The co-owners of the Georgia eatery share photos and their favorite menu items with PEOPLE
Last week, The Walking Dead star Norman Reedus hinted on social media that his new restaurant, Nic & Norman’s—which he co-owns with Greg Nicotero, TWD director and producer—would open “sooner than you think.” He wasn’t kidding: The eatery officially opened its doors to the public on Tuesday.
After a Twitter announcement stating, “Doors open today at 11,” fans and hungry patrons lined up around the block and even brought lawn chairs to wait for their first experience in the new Senoia, Georgia eatery.
“Norman and I were texting each other back and forth on Tuesday. It’s weird to walk into a place that you didn’t even know was going to exist six months ago.” Nicotero tells PEOPLE. He and Reedus casually discussed a restaurant years ago, but only began making solid plans in January.
“We were very excited about the idea of opening something in Senoia,” Nicotero says. “It’s something to pay tribute to the area where we shoot the show, and have the cast and the crew have a place to call their own. “
Diners may even get lucky and end up having a drink with someone from the show’s cast and crew. “Our fans are so loyal and so devoted that I think they’ll get a kick out of seeing the make-up effects people and meeting the production people, and having a drink with one of the assistant directors,” Nicotero says. “There’s around 400 people that work on The Walking Dead so when people come in the restaurant, it will give them another opportunity to bond with the people who create the show.”
Crew members did stop by for drinks and selfies on opening day.
But aside from a few t-shirt designs and crew appearances, don’t expect a zombie-themed dining experience.”We’re not playing that up. We really wanted the place to have a little more of an upscale feel,” Nicotero says. With curtains surrounding the booths, glass wall inserts to emphasize natural light and original artwork by Reedus and Nicotero—the vibe is less apocalyptic and more family-friendly.
Its menu also extends beyond kitschy bar food with selections like soup du jour, barbecue grilled flatbread, gourmet pot pie and grilled chicken with applewood smoked bacon and goat cheese. For dessert, the chefs offer options like crème brûlée cheesecake, gluten-free flourless chocolate torte and Georgia peach cobbler. Fans have already begun tweeting out their approval of the cuisine.
Patrons who want specific recommendations from either Nicotero or Reedus may simply browse the burger list, which features the Norman’s Pick and Greg’s Pick burgers. The Norman’s Pick burger is a bison patty with a slice of beetroot, spinach, mustard, and a fried egg. “We didn’t want the food to be too unhealthy,” says Nicotero. “Norman’s signature burger is kind of a healthy burger. And people have the opportunity with all the burgers to do a lettuce wrap as opposed to a bun.”
Greg’s Pick is the recipe for Nictoro’s favorite burger—created with a blend of ground chuck, short rib and brisket patty topped with blue cheese, baby blend lettuce and tomato. The patty also comes with N&N sauce: an orange condiment made with secret ingredients.
“It’s kind of funny when you’re involved in a restaurant, because you can go in and change the food. I can say, ‘I don’t really like pickles so take pickles off of the burger.’ Or ‘make it spicier’, because I like spicier stuff,” Nicotero says. “The fact that I have my own signature burger that I can give suggestions about and other items on the menu, it’s kind of fun.”
To compliment the food menu, Nic & Norman’s has an extensive list of cocktails, including the Mary Pickford and Babyface Nelson. And, of course, there’s a signature cocktail: the N&N Special made with tequila, lime juice, grapefruit juice, Campari and angostura bitters.
“As artists, we are passionate about creating special moments. Beyond the screen, we recognize that this often happens while enjoying a great meal in the company of family and friends,” reads a personal note in their menu. “When the opportunity came to open a restaurant in Senoia, we knew it was a natural extension of our passion. We hope you capture a few of those special moments here.”