MARIETTA — Work on Mac’s Chophouse, the newest Marietta Square restaurant venture that has replaced the four-decade mainstay Shillings on the Square, is nearly complete, owner Randy McCray tells the MDJ.
New signs have gone up on the historic two-story building at the corner of North Park Square and Church Street, and while butcher paper still blocks the windows, a few passersby have recently been seen trying to sneak a peek inside through slivers left uncovered.
Dave Reardon, who owned Shillings for the length of its life on the Square, sold the restaurant in November. McCray’s new restaurant will have a focus on steaks and seafood, with menu items to include slow-cooked meat, six to eight prime Angus beef options and seafood dishes such as sea bass.
The new establishment will also boast a wide variety of wines, craft cocktails and 10 to 12 beers on tap, and the lunch menu will include a variety of sandwiches, salads and other lighter choices, he said.
Other items such as pimiento cheese fritters are expected to be adapted from the menu of The Mill Kitchen & Bar in downtown Roswell, another of McCray’s restaurants. He said the restaurant will be open for lunch and dinner, as well as Sunday brunch. Upstairs will be a more formal dining experience, while downstairs will be a little more lively, McCray said.
McCray said remodeling of the restaurant is about 90% complete, and contractors are installing booths, hanging light fixtures and completing touch-up work. He said the coronavirus delayed the goal of opening in March, and though there’s only about a week of work left to go, he’ll be cautious with a grand opening date, which he said should be during the first week of June.
“We just feel it’s the right thing to do right now,” McCray said, adding that the restaurant will eventually employ 40 to 50 staff. “All in all, it probably was a good thing, because it allowed us to do what we wanted to do instead of trying to rush the process.”
The restaurateur said those who visited the former Shillings will notice a marked difference — the space has been opened up significantly, the upstairs bar has been replaced and the building has received new plumbing, electrical, countertops and other features — but there will be touches of the building’s past sprinkled throughout the new restaurant.
“It’s much brighter and cleaner and fresher in the restaurant. … It doesn’t look the same. The restaurant has been completely revitalized. It’s a total overhaul,” he said, adding that the restaurant will be a high-quality but affordable dining option. “But we’ve kept a large portion of the antique bar that (Reardon) had that’s probably, gosh, it’s probably over 100 years old.”
Wood that was taken out of floors or ceilings in portions of the building has also been repurposed for other parts of the renovations, and the building’s original red oak hardwood floors have been restored, maintaining its history but also making it warm, McCray and his contractors said.
“We brought back a lot of exposed brick on the inside. Back in the ’70s and ’80s people ... plastered and covered up a lot of that beautiful brick and we just decided to go back in and tear that off,” McCray said.
For Gordon Brans, a 30-year Marietta resident and the contractor remodeling the building, the Mac’s job has come full circle.
“(My wife and I) used to come here for brunch when our kids were babies. They’re all in their 20s now. And I actually had a surprise birthday party upstairs for my wife about 10 years ago,” he said. “And we used to come up here and have dinner and drinks at the bar.”
Brans said revitalization of the restaurant needed to happen, calling the newly renovated Mac’s “the only really authentic bar,” in the area. Pointing to the floors, portions of shelving, windows and other features dating back to the early 1900s, when the building housed Schillings Hardware Store, Brans said keeping the history is both important and fascinating for customers.
“The Square needs a bar like this,” he said.
Former Marietta Councilman Philip Goldstein, whose family owns the Mac’s building, said the restaurant will be a fresh and likely welcome addition to the Square.
“They’ve done a phenomenal job with the remodeling of the building,” he said. “It’s a lot more open and … they made it where it’s much more accessible ... and the look is just a great look.”
Goldstein said the new restaurant “certainly has the potential” to become the next Square staple, but only time will tell.
That, said McCray, is what he and his wife, Kelly, are hoping for. He said the most exciting part of opening the restaurant will be joining the Marietta restaurant community.
“(We want) to have something to offer and try to help freshen Marietta Square up a little bit, give people within the community and outside the community reasons to come to the Square more,” he said.