In partnership with his wife, Megan Ouzts, it was the first restaurant from Kevin Ouzts, an Atlanta native best known as the chef behind the boutique charcuterie and butcher shop, the Spotted Trotter in Kirkwood.
“Two years ago, we bet on Kevin and Megan with The Spotted Trotter and The Cockentrice,” David Cochran, a Principal at Paces Properties and Krog Street Market, said today. “We quickly learned that their entrepreneurial spirit, culinary creativity and pride in product was all part of the fire that helped put Krog Street Market on the map. While we are disappointed about the decision to close The Cockentrice, we would bet on them again and appreciate that their family comes first.”
In his 2015 three star restaurant review, former Atlanta Journal-Constitution dining critic, John Kessler wrote, “The Cockentrice is chef Kevin Ouzts’ carnivorous paean to all things that snort, gobble and moo, and it is a bloody thrill.”
In a phone conversation this morning, Megan Ouzts explained the difficult decision to close the restaurant in both professional and personal terms, as the couple decided it was time to redirect the focus back to the Spotted Trotter and regain a bit of their lives.
And she noted that both the original Kirkwood location and the Spotted Trotter market stall in Krog Street Market will remain open, with plans for expansion of the core business.
“The restaurant for Kevin was always a bucket list item in the five year plan,” Ouzts said. “But I think after he opened the restaurant, and diverted all of his attention away from the Spotted Trotter, he missed it in a way that I don’t think either of us anticipated. That business was such an amazing opportunity to connect with the farmers and the food community and our longterm employees.
“I think just like any entrepreneur, we just assumed that we could do it all. And that we could run the restaurant just as passionately as we had the Spotted Trotter, and it would continue to thrive. But with Kevin’s passion for details and work ethic, it became clear that we wouldn’t able be to do it all in the way that we wanted to continue to create and grow our brand.”
Asked if in retrospect the restaurant was a tad too ambitious, Ouzts answered yes and no.
“I think that’s the blinders of the entrepreneur,” Ouzts said. “We pulled it off with the Spotted Trotter and did great things and grew, and I think we were just riding that high and thinking we would be able to do it all, again.
“In retrospect, would we have opened up something later or something smaller so that Kevin could create a more intimate dining experience? That would have fed his soul in a little bit different way, perhaps, and maybe read to the Atlanta community in a little bit different way. But hindsight is always 20/20. And I don’t think we’ve seen the last of Kevin in the kitchen.”
As to the future, Ouzts said the Spotted Trotter will continue to grow, and there will new opportunities with that.
“In the next year or so, we are going to need to find a new manufacturing facility,” Ouzts said. “That’s going to be a big focus. But the big thing we want to say is that we’re incredibly thankful for the opportunity we had. Not everyone gets to have a dream and a bucket list item and check it off. Or to make an affirmative choice to leave it behind. That’s a real gift that we’ve been given and I am really proud that we have structured our business in a way that we could do that.
“Obviously, we want to thank the food community and our employees, who have worked tirelessly in the last two years, especially the Spotted Trotter crew, who have hung in there. The moral of the story is that the Spotted Trotter is an absolute gem. And we didn’t realize what a gem it was until we turned our attention away from it.”