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Archive for February, 2012

Great American Baking Contest Atlanta

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

February 29, 2012 at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts, Atlanta. For more information, visit Share Our Strength.

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Concentrics’ Newest Concept, Central, Opens in Montgomery’s Entertainment District

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

Concentrics Restaurant has opened its newest concept, Central, in the heart of downtown Montgomery, Ala. Located in the city’s entertainment district, the restaurant is a true American restaurant highlighting local and seasonal ingredients.

Central is a collaboration between Montgomery developer Jerry Kyser, owner, and Bob Amick of Atlanta’s Concentrics Restaurants.

Chef Michael Bertozzi, most recently of TWO urban licks in Atlanta, has created a menu offering wood fired comforting classics featuring fresh seafood, local meats and greens. Signature entrees include meatloaf, sauteed Gulf Red Snapper, prime rib and more.

Central is located in one of Montgomery’s most historic buildings,  a mid-1890s warehouse on Coosa Street. The building’s structural integrity has been maintained and features exposed brick, large gas wall sconces, a heart of pine tongue-and-groove floor, and an open kitchen.

Central has three unique private dining spaces for small to large events — The River Room, adjacent to the main dining room; The Cellar, located beneath the main dining room; and 129 Coosa Street, located above Central. A  600 square-foot balcony overlooks the bustling alley outside the restaurant.

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Georgia Organics 15th Annual Conference & Expo

Friday, February 24th, 2012

February 24-25 in Columbus.  For more information, visit Georgia Organics.

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Would You Dine Often at Your Own Restaurant?

Friday, February 24th, 2012

By Ryan Turner

Pretend that you don’t own your restaurant or work there — would you go there often and spend your hard earned dollars? At Muss & Turner’s and Local Three, our intent has always been to create a place where we’d want to go ourselves.

Having a frequent presence — as patrons — in our own dining rooms sends a message to staff and guests signaling our own content and satisfaction with what we have created. Our desire to be a part of the culture, flavors and feelings that our businesses evoke, especially on our own “personal time,” builds trust and validates that the business truly represents our unique values as owners/partners.

We’ve felt that if we could achieve this, our personalities and passion could shine passively while sending our staff and guests signals of intent that would hopefully lead to trust. To us, trust is everything.

Here are the key elements we’ve focused on in our first two restaurants launched six years apart:

• Location: Our two establishments are located near where we (the three partners) live. As much as we want to be part of the community we serve, convenience rules for most people and it’s no different for us as we go back and forth each day. We also love the concept of discovery or employing what a friend calls “Bat Cave Marketing.”

Being on the busiest street with curb appeal has never been a determining factor for us. Being off the beaten path and a little hard to find adds to the total experience. To some, it is frustrating, but to most, it has a positive effect as long as the experience is good, once the “Bat Cave” is discovered.

In our newest restaurant, the discovery process continues after parking and ends at the end of an opulent Class-A office building hallway. It is unorthodox, but it works.

• Design/Furniture and Fixtures: We’ve been fortunate to have great experiences with architects who made the design of our restaurants about us and how we wanted both places to look, feel and function rather than being about their own vision.

More than anything, we’ve always wanted our staff and guests to feel comfortable. We seek function over fashion and then replace fashion with authenticity and a great story. For example, the tables at M&T were handmade from old wine boxes by a good buddy of ours. The millwork and bar were built by another good friend (and one of our chefs). Some light fixtures were made from colanders by my wife’s grandfather.

At Local Three, folk artist Tracy Hartley made the bar from a 13,000-pound oak tree that used to live right up the road, but fell in a storm. Tracy also made all the tables from re-purposed wood taken from the old porch of a local house. He built our private dining room table from a 20-year-old Mardi Gras float. The handcrafted barn doors from local carpenter Justin Powers have already been duplicated in a customer’s house.

We seek the talent of local artisans who operate with a similar level of passion to ours — it just fits. They provide us with purpose-driven function that deepens the dining experience, and we provide them a stage for sharing their craft and, hopefully, help build their business. The message it sends is a little deeper than if we paid someone a lot of money to look in a catalog and select something they think is pretty, yet durable.

• Décor: Most people enter Local Three for the first time with a stereotyped image. They are walking down the sterile, quiet office tower hallway rich with elevator music. Their preconceived expectations are shattered when they are met by the sounds of a vibrant scene that begins when they open the door and arrive at the host stand flanked with a jackalope and a museum-framed “Velvet Dude” drinking a white Russian. There is no need for a person to stand at the door to explain that this place is different. Guests know immediately they have entered “The Bat Cave.” The message sent with no words is, “We take what we do very seriously, but we don’t take ourselves in the same vein.”

We use a term called “Where’s Waldo Décor.” We love the idea of our guests randomly discovering elements of our “wiseasstitude” over many different visits, albeit on the menu or at the bar. We love to laugh and share with others what we think is funny. Why not try and tickle a person’s sense of humor at the same time as touching their sight, smell and taste?

• Food & Drink: We get bored easily, so employing a menu of recognizable food and beverage that never changes simply doesn’t make sense to us. We understand the merits of consistency, brand recognition and buying deep, but we prefer a more challenging path.

