Multiple Reports: Hola Mexican Cantina Space is Now Empty

We’re receiving multiple eyewitness reports the last 24 hours that furniture has been moved out of HOLA Mexican Cantina at Church and Ponce and the place is now totally empty.

152 thoughts on “Multiple Reports: Hola Mexican Cantina Space is Now Empty”


    1. I was thinking the same last night when we walked by and witnessed kitchen equipment and benches being moved out. Then I was heartened by the fact that the old depot housed a few failures before Kimball House. Admittedly, that place is very new, but it appears to me that it will be a success for the long haul.

  1. That’s a bummer. I was hoping they could make a go of it.

    Decatur’s definitely a particular market when it comes to restaurants. We’re tolerant of higher end pricing but not for just anything. If you want to play in that price range, you gotta bring your A-Game. Maybe HOLA would have had a different experience if everything was a buck or two less and people didn’t have a “high end” expectation after they read the menu. That said, we enjoyed it each time we went and probably would have gone more often with lower prices.

    1. It was definitely over priced for the quality of the food. My family went shortly after they opened and paid roughly $15 more for the same type of meal (but less tasty) that I could get at various other mexican places around Decatur. Never went back and figured they would either develop a cult following in town or disappear quickly.

    2. We also liked it but our meal was about $25 for the entrees, no aps, and only cokes. There are also a couple of good Mexican places near by so you know… The environment seemed a little cold/sterile. I guess some people wouldn’t care, but it was something I noticed for whatever reason.

      1. Whoever is first to open a rooftop bar/dining area in Decatur a la Six Feet Under is going to be able to retire early.

    1. Oh hell yes! Gen Muir or an equivelent would succeed. Unfortunately, I suspect we are too close to the mother ship. Not impressed with Toco Hills Goldbergs.

      1. i think the differentiating feature would be the patio—it’s the biggest unrealized asset that location has. weekend al fresco brunches when the weather is nice . . . late night coffees and pastries . . .

        [snooty] like it or not, Decatur’s trending chi chi, and a stylish be seen patio scene would nail it. it would need to be executed with panache which is what has been sorely missing from the last few tenants there: they were a bit too down market for what’s happening around them. [/snooty]

        1. A Chi chi’s would fit that space perfectly, while not suffering from the “too pricey” problem of Hola! people were mentioning. People have probably forgotten about the hepatitis A outbreak by now and are ready to welcome back some chimichangas and Mexican fried ice cream.

    2. General Muir charges $1.75 for meh bagels that appear to be baked too long. Bagel Palace charges half that for the closest approximation to a real New York bagel I’ve been able to find south of DC. Do people not know about Bagel Palace or do they just not know what a real bagel is supposed to be?!?

      That said, Mrs. J_T loves the General and from what I gather about the place from her and other foodie types, I bet it would KILL in that location.

      1. I like Bagel Palace and its bagels, food, and bakery items are as New York-style as I can find in the near vicinity. It just isn’t on my routine routes. I wasn’t that impressed with General Muir for a family dinner; might have been different if it had been adults only. Want to try it for brunch or lunch.

        1. Heh. I hate biscuits, even when they’re filled with sausage or fried chicken. Give me an English muffin anyday if a real bagel isn’t an option.

          Krispy Kreme on the other hand…

          1. i was walking around old salem last weekend when i saw a plaque on the ground on an empty lot. turns out that’s where the first krispy kreme was located. and it was founded on my birthday (albeit some years before i was founded).

            1. Speaking of Krispy Kreme, we went for dinner at Gu’s Bistro (wonderful, authentic Szechuan food) on BUHI in Doraville last week and were surprised to see a KK had opened in the same parking lot. Made for quite a combination: spicy hot tofu for dinner with hot glazed donuts for dessert!

            2. “… old salem…”
              It’s true. They would throw a doughnut on the hot grease. If it sank it was an innocent pastry. If it floated, it was the work of witches, casting spells and aspersions upon townsfolk for miles around.

        2. Gee, I didn’t grow up on biscuits, except the dry, hard kind that was only edible when topped with stew or a fruit compote. But I sure do like a fresh, fluffy Southern style biscuit. And Krispy Kreme doughnuts are addictive. One of my children has actually asked me NOT to bring them home because they are irresistable and result in tummy aches.

          1. My rule for Krispy Kremes is “only eat them hot” (microwaves don’t count). That prevents me from indulging too often and ensures I get the best possible experience when I do.

            Also saves room for doughnuts of the Revolution and Sublime variety….

