Decatur’s Taco Mac Closing Temporarily for Extensive Renovation

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The good folks at Taco Mac Sports Grill were good enough to send along an announcement and some renderings of renovations from Atlanta-based design studio ai3 that will be undertaken at Decatur’s Taco Mac at the corner of West Ponce de Leon Ave and Commerce Drive starting August 5th.  A bit more info from the release…

The restaurant will be temporarily closing for the renovation project at close of business on Sunday, August 4.
The restaurant is planned to reopen in October with a fresh and exciting look. The interior  design renovation features a new street-front patio along Ponce de Leon Avenue; an all-new  and expanded bar area featuring 100 draft beer taps; new, more comfortable seating and  upgraded LED HDTVs throughout the restaurant and bar. The project is expected to take 12-14  weeks to complete.
“After 12 years, it’s time to refresh this Taco Mac,” said Bob Campbell, Taco Mac CEO. “ We’re  looking forward to the fresh, new look of this restaurant and the excitement we think it will bring  to Decatur. We’re proud to be a part of this community and committed to investing in the Decatur Taco Mac.”
A couple more interior renderings after the jump.

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65 thoughts on “Decatur’s Taco Mac Closing Temporarily for Extensive Renovation”

  1. The timing of this is pretty shocking- they will be closed for the first 6+ weeks of college and pro football?! I wonder why they chose this schedule vs trying to hit slow spring/summer months (sorry baseball fans)?
    A lot of people are going to get to know and love Big Tex.

    1. I’m wondering if it’s optimistically planned to coincide with the 315 W. Ponce development.

    2. I was thinking the same thing, but I am not in the business by any means. Football season is when you will see me at the Mac. I can’t help but think that the timing has been at least somewhat carefully considered — there has been talk of this “refresh” for a couple of years at least.

      The TV upgrade will be most welcomed, and from the renderings it looks like the booths will have much better line-of-sight on the games than the current set up provides.

    3. Huh, good points. Some of their other locations are much nicer (midtown), so I’m excited they’re upgrading. But you’re right. Bad timing considering football season.

  2. Nothing like downing wings surrounded by the shades of tortured souls cursed to walk the earth in shadow tending bar and manning the hostess stand.

  3. i would like to make a correction. Although the “expanded bar area” will surely feature 100 beer taps, I am certain it will feature somewhere around fifteen beers.

    I haven’t been in a long time, but it was always entertaining to see how many beers I would have to order before they actually had the one I asked for. Once, I got as high as five.

    1. No kidding. Every time I’ve been there, they’re out of at least the first 3-4 beers that I want.

      1. Same problem here. I don’t want to drink 90% of their beers, and the ones I do are often on the gone list. They have a lamer selection than other Taco Macs (the one in midtown has a great selection). Being a 3 minute walk away, we use them a lot for takeout, and will miss the short term convenience.

        My family has little trouble w service, but my kids have trained their waitstaff well 🙂

  4. Good point about the timing, especially considering the relative lack of sports bars in Decatur. This sort of throws a wrench into our cable-free plans, as Taco Mac would fill in for those college games (mainly Alabama) not on CBS or ABC. Forget about getting a seat at Big Tex or Square Pub on Saturdays and Sundays this fall.

    1. There are actually tons of sports bars in this town. I can think of at least 6 better places to watch a game, and I say that as a full fledged Ph.D from Taco Mac’s Brewneversity.

      Dr. Russ if you’re nasty.

      1. I agree that there are better places to watch a game, but there is nowhere else to watch all the games – at the same time. That’s why I find myself there on an autumn Saturday or Sunday.

      2. “There are actually tons of sports bars in this town. ”

        My criteria is that they be walking distance from downtown, and so I don’t think there are many good places to watch a game besides Taco Mac (which I otherwise dislike).

        1. Or maybe you’re just too picky in how far you’re willing to walk 😉 I have a feeling that many of the people here would be appalled at how often I walk the 3 miles to Brewhouse and Yacht Club in L5P or to Famous in Toco Hills on fall Saturdays.

          1. Appalled? No way. More like envious. I’d love to be able to walk that like that, but bad knees and feet limit my treks.

