While Atlanta United fans do the A-clap-T-clap-L-clap chant and Falcons supporters cheer loud enough to raise the roof at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, chef Michael Bertozzi is busy on the 100-level concourse, calling plays nonstop in the kitchen at Molly B’s to make sure there’s food to feed the hungry bellies of sports lovers.
Molly B’s has the distinction of being the only full-service, sit-down restaurant at the new venue. The 180-seat eatery has been dishing out food and drink to ticket holders since the stadium debuted in late August, but the restaurant opens to the general public for the first time this Saturday with the launch of lunch service.
The restaurant, a contemporary, Southern-style chophouse named in honor of Arthur Blank’s mother, is the result of a partnership between AMB Sports & Entertainment Group and Concentrics Restaurants, the hospitality group behind such local establishments as One Midtown Kitchen, Two Urban Licks and Parish.
The lunch menu, a seasonal carte that uses ingredients sourced from local and regional purveyors, includes salads, sandwiches, a burger and a fried chicken plate, among other offerings.
“We’re trying to get away from the idea that this is stadium food,” said Bertozzi, the executive chef at Two Urban Licks recently tapped as Concentrics’ culinary director.
The Power Bowl salad is a combination of roasted butternut squash and beets tossed with toasted quinoa, arugula and black kale, pomegranate and an assortment of toasted seeds. Sweet Grass Dairy’s Thomasville Tomme cheese adds protein. A hickory-sorghum vinaigrette unifies the mélange.
A tomato sandwich is piled with thick slices of tomato and a layer of arugula. Duke’s mayo gets slapped between slices of buttered, toasted H&F whole-grain bread. The meaty yet meatless sandwich gets served with house potato crisps dusted with addictive (rather than allergen-inducing) fennel pollen.
“This is one of those classic Southern things,” said Bertozzi of the tomato sandwich.
In developing the Molly B’s menu, Bertozzi was tasked with paying homage to Blank’s mother. After being handed a stack of her recipes, Bertozzi tried “to translate some of the things she did” decades ago in her New York home for a 2017 audience in the South.
Rather than a family-style whole brisket, he opted for a brisket sandwich, listed on the menu as the Beef and Cheddar, that combines smoked brisket with Tillamook cheddar cheese, caramelized onions and a house-made hickory-mustard barbecue sauce on a soft pain de mie bun. To pull off that menu item — and others featuring smoked meats, Concentrics’ smoker at sister restaurant Two Urban Licks now operates around the clock.
While some menu items are distinct to the Molly B’s lunch menu, others overlap with food offerings during Atlanta United and Falcons games. This includes the burger, a double stack, the patties made entirely from short rib, and a fried chicken plate featuring Springer Mountain chicken with sides of white cheddar mac and cheese and braised collard greens.
The bar at Molly B’s will be open during lunch. The beverage menu includes some dozen and a half beers on draft, or in bottles and cans. Also available are a handful of cocktails that range from classics like a mint julep and Hemingway daiquiri to a list of “contemporary” mixed drinks such as the Fruity Girl Drink of vodka with Chambord and a house-made sour mix, a peach-rosemary margarita and the Pecan Old Fashioned. Two boozy frozen slushies — rose sangria and the Whiskey & Coke — are also in the mix.
“It’s another option for people that work around here,” Bertozzi said of Molly B’s lunchtime service. “There are not a lot of restaurants here that are full-service, sit-down restaurants.”
Besides serving nearby office workers, Bertozzi and the AMB Sports & Entertainment Group hope that the restaurant appeals to tourists visiting attractions downtown — including the stadium itself.
The launch of lunch service at Molly B’s coincides with the debut of public stadium tours. One-hour tours feature nine stops, including a visit to the locker room and the playing field. Tickets are $25 per adult and $22 for seniors, military and children ages 3-12. Advance reservations can be made at mercedesbenzstadium.com.
Molly B’s will serve lunch daily from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., unless there are daytime sporting events. On Falcons and Atlanta United game days, Molly B’s opens to members three hours prior to kickoff. The restaurant is accessible to any ticket holder after the first quarter of a Falcons games and after kickoff for soccer matches. It closes two hours after games end.
Diners can access Molly B’s through Gate 2 of the stadium, near the Falcons statue, and look for the crisscross of wooden beams that loosely resemble a falcon nest.