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Archive for February, 2015

Several Georgia Restaurants Make the Cut as 2015 James Beard Foundation Award Semifinalists

Tuesday, February 24th, 2015

The 2015 James Beard Foundation Award semifinalists have been announced, and several Georgia candidates made the cut:

  • Lusca (Best New Restaurant)
  • The Grey, Savannah (Best New Restaurant)
  • Kimball House (Outstanding Bar Program)
  • Pamela Moxley, Miller Union (Outstanding Pastry Chef)
  • Bacchanalia (Outstanding Restaurant)
  • Ford Fry (Outstanding Restaurateur)
  • One Flew South (Outstanding Service)
  • Miller Union (Outstanding Wine Program)
  • Steven Grubbs, Empire State South (Outstanding Wine, Beer, or Spirits Professional)
  • Landon Thompson, Cooks & Soldiers (Rising Star of the Year)
  • Billy Allin, Cakes & Ale (Best Chef: Southeast)
  • Kevin Gillespie, Gunshow (Best Chef: Southeast)
  • Todd Ginsberg, The General Muir (Best Chef: Southeast)
  • Steven Satterfield, Miller Union (Best Chef: Southeast)

Finalists (nominees) will be announced on Tuesday, March 24, and the winners will be revealed at the awards gala in Chicago on May 4.

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2015 Georgia Grown Executive Chefs Announced

Tuesday, February 24th, 2015

Georgia Department of Agriculture Commissioner Gary W. Black and Georgia Restaurant Association (GRA) Executive Director Karen Bremer announced the 2015 Georgia Grown Executive Chefs on Wednesday, Feb. 18, 2015 at the GRA’s Taste of Georgia Legislative Reception, held at the Georgia Railroad Freight Depot.

The four chefs for 2015 include: Chef Matthew Basford of Canoe in Atlanta, Chef Cathy Conway of Avalon Catering in Atlanta, Chef Jay Swift of 4th & Swift in Atlanta and Chef John Syzmanski of The Kroger Co.

“As we welcome another group of talented chefs into this distinguished program, we continue to further promote and foster relationships between Georgia farms and local chefs,” Black said. “Georgia has an ample amount of quality, local products that are available throughout the cooking season and these great products can continue to be showcased to the state’s culinary community via the Georgia Grown Executive Chef program.”

“The 2015 chefs chosen for this program have exceptional experience and talent in their field and already demonstrate a strong support for Georgia grown products,” Bremer said. “These chefs will without a doubt do an excellent job representing Georgia’s restaurants and Georgia Grown and they will help continue to strengthen the relationship between Georgia’s chefs and farmers.”

These four distinguished chefs will join the current Georgia Grown Executive Chefs, including:

  • Chef Holly Chute, Executive Chef, Georgia Department of Agriculture’s Georgia Grown program
  • Chef Michael Deihl, CEC CCA AAC, Vice President of Culinary Innovation, A Kitchen Kalamity
  • Chef Kevin Gillespie, Owner, Gunshow in Atlanta
  • Chef Hilary White, Executive Chef, The Hil, A Restaurant at Serenbe
  • Chef Jennifer Hill Booker, Executive Chef & Owner, Your Resident Gourmet in Lilburn
  • Chef Linton Hopkins, Executive Chef, Restaurant Eugene/Resurgens Hospitality Group in Atlanta
  • Chef Ahmad Nourzad, Executive Chef, Affairs to Remember Caterers in Atlanta
  • Chef Dave Snyder, Owner & Executive Chef, Halyard Restaurant Group in St. Simons Island
  • Gary Coltek, Senior Director, Kennesaw State University Culinary and Hospitality Services in Kennesaw
  • Chef Roberto Leoci, Executive Chef, Leoci’s Trattoria in Savannah
  • Chef Marc Taft, Executive Chef, Chicken and the Egg in Marietta
  • Chef Virginia Willis, Executive Chef & Food Writer, Virginia Willis Culinary Enterprises, Inc. in Atlanta

The Georgia Grown Executive Chef Program seeks to promote the Georgia Department of Agriculture’s Georgia Grown campaign statewide. Now entering its fourth year, the program offers participating chefs a mark of honor and distinction, while increasing awareness for both restaurateurs and consumers about which local Georgia products are available for the cooking season.

