5 questions for: Nick Melvin

The former Parish and Empire State South chef takes a playful yet refined approach to classic comfort cuisine at the freshly debuted music venue-meets-restaurant concept, Venkman’s.

What a concept! Tell us more about the inspiration for Venkman’s.

Atlanta has a great music scene and a great restaurant scene, but no one’s really combined the two all in one spot. My partners, Nick [Niespodziani] and Peter [Olson], and I wanted to create a place we’d want to go to.

What type of music may guests can expect to hear?
The music is curated by Nick and Pete, and it could be anything from them spinning their favorite albums to a jazz trio to a funk band playing all of Steely Dan’s best songs. It’s songs you’d listen to on a road trip in the backseat of your parents’ car.

How does Venkman’s reflect Atlanta’s food and music scenes?
It’s fun, it’s warm, it’s relaxing and it’s got a little funk to it. The food scene in Atlanta and the music scene are both still very young but crazy hungry and driven. Music and food are the perfect marriage, and I think this is a great spot for those two passions to combine. They both evoke emotions and memories and make you feel good.

How does the space lend itself to that experience?
The vibe we were going for was your parents’ basement in the ’70s. We have personal memorabilia on the walls. There might be a picture of Nick’s grandparents, or Peter’s first xylophone or my grandfather’s cheese grater. It’s shows our past and makes people feel at home.

How does your cuisine complement that homey feeling?
It’s reinterpreted comfort food. It’s food that’s not stuffy—it’s light and approachable. Nothing too serious, but still with a quality of execution.