Chicken + Beer, the long-time-coming “Southern-style comfort food” restaurant from Atlanta recording artist and actor Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, is open at Concourse D of Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.
Recalling the 2003 Ludacris album of the same name, Bridges partnered with Jackmont Hospitality Inc. on the project. The minority-owned food service management company also owns and operates One Flew South at Hartsfield-Jackson, which was the first airport restaurant in the U.S. to be nominated for a James Beard Award.
The 90-seat space features a contemporary urban design, with energetic art and graphic elements, and nods to hip-hop album covers and graffiti. The bar looks out on the airport’s gates and runways and offers a large local beer list, plus classic cocktails and house frozen drinks.
Last week, Bridges talked about the evolution of Chicken + Beer, which he said was first conceived after his experiences in real estate and owning Straits Atlanta, a Singaporean restaurant he opened in Midtown in 2007 with chef Chris Yeo, then closed in early 2012.
“If this one is successful, which we’re hoping it will be, I wouldn’t be surprised if we were able to venture out and continue to open in other places,” Bridges said. “We have a very good team, and all of this was very strategically planned.
“Being at the airport is a different thing. People want their food fast, but they want it to be good. We want to cater to everyone’s needs, but we are taking some different ideas and giving it our own twist.”
Andrew Tabb, who was previously chef de cuisine at One Flew South, is the executive chef at Chicken + Beer, where he designed the menu with input from Bridges and former One Flew South chef Todd Richards.
“We definitely have a little bit of something for everybody,” Tabb said. “But coming from One Flew South, and with Jackmont playing a big role, the idea was to take it up another notch.”
One of the stars of the menu is the Bridges favorite Luda’s Chicken and Pecan Waffles with whiskey maple syrup, spinach and andouille sausage.
“That’s a homage to his name, and to chicken and waffles, and it’s already one of the biggest sellers on the menu,” Tabb said. “But it has a different type of flavor profile with more earthy, spicy notes and the whiskey.”
Many menu items include beer as a component or ingredient, including an IPA double cheeseburger with a hoppy cheese sauce made with SweetWater Hash Session IPA, Shrimp and Grits with a redeye-style gravy spiked with beer, and beer-battered catfish with corn edamame, succotash, parsnip puree, and corn relish.
Bridges declares himself a beer fan, who’s also interested in supporting local breweries and a wide variety of styles.
“I know there are so many different beers now,” Bridges said. “I was a fan of the World of Coca-Cola as a kid, and I still am. You can go in there and taste all different types of Coca-Cola, and that’s an experience.
“So for people who love beer, I wanted to create kind of a similar experience. I just think those two things, chicken and beer, go together. And not just because I named an album that. But because they do.”
Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, 6000 North Terminal Parkway, Concourse D5.
More images from a First Look at Chicken + Beer.