Brookhaven, GA, August 6, 2017 — by Emily Morris for The Post — Lime green, red, and blue-painted walls, quirky art by local artists, musical instruments, and Bruce Springsteen memorabilia make up the décor of There Gastropub at 305 Brookhaven Avenue in Town Brookhaven. Around the bar, owner Bill Brown chats with loyal customers, many of whom he knows personally. As one regular put it, “it’s like the Cheers bar, where everyone knows your name.” The colorful interior shows the personality of There, which stands out in the Town Brookhaven development due to its artsy atmosphere, loyal customers, and farm-to-table menu.
The work of local artist Isadora Harper hangs on the wall to the left of the bar. Often her pop-art style paintings incorporate the word THERE, with coquettish female figures saying “hello there” or “hello out there” in speech bubbles. On Sundays for brunch, a jazz band plays from 12:30 to 3:30 P.M. On Thursday nights, Atlanta’s own Mike Veal Band plays a mixture of popular rock tunes from the 1960s to the 1980s with plenty of gusto.
I stopped by last Sunday and enjoyed the jazz music, friendly conversation, and “Atlanta’s Best Bloody Mary,” as it’s rated by such high-profile critics as Creative Loafing, Thrillist, and Eater Atlanta. The Crab Cake Eggs Benedict, consisting of two fluffy eggs atop crab cakes on English muffins, paired very well with the savory peppery flavor of the Bloody Mary garnished with pickles, olives, and a strip of bacon. The Bison Patty Burger is also highly recommended, proudly displayed as “2017 Critics Choice Best Burger in Atlanta” on the board outside. On different occasions, I tried the Housemade Pasta Pesto, the Arugula Salad, the There Burger, and the Crawfish Etoufee.
The freshness of the ingredients makes for especially flavorful fare, and the menus change with the seasonal produce. Brown procures many of his fruits and vegetables from an off-site garden, and he plays a major role in food preparation as well. I had the opportunity to watch him at work in the kitchen shelling lobsters from Inland Seafood in Tucker. Brown’s interest in cooking started at an early age, when he caught the “cooking bug” watching the show The Galloping Gourmet with Graham Kerr on television, and the “beautiful dishes” made with only “three or four ingredients” left an impression on him.
The New Jersey native and Springsteen aficionado held various Wall Street positions, worked at a mutual fund company, and was president of a distribution corporation, but never gave up his love of cooking. He moved to Atlanta in 1997 to be close to Hartsfield-Jackson airport due to his frequent business travels. After he grew weary of constant flights across the country, Brown decided to change careers, and opened There in 2012.
Since then it grew into a place dedicated not only to food, but to the community. It hosts musicians, artists, and political rallies. At There you can rub elbows with lawyers, musicians, artists, doctors, and carpenters sharing a drink and a joke. Stop by and maybe I’ll catch you “There!”