We're back with our series Inside Atlanta—each week, we sit down with influential locals to talk about what Atlanta means to them. Today we’re chatting with Michael Lennox, the owner and managing partner of BeltLine hotspot, Ladybird Grove & Mess Hall. Lennox is a native of Atlanta, having only left the Peach State for his college years. In a past life, he was an attorney practicing corporate law and helping launch start-ups and small businesses. He couldn’t deny his passion for all things food any longer, though, and in 2014 he kissed the suit and tie goodbye and plunged into the restaurant industry.
Now he’s the owner of one of Old Fourth Ward’s most popular restaurants, and a connoisseur of Atlanta’s food culture. Today we get a tour of The Big Peach led by Lennox himself.
I live in… “Decatur, near the Square with my wife and two-year-old son. We’re in a small neighborhood called Lenox Place that’s hidden in plain sight. Within walking distance, we have a couple of parks, the Square and MARTA. It's a five minute drive to Ladybird, 10 minutes to Midtown or Downtown, and we are within close striking distance to pretty much anything on the east side of town.”
I Wish People Knew… “that contrary to popular belief, it is possible to live in Atlanta and not spend an enormous amount of time behind the wheel of a car.”
You Can Find Me… “in reality, most of the time you can find me at Ladybird. In my completely imaginary, parallel universe you would find me at various concerts and shows around town.”
It’s Dinner Time, I’m headed to… “Ammazza, or doing something simple like tacos at home, with a toddler in tow. But when opportunity (and hunger) strikes, the fine folks at Fred's Meat and Bread at Krog Street Market supply a mean cheesesteak (add jalapenos, thank me later). Just around the bend is Ticonderoga Club, where Greg, Paul, David and Regan have put together an unstoppable force with dynamite food offerings, an impeccable bar program, best-in-class hospitality and an all-around fun, relaxed environment.”
Clock strikes 5 o’clock, I’m drinking… “whatever beer I have on hand from Creature Comforts, a Negroni with Old 4th Distillery gin in the warmer months, or bourbon to warm the belly in colder months.”
If I Had to Stay in a Hotel, I’d check into… “the Georgian Terrace. I can't really speak to the accommodations of the hotel itself, but the surreal time warp that is the Trader Vic's in the basement of the Hilton Downtown is a quintessential "hotel bar" of yore and one of a handful of original Trader Vic's still remaining in the U.S.”
Atlanta’s Best Kept Secret Is… “its many historic, in-town neighborhoods: Inman Park, Grant Park, Old Fourth Ward, West End, Ansley Park, Candler Park… the list goes on. Atlanta has a ton of neighborhoods with rich history, distinct personalities, great parks and charming homes galore.”
When I’m Playing Tourist, I go to… “Piedmont Park or to one of the many first-rate restaurants we have here.”
I Get My Sweat On… “the Atlanta BeltLine’s Eastside Trail.”
I Love Spending My Money At... “other area bars and restaurants – Dish Dive in Kirkwood and Steinbeck's in Oakhurst are a stone’s throw from our house. Both are about as cozy as can be, and reliably hit the spot in terms of delivering experiences that are at a level of quality disproportionately large relative to their tiny environs. One Eared Stag and Bocca Lupo in Inman Park round things out on the regular rotation. When time allows, a trip up Buford Highway always satisfies as well.”