As the program grows, it will create a pathway for consumers to find Georgia Grown products in their communities in order to support local, seasonal foods when dining out. It also aims to highlight and involve public school culinary education and school food nutrition in terms of increased opportunities for Georgia Grown products, training and recipe development. The chefs will participate in a spring and fall school event, an organized farm tour, at least one seasonal cooking clip with the Department and at least one Georgia Grown cooking event designated by Black.

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Brazilian Steakhouse to Debut in Buckhead

Tuesday, February 24th, 2015

Brazilian steakhouse Chama Gaucha will open in the heart of Buckhead this spring.
 
Reintroducing a bygone era of Brazilian cowboys, who ended their days preparing dinner around a fire pit, Chama Gaucha embraces and elevates the cowboys’ fireside culture and rustic culinary traditions. With locations in Houston, San Antonio and Chicago, the Buckhead restaurant will be the fourth to open and the first in the Southeast.

“We are delighted to expand into Atlanta’s vibrant culinary market” said general manager Nelcir Muller. “The Chama Gaucha team looks forward to introducing its neighbors to our unique offerings and a truly Brazilian way of dining.”
 
In the custom of Brazilian steakhouses, slow-roasted meats such as costela, a richly marbled beef rib, frango e linguica, marinated chicken drumsticks and pork sausage and the restaurant’s specialty, picanha, the prime cut of the sirloin are the feature menu items. The centerpiece of the restaurant, an internally-lit antipasto bar showcases a vast selection of charcuterie, cheese and signature salads such as chicken salad and southern Brazilian-style potato salad. Each guest is invited to visit the bar to choose side dishes to accompany the tableside-served meat.
 
Drawing inspiration from the menu’s Brazilian flavor and style, local design, construction and consulting agency Restaurant Consulting Group (RCG) transformed the restaurant into an upscale, yet comfortable space with an organic palate of tans and browns, fabric panels and gold textured ceilings. 

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Atlanta Restaurants Keeping Ahead of USA Trends

Tuesday, February 24th, 2015

Through Q4 2014 Atlanta restaurants sales continued to outpace a re-energized national restaurant industry. Atlanta Q4 2014 restaurant sales volume increased 6.2% over Q4 2013. For the quarter ended December 2014 positive sales gains were reported at 67% of the 96 independent Atlanta restaurants surveyed. Year-to-date through December 2014 Atlanta restaurants sales were up 5.9% over 2013 sales.

National Trends

In its survey of national restaurant sales Black Box Intelligence, a restaurant sales and traffic-tracking company, reported national restaurant Q4 revenues increased 2.5% while same-store traffic was flat at 0.0% growth. Black Box noted that Q4 2014 sales were the best national same-store sales results reported in six years.

Conclusion

Robert Wagner, NetFinancials president states that, “Atlanta’s independent restaurants in Q4 2014 continued to outperform the nation. Atlanta Q4 2014 restaurant sales were the best quarterly comp sales performance we’ve seen since Q1 2012. In addition, for the full year 2014 Atlanta comp sales of 5.9% was the best annual comp sales performance since 2011. In general Atlanta restaurants are vibrant and growing. Existing stores in our survey are doing remarkably well even as new stores open at places such as Krog Street Market and Buckhead Atlanta.”

Atlanta’s improved restaurant sales were due to favorable demographics, strong Atlanta visitor traffic and positive economic activity. The Georgia unemployment rate declined to 6.9% in December. Last December the Georgia unemployment rate was 7.4%. In addition, Atlanta hotels experienced in 2014 the highest occupancy growth in the nation.

The Sample: The 96 independently-operated, non-franchise restaurants were drawn from the metro Atlanta market. Total survey sales volume was $66 million and $255 million, respectively, for the quarter and year ended December 2014. The survey includes restaurants in Atlanta’s fast-casual, casual and fine-dining segments opened at least 24 months.

Robert Wagner, CPA is president of NetFinancials, Inc. which provides a full range of tax and accounting services for restaurant companies. 

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Kennesaw State University Small Business Development Center Restaurant Expo

Monday, February 23rd, 2015

February 23, 2015, Kennesaw State University Center, Kennesaw, Ga. For more information, click here.

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18th Annual Georgia Organics Conference & Expo

Friday, February 20th, 2015

February 20-21, 2015, Athens, Ga. For more information, visit Georgia Organics.

