Mary Mac's Tea Room Reopening with New Ownership

Atlanta Metro Area,

Source: Atlanta Business Chronicle

After a pandemic-induced closure that has lasted more than seven months, one of Atlanta's oldest restaurants is planning its return under new ownership.

Mary Mac's Tea Room will reopen for takeout orders on Nov. 2, according to an announcement posted on Facebook. Dine-in service will resume Nov. 9. The classic Midtown establishment will also add online ordering — embracing a touch of modern service that has become necessary for restaurants to survive the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Mary Mac's closed down due to the pandemic on March 17.

Following the onset of the pandemic, longtime owner John Ferrell sought to sell the restaurant that he had operated for 25 years. A new ownership group that includes Harold Martin Jr., Bryan Rand, Michael Bodnar and John Michael Bodnar is relaunching Mary Mac's. Director of Operations Chad Reynolds will lead day-to-day business. The group, which also owns Atlanta-based sports bar chain Taco Mac, plans to retain the entire staff of more than 100 employees, according to a news release.

Mary Mac's will implement new safety precautions with the pandemic in mind. Among these are increased sanitation protocols, spaced out tables and clear markings for social distancing, sanitation stations for diners throughout the restaurant and mandated mask guidelines for employees. Upon reopening, diners will not be required to wear masks inside the restaurant, a spokesperson told Atlanta Business Chronicle.

“We will work with the team and listen to our guests to finalize any additional safety precautions that will make them feel more comfortable," the spokesperson said.

One of Mary Mac's six dining rooms will be renamed "Ms. Ellen's Room" in honor of longtime server Ellen Fraley, who died in June. Martin heralded "Ms. Ellen" as his favorite server.

“I’ve been eating at Mary Mac’s for over 20 years, ever since I moved to Atlanta,” Martin said in a prepared statement. “As a longtime customer, I understand what makes Mary Mac’s special, and I look forward to working with our team members to maintain those traditions. Southern food represents family, and Mary Mac’s always makes you feel like family.

"Mary Mac’s traditions are the fabric of what Atlanta was built on; a place where we survive the test of time, where all are welcomed with open arms, and where each guest feels at home each time they return. We’ll be using the same recipes that Mary Mac’s has been using for decades and offering the same made-from-scratch dishes guests know and love, served up by the same staff who have become a part of our families over the years.”

Mary McKenzie opened Mary Mac's on Ponce de Leon Avenue in 1945, at a time when "tea rooms" — essentially, restaurants owned by women — thrived in Atlanta. It was one of 16 tea rooms in the city at the time of its debut and is the last remaining from that era. Spanning a massive 13,000 square feet, Mary Mac's is one of Atlanta's largest restaurants, in addition to being one of the city's oldest. Famous patrons over the decades include prominent international figures like the Dalai Lama, Congressman John Lewis, Senator Hillary Clinton, and President Jimmy Carter, and entertainers such as James Brown, Beyoncé and Alan Jackson.

Updated with spokesperson comment.

Read the article at Atlanta Business Chronicle here.