Atlanta chef hopes to breathe new life into site of Ludacris' old restaurant with Simon's

UPDATE, 8/23/17: Allysa Storms has replaced Marvin Woods as executive chef at Simon's. Read more about the opening of the restaurant, and the new chef, here.

A well-known Atlanta restaurant space with a hip-hop pedigree is getting a makeover with a new concept, look and menu.

Chef Marvin Woods, who owned and operated the now-shuttered Asante in downtown Atlanta , is set to open Simon's this spring at 793 Juniper St., the former home of Ludacis' Straits restaurant, which then became Time Restaurant & Lounge ( Luda went on to open Chicken + Beer at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport ).

Woods will serve as executive chef and operating partner along with owner Simon Guobadia, the restaurant's namesake, who operated Time and the popular Buckhead Bottle Bar, which closed in 2014.

Simon's menu will be "global cuisine" with "influence from all over," according to Woods, with a focus on small, sharable plates. The restaurant will also feature a raw bar that will rotating East and West Coast oysters, as well as a variety of shellfish cocktails.

The menu will also offer rolls "in the vein of sushi, but not quite sushi" made with Carolina gold rice and cooked ingredients. A full bar will offer craft cocktails, beers and wines with a focus on rums.

The vibe at Simon's boils down to one word: neighborhood. Woods said he hopes to create a "Cheers-like" atmosphere that will appeal to residents of the neighborhood.

"It's influencing how I'm building the menu," Woods said. "Everything's going to be affordable. The service is going to be good but not pretentious. Give me good food, give me good drinks, but make it affordable and fun. That's the idea throughout."

Woods -- who struggled with parking issues at Asante -- said a large  lot across the street from Simon's should provide ample parking for customers and provide an opportunity for valet parking.

Projects he previously discussed -- including opening the Southern-inspired Aunt Tiny's and reopening Asante -- are on hold as he focuses on Simon's and some out-of-state projects.

In addition to his restaurants, Woods has made a name for himself as the chef who helped spearhead Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign , as host of the Turner South program “Home Plate” and for his cookbooks.



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