Open since: Late January
Location: 2 Willies' occupies the corner of a shopping center at the intersection of Sugarloaf Parkway and Five Forks Trickum Road in Lawrenceville.
Owners: The restaurant's owners (and namesakes) are Willie Bailey and Willie Beatty.
Hours: 2 Willies' is open from 11 a.m. to midnight Tuesday through Thursday, from 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday, and from 4 p.m. to midnight on Sunday.
Atmosphere: In planning their new eatery, Bailey and Beatty sought to give Gwinnettians the same sort of grown-up, lounge-like atmosphere usually only found inside the perimeter. The idea arose, essentially, from not being able to find much to do out here.
"Every time we wanted to do something," Bailey said, "we had to go to Buckhead. We tried to bring something to Gwinnett that was different than what was out here."
The blues bar is targeted toward an older crowd, Bailey said - especially fans of good music.
Fittingly, the pinkish walls are lined with ornately-framed posters from old Mississippi blues festivals and Mardi Gras celebrations (all from the Willies' personal collection), as well as music-themed pieces of artwork. There's even a space in the back where live bands perform on Sunday, Wednesday and Thursday nights, and a big projection screen upon which the Willies plan to show old concert footage.
The menu: You'll find a variety of influences in the offerings at 2 Willies', from spicy Cajun to soul food. But whatever you order, the owners will be the first to tell you: "You HAVE to try the fried green beans."
This deep-fried Southern delicacy is one of the restaurant's signature sides - a heaping helping of batter-dipped veggie spears that taste even better submerged in the tangy homemade sauce they're served alongside. The crunchy casing makes it plenty easy to "eat your vegetables," but don't bother asking what's in the dip - the Willies won't divulge the ingredients.
There's a different secret sauce slathered on the restaurant's Turkey Club, adding a layer of sweetness atop fried turkey, strips of bacon, lettuce and tomatoes. This classic sandwich with a twist is served on toasted Ciabatta bread with a side of French fries.
For a little bayou flavor, try 2 Willies' Jumping Shrimp - plump little crustaceans sauteed in spicy homemade chili and garlic sauce. You can order them as an appetizer, or as a meal with a side of (you guessed it) fried green beans.
Beverages: After an alcohol-less first week in business, the unique-looking, copper-coated bar at 2 Willies' is officially up and running. The taps so far read Budweiser, Bud Light, Miller Lite and Heineken, and there are several other beers available by the bottle. The fully-stocked liquor shelves are home to every spirit from Captain Morgan and Bacardi to top-shelf stuff like Hennessey and Courvoisier. If a little vino is more your style, check out the extensive wine list.
Things you might not know: Just in time for warmer weather, Bailey and Beatty are planning to add an outdoor patio, along the side of the restaurant, that will seat 20 to 24 people.
SideBar: On The Menu
Fried Green Beans: An admittedly less-than-healthy way to devour a serving of vegetables, this deep-fried delacacy is served with a special secret sauce. (Appetizer, $7.49)
Chicago-Style Hot Dog: Since one of the Willies (Beatty) hails from the Windy City, he should know a thing or two about what makes a good Chi-town-style frank. ($5.99)
Turkey Club: Special recipe fried turkey served with lettuce, tomatoes, bacon and special sauce, all on top of crispy Ciabatta bread. ($7.99)