Monday, January 25, 2010

Mayor Paul Luna?

Posted By on Mon, Jan 25, 2010 at 3:41 PM

black market shrimp

black market sliders
Guess who's running for mayor next go-round?

None other than Paul Luna. The brilliant  chef, who has returned to Atlanta after a long absence, has opened Lunacy Black Market on Mitchell Street in a rather seedy district of downtown Atlanta. When I asked in an e-mail what brought him back to Atlanta, he replied this way:

I want to be mayor. This time it's not a joke. I want to make this the best livable city for residents and businesses. And I want to surround myself with people who also share that vision for being an innovative center of culture, food and business. Of course, I'll need help. I'm hoping that some of my customers will lend their support and help me with my campaign. And, hey, if it's not Mayor this time around, I will definitely run for City Council, District 2.

black market room
Luna, always provocative and controversial, opened the new restaurant after bicycling across country to promote his bilingual children's book, Luna Needs a Miracle/ Luna Necesita un Milagro.

I lunched at Lunacy Black Market last Friday with two friends and fell instantly in culinary love with Luna's food again. The sandwiches -- actually a take on sliders -- were all under $2 and a small plate, shrimp with EVOO and garlic, topped out the menu at $3.75!

Besides the shrimp, we  tried a special of chick pea soup with crispy pork. And we ate sliders made with pork and mint; braised beef; and Asian-style pork.

Evening prices for small plates of many of the same items offered as lunchtime sliders rise to a whopping $2.85 on average. I haven't tried dinner yet -- the restaurant was closed when I showed up Saturday night -- but I'll report soon.

The restaurant dining room looks somewhat like the original Eclipse di Sol, with sofas and homey cabinetry. There's some very engaging art on the walls. The principal drawback is the lousy parking on Mitchell Street. There are meters along the street but don't think about not paying. Luna writes:

The city may end up scaring many of my customers away because of its new and aggressive parking policy that it outsourced to a private company. Every day, I get a customer who shares with me that they received a parking ticket when they were last in  my restaurant for lunch. (One of my guests received two parking tickets at the same time!) We have tried to talk to the city about measures that are more reasonable, transparent and fair to taxpayers, but they continue to respond that they need to stay within the confines of their $5-million contract with ParkAtlanta.

What isn't entirely clear about this is why the city keeps telling constituents/taxpayers to take their complaints to ParkAtlanta, when the issue regards public streets. Indeed, one of their goals is to extend parking enforcement to 24 hours. Its ludicrous for a city that doesn't share the density that the other cities they cited in their research do.

I'm not saying we do away with metered parking, but there are ways and there are ways for raising funds. Angering customers and businesses is not one of those ways.

Again, we're dealing with a city that extends a myopic vision for big picture problems.  I do hope that Kassim Reed will inject some fresh air into the fusty ways of the current administration.

Don't let this deter you. Go now!

(Photos by Cliff Bostock)

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