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Archive for February, 2013

A Literary Feast With Four Local Best-Selling Authors

Tuesday, February 26th, 2013

February 26, 2013, Iberian Pig, Decatur. Reservations by phone only: 404.371.8800.

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Atlanta Chefs Expo 2013

Sunday, February 24th, 2013

February 24, 2013, Georgia World Congress Center. For more information, visit Atlanta Chefs Expo 2013

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Georgia Organics 16th Annual Conference & Expo

Friday, February 22nd, 2013

February 22-23, 2013, Atlanta. For more information, visit Georgia Organics Conference & Expo

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2013 Taste of Georgia Legislative Reception

Tuesday, February 19th, 2013

February 19, 2013, The Freight Depot, Atlanta. For more information, visit Taste of Georgia

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10th Annual Taste of Dunwoody, Supporting Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta

Friday, February 15th, 2013

February 15, 2013, Westin Atlanta Perimeter North. For more information, visit Taste of Dunwoody

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The Power of Paperless: New Technologies Can Offer Increased Efficiency, Revenue, Flexibility and Savings

Wednesday, February 13th, 2013

By Helen K. Kelley

Patrick Albrecht of Great Food Group Inc. is a self- confessed “technology geek.” And it shows in the efficiencies of the company’s restaurants – comprised of Paul’s, The Vinings Fish Company, Dos Amigos Cantina and Social Vinings – which have gone almost completely paperless by virtue of using wireless technology.

Great Food Group’s restaurants use the iPhone and iPad to handle a variety of tasks, from bookkeeping to security. The company’s culture of willingness to test and implement new technologies has garnered respect from software manufacturers and even corporate giant Apple, which features Great Food Group’s use of the iPhone and apps on its website.

Albrecht notes that Great Food Group has been assisting with the development of TouchBistro, a POS (point-of-sale) app, by using it in its restaurants and giving feedback. He gives the technology high marks.

“TouchBistro runs on the iPad, so there’s no wiring necessary. Since there’s no keyboard and no mouse involved, you can walk around your restaurant with it. It’s seamless,” he explains. “Also, it’s one-fifth to one-tenth the cost of a traditional POS. You see improvement in everything … ordering, inventory and accounting. And on top of that, you own your own data with TouchBistro – you can still access your information securely even when the power goes out or your Internet connection goes down.”

In addition to the iPad, Great Food’s restaurants use the iPhone to manage tasks that would normally be done manually. “We can run all of our electronics from the iPhone,” says Albrecht. “That includes controlling the lighting, music, thermostat, televisions and even surveillance.”

Albrecht recently spoke at a technology conference sponsored by Evernote, manufacturer of software applications that coordinate tasks such as notetaking and archiving of information. He discussed the future of the hospitality industry and its move toward integrated technologies that increase operating efficiencies, reduce cumbersome paper trails and improve the bottom line.

“We’ve changed our entire bookkeeping and accounting system by using wireless technology. Great Food Group is now virtually paperless,” he says. “We have a scanner at each restaurant – any paperwork, including receipts, is scanned and put into the digital filing cabinet. Then, the information is auto-synced with all of our other devices and our accountant, and the papers are shredded and go into the trash. There is no more archiving of paperwork.”

The idea of going paperless has a tendency to make some restaurant owners nervous, but Albrecht says there is no need to worry about record-keeping with today’s technologies that offer the ability to store and access information securely.

“Once scanned, all of your documents are backed up on the ‘cloud,’ and you can easily retrieve them,” he explains. “Plus, I have a search function on my iPhone that allows me to immediately locate an item out of the 10,000 or so documents I have stored.”

Granted, Albrecht’s love of technology (he has a degree in computer science as well as a culinary degree) makes him the ideal candidate to “guinea pig” the new devices and applications. But he enthusiastically encourages all restaurant owners to discover the benefits of the wireless wave.

“It’s made things so easy,” he says. “It’s revolutionized what we do here at Great Food Group.”

For more information about TouchBistro, visit TouchBistro. For more information about Great Food Group’s use of Evernote and Apple products and links to their corporate websites, go to Great Food Group and select the “Press” button.

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ACF Helps Fund Program for Nutritionally At-Risk Children

Wednesday, February 13th, 2013

One of the most compelling, desperately needed and satisfying programs that the ACF Greater Atlanta Chapter has been involved in is TOT’S Kitchen and More.

Four years ago, the ACF Atlanta Chapter was introduced to instructor Marie Johnson, who understood from very personal experiences what it meant to be a child growing up hungry. Raised in a very poor family in Jamaica, Marie often wondered where her next meal would come from. After moving to Atlanta as an adult, Marie began to see children who were nutritionally at risk. From her unbelievably big heart and pure love of children, TOT’s Kitchen and More began.

With little to no backing, Marie began going into schools teaching children about food and giving them a chance to have hands-on experience with food preparation. A long-time ACF Atlanta chef member brought Marie’s program and needs before the chapter’s Board of Directors. Seeing the value in what Marie was trying to accomplish, the ACF Greater Atlanta Chapter began helping TOT’s Kitchen financially and hands-on in the classroom with Marie.

A year and a half ago, a new need arose. Teachers noticed children came to school on Mondays hurrying to the breakfast line. Upon investigation it was found out that these children virtually had nothing to eat all weekend. Out of this was birthed the Snackpack Program. Bags are filled with nutritious food and snacks and sent home with children on Fridays after school to those who qualify for the truly heartfelt program. The program started with 72 children and is now sending more than 200 Snackpacks home each weekend.

