Ria Pell, pillar of Atlanta's food, punk, and gay rights communities, has died

Funeral arrangements and details regarding a celebration of Pell's life are still coming together

Bluebird Owner and Chef who passed away in November 2013. Photo by Robin Henson
Photo credit: Robin Henson
Chef Ria Pell

Atlanta lost a true icon this weekend. Ria Pell, owner of the Memorial Drive diner Ria's Bluebird, co-founder of the MondoHomo queer music & arts fest., DJ, and 2012 winner on Food Network's reality cooking series "Chopped" has died.

Pell was a pillar for Atlanta's food and punk music scenes, and gay rights activism, who after three years had recently closed down her Inman Park restaurant Sauced to focus her attention on Ria's Bluebird.

Pell had recently misplaced her cell phone. On Sunday afternoon (Nov. 24), Ria's Bluebird manager Julie Pender went to Pell's Grant Park home to ask her a question, when she discovered that Pell had passed away. The cause of death is yet to be determined. Pell was 45 years old.

Since word of her death has spread, Pell's Facebook has been flooded with comments from friends and those who knew her. Longtime friend Nilan "Speakerfoxxx" Christen spoke of Pell's selflessness and of her influence: "She was mom to some people, a girlfriend to some people, a DJ, a chef, a brother," Christen says. "She was a matriarch and a patriarch of food, music, punk, gay rights, love, and family - she let people know that they mattered."

Funeral arrangements and details regarding a celebration of Pell's life are still coming together, but they will be posted here as soon as they become available.

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