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Quick Bites: Changes at the Spence, Cook Out openings, and more

Atlanta restaurant news

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  • CL FILE
  • MOVING ON: Major personnel changes coming for the kitchen at the Spence



Two culinary team members are departing the Richard Blais-founded Midtown restaurant the Spence, says Eater. Current Spence chef Adrian Villarreal — who’s been on staff since spring 2012 — is leaving the 75 5th St. eatery to open his own restaurant. Meanwhile, sous chef Spencer Bennett is heading West to join Blais at his San Diego concept, Juniper & Ivy. No word yet on the exact dates of their departures.

Buckhead Japanese restaurant Umi will remain temporarily closed through Mon., Jan. 12. According to a restaurant rep, the closure is meant to give its staff a rest and to coincide with "the observance of Shogatsu (New Year) and the JAPAN Tsukiji Fish Market being closed." The restaurant will reopen for service Tues., Jan. 13.

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In case you missed it, the Ponce de Leon Ave. location of Cook Out recently opened its doors. The new burger joint fills the vacancy left by Zesto when it shuttered on Sept. 20. Additionally, another location of the back yard-themed fast-food chain has also opened at 1112 Northside Drive near Georgia Tech. Many additional Georgia locations will follow in the coming months, slated to open in Alpharetta, Augusta, Carrollton, Gainesville, Lithonia, Warner Robins, and Athens. All told, plans call for at least 50 total locations across the state within a few years’ time.

The Westside location of the Real Chow Baby shuttered abruptly at 1016 Howell Mill Road. Signage outside the build-your-own stir-fry restaurant reveals that the eatery is picking up and moving north to Alpharetta. Additional locations reside in Virginia-Highland and Buford, at the Mall of Georgia. Details as they arise.

Little Five Points has a new vegan/vegetarian spot called Go Vinda’s Cafe. Expect raw eats and juices at the 1150 Euclid Ave. eatery, along with veggie-packed sandwiches, salads, wheatgrass shots, and more.

Also in Little Five Points, The Vortex Bar & Grill has closed temporarily to tackle “emergency repairs,” as announced by the owners on Dec. 28. Rumor has it the roof is the root of the issue, as structural problems required a previous hiatus for the restaurant about a month back. Details as they arise.

Virginia-Highland favorite Belly General Store is reportedly “moving,” while the space that previously housed the old-fashioned cafe at 772 North Highland Ave. is said to be undergoing renovations and conversion to a new concept. Some speculate that, due to its spotty web presence, inconsistent hours, ever-changing interior, and rumors of bankruptcy filing, the business is likely not moving anywhere, after all. Rumors point to a hookah bar taking the coffee shop’s place. Details as they arise.