8ARM Restaurant & Bar will close on October 8 on Ponce De Leon Street after the property is sold to Buckhead Developer Cartel Properties

The critically acclaimed 8ARM Restaurant is closing Oct. 8 after six years along what is now an extension of hot dining on Ponce de Leon Boulevard adjacent to Virginia Highland, Poncey Highland, and Old Forth Ward. But closing it down doesn’t come without a recent reinvention of the slate.

On July 2, 8ARM will stop serving the current dinner menu and open the kitchen to some of the restaurant’s previous chefs, including Maricela Vega (Chico Mexican provisions) and Duy Huynh, and pop-ups like Plate Sale, So So Fed, and Ebi Chop Bar. Dinner service also goes from Thursday to Saturday, with Sundays open for events, such as the summer cocktail and Chaka Khan Hacienda dance party. No changes are expected to the cocktail and wine lists before closing in October.

according to Atlanta Business ChronicleBuckhead real estate developer Cartel Properties has purchased the property on which 8ARM and the former Paris antique and local goods market reside in Ponce for $3 million. Cartel plans to redevelop the site off the Eastside Beltline near Ponce City Market.

Cartel boss Matt Rohrig did not comment on the company’s plans for the property, instead saying record 8ARM will remain on site for the time being. But the owners of 8ARM Skip Englebrecht and Nhan Le (Fishmonger, Octopus Bar) faced a difficult decision: stay put until they are asked to leave or close on their own terms.

“This is a passion project, a passionate restaurant, a community restaurant, and we can’t compete with that kind of big money buying property,” Engelbrecht told Eater. “I understand the progress made in the cities, but there is something to be said for when you are at the forefront of a really great idea and space. The big players will eventually benefit from that insight.”

Engelbrecht also owned Paris on Ponce, along with Three Hearts Coffee Roasters with Le, before they were both destroyed by a fire in the building behind 8ARM in 2019. The building owner refused to repair the damage after the fire and offered the building for sale.

Boiled shrimp and grilled aguachiles by Chef Maricela Vega.
Ryan Fleischer

Ryan Fleischer

Le 8ARM first opened in August 2016 with the late Chef Angus Brown. Brown died suddenly five months later, leaving the nascent restaurant without a leader in the kitchen. Engelbrecht says his death caused a reassessment of how 8ARM would operate in the future, eventually leading to the current spirit behind the restaurant, which allows for an ever-evolving menu and regular reinvention. These renovations include a natural wine bar that took over former 8ARM Café and chef Marisella Vega, transforming the restaurant’s menu into a tribute to Central American cuisine, something that earned it a semi-finalist nod from the James Beard Foundation in 2020.

After Vega’s departure in 2021, 8ARM transformed again into a Japanese izakaya and sushi bar. Even the parking lot has undergone a change, transforming into an outdoor kitchen with outdoor seating during the first year of the pandemic.

“We have always tried to give back to the community, as with Chaka Khan as an event geared towards the LGBTQ community, Black Lives Matter parties for charities, giving different chefs and pop-up opportunities here,” Engelbrecht says. “So giving in at the end like this sounds good.”

Sidepiece in 8ARM

Sidepiece at 8ARM.
Ryan Fleischer

Regarding the possibility of 8ARM reopening elsewhere, General Manager and Beverage Manager Joshua Fryer says it’s highly unlikely. “We put a lot of ourselves into this. It wouldn’t be the same anywhere else.”

Engelbrecht is sure Cartel, if asked, would have offered the 8ARM space on the redeveloped property, but says he and Le feel it is time to move on and finish the restaurant on a high note.

Later this year, he and Le Small Fry will open at Atlanta Dairies in Reynoldstown, a counter-service restaurant serving fried chicken, fried fish sandwiches, and baskets of shrimp. According to Fryer, other projects are in the pipeline as well.

“For now, we are doing everything we can to try to take care of everyone before 8ARM closes, and that includes our staff and finding places for them in our other restaurants when the time is right,” Englebrecht says.

674 North Highland Avenue Northeast, GA 30306
(678) 705-9538

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