Wonderkid, the Memorial Drive restaurant owned by Darren Carr and Eric Simpkins (Bon Ton, The Lawrence), closed over the weekend after nearly three years at Atlanta Dairies in Reynoldstown.
Rumors of its impending closure began circulating earlier in November, with one reader telling Eater that their server stated the restaurant’s last day was set for December 1. However, Wonderkid instead closed following dinner service SundayNovember 27.
“There just comes a time when you either lick your wounds and move on or just keep battling,” Carr said of the decision to close Wonderkid. “We felt the best move was to admit defeat. I could make a lot of excuses about the pandemic being the only reason, but it was a combination of the last three years and not being good enough. I don’t think we conceptually nailed it.”
Wonderkid opened in December 2019, just three months prior to the start of the pandemic. During its first year, the restaurant sported a food menu from chef Justin Dixon that included everything from chili-spiced sticky wings and pan-roasted duck with red cabbage spätzle to a diner-style cheeseburger, deviled eggs topped with bacon and pickled okra, and a falafel waffle served with sides of tabouleh and roasted eggplant. Brunch featured familiar comfort dishes like steak and eggs, eggs in hell, and bagels and lox.
Dixon left Wonderkid in 2021 to focus on his critically acclaimed sandwich pop-up Humble Mumble, currently in residence at Collective at Coda food hall in Midtown.
Like both Bon Ton and the Lawrence, Wonderkid quickly became known for its happy hour specials and cocktails, including takes on classics like the pisco sour with overproof rum and a Hanky Panky made with Japanese gin, Cocchi Torino, and Ramazzotti amaro.
In 2020, the restaurant played host to holiday bar Miracle, a move which offered more outdoor seating and social distancing during the height of the global health crisis that year. In addition to seating on Wonderkid’s covered patio, Atlanta Dairies allowed Miracle bar to expand into the green space beyond the restaurant to create an outdoor “Christmas district” at the complex.
For now, Carr says he and Simpkins are focused on their next venture together. The pair plan to open the Waiting Room at the end of December, a cocktail lounge with live music taking over the former Top Flr space above their Midtown restaurant Bon Ton.
Atlanta Dairies is currently home to Three Taverns Brewery’s Imaginarium, Cold Brew Bar coffeehouse, and the Eastern’s concert hall and rooftop bar, from the owners of the Variety Playhouse.
Fishmonger owners Skip Engelbrecht, Nhan Le, and chef Bradford Forsblom open counter-service restaurant Small Fry next year at Atlanta Dairies, serving fried chicken and fish sandwiches, falafel burgers, fish nuggets, and shrimp baskets from a takeout window. A rum bar called El Malo and Spina Pizza from Anthony Spina Jr. are also expected to open in 2023 at the Memorial Drive complex.