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Archive for January, 2012

Hotel, Motel and Restaurant Supply Show of the Southeast

Tuesday, January 24th, 2012

January 24-26, 2012 in Myrtle Beach, SC. For more information, visit Hotel, Motel and Restaurant Supply Show of the Southeast.


Shepherd Center is Beneficiary of JCT. Bar Fundraiser

Friday, January 20th, 2012

JCT. Bar recently hosted a fundraiser with Betty and Billy Hulse, the makers of Cobbie’s Sauce, to benefit the Shepherd Center. JCT. Bar sold orders of pork sliders with Cobbie’s Sauce, with the proceeds going to the private non-profit hospital that specializes in medical treatment, research and rehabilitation for people with spinal cord and brain injuries.

The Hulses have a personal connection with the Shepherd Center. In 2009, Billy Hulse sustained a spinal cord injury and received exceptional care and treatment from the dedicated team at the Shepherd Center. A portion of every Cobbie’s Sauce sale goes to the hospital, and the Hulses are donating the money from the JCT. Bar fundraiser to the Spinal Cord Injury Research Lab.

“This gift will be put to good work in our spinal cord injury research lab,” says Bonnie Hardage, director of major gifts at Shepherd Center Foundation. “We have the best minds working to solve the problems caused by paralysis. We couldn’t do this good work without support from the community.”

Cobbie’s Sauce is an all natural, gluten free sauce that was originally created by Mary Cobb “Cobbie” Hulse, Billy Hulse’s mother, more than 60 years ago.  This recipe has been used on chicken, pork, beef, fish and shrimp ever since.

JCT. Bar is located above JCT. Kitchen at 1198 Howell Mill Road, Ste 18.



New Airport Concessions Contracts Approved by Atlanta City Council

Friday, January 13th, 2012

The Atlanta City Council recently voted in favor of the Department of Aviation’s recommendations for contracts for 126 food and beverage locations and 24 retail locations at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and the new Maynard H. Jackson Jr. International Terminal.

“Hartsfield Jackson Atlanta International Airport is the economic engine not only for the City of Atlanta and the metropolitan region, but also for the state of Georgia,” said Mayor Kasim Reed. “These new concessions contracts will generate $51 million in annual revenues, an increase of more than $23 million, and ensure that the 90 million travelers who pass through Hartsfield-Jackson each year have world-class food, beverage and retail options. With the opening of the new Maynard H. Jackson Jr. International terminal this spring, Atlanta’s position as the global capital of the Southeast will be secure for decades to come.”

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport is the single largest employer in the state with 58,000 direct employees. It generates an annual economic impact in the metropolitan Atlanta area of $32.6 billion. The annual rent from the new concessions program at Hartsfield-Jackson is projected to generate about $2 million per month in additional revenue to the airport.

The recommendations include a large number of new food and retail locations that will be located throughout the airport and the new Maynard H. Jackson Jr. International Terminal, scheduled to open in spring 2012.  For example, among the large food and beverage packages, 10 of the 17 recommended subtenants are new. Included in the list of  new restaurants are: The Varsity, Shane’s Rib Shack, Sweet Georgia’s Juke Joint and The Pecan.

“This has been the most transparent and open procurement process I have been a part of in my more than 30 years in the aviation industry,” said Louis Miller, Aviation General Manager. “We are pleased that our new concessions program has been approved, and we can move forward in providing our customers with an exciting array of new dining and retail options in the coming months. The food and beverage program will create a sense of place for our customers and will offer a variety of new and local restaurateurs and companies to the airport.”

The Requests for Proposals (RFP) for concessions at Hartsfield-Jackson was one of the largest airport procurements in North America. The City of Atlanta issued RFPs for five large food and beverage packages in multiple locations; four small food and beverage packages in two to three locations, and two retail packages in multiple locations. The city imposed limits on the total number of packages that any one proponent could win within each RFP category (small and large) of food and beverage and retail concessions in order to encourage competition and maximum participation.


Inaugural Historic Roswell Restaurant Week

Friday, January 13th, 2012

January 14-22, 2012, Roswell. For more information, visit Roswell Restaurant Week


Jo Ann Herold – Arby’s VP of Brand Marketing

Monday, January 9th, 2012

Jo Ann Herold was recently recognized by the Georgia Restaurant Association as a GRACE Awards Distinguished Service of the Year finalist.

