Upscale cocktail bar and cafe, The James Room, has changed owners. Previously owned by Missy and Kristin Koefod of Ponce City Market’s 18.21 Bitters, the cafe is now co-owned by Harold Brinkley and Justin Miller.
Brinkley is a long-time event planner and hospitality consultant. He says he bought the upscale cafe because he “thought there were some atmospheric enhancements that needed to be made for it to be at its full potential,” Brinkley said in an interview with What Now Atlanta. When the previous owners were looking to sell, Brinkley took the opportunity to make those enhancements.
The James Room has been serving breakfast, lunch, dinner, and cocktails to the Inman Park community since it opened in 2018. The Koefods heavily influenced by French cafes and Italian aperitivo bars when they designed the cafe and bar.
Brinkley’s new vision for The James Room moves towards a luxury lounge and away from the original French and Italian influences. As a start, he’s changed the outdoor patio into more of a lounge than a European cafe. “Tables and chairs, tables and chairs, and little umbrellas. They tried that, but it just wasn’t translating very well out here,” Brinkley said.
Similarly, he’s sizing up the smaller dishes that The James Room used to serve, opting for bigger, more substantial tapas that can “potentially check off the box of dinner,” he said. However, cocktails will remain at the center of The James Room’s menu.
The direction that Brinkley is going with The James Room allows the cafe to fill “a gap that’s missing in Atlanta, which is the luxury lounge,” he said. For him, the South drags behind the rest of the nation on a lot of trends. The lounge model is no exception. Brinkley wants The James Room to mark a step towards catching up with the rest of America.
Brinkley also wants The James Room to mark a step towards ending the “segregation by race and class here,” Brinkley said.
“If you go to Miami, you go to L.A., you’re going to have people of all walks of life, all creeds and colors that are partying, but in the south, we’re not there yet,” he said. “I’m trying to change the culture here.”