“As I ate the oysters with their strong taste of the sea and their faint metallic taste that the cold white wine washed away, leaving only the sea taste and the succulent texture, and as I drank their cold liquid from each shell and washed it down with the crisp taste of the wine, I lost the empty feeling and began to be happy and make plans.”
Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast

Ford Fry’s The Optimist brings a seaside fish camp experience to landlocked Atlantans. From fresh oysters from the Alabama coast and Maine sea scallops to whole roasted Georgia trout, guests enjoy high-quality, sustainable seafood from the country’s best suppliers. Tucked in an old ham-aging house, The Optimist serves up beer, wine, and handcrafted cocktails with hickory-roasted fish and raw oysters, while beach-food classics like hush puppies and lobster rolls transport you to your favorite coastal haunts.

Chef/Owner Ford Fry

Ford Fry’s chef-owned and operated restaurants focus on seasonal cooking with high-quality ingredients – letting the food speak for itself. The Houston native graduated from the New England Culinary Institute and served as a fine-dining chef in Texas, Florida, California, and Colorado. Fry settled in Atlanta to open refined Southern restaurant JCT. Kitchen. The Italian-inspired no. 246, The Optimist, smoky King + Duke, and elegant St. Cecilia followed. He’s been a James Beard Foundation Outstanding Restaurateur semifinalist; named Restaurateur of the Year by the Georgia Restaurant Association; named Empire Builder of the Year by Eater Atlanta; and been invited to cook at the James Beard House on numerous occasions.

Follow Ford on Instagram and Twitter

Executive Chef Wesley True

As executive chef at The Optimist and Oyster Bar at The Optimist, Wesley True spearheads the restaurant’s sustainable seafood drive and exhibits his deep profound relationship with the Gulf Coast. True began his career in Oxford, Mississippi at the landmark restaurant City Grocery under award-winning Chef John Currance. True realized his passion for learning technique, speed, and consistency, and he enrolled in New York’s Culinary Institute of America. Following his time at CIA, True landed a spot first at New York City’s Danube, then at Bouley and Aquavit. True took his career back to his home state, opening True in Mobile and went on to open a restaurant in Montgomery, Alabama by the same name.

Ford Fry and True met organically through the industry, and the friendship merged into a business relationship: “We share a similar view and philosophy about how to operate a restaurant and business,” True said. “That’s something I was searching for over quite a long time.” With an upbringing by the Gulf of Mexico, and his work with the Alabama Gulf Seafood board, True is a natural fit for The Optimist.

Follow Chef Wesley on Instagram