For about three years, a convenience store at the corner of Jonesboro Road and McDonough Boulevard in South Atlanta has sat vacant, as if gasping for a shot of octane.
It used to be an active gas station, too, but the pumps were taken out of commission more than a decade ago.
Now, though, the humble, flatiron-shaped site is undergoing a makeover that could bring it back to life and create a pedestrian-friendly destination for neighbors and visitors, according to project leaders.
Focused Community Strategies, a nonprofit concentrated on neighborhood empowerment, bought the property in 2018, and in February began cleaning up the site and preparing it for an upgrade.
The old buried gas tanks have been excavated, and the latest plans call for converting the aging convenience store into the neighborhood’s only sit-down restaurant, Jeff Delp, FCS’s director of economic development, tells Curbed Atlanta.
Neighbors, he says, are “very excited about a sit-down restaurant. There’s very little [nearby] in terms of ‘Hey, let’s take the family out for a meal.’”
The vision is to bring a fast-casual food concept with plenty of outdoor seating to the space—something that doesn’t throw up the red flags of gentrification.
“We’re not gonna be offering $10 tacos or $20 burgers,” Delp says. “It’s going to need to be something that, if a kid from Carver High School walks in, they can get something off the menu. Or a family of four can get something for $30 or $40, not $80.”
FCS, which also owns the lots behind the convenience store, is trying to buy part of Martin Street—a gravel road that cuts between McDonough and Jonesboro—to grow the footprint of the proposed restaurant.
If FCS can pull that off, Delp says, there would be more space for seating, and a small parking lot could be squeezed behind the eatery.
For now, the area is pretty quiet, save for the Carver Neighborhood Market and Community Grounds Cafe across the street. FCS owns and operates both.
“Hopefully, [a new restaurant] puts us on the map,” Delp says. “And, of course, it creates a few more jobs and another community space for the neighborhood. Hopefully, what we have here is a bit of a South Atlanta Main Street that becomes the lifeblood of the neighborhood.”
The environs surrounding South Atlanta, of course, are not devoid of activity.
About a mile to the north is The Beacon, and a bit farther is Georgia State Stadium, the anchor of fast-evolving Summerhill.
The new restaurant would also be just a stone’s throw from the Beltline’s future Southside Trail.