Ron Hsu and Aaron Phillips, chef-partners behind Atlanta’s acclaimed Lazy Betty in Candler Park, announce the summer 2021 opening of Juniper Cafe, a modern Vietnamese cafe and bakery at Westside Village (2250 Marietta Blvd NW, Suite 100), where Marietta Boulevard meets Moores Mill in Atlanta’s West Midtown neighborhood. Carl Van Tyle Gilbert, currently general manager and beverage director at Lazy Betty will also be a partner.
Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, the casual, colorful restaurant will feature Vietnamese specialties, like pho, noodle salads (bún), banh mis, summer rolls and housemade sausages, as well as made-from-scratch pastries and fun shaved ice options for kids and adults, including Coconut Shaved Ice with mochi and fresh mangoes and strawberries. Shaved Ice can also be topped with ice cream. Tim Rufino – currently a senior line cook at Lazy Betty – will helm the kitchen as executive chef.
Gilbert will manage a full beverage program, with a focus on cocktails incorporating Vietnamese flavors and ingredients, French and American wines and great beer from all over. A non-alcoholic beverage menu will offer guests craft low-sugar sodas – like Kumquat & Yuzu and Acerola & Spices – to complement Vietnamese dishes, and the restaurant will serve a robust coffee, espresso and tea selection for all-day imbibing.
By local architecture and interior design firm PRAXIS3, the restaurant’s design will include modern takes on traditional forms with stepped ceiling elements reminiscent of the terraced Vietnamese countryside and a patio structure that will incorporate interpretations of time-honored details from historic Vietnamese homes. Two patio spaces will include COVID-friendly seating as well as an outdoor takeout window for pastries, coffee and to-go food and drinks to enjoy on the go or around the property. The finish palette will boast bright tones for a fun and light-hearted interior to complement the locally sourced, fresh menu items. Casual and relaxed furniture will further Juniper Cafe’s relatable and family-oriented approach for a comfortable dining experience. Named for Hsu’s niece, Juniper Cafe is also a nod to the popular Midtown Atlanta street.
In anticipation of Juniper Cafe’s opening, the restaurant team will host pop-ups at Lazy Betty to give Atlantans a preview of the forthcoming food and beverage menu. The first pop-up will be held on Tuesday, April 13 from 6-9pm (or until sold out) and will be first come, first served. COVID-19 protocols will be in place.
An Atlanta native, Ron grew up working in his family’s Chinese restaurants. He was formally trained in French technique during his culinary education and served as executive chef of Le Colonial, the French-Vietnamese restaurant in NYC, in addition to working as creative director at Chef Eric Ripert’s Michelin-starred Le Bernardin, where he met Phillips. Phillips has also spent time in the kitchen at NYC’s Bouley, Jean-Georges’ The Mark Restaurant and The Four Seasons Hotel, and at Atlas Restaurant in Atlanta. With the announcement of Juniper Cafe, Phillips will now serve as Lazy Betty’s executive chef and act as Juniper Cafe’s corporate chef; Hsu will be culinary director for the two restaurants, and Gilbert will be beverage director for both concepts.