              1. About a year ago, I talked my wife into taking MARTA to a show at Variety Playhouse. It was fine getting there, but after the concert we lingered too long at Porter and missed the last bus. Based on my memory of walking from L5P to the Inman Park station as a teenager in the 80s, I told my wife we could forego a cab and walk to the station in no time. Of course,we ended up missing the last train and had to get a cab anyway. Still haven’t lived that one down.

  5. Man, there are more big screen TVs in those drawings than a Best Buy. I think they should put one at each parking space, LOL.

  6. I’ve been to Taco Mac a lot over the years (I became a Passport member at the original location and then started over and got my “Masters Degree” mostly at Midtown) – I think as far as sports bars go this chain is excellent. However, in my 3-4 times visiting the Decatur location I have always found the service is terrible: the staff is slow, not-accurate, and sometimes surely. I wonder if I’m the only one that feels this way or if I’m just unlucky? I hope the remodel will include new management.

    1. You’re not the only one. I’m feeling magnanimous today, so that’s all I’ll say about that.

    2. It seems to be one of the places, like YDFM, that people patronize regardless of bad management and service. Maybe they put something in the water.

    3. I loathe the service at Decatur Taco Mac. Terrible. The worst. I’ll probably give them another shot after this renovation, but if they can’t improve the service (a smile goes a long way) then I’ll be done with them – again. Do they train their staff? Do they care if their staff is nice or uses common sense?

      1. “Do they train their staff?”

        I honestly don’t think so. On my last visit, after the server argued with me when I pointed out that I received the wrong beer (since when does an IPA or amber lager or whatever real beer I ordered look and taste like a Coors light), she eventually admitted “I don’t know nuthin’ bout no beer”. Huh? What? T-Mac is good for 2 things – wings and beer, and you can’t tell by sight an obvoius error?

        1. Dawg. We do live in the same world after all. I’ve had the same type of experiences. I’ve been absolutely flabbergasted at some of the things that I’ve heard their employees say. They are not just an embarrassment to their restaurant chain, but to the entire service industry. It’s almost like you’d have to train them to be as bad as they are, because folks with a little common sense and common courtesy would not typically act that way.

          1. Yep – the worst service ever. We recently went to meet up with my husband and his friend, and I texted the hubs what I/the kids wanted so he could put the order in (so the kid s and I could eat and leave the boys to their beers and whatnot). By the time we got there – 30 minutes after sending the text – the hubs had not seen the waitress once. He had no beer, his friend was sitting with an empty glass, and the waitress hadn’t even stopped by the table in more than 30 minutes. The manager was nice about it and comped us a round of beers, but the service didn’t actually improve (other than we actually got to order) even after complaining.

            The hubs and his pals usually just go to the one at Phillips and Marta home.

      2. We don’t go there often, but the last two times we went it was because we had a big group with at least half of the party being kids.
        I was always surprised how great they were. The kids drinks all had lids, their food came quickly, and the server was pleasant the whole time. I tipped accordingly.
        So, I don’t have many points of reference but I’ve been impressed with the service we got – I guess we just we lucky (and I wish I could remember the last server’s name, she was awesome.)

        Looking forward to the new renovation, but yeah, really bad timing.
        Anyone know if the game room is included in the new plans?

    4. You mean like when you walk in and the 4 employees loitering at the hostess stand look at each other and subliminally say “Not it” when you ask for a table.

      Or, whey they inevitably forget a side, rush back to get it ASAP and bring it right after you have finished eating and asked for the bill. Or, wheny thet get mad that you ask them to take it off the bill.

      That Taco Mac used to be inconsistent. Now the service consistenly sucks unless you sit at the bar.

      1. If you ever visited the woeful Taco Mac in Tucker before it closed, you’d have experienced much of the same. Probably why they closed–that and the awful location. But the Decatur location is a prime spot. You’d think it would be one of their better ones. Maybe the makeover will be more than architectural.

  7. I’ve generally had a good service experience there and I am a big fan of their wings. Friendly to me when I am flying solo at the bar or have my wife and 3 yo in tow at a table.

    Like Brian, I just don’t get the timing. My cunning plan was to spend Saturday afternoons drinking beer and eating dozens of wings since I cut the cord as well…

    1. You have a 3 y.o. and your wife’s cool with you spending the better part of a Saturday at Taco Mac watching football and gorging yourself?

      I’m not judging… I’m just honestly curious how you get away with it. 😉

      1. I think the key is making her want you to GET THE HE!! OUT OF THIS FU**ING HOUSE!!!!

        That’s what works for me, at least. Sunday’s can be a bi**h, but it’s worth it.

