For Quatrano, who also operates the more casual concepts of Floataway Café, Star Provisions, and Little Star, the opportunity to develop a ground-up restaurant inside a mixed-use space was a no-brainer. “I think being in a food hall has really strong perks,” she says. “I’ve only had free-standing restaurants up until now, and things like not having to clean a bathroom—I know that sounds silly, but—it’s awesome,” she laughs. Being part of the community is also a huge benefit: “There’s a lot of camaraderie between all of the different places,” she says. “And there’s not really any place that I wouldn’t eat at and enjoy the food. It’s hard to say that about a lot of places.”
More saliently, having so many other concepts in Ponce City means Quatrano is free to hyper-focus her menus on exactly what she wants to feature. For her fish concept, which regulars refer to as “Dub’s,” “We don’t offer chicken, there’s no beef, there’s nothing but seafood: oysters, fish, and shrimp,” she says. The chef also benefited from having a longstanding relationship with investment and management company Jamestown, which developed the market. Dub’s was one of the first concepts to open within the food hall in 2015, which both allowed Quatrano to get her feet wet without the full force of descending crowds, while Jamestown could trumpet one of the city’s finest chefs as a tenant. She was also privy to the fact that both a burger concept and a fried chicken spot were planning on opening, allowing her to leave similar items off her own menu.
The result is one of Atlanta’s most unique seafood destinations, with about 30 counter seats reserved for full-service, while the rest of the indoor and outdoor space is fast-casual (both areas share the same menu). Nearly two dozen oysters are on offer, as well as the popular shrimp and oyster po’boys, and classic hearty soups like New England clam chowder and lobster bisque. Quatrano’s favorite item, however, is the Vietnamese salad, served with pan-seared or crispy catfish, all smothered in a “spicy, fishy, saucy, vinaigrette.”
For Pancake Social, which opened this March, Quatrano used all the knowledge she’d gained from Dub’s to tweak the quick-service to full-service ratio. “At Ponce City, one thing that was sorely missing there was breakfast,” she says. “Sometimes you just want to sit down and have somebody bring you your coffee; you don’t want to go get it.”
Accordingly, only about 30 or so seats here are fast casual: the majority—around 120—are reserved for full-service dining. The restaurant’s location on one of the market’s wings has also been advantageous: It fronts a parking lot, as opposed to being all-enclosed inside the food hall, giving it two points of entry.