Throughout the summer, chefs and students from the chapter began signing up for the newest leg to the program. Last September, chef and student teams took over one of Marie’s schools in south Atlanta. Going in on Tuesdays, the teams teach the nutrition class, thus giving Marie the opportunity to add another school to her ever-growing program reaching even more nutritionally at-risk children.

Due to generous donations from partners, suppliers and chef members, the ACF Greater Atlanta Chapter has been able to raise thousands of dollars to help educate and feed Atlanta’s seriously needy children. Plans are in place to keep this program moving forward and growing and to give much-needed continued support to Marie & TOT’S Kitchen.

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4th Quarter 2012 Shows Modest Bounce in Sales Volume

Wednesday, February 13th, 2013

A modest bounce in sales volume at Atlanta’s independent restaurants occurred in Quarter 4 2012, according to NetFinancials, Inc., a firm that provides tax and accounting services to restaurant companies. Sales at Atlanta restaurants increased in that quarter 5.4% over sales for Q4 2011. In comparison, through Q1-3 of 2012, Atlanta restaurants experienced quarterly comparable (“comp”) sales increases of 6.8%; 5.0% and 3.7%, respectively.

Of the 78 area restaurants surveyed, 82% reported positive sales gains in Q4 2012. That contrasts to 18% reporting Q4 negative sales trends. Thirty-two percent (32%) of restaurants surveyed reported double-digit sales gains in Q4 2012.

For the full year 2012, comp sales increased 5.1% over 2011 sales. That compares to a comp sales increase in 2011 over 2010 of 6.3%. For the 2012 year, 85% of Atlanta restaurants reported sales increases, while 24% of restaurants reported double-digit sales increases.

“After a brutal Q3 2012 we worried about a negative trend in restaurant sales volume. But Q4 2012 shows a modest yet discernible rebound in total Atlanta restaurant industry sales volume,” stated Robert Wagner, NetFinancials president. “In addition, Q4 revealed more restaurants with positive sales trends and more restaurants with double-digit sales gains than in either Q2 or Q3 2012. The resilience of Atlanta’s restaurant industry is incredible. For 2012 in general, and Q4 in particular, these established restaurants performed well even though they faced economic uncertainty, rising local unemployment and increased competition.”

Wagner added that restaurant operators primarily attributed the Q4 positive trend to increased customer counts and robust December sales volume.

The 78 independently-operated, non-franchise restaurants that participated in the survey were drawn from the metro Atlanta market and included fast-casual, casual and fine dining establishments that had been open at least 14 months. Total Q4 2012 sales volume was $44,446,860. Full year 2012 sales volume was $174,876,054.

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The Mill Kitchen and Bar Brings Contemporary Comfort Food to Roswell

Wednesday, February 13th, 2013

Marc Taft, chef and owner of Chicken and the Egg in Marietta and former general manager of Pacci Ristorante in Atlanta, is now teaming up with brothers Scott and Randy McCray to offer modernized, Southern comfort food at The Mill Kitchen and Bar in Roswell. Scott McCray is owner of McCray’s Tavern neighborhood bars in Smyrna and Lawrenceville and CosmoLava in Midtown Atlanta. Ryan McCray is the owner of Carolyn’s Gourmet Café in Midtown Atlanta.

The Mill Kitchen and Bar will offer Southern classic dishes with a modern twist. Menus  will change frequently and feature seasonal products from local farms, ranchers and artisans. The sustainable seafood dishes are compliant with the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch list. Entrées include familiar favorites such as Georgia shrimp and grits, iron skillet fried chicken and pan seared trout. For lunch, diners can choose from salads, sandwiches and knife-and-fork entrées. Guests who prefer to dine at the bar can pair a cocktail with a selection from a range of small plates and snacks, including pimento cheese fritters and wild boar meatballs. Desserts are prepared fresh daily. The children’s menu features organic and healthy fare.

The restaurant also serves a variety of hand-crafted cocktails, a selection of craft beers and a range of domestically produced wines.

The McCray brothers created the 4,100 square-foot traditional farmhouse design for The Mill, using reclaimed wooden tables and walls and classic lighting. The restaurant also features an open kitchen and a 2,000 square-foot patio, complete with arbor, fans, heaters and a fireplace and can seat approximately 64 guests. The main dining room can accommodate 48 guests and 72 at the bar.

The Mill Kitchen and Bar serves dinner, lunch and Sunday brunch.

 

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Serving “Pie Pockets,” That Pie Place Opens in Sandy Springs

Wednesday, February 13th, 2013

Veteran hospitality leader Ron Wolf will open his first restaurant, That Pie Place, in Sandy Springs on February 15, 2013. Wolf’s knowledge of the restaurant industry and substantial research led him to the concept of a fast casual restaurant serving a familiar item — pie — in a new way: the pie pocket. Offering traditional comfort food flavors in self-contained pie dough makes the pie pocket a portable food for on-the-go diners.

Every pie pocket is made- to-order, contains no trans-fat or MSG and is baked in a fast oven. Diners may choose from one of 20 classic combinations or create their own pie masterpiece from the 25+ fresh ingredients offered. The menu offers breakfast selections like Egg & Cheese Pie and Egg & Meat Pie, while the lunch and dinner menus feature hearty choices such as Philly Cheese Steak Pie, Chicken Cordon Bleu Pie and Salmon Teriyaki Pie. In addition to pie pockets, That Pie Place will also offer fresh salads, sides, house-made soups and dessert pies.

Wolf’s career in the hospitality industry spans more than four decades, including serving as Corporate Director of Food and Beverage Training for Holiday Inn Worldwide and most recently as CEO of the Georgia Restaurant Association.

That Pie Place is located on the ground floor of Peachtree Dunwoody Place apartments, 6355 Peachtree Dunwoody Road NE.

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