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Archive for November, 2013

GRA Names Ford Fry Restaurateur of the Year

Monday, November 25th, 2013

Ford Fry is a force to be reckoned with. What started out with a single restaurant, JCT. Kitchen, in 2007 has mushroomed into a culinary empire, with four restaurants across the metro Atlanta area and three more set to open over the next year.

Fry took a winding path to Atlanta, starting with his childhood in Texas, then studying at the New England Culinary Institute in Vermont, with stints as a chef at several restaurants in Florida, Colorado and California. A job as a corporate chef brought him to Atlanta.

“I always loved cooking food and eating out. I love creating experiences and seeing them to completion and justification of the intended vision,” he says. “This starts with food and fills in with overall passion for hospitality and developing others in the restaurant industry.”

After the success of JCT. Kitchen, Fry opened his second restaurant, No. 246, in Decatur in 2011. On its heels came The Optimist in 2012 in Atlanta’s West Midtown, followed by his most recent highly acclaimed concept, King + Duke in Buckhead. The restaurant, which features open hearth cooking, opened this past May.

On the horizon: St. Cecilia, a Mediterranean place heavy on the seafood scheduled for the former Bluepointe space in Buckhead, along with Mex-Tex concept Superica in Inman Park’s Krog Street Market and a restaurant in Alpharetta’s Avalon development.

His hard work has not gone unnoticed. In 2012, Food & Wine magazine named him one of its 10 “Empire Builders 2012.” This year, Bon Appetit named The Optimist one of its 10 Best New Restaurants in America.

“The long hours while advancing my career is challenging but looking back, I don’t think the reward would be as good without the hard work and passion for what we do,” Fry says. “What is most rewarding is seeing those working by my side succeeding and truly enjoying going to work every day.”

Fry also helped launch People’s Food Truck, which benefits City of Refuge, a non-profit organization dedicated to community development efforts. He’s also a founding chef of the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival and the founder of one of Atlanta’s quirkier events, The Attack of the Killer Tomato Festival, the proceeds of which benefit Georgia Organics.

“If someone asked me what I would do if money was not an issue,” he says, “I could answer that I am doing it.”

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Bitter and Carse Brothers Offer Central American Flavors at Atlanta Willy’s Locations

Monday, November 25th, 2013

Atlanta-based Willy’s Mexicana Grill has expanded its partnership with King of Pops – also an Atlanta-based company – to offer the popular handcrafted ice pops at all restaurants in Atlanta, including an exclusive Cinnamon Churro flavor available only at Willy’s.

Brothers Nick and Steven Carse introduced the Atlanta community to their unique ice pops – made from local and organic ingredients – when they founded King of Pops in 2010. They have since expanded to multiple sales locations around the city as well as in Richmond, Va., and Charleston, S.C.

Like Willy’s Founder Willy Bitter, who returned from San Francisco eager to share fresh, Mission-style burritos with the people of Atlanta, Nick and Steven Carse were inspired by the all-natural frozen pops they tasted while traveling in Central America. Both Willy’s Fresh-Mex food and the Carse brothers’ ice pops were big hits once back in Atlanta, with both businesses seeing success and growth within and outside the city since their founding.

After initially selling King of Pops at its Howell Mill Road and Piedmont Avenue locations, Willy’s will now be offering the exclusive Cinnamon Churro, Raspberry Lime, Banana Puddin’, Chocolate Sea Salt and Key Lime Pie pops at all restaurants in Atlanta.

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Chef Zeb Stevenson Oversees Changes at PARISH

Monday, November 25th, 2013

PARISH Foods and Goods is getting a facelift in the New Year.

Chef Zeb Stevenson is currently training for the 2014 re-launch. Stevenson, a previous winner of The Food Network’s “Chopped,” hails from Atlanta’s Livingston and Proof & Provision and is planning a menu overhaul.

Re-launch details, including Chef Zeb Stevenson’s menu, a new mixologist and more will be announced in January.

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A Restaurant Design to Market Your Brand

Thursday, November 21st, 2013

By Ellen Weaver Hartman, APR, Fellow PRSA

Great restaurant design is akin to meeting a stranger who greets you with a grin from ear to ear. First impressions are everything, and what could be more welcoming than a smile or an inviting, comfortable and energized space that signals you are in for a good time?

A restaurant’s environment speaks volumes about the brand. Instantly it forecasts to the consumer the distinctive features that set one concept apart from another.

Today, technology also plays a larger role in a restaurant’s ambiance. Wifi, IPads and other devices can all help attract a wider customer base, especially younger guests.

