Gay favorite Radial Café enters new era

Palmer put feelers out a few months ago about what to do with his restaurant that has become much more than just a place to eat to many people. He wanted someone who shared the values of being environmentally sound — the restaurant is one of only two in the city that is green certified and it also serves only fair trade coffee — but also has a commitment not only to the LGBT community but the community at large.

Radial Cafe
Monday-Friday: 7:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
Saturday-Sunday: 8:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
1530 Dekalb Ave. NE, Atlanta, GA 30307

“I spent 11 years of my life here and certainly wanted it to go to good hands,” Palmer explains. “Obviously this is an environmental restaurant and has a reputation of supporting the community. Radial has always done our part to strengthen the community.”

The “good hands” he found to sell the restaurant to belong to Frank Bragg, formerly of Metrotainment and former managing partner of Einstein’s.

“When I started the process with Frank, we knew a lot of the same people. He wants to build up its environmental reputation — he’s very tied into the gay community and fundraisers, things I feel strong about,” Palmer says.

“As an independent restaurant, I believe you have a responsibility to connect yourself to the community. Not just the gay community, but all of the community, the neighborhood. And he clearly knew what he was doing,” Palmer adds.

‘A place where people celebrate differences’

Bragg, who quit working for Metrotainment in February, was looking to start something of his own. He met Palmer at a fundraiser in July and later the two began serious talks about him buying the restaurant.

“Community involvement is a huge part of my life,” Bragg says. “What I found so fantastic is that our core values lined up so nicely. When I found this, I thought it was perfect.”

Bragg says it’s not only the food that brings people to Radial — it’s the atmosphere.

“This is a place where people celebrate differences. I want to be a big part of that. Philip created a sense of place here. People just feel comfortable here and I definitely want to perpetuate that,” he says. “I certainly have huge shoes to fill.”

Of course, Radial Café regulars worry about change.

“A lot of people ask if there is going to be changes to the menu. Of course there will,” Palmer says. “I already do that once a year. If you don’t do those things you have a stale product.”

Bragg says he excited about bringing his touch to the restaurant, including some menu changes and other items yet-to-be-named. But he says Radial Café will always have the core values that Palmer implemented into it when he opened it in 1999. He stresses, however, that this “is not Metrotainment.”

“The heart and soul of this restaurant are the employees and the people who come here,” Bragg says. “People want to see a new food item here and there, a new paint job. But they can always expect the same level of integrity and service that has always been provided.”

“I have my own style, my own way of doing things,” Bragg adds. “I think people are going to be really pleased with Frank Bragg’s interpretation of Radial.”

Leaving Atlanta and Radial is, of course, sad for Palmer, whose last day at work was Oct. 17. But Palmer intends to stay in touch with close friends as well as visit the restaurant he founded during his annual visit to Atlanta.

“I’m excited to see it grow in the next decade,” he said.


Top photo: Philip Palmer (left) is moving to London at the end of the year and recently sold his restaurant, Radial Café, to Frank Bragg. (by Bo Shell)