For anyone who’s been to Atlanta, or lived here for a little bit, you probably have been to R. Thomas Deluxe Grille. A quirky little establishment in between Buckhead and Midtown that’s quickly identified as the “place with the birds.” The restaurant has been alive and kicking with one location for 30 years. It’s a staple. An icon.

R. Thomas was founded by Richard Thomas, a man you would’ve seen walking around the premises watering flowers and playing with the restaurant’s ornithological specimens that included a toucan, parrots, cockatoos, doves and more. He was always a delight and loved interacting with guests as much as his beloved birds.

Mr. Thomas passed away yesterday, but he leaves a legacy. He was a true innovator whether folks knew it or not. He served as the first President of Operations for Kentucky Fried Chicken, and he founded a concept in charlotte that made fried chicken. That concept would become Bojangles. It seems Mr. Thomas had a knack for creating good things in the restaurant world.

R. Thomas was more than a bird sanctuary. It was a 24 hours haven full of quirks and whimsy. The food was healthy before healthy was a trend. All organic, all natural, power foods, and delicious dishes have been the menu mainstay and continue to this day. Better eating is simply baked into the DNA of the restaurant and its owner. The staff and overall experience as always been a joy that my wife and I love. I’m confident his soul and personality will live on in that world he created.

R.I.P Richard. You will be missed, but not forgotten.

– J