At Tin Drum Asiacafé, a regional, fast-casual Atlanta-based chain, the units are designed to feel like a lively, bustling street- side Asian eatery with urban but upbeat décor. The units reflect the childhood of founder and CEO Steven Chan, who grew up in Hong Kong.

“I don’t believe consumers should get ‘good design’ only in up-market concepts. We all live under the same sun and should have the same right to enjoy what good design can bring to us collectively,” says Chan, who majored in architecture and building at Georgia Institute of Technology.

Well said. Today’s restaurant guests want great design no matter the check average. The look and feel of a restaurant is as important to the brand as the taste of the food or the enthusiasm of the staff.

At Miller Zell, one of the premiere design and strategy firms in the country, there is a philosophy that the restaurant industry has “an unlimited license for theater.” The Atlanta-based firm, which is a proponent of four walls marketing, has a reputation for using creative design that leads to “architecture as billboard.”

Clearly, if a restaurant’s design can market from within, there is a real opportunity to reach and retain a wider audience.

A case in point is Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, which had a complete overhaul when CEO Cheryl Bachelder took over the brand. The concept, which was founded in 1972, has seen a surge in its sales, franchisee profitability, customer counts and stock price since the redesign has taken root systemwide. About one third of Popeyes stores already have the new Louisiana redesign in place.

“The red and orange colors are
reminiscent of the original design of the restaurants and also suggest a dash of spice,” says Bachelder. “You will also notice new brand graphics on our packaging and restaurant point-of-purchase materials.”

Bachelder’s comments speak to one of the commandments of restaurant design: it should be seamless throughout the interior and exterior, and extend to technology and signage, including menu and packaging.

Dick Lynch, who is global brand development officer for Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, says that the first step is always articulating a brand vision. “It should be a simple, clear statement of the brand that informs and inspires all elements of the brand and is embraced by all its stakeholders,” he says.

That makes good sense. How can you design a great restaurant if it isn’t clear exactly what the brand should stand for?

As Chan puts it, “At Tin Drum Asiacafé we believe restaurant design is as tangible as food or service and all part and parcel of this thing we call ‘restaurant.’”

And that thing we call restaurant is part and parcel of the brand. Ask yourself:

• What does my restaurant’s design say about my brand?

• Is there a flow from one feature to the next?

• Is the lighting in harmony with the rest of the space.

• Does it strike the right mood?

• Are the tables positioned correctly?

• What does the exterior say?

• What about the bathrooms?

Virtually every detail within and without the four walls of a restaurant should sing in harmony.

Two local restaurant chains that know the importance design plays in the overall dining out experience are Fresh To Order, a concept that features fine dining food in a fast-casual setting, and Uncle Maddio’s Pizza Joint, the original create your own pizza ‘joint.’

From the moment you walk in Uncle Maddio’s front door, you get the sense that the colorful, highly energized space is a traditional pizza joint where classic meets contemporary and “friends meet friends.”

At Fresh To Order the ambiance serves as the perfect backdrop for a concept that is pioneering a new category, ‘fast fine.’ Fresh To Order’s design is sleek and contemporary with the use of metal finishes and strategic use of color throughout the restaurant.

“Just like our fine-dining quality food, the restaurant environment is the next evolution in the fast casual segment offering guests an inviting, warm and friendly atmosphere,” says founder and CEO Pierre Panos.
 All of these restaurateurs know that the first impression can create a lasting impression of loyal and happy customers for the future. If you haven’t yet, take some time to look around your own restaurant and see what the environment says to you.

Ellen Hartman is president and CEO of Hartman Public Relations, a full service public relations agency specializing in the foodservice industry.

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Lahey and Chen Oversee Menu at Osteria Mattone

Thursday, November 21st, 2013

Owner and operator Ryan Pernice and Executive Chef Ted Lahey of Roswell’s Table & Main have introduced their second concept to Canton Street’s culinary scene. Now open, Osteria Mattone serves regional Italian fare with a focus on Roman cuisine in a setting that combines the casual spirit of an osteria with the more formal dining of a trattoria.

Chef Ted Lahey, joined by sous chef Alex Chen, has composed a menu of fresh pasta and classic Roman dishes. The menu begins with traditional antipasti and aalumi, like Italian speck and prosciutto served with seasonal fruit. “Cichette,” or small starter dishes, include a variety of options such as polpette, Napolitan-braised meatballs, or suppli al telefono, fried risotto balls with mozzarella and tomato. House-made pasta dishes incorporate fresh ingredients such as oxtail, pancetta and Italian-cured guanciale. Hearty main dishes such as porchetta (rolled roasted pork shoulder with wild fennel and spices) and pollo al mattone (brick-grilled chicken) are prepared in a wood burning oven.