      2. Haven’t been to General Muir yet, but based on reviews and descriptions I would love to have something like it there. The one aspect of General Muir I’d especially like to see there is the breakfast-lunch-dinner service. Too good of a location not to be open all day.

      3. “real New York bagel”

        Can’t speak to the quality of the bagels at General Muirs so I’m not disagreeing with your verdict, but just because something is “real” doesn’t mean it’s all that great. I’ve had some “real New York Pizza” that I thought was blah…But just to get a sense of where you are coming from, have you had Murray’s Bagels in New York? I think they’re great, though I have no idea if they are what a real bagel is supposed to taste like.

        1. Thank you for saying this. As the son of a New York Jew, I’m supposed to be a bit of a bagel snob, and time and again I’ve been told Bagel Palace is THE place in Atlanta to go for “the real thing.” Well, it may be “real” by whatever authenticity test that crowd is using, but after giving BP several tries, I’ve just decided there are many other places in town that make bagels I like better. Heck, I even prefer YDFM’s.

          1. That’s it, Lump. I will be coming to collect both your New York and Jew cards 🙂

            Truth is, “authentic”, “real” and “best” all really mean “favorite”. And any New Yorker/New Jersyan’s favorite bagel will be the one from the local place that they grew up on. For me, that was Twin Rivers Bagels in East Windsor, NJ. And my favorite pizza will always be from Scotto’s, in the same shopping center, about a quarter mile from my house. Similarly, the best apple cider donuts will always be from Wemrock or Battle View Orchards, the best cakes and pastries are from Mendokers and the best meat comes from Heinz’s Butcher Shop.

            Bagel Palace is “real” and “best” to me because it’s closest to what I grew up with. And I drive out to Austell to Patak Meats because it reminds me of the Eastern European butcher shops I shopped at with my grandmother. I pray to God on a regular basis that we will EVER get anything that approximates the bakeries we had up there. Pizza, I have given up on.

            So, I do understand that others may not understand my irrational love for Bagel Palace. That said, as a true Jerseyan, it’s still my inalienable right to say “YOU’RE WRONG!”

            1. Funny! We went on a highly rated and fun “authentic NY pizza tour” in NYC and the moral of the story (as explained by the tour guide) was that everyone’s favorite pizza is what they grew up on. (We didn’t like any of the NY pizza better than our Mellow Mushroom.)

            2. J T

              I couldn’t agree with you more. A bagel from Tr bagel, pizza from Scottos and maybe a trip to the game room? I didn’t know there were others from the rivers here in Decatur.

              1. Are you freaking serious? Please tell me that you didn’t just google “Twin Rivers 1980’s” to mess with me. I lived there from 1972-1986. Moved away for college and then got smart and came south for good. I probably spent three-quarters of every dollar I made in allowance, and later part-time jobs, in Scotto’s and the Game Room. Wow. If you ever want to catch up and reminisce, drop me an email or find me on facebook (Jeff Lell)!

                  1. Doh!

                    But seriously, if anyone actually cared to know who I was and couldn’t figure it in 2 minutes on google, they should have their internet access revoked 🙂

                  2. And for the record, I have now found someone I grew up and went to grade school with in New Jersey, and someone else who graduated from the same high school in Pennsylvania that I transferred to after we moved. And there is a semi-regular commenter named Nittany-something who I assume went to the same large state university that I did. Now I just need to find out if there are any Emory GDBBS grad students from the mid to late-90’s, or UGA Law 2001-04 alums around here and commenting on this site.

                    1. Too cool. Hope these are all people you want to be in touch with! The bad news about our electronic, world-wide connectedness is that you can’t leave your former life behind anymore! It’s lurking somewhere on Facebook, Linked In, or DM!

            3. Mmmm… Mendokers. Now that’s some small town pride when the welcome sign for the town reads “home of the 1986 state soccer champs and mendokers bakery” (in the late 90’s!)

            4. Bagel Boys in Airmont, NY and best pizza is La Gondola in Ramsey, NJ. Although Olympic in Sloatsburg, NY and Goodfellas in Riverdale were nothing to sneeze at.

              Who am I kidding – I just wish there was a Friendly’s in GA!

        2. for me, the gold standard for NYC style bagels are H&H and Ess-a-Bagel in Manhattan.
          closest i’ve found here require a drive to Alpharetta: BB’s Bagels
          we eat Bagel Palace all the time, and they’re quite good, but in reality they’re only above average with bonus points for convenience and price.