As vice president of brand marketing at Arby’s, Herold focuses on menu strategy and product innovation that will boost the bottom line — but she also dedicates much of her time and efforts volunteering. She’s currently on the board of the Atlanta Convention and Visitor’s Bureau and is working with Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign through the Arby’s Foundation. As part of the effort, she’s working to redesign the company’s kid’s meal to include nutritious options for children.

Herold didn’t know it at the time, but her career started when she filled out an application for a part-time job at McDonald’s when she was 16 years old.

“Like so many other young people, that first job experience was a great backbone for my future career,” she says. “I have loved the restaurant industry from the day I started over 29 years ago.”

When asked about major trends in 2012, Herold shared the following thoughts:

• In a challenging economy, value and affordability can help restaurant weather the downturn and even increase sales.

• Dedicating time and resources to keeping concepts fresh and relevant is necessary in our industry.

• There is always a risk involved with making changes to such an established brand. It’s important to adapt to current trends without losing sight of a brand’s core value to the customer. You have to give the customer a reason to keep coming back.

Herold believes the most pressing challenges to the industry is illegal immigration: “The Illegal Immigration Enforcement Act that was recently turned into Law (HB87) poses unique challenges for our industry. It is important for us to understand [such] issues and evaluate the impact. Further, menu board legislation will involve a much higher level of scrutiny and oversight from the government to the restaurateurs. Consumers are much more educated on the nutritionals and ingredients, and are demanding transparency from restaurants and their suppliers.”

(Photo courtesy of Beth Melberg & Louise Mulherin)


Expanding Across Georgia’s Border: Facing Differences & Challenges Between States

Monday, January 9th, 2012

By Bob Amick

The word “expanding” can be a daunting one, especially in the restaurant industry. I am often asked by my friends, acquaintances and colleagues, “When are you going to open a concept outside of Atlanta?” My answer is often prefaced with a chuckle and a nonchalant response such as “We shall see,” or “When the time is right.”

In all reality and honesty, expanding outside of Atlanta or Georgia, for that matter, is not something I am seeking to do daily. Growth, to me, is an opportunity to create and play, both at home and in other  markets, and see how  consumers respond. The unknown is unpredictable and always brings challenges.

My first thought about expanding is, “Do I have the resources to do so?” Involving myself in a project further from my home base is always more difficult. And my second thought is, “Assume nothing.” When I am creating a new restaurant for a client, it is always about the chemistry of the client, the city in which the restaurant is located, and how exciting the project could be.

First, when expanding, you must get to know your market and determine the voids and the opportunities related to your location with respect to the new city. Consumers’ culinary tastes and expectations absolutely differ across states, and I even find differences here in Atlanta, in the region where I am used to doing business. There is even a huge palate difference across cities and suburbs. I find that the further you are from the central business district, consumers’ tastes are often more conservative and less adventurous; I like to use this same analogy across different cities and regions. There is a bell curve in terms of which cities are at the forefront of culinary dining and where other cities fall in line behind. New York is at the top in terms of innovation and pushing the culinary envelope; every other market falls in line somewhere behind it. You can’t get too far ahead of where that marketplace is; proceed with caution. The challenge is to always be in tune and have an idea of what consumers are ready for and what they will respond to. Being innovative just for the sake of being innovative doesn’t usually work.

Consumers are not the only challenge in this equation. Differing laws across states pose challenges, too. Minimum wage, liquor liabilities, health regulations and union constraints: these are just a few examples, and there are many more. It’s important to understand what uniquenesses there are in every market. This allows you to adjust accordingly. Understanding and adjusting are two key factors in facing these challenges head-on, allowing you to start off on the right foot in the expansion process. Due diligence is key.

Is there anything easy about expanding across Georgia’s border? The answer is no. And I’ve only scratched the surface of potential challenges in this article. There is nothing easy about doing more than one of anything. The easiest kind of expansion is one where you can always be present and involved, near home base; the hardest is one where you cannot always be present.

Our consulting concepts, which includes development and management in other markets, have kept me very busy in other states. With our presence still growing in Atlanta and our projects through out the U.S. keeping us very busy, I am thankful for all the opportunities.

