Images courtesy of Square Feet Studio

For several years, chef Jarrett Steiber helmed a popular summertime pop-up restaurant, Eat Me Speak Me (EMSM) in Atlanta.

Just this month, Steiber realized his dream of operating a permanent brick-and-mortar location and opened Little Bear in the Summerhill neighborhood of Atlanta. Designed by Square Feet Studio, the 1,376-square-foot restaurant seats 30.

Opening in the midst of an unprecedented global pandemic is a brave feat and requires an unusual amount of flexibility and ingenuity.

“The pandemic affected us greatly because we opened only two weeks before the state of emergency was declared,” says Steiber. “Unfortunate timing, but we just have to deal with it as best we can! We opened [and operated as intended] for as long as we could but are transitioning this week to a to-go only format, which we’ve never done before at Little Bear or my pop-up restaurant that I ran for seven years before this.”

Little Bear 023The art throughout the restaurant features a gathering of stories from family, employees and longtime friends. Special tributes to “Little Bear” himself, Jarrett’s Great Pyrenees sidekick Fernando, is visible in the wallpaper, signage and, more subtly, in the tabletop corners. The vision for Little Bear was to craft a restaurant that feels like home, with a warm and eclectic vibe to complement its chef-owner, his food, his dog and the neighborhood. Images courtesy of Square Feet Studio.Little Bear intends to operate from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday for now but the restaurant will change its hours as necessary.

“Totally uncharted territory for us, but we don't have the luxury of many years, or even months, of revenue built up to weather a closure at this time. My priority is keeping our business alive until this over and we can go back to normal, and to pay my staff for as long as we're dealing with this any way we can,” says Steiber. “As a new business this is terrible timing, but it is what is it — nothing we can do but fight back while keeping ourselves and our guests safe. We're depending on our community to keep us afloat by buying food to-go or buying gift cards or donating to our Venmo account @littlebearatl. If they’re donating to the Venmo, we're asking they include 'gift card' or 'donation' plus their full name and email address in the transaction memo.”

Little Bear 022Casual outdoor string lights stretched along new trusses overhead are welcoming and bright. Windsor-style wood seating paired with custom banquettes by a local furniture maker mix with old factory flooring. Images courtesy of Square Feet Studio.

Little Bear’s to-go menu will be posted daily on its Instagram account.

As conceived, the restaurant’s design reflects the chef’s rotating menu and relationships with local farms. The color palette is derived from the variations and textures of the chef’s vegetable dishes.