Atlanta Dining: Kitty Dare Mediterranean Restaurant Opens in Former One Eared Stag in Inman Park
Mediterranean restaurant Kitty dare takes over the former One Eared Stag space on Edgewood Avenue in Inman Park later this fall. Owned by Jamshad “Jaamy” Zarnegar, former general manager and co-owner of the Athens restaurant Grill of last resort, Kitty Dare celebrates not only the cuisines of countries in the Mediterranean region, but also the life of a dear friend and the building’s past.
Zarnegar, who was born in Iran and has lived all over the world, calls Atlanta one of his favorite places to live. He attended college in Greensboro, NC, before settling in the area and working at restaurants like Spinnaker’s and Southern Life. Zarnegar says he’s held just about every job from restaurant, from dishwasher and bartender to sous-chef and general manager, and then as a co-owner of Last Resort Grill.
With a restaurant career spanning three decades in cities across the country, Kitty Dare is her first solo venture, and one that has deep and personal meaning for Zarnegar. The restaurant is named after her longtime friend and industry colleague Kitty (middle name Dare), whom Zarnegar first met in college. It’s a relationship he describes as that of a brother and sister, until his death from ovarian cancer in 2017. She and Zarnegar had always talked about opening a restaurant together. Kitty Dare pays him homage and a promise kept.
“She was just a really amazing woman. She was powerful, talented and stubborn. A true friend, ”Zarnegar says. “I told her that I would do something really special for her and that we would always toast at dinner parties. When I decided to open a restaurant, the name was an easy choice.
The front door at the corner of Edgewood and Hurt Street will serve as the entrance to Kitty Dare, leading to the 60-seat restaurant and bar bathed in white walls and accented with Mediterranean-style tiles and Santorini blue. Zarnegar has received permission from the owner of the loft next door to maintain a common lane, which includes a working fountain. He also plans to play on the restaurant’s 40-seat patio in the back, with blue umbrellas at each table providing shade in the sun in the spring and summer and radiators providing heat in the fall and winter.
Italian chef Giuseppe Esposito, who has worked in restaurants in Italy and Australia, runs Kitty Dare’s kitchen. Expect dishes here infused with ingredients and flavors from countries in the Mediterranean region. This includes much of North Africa and parts of the Middle East. Gnocchi on the menu, for example, could incorporate Moroccan flavors and ingredients, while fried steaks could be inspired by Lebanon.
Drinks at Kitty Dare can also pay homage to restaurants that once called the building home. The property has been a restaurant in one form or another since the mid-1980s, starting with the soul food Deacon Burton’s Grill.
“We were in the process of installing a little more HVAC in the building and the workers were in the attic and found the original Deacon’s sign,” says Zarnegar. “It’s beautifully engraved on words and has the phone number without an area code when everyone else had 404 [in Atlanta] a long time ago when they opened in 1983.
The Patio later opened in space, before closing around 2005. Chef Bantam and Biddy Shaun Doty’s eponymous restaurant, Shaun’s, opened a year later. It closed in 2010. Chef Robert Phalen took over the property in 2011, opening the critically acclaimed One Eared Stag. For nearly a decade, Phalen has served an affordable menu of ingredient-based Southern fare and popular weekly dishes from 1029 Edgewood, like Monday Fried Chicken, Meat Cheeseburger, and Breakfast from the chef on weekends. Phalen and his partner Frank Bailey chose not to renew One Eared Stag’s lease, closing the restaurant earlier this spring.
Zarnegar called his real estate agent shortly after the building was re-listed for rent.
“I am extremely aware of the past of this building and I want this restaurant to be a part of this neighborhood and this great neighborhood,” says Zarnegar, who plans to be in the restaurant every night during his first year.
“Being a neighborhood restaurant is very important, and we hope to have something for everyone, even families,” he adds. “I think no one will forget the name, and when people ask me questions, I will tell his story.”
1029 Edgewood Avenue, Atlanta.