Published on March 22nd, 2016 |0
Souper Jenny closes shop March 26; reopens April 2 at History Center
In preparation for the move just a half-mile away, Jenny Levison will close her long-time original Souper Jenny location on East Andrews Drive on Saturday, March 26.
The combination café and independent bookstore will be new for the Atlanta History Center, a fusion of two businesses under one roof. The café-bookstore can be accessed through its own West Paces Ferry Road entrance or, steps away, the Atlanta History Center’s redesigned main entrance.
Located just off the expanded Louise Richardson Allen Atrium, which was completed in November 2015, Souper Jenny will serve from 11 AM to 5 PM Mondays through Saturdays and noon to 2 PM Sundays. The bookstore will be open 10 AM-5 PM Mondays through Saturdays and noon to 5 PM Sundays.
Souper Jenny and bookstore customers will be able to make use of the Atlanta History Center’s free parking deck, and museum admission is not required for dining or shopping. .
Open seven days a week, Souper Jenny at the Atlanta History Center will be a cross between a chic, funky local café and coffee shop, and reflect Levison’s dining style, décor, and destination dining
experience that has made it a favorite of countless Atlantans.
The menu will remain true to Souper Jenny standards with fresh soups, salads and sandwiches that change daily according to what is fresh in the local market. Patrons will enjoy dinners to-go, fresh, organic juices and gluten-free desserts from Juicy Jenny, as well as a full coffee bar featuring Batdorf & Bronson coffees and sweets from local purveyors.
“The vision is the same for Souper Jenny when we move,” Levison said. “The menu will be the same, and we will be open for Sunday brunch, offering the same popular $20 brunch we served at Café Jonah,” her recently closed Buckhead bistro. The Atlanta History Center bookstore will purvey beer and wine, as well.
Featuring floor-to-ceiling glass-front windows facing West Paces Ferry Road, the café-bookstore will more than double the indoor seating capacity of Souper Jenny’s previous Buckhead location. Additional seating will be available on a new outdoor dining patio overlooking Veterans Park at the Atlanta History Center.
“When the Atlanta History Center first approached me about the idea, I was skeptical. I always had a preconceived notion about what the History Center was and who they attracted and didn’t think our bohemian café was a good fit,” said Levison, founder and owner of a collection of cozy neighborhood cafés including four Souper Jennys and Juicy Jenny.
“It is apparent their enthusiastic focus is to turn these old perceptions upside down and introduce a new, more approachable Atlanta History Center with something for everyone. This is the
perfect fit for the culture of Souper Jenny,” Levison added.
“We have had a fantastic 16-year history of our own in our tiny Buckhead store, but I’m beyond over the moon about this new relationship and I believe, for us, it’s the next step in my vision of creating a stronger community here in Atlanta,” stated the popular actress, cookbook author and restaurateur.
The combination Souper Jenny café and bookstore was designed to be a community gathering place. Customers will be encouraged to pull books off the shelves and page through them, even while dining. Beyond the café tables, there will be ample seats for customers who wish to check out the greatly expanded selection of titles — more than 500, doubling what was previously offered.
In addition to the deep selection of Atlanta and Civil War titles for which the Atlanta History Center gift shop previously was known, cookbooks and other food-related titles will be newly featured, as well as books on gardening, architecture, Southern fiction, Southern studies, and Civil Rights. Books by authors with an Atlanta connection and University of Georgia Press titles will be specially displayed.
The bookstore also will offer a dedicated children’s books section and a larger children’s play area than at the old Buckhead Souper Jenny location.
A tailor-designed mezzanine level provides a beautiful view of the Buckhead skyline over Veterans Park and will feature themed and staff-curated book sections.
The bookstore’s gift selection also will expand. In addition to signature Atlanta History Center merchandise, the shop will significantly increase Atlanta and Georgia-made pottery, jewelry, and other crafts.
Guided by collaborative discussions with Richard Howorth and Lyn Roberts of acclaimed Square Books in Oxford, Mississippi, Atlanta History Center staff aimed to develop a strategy of combining the beloved destination dining experience that is Souper Jenny with the concept of a specialized and uniquely tailored bookstore. Part of the creative team’s planning included how to organically tie that unexpected combination to the Atlanta History Center experience.
“The staff’s vision for combining a bookstore experience within the fun environment of a Souper Jenny café furthers the History Center’s mission of connecting people, history, and culture,” said Howorth, who continues to consult along with Square Books colleague Roberts.
“They are open-mindedly looking at pairing multiple outlets to encourage creative and organic ways for people to interact, engage, and learn more about each other, while supporting Atlanta
neighborhoods and surrounding businesses. If they do this correctly, they will foster a community driven sense of ownership and pride for the Atlanta History Center,” Howorth explained.
“As our physical campus improvements continue to take shape, we want to be creative in exploring multiple ways the Atlanta History Center can connect with, and within, our communities,” said Atlanta History Center President and CEO Sheffield Hale.
“We want to do more than just engage visitors within our buildings; we want to find ways to foster opportunities to connect Atlantans on a daily basis, and perhaps surprise them a little along the way, Hale explained. “We believe the addition of Souper Jenny to the evolving Atlanta History Center experience is a great way to start doing just that.”
The new Souper Jenny café space and bookstore will be available to host special event rentals and parties for up to 100 people, and will be easily accessible from multiple points on the campus.