Beginning early next year, fans of New York Jewish deli food will have a new opportunity in Sandy Springs to satisfy their insistent cravings for the perfect pastrami or corned beef on rye.
The General Muir, which for the past six years has raised the deli experience to new heights in the Emory University neighborhood, is opening a second location within the retailing space in the City Springs civic complex on Roswell Road. The restaurant, which has won national recognition for its ability to pump new life into an old ethnic tradition, is doubling down on its commitment to Jewish deli classics.
Chef Todd Ginsberg will not only be serving the smoked meats and deli classics that have won him nominations as the James Beard Foundation’s Best Chef in the Southeast but he will be adding hot bagels fresh from the oven in his exhibition kitchen all day long.
“We’ll have bagels coming out of the oven every 30 minutes for everyone to see. Then all day long you’ll have that fresh bagel smell coming off the ovens, which is intoxicating,” Ginsberg said.
In addition to one of the best bowls of matzo ball soup in the city, he promises his own take on such standards as cheese blintzes, chopped liver, and smoked fish platters. They’ll be served up from early morning to evening in the restaurant and an enclosed patio or available for takeout, something that is not done at the Emory location.
“We’ll probably have an expanded menu there and a large to-go section. Matzo ball soup in pints and quarts and all sorts of specialties, prepackaged and ready to take home.”
You can also expect to see some trendy Sephardic dishes from Israel joining the largely Ashkenazic menu based on the foods of Eastern Europe. Last summer, Ginsberg was part of a trip organized by Israel’s Ministry of Tourism to help popularize the newly trendy dishes of Israel’s Sephardic population from North Africa and the Eastern Mediterranean. The foods he ate and the people he met made an enormous impact on him.
“We had the best time ever. I learned so much. I saw so much, and I took away so much from that trip.”
Over the Labor Day weekend earlier this month, he taught a class at LimmudFest in the North Georgia mountains with the well-known Sephardic food expert, Susan Barocas, from Washington D.C. In January, just before the new restaurant opens, he’s helping to lead a weeklong trip to Israel for local food mavens that’s organized by the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta.
The restaurant deal was put together by Selig Enterprises, which developed a residential and shopping community adjacent to the complex that houses Sandy Springs city offices and a large performing arts center.
The City Springs Theatre Company there played a major role in the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival earlier this year. The festival offered hot coffee and snacks in the lobby of the theater and drinks in a bar that adjoins the theater, but the need for something more was evident.
The new restaurant, with its hot bagels and schmears, deli platters and a tempting pastry case, is likely to be a popular stop for the thousands who regularly attend the popular festival screenings. The restaurant, which has just finalized its kitchen design and general layout, hopes to be up and running before next year’s film festival, which opens in early February.
The executive director of the AJFF, Kenny Blank, sees a natural synergy between Jewish food and Jewish film.
“This is the perfect marriage of food, film, location and audience. There can be no better nexus for all of those things. Our vision is to create an anchor, a real hub for the film festival at City Springs and nothing brings people together like food and movies.”
Residents in Sandy Springs and Dunwoody still lament the demise of locally-beloved The Brickery restaurant run by Sally and Bruce Alterman. It disappeared almost four years ago after its location was redeveloped into an apartment complex. Ginsberg hopes to resurrect that restaurant’s braised brisket and sweet noodle kugel along with the sense of community that was so much a part of its almost legendary appeal.
“The Brickery had that community feel where you can go every week and get a brisket and salad and matzo ball soup,” he emphasized. “Whether you’re with family or whether you’re by yourself, or whether you’re with friends, you could do that and feel like you were home. I want to bring back the brisket and bring back that spirit as well.”