          1. The original H&H bagel stores are history. There’s an H&H on 2nd Avenue in Yorkville, but it’s under different ownership. When I lived at Waterside Plaza nothing made me happier than a hike to Kossar’s on 14th Street for a few bialys. Kossar’s is down to one store now on the LES. My first ever bagels came from Bagel Oasis on the LIE service road just east of Utopia Parkway in Fresh Meadows, and I probably still love them best. They’re still going strong.

          2. I’ve had bagels from both places and all I can say is yuck. Their OK, but not to my taste. BP is acceptable. Einsteins less so, but okay in a pinch. I used to love the bagels from Royal Bagels in Ansley. And they way they embraced the changing community around them was great. “Bagels fit for a king, and queens, too!” Of course, now that community has as many young families as it does single gay guys and Royal Bagel closed with its owners’ retirement. As others have said your favorite bagel is usally the one you grow up with. Other than the nasty Lender’s bagels from the grocery store, I remember some bagels from a place in Queens that were delish. A little mom and pop place, not a chain. I’m sure it was a Jewish bagel place, but I only got to go a few times when I was about 10 and I cannot remember the name.

    3. I actually think that type of place would have a hard time “killing’ in that location. Bagels, breads, doughnuts and the like seem to me to depend on a lot of people quickly coming in, placing an order, and then leaving. The location doesn’t lend itself to quick in and out that would allow a bagel type place to survive.

      1. baked products are in that location’s DNA: the longest standing tenant there 10+(?) years was Atlanta Bread Company. you’d need a good menu to strike the balance between dash in/out counter purchases and table meals.

        1. Yeah, but Atlanta Bread Company was there when there was still around 8 parking spots in front. Downtown Decatur is tough for small quick eats/take out establishments. It works great in Manhattan where EVERYONE, even the one-percenters, walk to food, drink, shopping, cabs, the train, work, everything. You grab a bagel and coffee in a hole in the wall place on your way to work or on the way home. In Decatur, we’re not compact enough to do that. I can usually find a spot in front of Sawicki’s or Pastries-a-Go-Go and grab something to bring home for dinner or brunch. Oakhurst Market has parking in front. But I don’t grab items on the go from Calle Latina or Cakes & Ale Bakery because there’s never parking there. For this reason, I’m ambivalent about eliminating parking Downtown. I certainly don’t want whole blocks taken up with parking when they could have great restaurants or stores I’d like to frequent. But no parking at all inhibits me from patronizing Downtown when I don’t have the time, energy, or carrying capacity to walk/bike. I thought the parking that used to exist in front of Atlanta Bread Company was just right–a few spots for dropping in and out quickly but not a barren lot. Those spots could have been made 15 minutes only to accomodate take-out customers.

          1. I think everyone forgets you can park for one hour FREE in the Decatur Town Center lot during the afternoons. This is no more than a 2 block walk from pretty much anywhere you want to go in and around the Square and there are always plentiful spots.

            1. Two blocks is not a lot in and of itself, and driving+walking is fine if you’re going somewhere for a sit down meal or something else for a couple hours, but it is not compatible with takeout where the whole point is to be able to run in/stop on the way home, etc.

      2. General Muir is not a bagel place or a take-out place. They have bagels and take-out but it’s mainly a gourmet deli sit-down/dine-in type place. I was mocked before for saying that Decatur doesn’t have a “destination” breakfast or brunch place but something like the General Muir downtown would become that place.

  2. Went there enough that we had a favorite waiter. Food was always good and the one time they got my order wrong they made good on it and gave me a free drink to boot. I’m sorry to see them go.

  3. I’m with Brian. The only time I ever ate there the drinks were weak, the food was INCREDIBLY greasy and overpriced, and the waitstaff were friendly but slooooow. My Mexican fix was always much more satisfied by Calle Latina or – even better – the underappreciated but AMAZING MAR right down the road. Regardless, fingers crossed that the next business to inhabit the space will thrive – Atlanta Bread Company, while not flashy, managed to stay in business for a LONG time.

    1. +1. Glad I’m not the only one that thought the food was really greasy. And totally agree about MAR. I love that place

    2. MAR is great – but I am partial to seafood heavy, fresh veggies, coastal Mexican.
      I heard the management had a turnover lately, so I am hoping they can hang on.

        1. Agreed. I walk past 3-4 nights a week and usually only see a few tables filled. Hopefully Kimball House will give them a boost with increased traffic and they recently had a Scoutmob deal. Although I’m convinced a Scoutmob deal might be a bad sign too.