Discovery is a cornerstone of the experience here. We surround ourselves with truly passionate people who are empowered to create while buying and selling products they are passionate about in a fiscally prudent manner. The menus at both of our restaurants change every day, so we are always able to try something new and different. As I tell people all the time, we simply sell what we really like. God forbid we are ever forced to go out of business and end up living off of our restaurant inventory in our own home pantries. I’ll be darned if I’m going to be stuck with a bunch of stuff I don’t like, especially wine and beer.

• Work Environment: Here is where the rubber really hits the road for us. How does the restaurant where we’d want to work operate? What is the culture like? What are the owners like? Is it a place of passion, caring, trust, creativity, positivity, great work ethic, respect and loyalty? We employ people we like to be around sans restaurant. We simply want our restaurants to be operated by good people who truly care about what they do and who find fulfillment in giving an honest effort in being a part of something special that uses food and drink as means of achieving genuine human connection.

That’s a mouthful, pun intended, but it’s the truth. Our guests can intuitively sense if our team truly enjoys the who, what, where, why and how of our restaurants. This sensation is like an intoxicating condiment to the entire dining experience.

When all these elements come together, we have a greater opportunity to go beyond the transactional relationship of filling a belly to possibly touching someone’s heart and soul. You can fill your belly anywhere, but you never know what you might find in a “Bat Cave!”

Ryan Turner is the co-owner of Muss & Turner’s restaurant in Smyrna and Local 3 in Buckhead.

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Brian Lyman of Jim ‘N Nick’s Bar-B-Q

Friday, February 24th, 2012

Brian Lyman was recently recognized by the Georgia Restaurant Association as a GRACE Awards Distinguished Service of the Year finalist.

Lyman has worked in the restaurant industry for more than 30 years. In 2006, he became a local owner at Jim ’N Nick’s, a Birmingham, Ala.-based restaurant concept. Through the company’s business model, Brian has been able to do what he loves — giving back to the community around him.

“I encourage my team to seek out and understand the needs of each guest,” he says. “Likewise, it is just as important to seek to understand the needs of those in our community. Fulfilling those needs brings everything full circle. ‘Serve those who serve’ is a motto that I teach and try to live by. In doing so, the rewards — both personal and professional — are immeasurable.

When asked his thoughts about industry trends in 2012, Lyman shared the following:

• Major trends for this year: Continued source verification; keeping it real; slow-food, farm-to-table; clear emergence in fast-casual concept. There are clear economic and time concerns for consumers. Our guests have a need for good food at a great value, and they have definite constraints on their time and their income. Fast casual, particularly done right, provides an avenue for them. Naturally, truck food is a great example of this.

• Most pressing challenges facing industry: Labor shortages, coupled with immigration laws, have impacted a very productive segment of our workforce.

• Motivation: Aside from my family, led by my loving, supportive and super-patient wife, Traci (and the beach house she hopes to have when we retire), it’s the daily rewards. Our industry allows us to touch so many —the ability to develop, motivate and inspire people throughout their careers, not to mention the thousands of guests we serve each and every day.

(Photo by Sam Burn)

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Georgia Organics Supports Advancement of Pastured Poultry

Thursday, February 23rd, 2012

Immediately following the Feb. 9 launch event for Georgians for Pastured Poultry, the leadership of Georgia Organics released a statement detailing the organization’s position.

Georgia Organics Executive Director Alice Rolls explained, “For four years, Georgia Organics has been working with growers, policy makers, researchers and business consultants to expand opportunities for producers to raise pastured poultry.  The organization remains committed to working with key leaders and agencies to advance pastured poultry policies and solutions.”

Rolls listed the situation as follows:
• Current on-farm processing policies are an impediment for family farms to capture market opportunity and diversify farm income.
• Most other states offer a safe, economically viable option for on-farm processing.
• Georgia Organics members are consistently asking for pastured poultry from local farms.
• “Locally sourced meats” was identified as the number one 2012 trend among chefs nationwide according to the National Restaurant Association.
• Pastured poultry can create jobs and new businesses to strengthen and rebuild rural communities and economies.
• As the largest private employer in Early County, Georgia, White Oak Pastures is a business model that shows pastured production methods can be commercially successful alternatives.
• Consumers increasingly want food grown sustainably without antibiotics and chemicals.
• Pastured poultry is an alternative choice for consumers concerned about their health, animal welfare and Georgia’s environment.

Georgia Organics has two primary goals with regard to pastured poultry:
1. Federal exemption status or policies from the Georgia Department of Agriculture to provide small farms a safe, economically viable option for on-farm processing; and
2. The establishment of a fixed and/or mobile processing solution.

Georgia Organics is a member supported, non-profit organization connecting organic food from Georgia farms to Georgia families.

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Fifth Group Restaurants to Open Lure in July

Thursday, February 23rd, 2012

Robby Kukler, Steve Simon and Kris Reinhard, the three partners behind Fifth Group Restaurants, will open a new seafood restaurant called Lure on Crescent Avenue in Midtown in early July of this year. The restaurant is housed in the space where Vickery’s Crescent Avenue Bar & Grill was formerly located.