The wine offerings at Osteria Mattone are curated by sommelier Daniel Pernice, formerly of the James Beard Award-winning wine program at Union Square Hospitality Group’s NYC restaurant, The Modern. Pastry chef Micki Kimberly, formerly a sous chef at Table & Main, leads the  pastry program at Osteria Mattone.

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Fresh to Order Now Open in CNN Center

Thursday, November 21st, 2013

Atlanta-based Fresh To Order (f2o) has opened a 2,400-square-foot location in the CNN Center. Food is cooked to order and includes fresh tossed salads, Panini sandwiches, soups, salads and the chain’s signature Long Plates of entrees such as Bourbon Filet and Grilled Salmon.

Nearly every entrée is available for around $10 in just 10 minutes. Guests may also take advantage of the restaurant’s full bar and bar seating for pre-game or post-work cocktails.

The Fresh to Order chain, recently named a “Hot Concept” and “Breakout Brand” by Nation’s Restaurant News, continues to add new restaurants in its home state while also growing methodically throughout the Southeast. It began offering multi-unit franchising in 2010 and is actively pursuing franchisees in Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, Florida, the Carolinas, and the Mid-Atlantic states. Founder Pierre Panos expects to open 50 restaurants over the next five years through a mix of both franchise and company growth.

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City of Tifton Allows Restaurants to Sell Alcohol on Sundays

Wednesday, November 20th, 2013

The City of Tifton recently passed the Sunday alcohol sales referendum that would allow restaurants and businesses in Tifton to sell alcohol to customers, effective November 10, 2013.

The issue appeared on the ballots for Tuesday, November 5th’s election and was voted in favor of Sunday sales (package) and for the by-the-drink referendum. The Georgia Restaurant Association worked with the City of Tifton in support of this initiative.

“The GRA supported the Sunday alcohol sales referendum because we believe it would benefit Tifton restaurants and the local economy with increased guest counts and sales,” said Karen Bremer, executive director of the GRA. “Restaurants would be able to employ a few extra people on Sunday, or provide additional hours to current employees, and it would increase the amount of tax revenue to the City of Tifton.”

The city will not be charging any additional permit fees with the passage of this bill. Consumption on-site will be acceptable from 12:30 p.m. to midnight on Sundays, and package retail sales will be acceptable from 12:30 to 11:30 p.m. on Sundays.

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Metz, DiGiorgio, Rivera, Clark and Palmieri Open Marlow’s in Sandy Springs

Wednesday, November 20th, 2013

Serving its classic, American tavern fare, Marlow’s Tavern opened a new location in Sandy Springs on November 19 at The Prado.

The Marlow’s menu, created by Executive Chef and Co-Founder John C. Metz, is divided into seven convenient components: Start, Snack, Share; Crisp, Cool Salads; Tavern Favorites; Classic Tavern Burgers; Big Bar Sandwiches; Kids’ Fun Foods; and Sweet Stuff. The savory and sweet selection is filled with plates that are updated seasonally depending on the availability of fresh and local ingredients. From newly added items like the grilled chicken “BLT” panini and warm chocolate cake to Marlow’s classic offerings such as the shrimp and crab nacho plate, black & blue steak salad and infamous orchard Manhattan, the neighborhood tavern gives guests menu options with an upscale twist. Marlow’s beverage menu includes an assortment of wines from around the world, handcrafted cocktails and a simple, but varied list of beers.

Inside, the  design elements such as exposed brick walls, dark wood accents, large leather booths and communal tables create a cozy and welcoming atmosphere where diners can relax. The restaurant can seat up to 160, including on the covered patio, which is equipped with fans and heaters.

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Ford Fry Wins GRACE Restaurateur of Year

Monday, November 11th, 2013

It was a great night at the annual Georgia Restaurant Association’s GRACE Awards Gala. With more than 300 restaurant professionals and guests attending, the evening was a wonderful tribute to leaders in Georgia’s hospitality trade.

Below is a list of GRACE Award Winners. Look for your copy of Restaurant INFORMER in the mail this week for full coverage of the GRACE Awards, including write-ups on all award finalists.

Restaurateur of the Year Award
Ford Fry, JCT. Kitchen & Bar, No. 246, The Optimist, King + Duke

Chairman’s Award Honoree
Michele Stumpe, Taylor English Duma LLP

Lifetime Achievement Award Winner
Steve Nygren, Serenbe

Industry Partner of the Year
Sysco

Distinguished Service Award
Debby Cannon, Georgia State University

The Innovator Award
Kennesaw State University

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2013 GRACE Awards

Sunday, November 10th, 2013

November 10, 2013, The Foundry at Puritan Mill, Atlanta. For more information, visit GRACE Awards

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