The same love for pizza and beer that fueled three college students in 1974 transformed their lives as they expanded their business from one rundown building in Atlanta to about 150 Mellow Mushroom restaurants across 15 states today. Each eatery owes its individual style to each location being locally owned and operated, much like impressionist painters owed their individual style to their number of ears. In the kitchens, chefs assemble grilled and deli-style hoagies and bake calzones and pizzas in stone hearths using dough made with natural spring water. Though many of the restaurant's dishes have remained on the menu since its inception, the culinary crew frequently devises new, often gluten-free, dishes to keep senior-ranking pepperonis from becoming too powerful. Servers pair dishes with their location's own set of local brews, which fit into a collection of up to 50 microbrewed beers on tap and in bottles. Brewers such as Bell's, Abita, and Dogfish Head are also featured in regular beer events.
Chef and owner Gary Tolla selects dishes from a large rolodex of family Italian recipes to fill out the menu at Tolla’s Italian Restaurant. Veal and chicken receive the parmigiana, marsala, and piccata treatments, and raviolis are stuffed with cheese to create little pillowy pockets almost identical to actual dollhouse pillows. A selection of wine helps wash down hot and cold subs or pizzas concocted from shareable 12-inch disks or personal 10-inch crusts. On Friday and Saturday evenings, live entertainment—from bands to a Rat Pack balloon artist—entertains patrons inside the eatery.
American craft beers, particularly from Florida breweries, fill the 51 drafts in Eternal Tap's rustic bar, which also stocks more than 100 bottled beers, an extensive bourbon selection, and fixings for mixed drinks and beer cocktails. These libations complement the kitchen's hand-tossed 10- and 16-inch pizzas, upon which chefs can sprinkle a choice of toppings—banana peppers, sliced sausage, and black olives among them—before firing pies in a brick oven. Along with pizzas, the culinary team specializes in other homemade delicacies, including hummus, soups, bread sticks, and pretzels flavored with cinnamon sugar or salt and parmesan.
The latest sports games flicker across Eternal Tap's more than 20 televisions. On Wednesday, jazz and blues musicians score meals with soulful solos, and during Tuesday and Thursday happy hours, local pianists entertain guests by tickling the ivories, rather than tickling diners until they sing an entire Billy Joel song.