  4. I like to save links to reports here of restaurants closing and take note of all the people who say “Good riddance!” or “They deserved it because I went once and did not like it!” I do this so that I can hopefully one day hear about that person being laid off or otherwise suffering a life defeat and then I can take glee in going up to their face and yelling “Haha!”

    [Obviously this is a joke. I would never do that. I would instead simply comment anonymously on a blog]

    1. Or- maybe people considering this location or one nearby can read reviews here of places that didn’t make it, and use it as a guide, as to what people are willing to pay, or what there’s too much of, what they hated etc…

      I bet the rent in that space is high, but jut because the rent is high doesn’t mean you can justify higher prices. People have to feel like they’re getting their money’s worth or they wont go back, that simple really.

      Maybe this place need to be razed and then made in 2 or 3 smaller hole in the wall spots where you can get excellent food, reasonably priced and everyone still gets to make a profit, including the landlord

      1. In case some potential future proprietors do take your suggestion, here are some ideas I like:

        1. Italian (Emilia-Romagna, Tuscan…think bolognese, wild boar, truffles)

        2. tapas–a little more traditional and less fancy and pricy than what Iberian Pig offers

        3. or maybe a fiaschetteria that offers retail and served wine, cheese, cured meats, small plates, pasta amatriciana, etc.

        Or with your “hole in the wall” idea, we could have all three! All more suited to a smaller space anyway.

        1. The third idea seems most viable of the ones you suggest. #1 just would not fly one door down from 246, and doesn’t fit the vibe of that space. And while you might be able to draw distinctions between #2 and Iberian Pig, most wouldn’t.

          1. I never really think of 246 as Italian, for some reason, even though a refresher look at the menu clearly includes a lot of Italian dishes. I was thinking something more along the lines of the typical trattoria you find in every Tuscan village or town. Like Cafe Alsace but not French, of course. 246 seems to me more of a “special night out” kind of place versus a “local any night out” kind of place.

            But I just saw another suggestion for a Cuban place and I support that idea, too!

      2. …”where you can get excellent food, reasonably priced and everyone still gets to make a profit…”

        A good example of this is Victory.

      3. May be tricky to pull off, but I’d think a place that had a modestly priced breakfast and lunch for the courthouse crowd, etc., and a more expensive dinner menu would be the way to go there if the rent demands higher prices.

    2. +1 for JT.

      I represent many small business owners and have seen how much of a tragedy it is to them when a business fails. Even if it fails because they ran it poorly, it’s still a huge loss. These threads always seem unnecessarily cruel to me.

    3. J_T… If a restaurant is not consistently good, it will not survive in Decatur. There’s too many great choices for the mediocre (or in this case, subpar) to make it. I say Good Riddance because I’m glad it’s gone… It creates an opportunity for something great or consistently good to take it’s place and to provide long term employment in Decatur. (Take note, Big Tex),

      If I performed poorly in my job, I would expect to be replaced, and I wouldn’t cry about it. If that ever happens, I’ll let you know and you can definitely laugh in my face over a coffee at Dancing Goats.

  5. I think the days are gone in Decatur when places can make it that are businesses first and restaurants second. What I mean by that is that this place feels like the costs of ingredients are more important than the quality of the food–not a chef-driven restaurant. The first time we went there, right after they opened, it was pretty good. The second time it was like a Mexican food version of the diner that was there before. I’m with FM Fats; it may be time for the Brickstore/Leons/Kimball House folks to work their magic at this prime location.

  6. What about an Italian/Maggianos/Olive Garden type place? Hot bread, warm butta and cheese, gooey fattening pasta. Oh yeah…

  7. hmmm, expand java monkey into a metro-style bookstore/newstand/cafe/wine bar/local brews/reading venue with a wee bit expanded small plate food list ….

  8. Anybody been to That Pie Place up near Perimeter? Would LOVE to see them open up in Decatur. Both this and the former Pita Pit location would be perfect. Talked to the owner and he says he is looking for a spot here.

  9. I went with my family twice. I would have liked to have gone more often, but found that Decatur simply has better options. I will not miss HOLA, however i WILL miss their multicolored sign on the corner… it just always made me happy for some reason.

  10. Chipotle is open today, Everyone join me for lunch at Raging Burrito today and show your support for local businesses!

    1. Good question. As far as I know it’s still in the offing, but haven’t heard any updates for a looong time.

    2. That’s exactly what I asked myself yesterday as I watched some work going on in the empty restaurant space in the Courtyard by Marriot.