        If Taco Mac closing scuttles the plan, you can both join me at Famous most Saturdays.

        1. Used to go to famous a lot back in the day, but always came home with the ‘famous odor’ that seems to permeate your attire. @lump, we start eclc tomorrow as well, maybe I can tell you in person. Jt has it roughly right though

          1. I know the “Famous odor” well. Way back in the day my softball team would go there after our Buckhead games. There were mornings I woke up still in my softball attire, covered in mud and sweat yet all I smelled of was smoke and grease. One of the guys on the team was forbidden to hang out with us afterward, not because we got drunk and stupid and sometimes ended up at the Pink Pony but because of the Famous stench. He finally got his wife to compromise, allowing him to come to Famous only if he undressed on the back porch, put his clothes directly into the washer and then showered in the guest room before going to bed. Ah, those were the days!

            But the GOOD NEWS is that Famous is smoke-free now. Not only do you not have to fumigate your clothes afterward, you can see all the tvs without squinting through a dense haze. I just can’t believe that I’m actually old enough to appreciate those things now 🙂

            1. Does your ‘back in the day’ extend far enough to when there was the Toco Tavern?

              1. Nope. Where was that? I moved here in 1994 when Famous and Maggie’s (when Maggie was still alive and in charge) were the Toco Hills stalwarts. Jagger’s and Taco Mac were the Emory Village bars and PJ Haley’s was still in the Sage Hill parking lot. I won’t even go into Bar, Odyssey, Racoon Lodge or Bats and Balls in Buckhead…

          2. When you have 16 mo.-old twins, there is no amount of ill will you can create that will get you out of requisite childcare.

            And I wouldn’t want to leave the little guys (or my gal) behind anyway…. Certainly not for Taco Mac.

            Brad: Welcome to College Heights!

  8. The height of lunacy.

    Things must be pretty busted if they’re closing during the only four months of sports that matter. Unless, of course, this is an elaborate ruse to make us all realize how much we need our local sports bar….

  9. 12-14 weeks of renovations, starting August 2nd, means they will also be closed for the entire Braves-Red Sox World Series.

  10. I certainly wouldn’t miss it if they closed permanently. It is the worst Taco Mac in Atlanta in regards to service. They had it together when they first opened but over the past couple of years I have finally given up.

    That being said I will give them another chance when they reopen.

    1. I don’t get why the service is so bad there when pretty much everywhere else in Decatur has good service. Is it just because it’s a chain with little regard for their employees? Was Ruby Tuesday the same way? You know, I think it says something about a place like Brick Store that has great service also has employees who have been there 7, 8 years in some cases.

      1. Bob at Square Pub used to manage Taco Mac, back when service was good, and he’s taken that vibe over to his new spot. And I’ve spotted a few of the other good eggs from Taco Mac working at other bars around town now, including Brickstore.

  11. I used to lunch there pretty regularly until it routinely took over an hour to get through it.

  12. Since everyone’s complaining about the service, I’ll add my two-cents on my new favorite sports watching venue. Last year I spent a lot of Sundays at Six Feet Under in Grant Park. Tons of TVs, great good, and not nearly as crowded as most sports bars. Highly recommended.

  13. Sorry but I can’t hop on the dis-wagon. Had a few disappointing meals there but not many over the fifteen years TMs been open. Some great memories though. Many years ago, before 9/11, the TM management would allow DHS groups to have car washes in the parking lot. It was a great deal. Patrons would show up, find out about a free car wash and vacuum (donations always accepted), drop off keys and two hours later,they would stumble out and give a big tip. The club I sponsored at the time, Interact Club, raised over $400 washing cars one day (FYI- the city informed me several years ago that car washes are verboten now- DeKalb County rules). Some of you talk about poor service but I remember a young hostess who always managed to find my son and I a table away from all the screaming kids. Of course, the $5 tip I gave her one Christmas didn’t hurt.
    Also glad to see that TM will be open in time for the Kentucky Derby. My wife was almost banned for life watching the Belmont a few years ago when a horse had a chance to win the Triple Crown. Down the stretch, neck and neck, my wife was shouting, “Come on Smarty. Come on Smarty. Come on Smarty! MOVE YOUR BLOOMIN’ ‘ARSE!” Oh what a race.
    But we are now too old for Taco Mac. Besides the wangs are better at Texas Cantina.