Bob Amick has three decades of experience in the Atlanta restaurant business. After launching his career in 1974 with Peasant Restaurants, Amick started Concentrics Restaurants in 2002. Today, the restaurant group owns and operates seven properties in Atlanta, including TWO urban licks, TAP and PARISH: Foods & Goods, as well as 360 in St. Louis, Mo.,  Luma  and Prato in Winterpark, Fla.


ACF Greater Atlanta Chapter January Meeting

Monday, January 9th, 2012
January 9, 2012, College Park. For more information, visit Atlanta Culinary Federation Greater Atlanta Chapter

The NRA’s Restaurant Performance Index Rises to Highest Level in 5 Months

Thursday, January 5th, 2012

Driven by positive same-store sales and an increasingly optimistic outlook among restaurant operators, the National Restaurant Association’s Restaurant Performance Index (RPI) rose to its highest level in five months in November.

The RPI – a monthly composite index that tracks the health of and outlook for the U.S. restaurant industry – stood at 100.6 in November, up 0.6 percent from October. In addition, November represented the second time in the last three months that the RPI stood above 100, which signifies expansion in the index of key industry indicators.

“The November increase in the Restaurant Performance Index was fueled by broad-based gains in both the current situation and forward-looking indicators,” said Hudson Riehle, senior vice president of the Research and Knowledge Group for the Association. “Restaurant operators reported their strongest net positive same-store sales results in more than four years, while customer traffic levels also grew in November.”

Additionally, restaurant operators’ outlook for both sales growth and the overall economy rose to their highest levels in seven months, according to Riehle.

The RPI consists of two components — the Current Situation Index (measuring current trends) and the Expectations Index (measuring restaurant operators’ six-month outlook) — and tracks the health of and outlook for the U.S. restaurant industry.

The Current Situation Index stood at 100.2 in November – up 0.8 percent from October’s level of 99.5. November marked the second time in the last three months that the Current Situation Index stood above 100, which signifies expansion in the current situation indicators.

The Expectations Index stood at 100.9 in November – up 0.4 percent from October and the third consecutive monthly gain. November also marked the third consecutive month that the Expectations Index stoodabove 100, which represents a positive outlook among restaurant operators for business conditions in the months ahead.

Restaurant operators’ outlook for capital spending remains positive. Forty-seven percent o frestaurant operators plan to make a capital expenditure for equipment, expansion or remodeling in the next six months, essentially unchanged from the levels reported in the previous two months.


Barberitos to Open 35th Store

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012

Barberitos Southwestern Grille and Cantina recently announced that franchise contracts have been secured for 10 upcoming locations, with multiple other locations on the horizon.

Currently Barberitos has 25 restaurants in five states, with 10 more restaurants that will be located in Tennessee, Georgia, North and South Carolina, and Florida. Barberitos’ recent growth spurt will push them to the 35-stores mark in 2012 for the Athens, Ga.-based franchise.

Despite the tough economy, Barberitos saw a 15.8% increase in system wide sales in 2011 over the previous year. Same store sales are up by 10.17% from 2010. As sales increase, requests for franchise consideration seem to increase also.

“We are truly excited about what is going on inside Barberitos right now. The number and quality of potential business partners that inquire about our system is amazing,” said CEO and Founder Downing Barber. “We are having a good run through this tough economy.”


Metz Culinary Management Acquires S&S Food Administrators

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012

Metz Culinary Management has acquired commercial food service operator S&S Food Administrators of Macon, Ga. The acquisition includes 15 accounts in the healthcare industry and gives Metz a presence in the Southeastern United States.

“This is a perfect opportunity for Metz to continue to grow on the east coast,” said Jeffrey C. Metz, President and CEO of Metz Culinary Management. “S&S has a great reputation in the Southeast and brings an expertise that makes us stronger. The Metz Culinary Management team will complement that with resources and industry knowledge that benefit both existing and future client partners. It’s a great fit for everyone involved.”

With 60 years of service experience, S&S holds accounts in Georgia, South Carolina and Alabama. S&S executives, led by Grant Bennett, Vice President of Operations, and all employees on the acquired accounts will join Metz’s team to create a seamless transition. The companies adhere to similar philosophies of hospitality, quality and family-driven values, and both have seen steady growth throughout their existence.

Metz will look to grow its healthcare industry presence in the Southeast and expand its services into new sectors such as independent schools and higher education, where the company has extensive experience in the Mid-Atlantic region. The move also gives Metz leverage in continuing to build business relationships in Florida and other states along the east coast.

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