Elliot Hunt has dreamed of opening his first restaurant since he was 17. His dream began to finally take shape three years ago when his parents bought the Ellis Building, which Hunt is now renovating into an upscale restaurant inspired by his travels to six different continents.
The renovations have been challenging for Hunt, now 34, who is installing new hoods and ovens for the kitchen, renovating the stucco work on top of the building, replacing the garage doors and roof and adding new window panes into the original steel frames to prepare the restaurant for it’s opening date by the end of 2019.
The Ellis Building, located on 208 N Block Ave., was first opened in June of 1923 as the Ellis Motor Company, an automotive business run by Dr. Edward Forrest, according to the Arkansas Historic Prevention Program.
Following Forrest’s business, the building housed Lewis Chevrolet, a car dealership that upset locals due to the excess of cars in public parking lots, a tobacco and candy store, an antique store and many more.
Hunt’s goal is to maintain the original facade of Ellis Building while giving it a facelift, he said.
“We’re really excited to share Atlas with this town,” Hunt said. “We’re building something extremely special, and we want people to be blown away by what we’ve created for them.”
Hunt graduated high school in 2003. He then traveled to six continents after The Rotary Club of Fayetteville offered him a scholarship to study in France at a culinary apprenticeship school. It was on those trips abroad that he found inspiration for Atlas’s style and menu, he said.
Hunt worked in the culinary industries of France, Australia, Chicago, India and Ecuador. He moved back to Fayetteville with his wife five years ago, where they now “want to build a big city restaurant in a small town,” he said.
“To us, we believe food is a common language for all of humanity,” Hunt said.
Atlas’s seasonal menu is set to be unveiled soon containing “dynamic flavors and local ingredients,” categorized by four sections, dinner, wine, cocktails and desserts, according to Atlas The Restaurant.
Hunt previously worked as a chef at Theo’s, an American-style restaurant in Fayetteville, where he met his business partner and general manager for Atlas, Branden Rostek.
“Our goal is to create unforgettable experiences for people who visit Atlas,” said Rostek.