  11. Metro Fresh. The one in the Midtown Promenade shopping complex has a vibe that I think would fit Decatur.

  12. We went to HOLA a few times, but several times we passed it by because we couldn’t find parking nearby. If there isn’t parking on the street on the front or side, we had to pass by too many fabulous restaurants between our car and the HOLA location and we were bound to stop somewhere else. I don’t think something like MetroFresh or Souper Jenny will do well in that location (as much as I like both of those places) because so much of their business is “to go” and the parking just sux.

    1. Yeah, I agree with your thinking regarding any establishment that does a significant amount of to-go business. Just won’t work here.

      Wasn’t Souper Jenny going in the former Sammiches n Stuff space? Did I dream that?

  13. We went there for the first time last week. It was disgusting. All the food was flavorless and microwaved. I’m not sad to see it go.

  14. They obviously didn’t know how to spell in Spanish. The sign should have been ¡HOLA! with an inverted exclamation mark before the H.

  15. I actually liked the idea of a 24 hour diner in the spot. Decatur Diner was poorly executed (I only tried them once), but the concept of an “always open” food/coffee/social spot in the center of Decatur struck a chord with me.

    1. + 1. I was looking forward to a refuge from home when I needed to do late night studying, work, bills, online shopping outside the pandemonium of home. Decatur Diner was not that spot. It wasn’t a diner or coffee shop style establishment with the option for hanging out. It was just a mediocre restaurant.

  16. We went twice in recent weeks and the food and service were excellent. I’m sorry for the owners who invested their time and money in our city and their business failed. I’m also sorry for all the people who just lost their jobs. Tough crowd and makes me wonder if anyone gives new places constructive feedback to help them make it. I’m sad to see them go

    1. “Tough crowd and makes me wonder if anyone gives new places constructive feedback to help them make it”

      It seems most people prefer not to do that, at least not in person. But social media would certainly offer them that feedback. I mean, it’s a bit awkward to tell a server your margarita needs more tequila. And when you hear others make that complaint in reviews and via word-of-mouth, it’s pretty easy to conclude they are trying to get by as cheaply as possible with their drinks rather than satisfy customers.

      1. I personally try not jump to conclusions. I think we can all stand to act a little more neighborly and build up businesses a little more.

    1. +1 – I seem to remember that Pizza by Candlelight had terrible pizza but interesting ambiance. Didn’t they have the classic wicker and wax-covered wine bottles to hold the drippy candles?

    1. Love both of those ideas. I think we need more of a departure from similar types of cuisine that are nearby (i.e. no pizza, Mexican, Tex-Mex, Thai or sushi – or froyo or coffee, or craft beer, while I’m at it…). My dream would be a reincarnation of Havana Sandwich Shop with Cuban sandwiches, black beans and rice and tostones.

      Or maybe a Cajun/Creole menu?

      (And, to continue the thread jack, a suggestion to DM for the next slow news day: a thread on the best Cuban restaurants – for the money or anywhere.)

  17. By the way, the listing for this place was posted over 2 months ago, with the reason given for the sale a “partner split”. Link would get moderated, but you can find the info on Tomorrows News Today.

  18. I’d be down for some southern comfort food in that spot – something similar to Our Way Cafe in Avondale. Fried chicken, meatloaf, collards, mashed potatoes, etc.

  19. Given that it is non-existent here, I keep suggesting that a Scandinavian restaurant would do well. Not Noma-level, but rather something more approachable, like Aamanns in NYC, including different versions of infused akvavit, Tre Kronor in Chicago, Cafe Broder in Portland, etc. You could offer a tasty Julbord at Christmas, mid summer party, smörgås (brunch), focus on Scandinavian beers and spirits (since alcohol seems to be the one general product that enables establishments to afford or survive Decatur commercial rent prices nowadays), etc. I know that Ikea offers some of this at Atlantic Station, but it could be successful in Decatur. You could even sponsor events with the various chambers of commerce (Danish, Swedish), the Swedish school, etc., kind of like the alliance française or Goethe Institut.

    If rent is otherwise affordable, a cheap meat and three would be nice or how about something not based on food?

    1. No idea whether this would be successful or not, but points for originality. Haven’t seen a suggestion anything like this one before…

    2. Good call. There used to be a place near Columbus Circle in NYC called the AQ Cafe that was delightful for breakfast or lunch.

  20. Since this thread has gone everywhere, I just have to say something.

    Mayor Rob Ford, Good God man!

    There are ladies and people from New Jersey present, so I will not explain.

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