will miss you.


November 25th, 2013
10:02 am

Ria rocked!

Funniest memory: Watching Ria prepare a massive 40+ lb side of beef for a local PBA program. Imagine watching Ria (body piercings and tattoos a plenty) pounding and slamming this huge hunk of beef for twenty minutes (bam! punch! slam!) while the sedate soothing voice of WABE’s Lois Reitzes narrates. It was hilarious!

We’ll miss ya!

Local legend!

Rachell Runion

November 25th, 2013
10:21 am

This is a huge loss for Atlanta and the universe. Truly missed…


November 25th, 2013
10:26 am

Oh my Gah I am in shock. As soon as I seen her on Chopped, I told myself ” I have to go there.” This is so sad.

Ruth Gundlach

November 25th, 2013
10:37 am

This loss is almost too much to bear. I can hardly breathe, and the tears are just rolling. I met Ria at the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival. We were on the Main Kitchen Crew. I live in WI, and only got to the Bluebird once, and it was wonderful. My condolences to Atlanta, to her family, friends and employees (lots of overlap there), and to those whose lives Ria touched. She was a treasure, and loved you all with more passion than she held for life itself.


November 25th, 2013
10:44 am

Condolences to her family, friends and co-workers. So sad to have her taken at such a young age.

Laura Martin

November 25th, 2013
10:53 am

One of our favorite places to eat. Such a great atmosphere and amazing food. Did not know Ria personally but I know she will be missed.

John Wright

November 25th, 2013
11:43 am

I can’t count the number of times I’ve eaten at my neighboorhood restaurant, Ria’s. Ria thanked me several times for wearing a Ria’s Bluebird Cafe t-shirt during a taping of a Discovery Channel, Home Improvement Show, “Surprise by Design” at my house some 11 years ago. Ria always spoke to me and my family and was nothihng but kind. This is a true loss to our community, one that will take some time to get over. I especially feel bad for Julie and Thomas!


November 25th, 2013
11:51 am

Very sad. I am sorry I have yet to make it to the restaurant. I am a true ATL native and have not been. What is interesting is reading through the comments…everyone is very respectful and not hateful with their comments. This proves my point…


November 25th, 2013
12:12 pm

RIP…God Bless Everyone that Knew and Loved Her <3


November 25th, 2013
12:31 pm

Shocked and saddened. My favorite memory of Ria was eating too many donoughts with her at Spottted Trotter’s anniversary party. We had bumped into each other around East Atlanta and Grant Park over the years, and of course at the Bluebird, but something about honest conversation over foughnuts in the dark made her very real AND dear to me. Not many people around that are so unique. Sad to lose one! Hope someone can step up and fill the void.


November 25th, 2013
12:38 pm

So very sad. She was a wonderful person and Grant Park, Cabbagetown and East Atlanta have suffered a great loss. Rest in peace dear one.

Dirty Dawg

November 25th, 2013
12:55 pm

Wonder how Ria felt about the Braves pulling out? Thanks guys, hope it’s gonna be worth it to ya.

Pavel Mitchum

November 25th, 2013
1:19 pm

How old was she? Nobody has mentioned that. Just curious.


November 25th, 2013
1:36 pm

An “Atlanta Character”! She got in—–where she fit in—- and made it work! She will be missed…especially the full throated belly laugh! All the best to her family & dear friends.
Sandi Edmond

Richard Bagge

November 25th, 2013
2:00 pm

Pavel – not very. I believe she graduated high school in 1986.


November 25th, 2013
2:18 pm

So sad to lean about Ria’s passing. I never knew Ria personally, going to Ria’s Bluebird has been one o my favorite brunch places since moving to Atlanta.


November 25th, 2013
5:21 pm

Dirty Dawg – though she grew up in Smyrna, she recently posted a mock up of the Braves Logo, changed to ‘Burbs’. Pavel, she was 45.

karima harrison

November 25th, 2013
11:23 pm

BLUEBIRD you taught me more than you know .. thanks .. so glad our lives intersected


November 26th, 2013
12:22 pm

RIP dearest xx


November 28th, 2013
12:49 pm

Wtf !!!!!! You where always there for me through thick and thin ,you will be truly missed my friend.words cannot describe how much I will miss you :(