A new micro-distillery is gearing up to open in downtown Macon, while a new bar and grill just opened near the $42.8 million Macon Mall redevelopment project.
Meanwhile, a popular pizza joint has moved into its new downtown location, and a well-known, Middle Georgia chain of barbecue restaurants is working on a new concept to deliver their products to the Macon market after closing their Riverside Drive location.
Here’s a look at these business developments:
Business partners Will Robinson of Robinson Home interior design and David Thompson of Piedmont Construction Group are close to opening their micro-distillery at 664 Second St. in downtown Macon.
At a recent visit, Robinson was distilling a test batch of their product in “Little Richard,” a smaller version of their “Big Richard” copper alembic still. They’re focusing on whiskey, gin and liqueurs, he said.
The men have renovated a 5,000-square foot space that was once home to If It’s Paper.
The transformed space includes a tasting room, or open bar, where they’ll sell their own products as well “borrowed spirits” by the glass and by the bottle, Robinson said. Their whiskey is expected to take four-to-five years to ferment.
“What we have one month will not be the same thing we have next month,” Thompson added. “We call it a tasting room and it’s really a test kitchen of spirits where we are serving different things and seeing how our clientele respond to them.”
Thompson expects to bartend on Thursday nights.
“If we find something that people say we can’t live without, well, guess what? We’ll be producing a lot more of that,” he said.
The space includes an outdoor patio, an educational room that may be rented for private events, a small kitchen for appetizer-type foods only, and a large production area that houses their two large stills and spirits.
The name is a nod to the Longleaf Pine that once flourished from southeastern Virginia to eastern Texas. Robinson and Thompson plan to partner with farmers and the Georgia Forestry Commission to restore and conserve the Longleaf Pine.
They’ve been working on the Longleaf Distillery concept for several years. The target opening date is April 15.
“Opening a distillery is an act of patience,” Robinson said.
Bulldogs Bar & Grill
This new veteran-owned bar and grill at at 3750 Bloomfield Village Drive features 10 pool tables, multiple 75-inch TVs, a 110-inch TV and “some of the best food in town,” said owner John Boutwell.
Food offerings include pizza, steaks, gourmet burgers and salads.
Boutwell, who served from 2000 to 2004 in the U.S. Army as a signal support specialist working in IT, has been playing pool since he was a teenager living in the small town of Oneida, Tennessee.
“It’s just something that’s in my blood,” said Boutwell, who plans to host pool league tournaments.
Boutwell also expects to add a pro shop inside the bar and grill where he plans to sell pool sticks, related products and offer repair services.
The new business celebrates its grand opening Friday, St. Patrick’s Day, with food and drink specials.
Also, all military personnel and first responders get a 10% discount “on everything — all day forever,” Boutwell said.
Hours are 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday. The number is 478-254-3324.
This popular barbecue restaurant with multiple locations in Middle Georgia is expected to offer a “limited selection of Georgia Bob’s products in the Macon market again soon” after closing its location at 4921 Riverside Drive, according to a post on the restaurant’s Facebook page. “A new concept is in the process of development now.” A post two days earlier stated that they were hoping to relocate and reopen.
Jennifer Cox, a corporate owner and franchisor of Georgia Bob’s Barbecue Company, explained that the company is considering alternate concepts to provide their pulled pork barbecue, chicken salad and chicken salad salads (chicken salad on top of a garden salad) in Macon, including delivering their products to a retailer to market and sell.
They also haven’t ruled out the possibility of relocating and reopening a quick, fast casual restaurant in Macon like the one they had on Riverside.
“We’re coming back in some form to the Macon market,” Cox said. “I just don’t know the exact time or what it will be. But we’re not going to disappear from our market and our customers up there.”
The Macon location was closed March 1 after the five-year lease came up for renewal at the same rate.
“Though we were on the up bound — we were were headed up; the sales were starting to come — it didn’t come fast enough for them to be able to budget that same rent amount as pre-COVID,” Cox said.
Georgia Bob’s has its roots in the Peach Blossom Festival in Fort Valley in the 1920s. The first Georgia Bob’s restaurant opened inside of a convenience store at a gas station on Russell Parkway in Warner Robins in 2001.
That location still does a brisk business, along with seven other locations also in Middle Georgia — including another in Warner Robins and one each in Perry, Byron, Hawkinsville, Forsyth, Milledgeville and Dublin.
Georgia Bob’s also is a food service provider for Blue Bird Corporation in Fort Valley. Cox invited anyone that may be interested in becoming a marketing/retail partner with Georgia Bob’s to contact her at 478-737-4426.
This popular downtown pizza joint has moved into its new downtown location at 587 Cherry St. where it has more room to grow. It’s also across the street from co-owner Chrissy Lee’s other restaurant, Parish on Cherry.
Lee had talked about opening a sandwich shop offering freshly sliced meats in the former Fatty’s Pizza downtown location at 344 Second St. Lee could not be reached for comment on whether or not she still planned to pursue a restaurant in the old location.
Hours at the new Fatty’s Pizza location are listed as 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday to Thursday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and noon to 9 p.m on Sunday. The number is 478-744-9880.
Known for its made-to-order, hand-tossed New Jersey-style pizza, Fatty’s Pizza first opened at its original downtown location in July 2016. Fatty’s Pizza also has a second Macon location at 120 Tom Hill Sr., Blvd., Suite 103. Parish on Cherry St. is a Creole-Cajun restaurant serving up Louisiana dishes at 508 Cherry St.
This story was originally published March 17, 2023, 5:00 AM.