Our client, Chef Joey Ward, approached us with a very small but iconic location, and big ideas for the two concepts he wanted to run out of his space: Southern Belle and Georgia Boy. Southern Belle (named in honor of the strong-willed, Southern women Ward knows and loves- including his wife and restaurant co-owner Emily) is a craft cocktail lounge and was designed as the initial experience. The design draws from the various contexts in which it is situated: the beloved Art Deco Plaza Theatre development with its iconic marquis and neon signage; eclectic Southern interior styling invoked by the restaurant name; and existing architectural features of the interior space. Georgia Boy (named in honor of Joey’s grandfather) is accessed through Southern Belle and is tucked away behind a neighboring tenant space and the theater. Georgia Boy was designed to be an intimate and dramatic chef’s table experience where Joey’s culinary talent is front and center.
Within Southern Belle, furnishings, fixtures, and interior detailing merge and translate the varied design influences. The curved corners present in the Moderne elements of the Plaza development are interpreted into soft archways and a petite curved bar and overhead soffit. A neon blue sign with “Bless Your Heart” anchors the bar and embodies the idea of blended and reinterpreted design features… a colloquial Southern euphemism rendered in bright buzzing neon. The blue neon is translated throughout the space in bright blue lacquered tabletops, high gloss trim, and blue milk glass accessories.
Guests of Georgia Boy are welcomed 8 at a time into a small private lounge area, where the Southern Belle palette begins to deepen. Once the first couple of courses are served in this space, a bookshelf swings open and the private dining room is revealed. The painting technique of chiaroscuro is deployed as a design strategy in the dining room, where the perimeter surfaces are kept in shadow to highlight the bright open kitchen and large concrete and steel dining tables. Handmade lighting fixtures and brass-accented leather stools add a refined touch to the minimal design.