  14. I don’t think we’ve been to that place in maybe 8 years. Honestly, the reno will have us check it out when done.

  15. First of all I want to explain why this store is waiting until now to renovate…they had to wait for permits from the city of Decatur to be able to do any work on that store. Yes, horrible timing but the city’s fault. The staff does need to be revamped and it will be. I am absolutely embarrassed every time I read a review about that store. Some of us do care and do try with every ounce of our being to make you happy. If only you could meet us. This place has been my home for almost 8 years and I have seen a lot of what all of you are talking about. I also wish it had never gotten like this. Yes Bob made this store amazing and he has his own amazing gig….I just hope the best for Decatur. Behind the bar I see a lot…and I hope now to see a massive improvement. I love this community and hope they love me and our store in return at some point.

    1. Any kind of renovation – especially one that looks as extensive as this – is going to require review and permitting by the government. But the owner/operator has to factor those reviews into any time frame for renovation. Most jurisdictions have a 30-45 day review cycle for major construction, and if there are comments then it could be longer. There is no reason for a city to not act on permit review unless there are items that have comments and need to be addressed. If that’s the case, then the plans should have been submitted earlier. Obviously I don’t know the details, but to say it’s “the city’s fault” seems like a major cop-out in my opinion.

      That said, I hope the renovation goes smoothly and I’ll check it out when it reopens.

      1. I have heard these complaints countless times from business owners in this city. Not sure it’s a “cop-out”.

        1. I haven’t heard the same. But I own up to not knowing any particulars.

          Do you know of any specific complaints? Is there something special that Decatur looks at that makes these reviews longer than they need to be? Are locations in downtown considered “historic” or something and that takes longer?

          I looked at the city’s website and the building permit process and forms are right there to review before submitting plans. There are office hours where applicants can meet and discuss projects before applying for permits. Surely the city gives them some kind of time estimate?

          Just curious. These types of reputations can hurt cities but I’d like to know that the reasons are real and not just speculation.

    2. I’m getting a little tired of hearing about how the permit office holds everything up. This is why it takes so long for any restaurant to open in this city. Any delay costs business owners money and can contribute to the amount of debt they have at the opening of the business. It’s time for the City to look into this and figure out a way to streamline this process. It’s one thing to be thorough, it’s a whole other thing to be staggeringly slow.

  16. And one more thing….on behalf of the entire staff, I apologize for the rancid behavior of anyone that works there. It will be fixed. Looking forward to a new beginning at Taco Mac Sports Grill in Decatur!

    1. I hope you’re right about the service Whatley. I used to work at the Wolf Camera (now Delta Credit Union) across the street. I remember when this Taco Mac was a farmstand/grocery store. we went to TM last week after not having been for several months. I could sense a distinct change in attitude from the staff from my last visit. no one was rude but service was shall we say, forgetful? they brought us wings with no Ranch sauce. we waited so long that my girlfriend eventually had to get up and go ask someone for it. we also NEVER got silverware. now, for what we were eating we didn’t need it but still, you should NEVER be seated without utensils. at least we had napkins. I will say that the quality of our food was great! wings were great as always and my shrimp wrap (can’t remember the name of the sandwich) seemed very fresh. it looks like the kitchen has it together but the waitstaff needs some attention.

      1. they brought us wings with no Ranch sauce


        They did you a favor! Blue cheese, OK. Ranch, no.

        1. sorry but no. I’ve tried my whole life to like blue cheese and I just can’t. the closest I’ve come is being semi-addicted to Combos Buffalo Blue Cheese. LOVE those things!

    1. The first rendering looks like they have enclosed the current patio more fully, necessitating the removal of the entrance on that side of the building. But I like the little outdoor seating/waiting area with what looks to be stadium chairs.

    2. basically they’re taking the seating area that is closest to Ponce and turning it into an enclosed patio. you can see it on the interior drawings. they’re not extending the front of the restaurant any because there’s nowhere to go.

  17. I root for an out-of-town baseball team (can’t help it — I grew up there and I do not give up my loyalties for reasons of mere geography. Twain’s will change a channel for me. Taco Mac won’t. Settles the question for me.

  18. Definitely needs the facelift.

    I’m not a regular there anymore, but service was good when I was.

    There are still some good folk there…Skye is awesome!

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