Could it be a happy ending after all?
This week, Gwinnett foodies have two new restaurants to try out, just months after the closing of the Norcross Station Cafe at the city’s historic train depot.
About six months ago many were upset to learn of the 20-year tradition closing, when proprietor Ken Weatherford was outbid in a city government process.
“It certainly was an element that has been missed severely,” Mayor Bucky Johnson said. “People have been waiting.”
But on Monday, Luis Fernandez opened The Crossing inside the depot location, while Weatherford opened his new eatery, MacKenzie’s Restaurant and Tap Room, less than three miles away at 4790 Peachtree Industrial Boulevard in the city of Berkeley Lake.
“I’m very excited to get back to work,” Weatherford said as lunch patrons arrived to the restaurant’s soft opening. “It’s been a lot of fun,” creating the new concept.
Named after his 12-year-old daughter, the restaurant features many of the old favorites from the Norcross Station Cafe, and many of the kitchen staff are continuing on. With a couple dozen new creations on the menu, Weatherford said the restuarant has a strong selection, from sandwiches, burgers and salads to seafood, steaks, chops and ribs in the same casual dining experience his patrons remember from the former location.
The second-floor location has a rustic lodge theme, with seating for 120 inside and 50 on the patio, plus a gorgeous view of the treetops, he said.
Fernandez was not available for comment Monday, but Johnson said he ate at The Crossing during a special event this weekend, prior to the opening to the public.
The restaurant, he said, has been turned up a notch, with the decor and the food going more upscale in the century-old depot. That provides a new choice to the downtown area, giving choices to residents and visitors, he said.
“There’s definitely excitment among the folks who live nearby,” Johnson said. “It’s adding quite an element to downtown. … It’s fantastic.”