The Porter Beer Bar reopened in Atlanta’s Little Five Points

The Porter Beer Bar reopened in May. (Provided by The Porter Beer Bar)

Two years after changing ownership, beloved Little Five Points beer bar The Porter reopened in May.

Former regulars have shown up in droves since its reopening to exchange hugs and partake in a few beers while swapping Porter stories at the bar. Curious newcomers to Atlanta have also ventured into The Porter to see what all the fuss is about with the L5P institution. 

The Porter is alive again with the chatter of conversations, the cacophony of beer glasses clinking, and servers taking orders and running food. It stays that way, too, from the minute the beer bar opens at 5 p.m. to last call at midnight. 

The bar looking toward the front of The Porter. (Provided by The Porter Beer Bar)
The vintage beer list is now featured on a large chalkboards in the dining room. (Provided by The Porter Beer Bar)

Molly Gunn and Chef Nick Rutherford handed the reins over to Manny’s and Euclid Avenue Yacht Club owner Manny Maloof and longtime Atlanta chef E.J. Hodgkinson in 2022.

What was to be a quick refresh of The Porter to bring it up to snuff for a new era under Maloof and Hodgkinson turned into a two-year ordeal of unforeseen hiccups with permitting and repairs. The back bar, for instance, once home to The Porter’s extensive whiskey and glassware collections, began separating from the wall. After removing bottles and glassware from the shelves of the old back bar, they polished and stored everything until the custom back bar arrived.

The new back bar offered Maloof and Hodgkinson the opportunity to display the beautiful glassware collected over the years by Gunn and Rutherford, while also showing off the variety of glassware for different beer styles served at The Porter.

The Porter features 18 draft lines and 60 draft taps, up from the previous 42. The vintage beer list has returned, now handwritten and displayed in the dining room on three giant chalkboards spanning the length of the wall (The Porter carries 800 different beers and close to 5,000 bottles). Maloof and Hodgkinson also added cocktails on draft and more nonalcoholic options to the menu.

The dining room beyond the main bar features custom-made booths and tables and new artwork. During renovations, they discovered terrazzo flooring underneath the Spanish tiles. Even the bathrooms received attention, repairing years of damage to floors and plumbing.

But despite some necessary upgrades, the casual, community-driven vibe at The Porter remains firmly intact.

The main dining room with mezzanine seating. (Provided by The Porter Beer Bar)
Fish and chips and veggie burger. (Provided by The Porter Beer Bar)

“It started with Nick and Molly and what they did from the beginning. It wasn’t just a beer bar. They offered a lot of whiskey and cocktails, which helped The Porter receive a James Beard semifinalist nomination for Best Bar Program,” said Bob Townsend, a Porter regular and AJC Beer Town columnist and dining contributor. “Nick’s food was meant to pair with beer, but then he’d do these one-off specials that would come from his fine dining background. That made The Porter stand out. It wasn’t all about the beer, and that helped them grab a loyal following.”

Fan favorites from Rutherford’s time in the kitchen at The Porter, like the fish and chips, goat cheese fritters, pull-apart pretzel, and salt and vinegar popcorn, are all back, sprinkled between new dishes from Hodgkinson. There’s now a smash burger on the menu and a veggie burger with a handmade patty topped with gruyere cheese.

Paying homage to Rutherford’s fine dining roots at Seeger’s in Atlanta, which helped make The Porter’s wildly creative food menu so extraordinary, Hodgkinson created new dishes such as Georgia shrimp toast, crispy Hen of the Woods mushrooms with French onion dip and umami salt, and a grilled cauliflower entree with cauliflower puree, grilled mushrooms, chimichurri, and Espelette peppers.

Maloof and Hodgkinson will launch weekend brunch soon and will consider adding lunch to the lineup if demand calls for it. 

“People are telling us what’s important to them about The Porter. They’re telling us what’s special to them and what they want to see more of here. We’re honoring that as best we can,” said Hodgkinson. “Don’t fix what isn’t broken with The Porter. We just came in and fixed 14 years’ worth of wear and tear to make sure this place is around for a long time.”

Take a look at menu for The Porter Beer Bar:

Open Wednesday – Sunday, 5 p.m. to 12 a.m. Weekend brunch forthcoming. 

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