Ponce City Market exteriorMembers of the Atlanta media were invited to Ponce City Market on Monday for a tour of the still-under-construction Central Food Hall and The Roof. Michael Phillips, president of PCM development company Jamestown, led the tour and talked about the roll out of the restaurants.

Sadly, no photos were allowed, but suffice it to say the Central Food Hall has some serious “wow factor.” The hardwood floors from the former Sears & Roebuck building are still intact, the massive central support columns are ringed with circular tables and bar stools, giant crates have been repurposed as directional signs, and the wrought iron spiral staircase to the second level of the food hall is a fantastic centerpiece.

Phillips said the food hall eateries would begin opening mid-September and continue rolling out into November. All of the restaurants are under construction. A peek inside Tasty China revealed one of the massive support columns wrapped by a giant dragon sculpture, while Chef Jonathan Waxman’s yet-to-be-named restaurant connected to the Williams-Sonoma retail store is a mixture of modern sleek against the 90-year-old building’s historic architecture. The hall was a hive of activity with workers disappearing behind temporary walls for restaurants like  Bellina, Fish Camp and El Super Pan.

“All of these great chefs are doing innovative food,” Phillips said. “We wanted to have local, national and international food in the Central Food Hall and wanted those restaurants to represent all different kinds of food.”

The Roof at PCM is still under construction with a boardwalk-like flooring being installed and amusement games, mini-golf, a bar, food and event space coming soon. Inside PCM’s iconic tower, guests will arrive at The Roof through one of the building’s original freight elevators and enter into large lobby area with cool, retro globe lights, seating area and space for a restaurant or food service.

Philips said watching the transformation of PCM has been personal. “I remember coming here when it was Sears and looking through the catalogues to order toys for Christmas and, later, when it was City Hall East for other business. This building has been part of growing up in Atlanta.”

Phillips said it would have been easy to demolish the building and redevelop the 13-acre site, but he said keeping this piece of Atlanta’s history intact was essential. “The city has done everything it can do to almost eradicate its past,” he said. “The historic bones of this building is what resonated with us.”

The return of Party at Ponce on Saturday, Oct. 10, was also announced with live music by Indigo Girls, Shawn Mullins and David Ryan Harris. The first event, held in 2011 when renovations were just getting underway, drew a sellout crowd. This year, visitors will be able to shop, eat in the Central Food Hall and enjoy tastings from more than 30 chefs.  Proceeds benefit Atlanta BeltLine Partnership, Georgia Organics, The Atlanta Bicycle Coalition and MODA via Jamestown Charitable Foundation. General admission tickets are $85 for a limited time, then will increase to $95 and $105 at the door if any remain. Purchase tickets at this link.

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.