On Wednesday afternoon, community members filled the role of amateur taste testers as The Local, a new eatery at the corner of Roswell and Atlanta streets, played host to a “soft opening” to serve about 150 meals.
Owner Jim Tidwell, who has lived in west Cobb for 30 years, said the soft opening was a chance to have patrons try the menu and “put pressure on the kitchen.”
Starting today, The Local will be open Monday through Saturday from 6 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., and Saturday from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The next step for The Local, Tidwell said, would be to start delivering dishes to attorney offices and other establishments in a three to four block radius around the Square.
But first, Tidwell said the staff has to be able to serve customers inside the eatery and outside, once tables are added along the sidewalk.
The Local now operates in the former space of Tommy’s Sandwich Shop, which had been in business at the same location since the 1970s.
Tidwell, who was a general manager for a couple of restaurants in the 1980s and has a real estate background, said he had been looking at many locations in Cobb to open a restaurant.
“Everybody starts off with an idea,” Tidwell said.
When he heard about Tommy’s closing, Tidwell said he went straight to building owner, Manning Properties, to work out leasing the space.
“We love the Square. We love the feeling of the Square,” Tidwell said.
The Local is not just about serving locally grown food, as part of the new farm-to-table trend, Tidwell said. The restaurant’s name is also a sign to patrons from the community that they will be treated like family.
Six months of sweat equity
Tidwell said he started demolition at the corner location at the beginning of August. He had hoped to open at the beginning of November, but the construction took longer than expected as each layer of paint and plaster was peeled back.
“This is a complete renovation,” Tidwell said. “I didn’t want to rush it.”
The building was erected in 1906, and Tidwell said there was a half inch of plaster to break off in order to highlight the original red brick interior walls.
Tidwell also added natural wood paneling that was once part of a barn in west Georgia.
Layers of false ceiling panels were stripped down to reach the original motley colored tin squares, which opens up the space with soaring ceilings.
“I put a lot of sweat and equity into this,” Tidwell said.
Another project was installing three giant “period correct” picture windows so diners throughout the entire restaurant have a view of Glover Park.
The kitchen is also entirely new.
“We ripped out everything back there,” Tidwell said.
Home cooking on menu
At the back of the small 1,200-square-foot space is a counter where customers place their orders.
Above the counter is a chalkboard where the day’s offerings are written, which Tidwell said could change often.
“Everything is fresh,” Tidwell said.
Thursday’s menu has meatloaf, fried chicken, barbecue pulled pork, a pastrami and cheese sandwich, collards, grits and marinated cabbage. Breakfast includes handmade biscuits and doughnuts.
“I tried to create comfort food that people grew up on,” Tidwell said.
On Wednesday, Tidwell said The Local burger was the most ordered item. The hand-patted fresh beef is topped with pepper jack cheese, roasted tomatoes, and homemade pickles.
“It is not for the faint at heart,” Tidwell said.
Also during the soft opening, many women ordered salads, especially one that was topped with pomegranates and goat cheese, Tidwell said.
Eric Suttle, a former minor league baseball player and the assistant coach for Walton High School, said he was anxious to try The Local menu when he stopped in to see the remodeled space Wednesday afternoon.
Suttle and his wife, Lauren, bought a home a year and a half ago on Stewart Avenue. They walk to the Square during good weather at least once a week, Suttle said.
On Wednesday afternoon, Suttle took a picture inside the space with his cellphone. He then texted the image to his wife and said they would be coming the next morning for breakfast.