The Mill Kitchen and Bar will open Feb. 12 in the old Roswell Funeral Home location on Mimosa Boulevard. First renovated to house Relish in 2007 and then Pico Autentico in 2011, the restaurant site has been completely redone and updated by brothers Randy and Scott McCray and Marc Taft.
“Scott and I have been looking in several areas trying to find the perfect spot for our next venture. We were looking for an area with a strong culinary scene, a solid demographic ratio, and a business friendly city,” Randy McCray said.
“Roswell’s culinary scene is beginning to take shape and the excitement that the city has for a strong community development was very attractive.”
Scott McCray is the force behind McCray’s Tavern, with locations in Smyrna and Lawrenceville, as well as Cosmo Lava Bar in Midtown. His brother also owns a Midtown favorite, Carolyn’s Gourmet Café.
“This concept is unlike most of our existing concepts, but evolved through our partnership with our executive chef, Mark Taft,“ Randy McCray said.
Taft is the owner and chef of Chicken and the Egg in west Cobb, recognized as one of the Top Five Best Newcomers in the 2012/13 Zagat Survey of Atlanta residents.
The trio met through the Georgia Restaurant Association. Taft said the McCrays had their eyes on the funeral home site and were looking for a partner for the culinary and operations. “It was a match made in heaven. We are all coming from successful restaurants,” Taft said.
“We think Roswell has an up and coming food scene. Not only are the ones already here doing well, there’s room to grow as a destination for diners. We really believe in this space.”
One of the attractions is its proximity to the historic Town Square, Taft said. The Mill’s name is a nod to the old Roswell mill ruins that are not far away.
As Alive After Five has expanded to the square from the hugely popular Canton Street dining and shopping district, the Mimosa Boulevard location is ripe for a restaurant like the Mill, he indicated.
“Obviously, there’s a limit to what can go on Canton Street,” Taft said. “This is an extension of Canton Street, and we felt we could create a solid anchor on this end.”
In dealings with city officials and staff, “they have been very welcoming, very business friendly,” Taft said.
Both the interior and exterior of the space have been totally changed. The old bar is closed off and the new bar is now part of one big room. Tables and décor utilize lots of natural and stained woods, much of it reclaimed barn wood.
Colors are muted, mostly shades of gray, with plenty of natural light and antique-style silver lights. “It’s a modern approach to rustic,” Taft said.
He characterizes the cuisine as modernized Southern. “As Southerners, we dream about our food, we crave our foods. It’s attached to our memories as a child. Food is an emotional experience for us.”
As a chef, Taft is known for his ability to elevate comfort food by creating contemporary versions of classic favorites. “I’m going to be fanatical about local sourcing and fanatical about the quality of ingredients,” he said.
Of course there will be fried chicken. Taft will serve a bone-in breast, leg and thigh that have undergone two separate brining sessions then double dipped in seasoned flour and buttermilk before frying. The finished product has won continuous accolades at his Cobb restaurant.
His “pigs in a blanket” will feature andouille from Riverview Farms pork made by east Cobb’s Heywood Provisions, which will also supply the Mill with Riverside Farms’ ham hocks, bacon and pork bellies.
Other dishes Taft excels at are black-eyed pea hummus, pimento cheese fritters, fried Gulf oysters, Brunswick stew, pan-seared trout and Georgia shrimp and grits.
Desserts will include banana bread pudding with salted toffee sauce and sorghum ice cream; hummingbird cake, a true Southern delicacy. with bourbon pineapple sauce and spiced pecans; and an oatmeal cookie sandwich with butter cream filling served with house-made cranberry ice cream
Customers can choose to be served at the 37-seat bar, in the indoor dining room or on a 60-seat patio with a fireplace, gas heaters and an arbor.
Premium bourbons as well as hand-crafted cocktails with local and seasonal ingredients will be Mill specialties. The wine list leans to small winemakers and producers and demonstrates a commitment to domestically produced wines.
Initially open for dinner only, the Mill will begin serving lunch Feb. 18. For more information, call (770) 817-9347, go to www.themillkitchenandbar.com or find the restaurant on Facebook.