Jeff Bunch and Lisa Turner ducked into Shillings on the Marietta Square for lunch on Tuesday.
To their astonishment, they had to make other plans.
“We’ve been going there forever!” Bunch cried.
“They’re an icon,” Turner said.
As of Monday night, Shillings is no more. After 41 years, owners David and Carol Reardon decided the time had come to sell.
The restaurant at a prime Square intersection overlooking Glover Park has been a destination for decades.
“Shillings was a staple of the Cobb County community and I know many, including myself, will miss the atmosphere, friendly staff, and great food,” Gov. Brian Kemp, who stopped in numerous times during his run for governor, said on Tuesday. “Marietta is certainly better today thanks to the Reardon family and Shillings.”
The building is owned by former longtime Marietta City Councilman Philip Goldstein. After the sale of the business and new lease agreement were finalized on Monday, the space didn’t sit idle for a minute. New owner Randy McCray and his team were in on Tuesday morning. He and his brother, Scott McCray, operate other popular spots around metro Atlanta including The Mill Kitchen & Bar in Roswell and McCray’s Tavern in Lawrenceville.
“We’re excited to be involved in this neighborhood,” McCray said.
The location has a storied past. Frederick E. A. Schilling of Hamburg, Germany, sailed for America in 1870, at age 21. After landing in New York, he wound up in Marietta in 1875. Ten years later, he opened a hardware store, Schilling’s.
He and his wife, the former Amanda Agricola, also a German native, had 12 children and are believed to be the first Marietta family to display a Christmas tree.
The building was destroyed by fire in 1930 and rebuilt to house the hardware store until 1972. Upon its rechristening as a restaurant the name became Shillings, minus the C, although the original spelling is evident in the tile at the entrance.
Historical information comes from the excellent book “Marietta: The Gem City of Georgia,” by Douglas M. Frey.
Jan Galt, executive director of the Marietta Museum of History, went Monday for a final visit, having heard the news.
“It was always a great place to go,” she said. “I will miss going to Shillings and hanging out with 20 of my best friends.”
Renovations to upgrade the interior and overhaul the kitchen will take about three months. What to call the spot, tentatively a chophouse concept, is still up in the air.
Diners can expect an expanded bar with a broader wine list and choices of beers on tap. McCray is considering a private-dining area upstairs, where Shillings’ “Top of the Square” offered a slightly upscale alternative to the pub atmosphere on the main level.
“Dave did an amazing job. It was kind of like ‘Cheers,’” McCray said of his predecessor’s folksy charm. “I would like to carry that on.”
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