Bob Campbell, who spent years opening and operating multiple Taco Mac locations around Atlanta, opened the first Loyal Q and Brew in east Cobb in August 2017.
In February 2018, Campbell and his business partners opened a second location of the barbecue and multi-tap draft beer concept in the former Five Seasons space on Old Milton Parkway in Alpharetta.
A few weeks ago, they debuted a spinoff concept called Loyal Tavern. Located next to Salt Factory on busy Canton Street in the Roswell historic district, the cozy beer and sports bar has only 12 taps. But the food and atmosphere are plainly an update of Campbell’s Taco Mac experience.
The rustic-meets-comfy build-out of the former retail storefront features a roomy rectangular bar area, high-backed booths and communal tables. There’s a view of a TV tuned to sports from nearly every vantage point in the 180-seat space.
Loyal Q chef Dan Diersen, who grew up in Suwanee and trained in the culinary arts at Johnson & Wales University, put together the menu and has been working in the kitchen to tweak it.
Recently, Campbell and Diersen sat down to talk about Loyal Tavern.
“I guess I know a little about sports bars,” Campbell said and laughed. “Canton Street is obviously a great street. People love popping around to different restaurants and bars, so we just tried to fit in. We’re the only true sports bar in the area, and we tried to keep to that in the menu and the space.
“We really tried to make it communal. When it gets busy, it’s just full of energy, and I love that. The beer selection is a little smaller. We’ve only got 12 taps, which is the smallest number I’ve ever had. But we have two breweries nearby, Gate City and Variant. And the Alive Roswell festival every third Thursday evening brings out thousands of people.”
As to the ideas behind the menu, Diersen said his goal was to present familiar items in slightly different ways, and tie in some favorites from the smokers at Loyal Q.
“When you go out to a sports bar to watch a game, you want something almost like you’d cook at home if you had friends over,” Diersen said. “And at the end of the day, it’s bar food. But we try to up it a bit and take it to a different level, with fresher ingredients and some influences from around the world.
“Our sticky ribs are Korean-style. We use ribs smoked at our Loyal Q restaurants, then we bring them over here and deep-fry them and do a sweet and spicy sauce with gochujang paste, brown sugar, honey and chile sauce. We went back and used a former recipe to make our wings, and we’re pretty much making everything from scratch here in-house, including things like the wing sauce and our quick pickles.”
Though there are small plates and big plates, sandwiches and burgers make up the heart of the menu. There are four different burgers, including a patty melt and the double-patty Tavern Burger. But it’s the burger aptly named the Big Greasy that’s apt to get the most attention.
“That burger is made from beef from Stone Mountain Cattle here in Georgia. It’s 40 percent brisket, 40 percent chuck and 20 percent short rib, so it’s heavy fat, which is rich and delicious,” Diersen said. “It’s topped with fried white cheddar cheese curds, lettuce, tomatoes, house-made bacon jam and garlic aioli, so there’s a lot going on with that burger.”
But with that, Diersen likes to point out that there are healthier choices on the menu, too, including salads and grain bowls.
“It’s the same with the menu at Loyal Q,” he said. “We’re all about trying to bring everybody in here. We’re not trying to market ourselves in one direction. We want to feed everybody. We want men and women and kids. We do a kids menu with hand-battered chicken tenders. And then we have grain bowls and a cauliflower sandwich.”
950 Canton St., Roswell. 678-659-9412, loyaltavern.com.
More images from a First Look at Loyal Tavern in Roswell