Friday, August 10, 2012

Can The Drafting Table fill Hill Street Tavern's shoes?

Posted By on Fri, Aug 10, 2012 at 2:31 PM

Can it live up to college kids’ expectations for a new hot spot?
  • The Drafting Table
  • Can it live up to college kids expectations for a new hot spot?

Last week we informed you about a new bar taking over the shell of the once-loved college bar, Hill Street Tavern, which was located only blocks from Georgia State University at 349 Decatur Street.

The Drafting Table is the newest venture from the guys behind Midtown Tavern, located off Piedmont Ave. If this new concept is anything like Midtown Tavern—pool tables, good beer, great twists on traditional bar cuisine—there could be great success coming to the area.

Still, many of Hill Street's regular patrons (myself included) were upset by the bar's closing. When I saw that a new gastropub would be taking its place, I had to wonder if The Drafting Table would be able to attract the same crowd, or even be a contender among the other bars in the area.

Here are my concerns: Concept. The Drafting Table is slated to be a gastropub. When I think gastropub, I think Midtown bars like Ormsby’s, equipped with a dimly-lit, English-pub design, pricey craft beer, and a crowd of young professionals with deep wallets.

And after scanning a proposed menu, it seems like gastropub prices might pose a problem for the area's resident college crowd.

More after the jump

Sounds delicious, right? But let’s think about the average college kid who is probably living off ramen noodles and stale pizza. Hill Street Tavern’s menu was a geared a little closer to this demographic.

The Drafting Table team boasts of "chef-driven, 'from scratch'" foods, and "carefully chosen craft beers and bourbons", according to Matt Chavis, general manager at Midtown Tavern. Some of the proposed dishes include "braised kale, with smoked tomato and roasted peanuts", "duck breast, Israeli cous cous with roasted garlic and dates", and "curried oxtail". This is a significant departure from Hill Street's former menu of smoked chicken wings, fish and chips, chicken fingers, and fat, juicy burgers. Even though Hill Street wasn’t really known for their cuisine, they did offer many a drunken college kid the ability to soak up the booze without breaking the bank.

Of course, The Drafting Table’s concept menu does not offer prices because items are subject to change, but with items like curried oxtail, I’ve got to wonder, will the college crowd even want to try to sober up with these dishes, let alone be able to afford them?

This brings me to my second concern: Location. The space sits on the corner of Decatur and Hill St., a walkable distance to Georgia State. The location is also home to the Pencil Factory Lofts, an apartment complex flooded with GSU residents.

In the time before Hill Street even existed,nearby bars were geared toward the college crowd. The biggest contender is The Republic Social House off Memorial Drive, not even a mile away from The Drafting Table's upcoming location. I have to admit I am a regular there, and became one after Hill Street closed its doors. Reason being, Republic caters to the needs of a college student. Cheap alcohol and good eats that won’t drain the wallet.

Republic offers the Po’ Man’s Platter (see where I’m going with this?), which offers a pint of Republic draft, a shot of Jager, and a well cocktail of your choice for around $8. They also serve up sandwiches, burgers, and wraps all under $12, and available until 2:30 a.m.

Other honorable mentions in this same category go to Noni’s Bar and Deli and Sister Louisa’s Church, both of which are local, open to 2:30 a.m. or later, and offer decently priced adult drinks.

With all of that being said, the question remains: Will The Drafting Table focus on creating a young professional atmosphere with chef-driven cuisine and pricey craft beer, or will they fill the shoes of Hill Street Tavern and become a contender for the local college-bar scene?

The answer could come soon enough when The Drafting Table is scheduled to opens its doors in September.

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