Atlanta Chef Ria Pell Passes Away

By Christopher Hassiotis  |  November 25, 2013
Credit: Ria's Bluebird

Atlanta chef Ria Pell, owner of Grant Park restaurant Ria's Bluebird, passed away last night. No cause of death has been announced, and phone calls to Ria's Bluebird have gone unanswered, but friends and others in Atlanta's hospitality industry say she had a heart attack.

Pell's Grant Park restaurant was a community mainstay, drawing both residents from the neighborhood and workers from nearby Downtown. The restaurant, open for almost 14 years, is known for hearty breakfast and lunch fare that creatively used healthier ingredients. The New York Times highlighted Ria's pancakes in a 2007 Atlanta travel piece, and Pell was a contestant on and winner of the Food Network's cooking competition show Chopped last year. Creative Loafing interviewed her at the time about her appearance. 

Pell also owned Sauced, an Inman Park restaurant that opened in 2009 and closed last year. Prior to opening Ria's Bluebird, she worked at Dish, Floataway Café, Atkins Park and more. She was heavily involved in the community, and she and Ria's Bluebird co-owner Alex Skalicky were pioneers of Memorial Drive's economic revitalization. Pell was a founder of the MondoHomo festival, an LGBT music, art and community event, and for years she deejayed at the East Atlanta Village bar Mary's under the name DJ Hawg Tied. 

No news of a memorial service has been announced. Friends and fans of her food have been posting tributes and memories on Ria's Bluebird's Facebook page. The Georgia Voice is featuring in-depth coverage of her passing.