A new eatery has been added to the small but popular Main Street in Senoia, a community known for filming of AMC’s hit series The Walking Dead.
The center of Senoia, which is located approximately 18 miles east of Newnan, was depicted as a safe haven for a large group of zombie apocalypse survivors in the TV show in seasons three, four and five.
Though the small strip of businesses is no longer used in filming, the community remains a popular stop for fans of the show — and a meeting place for actors, producers and other members of the TWD crew.
The Southern Ground Social Club, a live music venue associated with country music artist Zac Brown, was located at 20 Main Street until the proprietor announced that the restaurant and bar would be closing its doors in December 2015.
Mere weeks later, a group of investors expressed interest in the venue, and by spring of this year, rumors were rampant that Norman Reedus, a star character on the hit show, was planning to open a restaurant with his friend and TWD makeup effects supervisor and sometime director, Greg Nicotero.
The duo’s business venture was confirmed when the restaurant, “Nic & Norman’s” created social media pages including updates for fans.
The restaurant, as it turns out, is actually owned by a total of six people, all associated with the show.
Nic & Norman’s, however, does not include any decor associated with the show — and no references to zombies.
The eatery is led by former Southern Ground manager Ronny Clark.
“The owners didn’t want to center the restaurant around the show,” Clark said. “Specifically for Greg and for Norman, their careers are so much larger than just The Walking Dead.”
However, Senoia is a prime location for such a business venture, Clark noted. It is, after all, the most sought-out filming location for the show’s large fan base.
“When the opportunity came available, I believe it was a no-brainer for them,” Clark said. “But they wanted something that was welcoming to anyone and everyone.”
Reflective of the hit show or not, the restaurant has drawn more than just fans to the small town. Employees of the eatery include bartenders, servers and cooks that have relocated to the community and surrounding county from places like Maryland and Colorado. Customers too have traveled far to eat at the new venue.
The restaurant, however, is still very much representa- tive of both Nic and Norman, Clark added. In fact, large, framed photographs taken by Reedus are hung on the walls throughout the eatery.
And though the duo admitted to Clark that they possessed very little, if any, knowledge of establishing or managing a restaurant, the two wanted to contribute as much as possible to both the menu and the design.
“The atmosphere is meant to give the feel of a 1930s speakeasy,” Clark explained.
Clark noted several small details such as the curtain tie backs, which are arrowheads, a tribute to Reedus’ character on the show. The arrow tie backs were created by a local artisan by the name of Kristian Baena who contributed multiple sculptural elements found in the eatery, including the restaurant name hand-etched in the glass behind the bar.
“The owners really wanted to make sure the restaurant was unique and included personal touches,” Clark said. “Even the bulbs used in the fixtures above the bar — they’re Edison bulbs brought in by one of the owners.”
Menu items were discussed among owners and kitchen staff and include items actually chosen by the restaurant’s namesakes.
“Norman really did say, ‘this is what I want on my burger,’” Clark recalled. “And, honestly, we questioned him. But he said, ‘no, just try it,’ and it is very good.”
Reedus’ pick for the menu includes a burger created with a bison patty, beetroot, spinach, mustard and a fried egg. Clark noted that Reedus recommends a lettuce wrap instead of a traditional bun.
Nicotero’s burger selection is also a bit unusual to most and includes a ground chuck patty blended with brisket and short rib. The patty is topped with blue cheese, baby blended lettuce, onions, tomato and a special sauce, N&N Sauce, which is said to have been created by Nic and Norman themselves.
The restaurant has a huge draw now, Clark noted, but that will only get customers and fans in the door.
“Our focus is on service and food quality,” Clark said. “That is what gets everybody coming back.”