Lure’s Midtown location holds a special place in the hearts of the restaurant’s partners. Fifth Group Restaurants’ history began in Midtown with the opening of South City Kitchen on Crescent Avenue 19 years ago, and the company will own the property where Lure stands. This restaurant opening signifies Fifth Group Restaurants’ successful expansion over the past two decades and the company’s commitment to Atlanta’s Midtown neighborhood.

“We have been talking about Lure for more than three years, and the basic idea of serving simple, high quality seafood dishes in a fun, uniquely designed atmosphere has been our inspiration from the start,” says Kukler.

David Bradley, currently the chef de cuisine at Ecco, will oversee the kitchen at Lure. Bradley has worked with Fifth Group Restaurants for 12 years and has been a part of the culinary team at Ecco since it first opened in 2006.

Lure’s menu will feature a variety of coastal cuisines from all over the world, including an extensive offering of oysters from many waters as well as other raw bar staples. The menu will also offer sharable items such as a house-smoked seafood “charcuterie” sampling, and entrees such as sautéed pompano with Silver Queen corn and curry and grilled whole Georgia trout with pickled ramp butter. On the more traditional side, guests can expect offerings such as Acadian redfish fried in sourdough batter with malt vinegar marinated cucumbers and Georgia shrimp broiled Scampi style with Sparkman’s cultured butter.

Fifth Group Restaurants Beverage Director Vajra Stratigos is constructing the beverage program for Lure, which will include an expansive list of both draft and bottled beers as well as a collection of interesting wines and innovative cocktails.

The building has undergone major renovations to the interior, exterior and patio, and the restaurant will have seating for 150 guests. Lure is located at 1106 Crescent Avenue NE in Midtown Atlanta and will be open for dinner daily first with lunch service added at a later date.
 

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American Roadhouse Will Open New Location in Early Spring

Thursday, February 23rd, 2012

American Roadhouse, a 23-year-old Virginia-Highland breakfast institution, will open a second location in the Pencil Factory Flats & Shops, located in Eastside Atlanta. The new location will serve the same award-winning breakfast and lunch menu.

Pencil Factory Flats & Shops, located at the intersection of Hill Street and Decatur Street, is one of Intown Atlanta’s fastest-growing mixed-use communities. American Roadhouse is joining an array of businesses in the thriving Pencil Factory Lofts. Neighbors include Caramba Cafe, Melange Salon, Intown Market, Village Theatre, Hill Street Tavern and the nearby Memorial Drive establishments; Six Feet Under, Tin Lizzy’s, The Republic and more.

“When we opened in Virginia-Highlands in 1989 it was an ‘up and comer’. We saw the young energy and creative people and knew it was a spot to call home. Today, we feel that same energy at our new home on Decatur Street. It provides the perfect mix of communities (Inman Park, Candler Park, Edgewood, Downtown), offering a very cool edgy vibe. We are thrilled to open in this unique cross section of Atlanta,” states Ed  Udoff, the founder and proprietor of American Roadhouse.

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Atlanta’s Oldest Continuously Licensed Tavern Hosts Prohibition Dinner and 1920s-Themed Party

Thursday, February 23rd, 2012

Atkins Park Tavern in Virginia-Highland is turning 90 years old and, in honor of its anniversary, the restaurant will host a special Prohibition Dinner on Wednesday, February 29 and a Prohibition Party on Thursday, March 8.

“The restaurant industry and the neighborhood have changed so much since I first took ownership of Atkins Park Tavern, and I really just want this to be a fun celebration of how long we’ve been a part of the Atlanta neighborhood scene,” says Atkins Park Tavern Owner Warren Bruno.

The Prohibition Dinner on February 29 will feature four cocktails paired with four plates.

The Prohibition Party on March 8 will offer a limited open bar and complimentary buffet. A special prohibition menu from Chef Andrew Smith will replace the restaurant’s regular list of entrees during dinner service. Live music will be provided by Blair Crimmins & The Hookers, who will be performing songs that evoke the jazz, ragtime and blues of the 1920s, in the restaurant’s main dining room. The staff will be dressed in Prohibition-era attire as well. Atkins Park will also show old 1920s movies and Boardwalk Empire on all televisions throughout the restaurant, and a Photobooth will be set up in the upstairs private dining room so guests can get their photos taken with 1920s props. The Photobooth will be sponsored by the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS), and each $5 photo donation will be donated to the 2012 Georgia Chain Gang and the team’s endurance Race Across America for LLS.

“The public has become so intrigued by the 1920s with the recent popularity of Prohibition-era cocktails and shows like Boardwalk Empire, so it’s the perfect theme for this party and a way to help our current patrons envision what the tavern was like when it first opened,” says Atkins Park Managing Partner Kyle Taylor. “We hope our party guests will be truly excited to embrace this era and will arrive decked out in roaring twenties costumes,” he adds.

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Buckhead Restaurant Week

Thursday, February 23rd, 2012

February 25-March 4, 2012. For more information, visit Buckhead Restaurant Week

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