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8th Annual GRACE Awards Gala Finalist: Miller Union

Thursday, February 19th, 2015

From Restaurant INFORMER, Vol. 4, Issue 4

Steven Satterfield and Neal McCarthy

Steven Satterfield and Neal McCarthy

With nearly 20 years of experience in the restaurant industry each, Neal McCarthy, general manager and co-owner, and Steven Satterfield, chef and co-owner, bring a high standard of service to Miller Union. Named after the Miller Union Stockyards once located on the property, the restaurant inhabits a refurbished mid-century warehouse space in Atlanta’s former West Side meatpacking district, now the buzzy West Midtown area of Atlanta.

The restaurant was also recently announced as a 2015 James Beard Foundation Award Semifinalist for its ‘Outstanding Bar Program.’

McCarthy grew up in England and spent hours in the kitchen watching his mother prepare dishes from classic French cookbooks for dinner parties. Now he is motivated by the idea of providing great food and service. Prior to making his dream of owning his own restaurant a reality, McCarthy spent 10 years as general manager at Atlanta’s Italian restaurants Fritti and Sotto Sotto.

“I’m a people person, and I love sharing stories with customers,” he says. “I also love the craziness of the restaurant business and the adrenaline rush of a busy night.”

A Georgia native who spent his childhood in Savannah, Satterfield has worked at  Floataway Café and Watershed and focuses on developing strong relationships with local growers, dairies and producers. Miller Union is a testament to Satterfield’s commitment to cook with local and seasonal ingredients while employing as little manipulation as possible. As a member of Slow Food Atlanta, Georgia Organics and the Southern Foodways Alliance, Satterfield remains actively engaged with Atlanta’s progressive culinary community.

“While working at Watershed, I started paying attention to local farmers and watching the seasons,” Satterfield says. “I was inspired to open a restaurant that reacted to what food was in season.”

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Diversity Programs: A Business Imperative and Marketing Opportunity

Thursday, February 19th, 2015
diversity article

From left, Denny’s CEO John C. Miller; April Kelly-Drummond, director of diversity affairs, community relations and multicultural marketing for Denny’s; and Raymond Goulbourne, executive vice president of BET Networks

By Ellen Weaver Hartman, APR, Fellow PRSA

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the U.S. is currently roughly 17 percent Hispanic, 13 percent African-American, five percent Asian, about three percent multiracial and 62 percent White. The numbers continue to point to a growing multicultural nation: The U.S. is projected to become a majority-minority nation for the first time in 2043.

When it comes to truly addressing, reflecting and embracing diverse cultures, it’s important to dive deeper into the numbers. What does it all mean for the restaurant industry and small businesses? How does it impact how small businesses draw customers and the next generation of employees?

The Multicultural Foodservice & Hospitality Alliance (MFHA) was founded in 1996 to act as a catalyst for creating opportunities for diverse communities in the food and hospitality industry. Gerry Fernandez, founder of MFHA, has been part of the restaurant industry since 1976. “I went from dishwashing to the board room,” he says. “It’s one of a few remaining industries where you can start from the bottom and really work your way to the top.”

Opportunities for all –from top to entry-level—are core to what makes the restaurant industry special. It also makes MFHA’s mission to bring the economic benefits of diversity and inclusion to the food and hospitality industry by building bridges even more important today.

“Everybody wants to improve the bottom line and add value to their brand, and we believe you can do all those things by understanding diversity and inclusion practices in your business,”he says. “There are some real implications with multicultural. We believe that the work we do can help spark the industry to do more to capitalize on the opportunities that come with diversity.”

Throughout the past two decades, Fernandez has witnessed the evolution of the industry and the role “cultural intelligence”plays well before researchers promoted the term. Popularized in 2005, cultural intelligence is defined as having the knowledge, skills and abilities to effectively and appropriately engage people from different ethnic, racial and cultural groups to deliver better results.

Since its first conference more than 15 years ago, MFHA has delivered high-quality events, workshops and conferences that have driven diversity and inclusion initiatives throughout the industry. While Fernandez notes gains for women in senior leadership positions, the biggest opportunity of improvement lies in increasing diversity at the middle management level.

“Why aren’t more people of diverse communities advancing? There are unique challenges that people of color face in the workplace. Companies have to offer training and education that addresses those differences,”he says.

MFHA provides guides, on-demand e-training and live workshops to help with professional development of executives. In addition, the group works with partners like The Coca-Cola Company to field research to paint a clear picture of today’s multicultural consumer.

Roy Jackson Coca-Cola Co

Roy C. Jackson

Roy C. Jackson serves as the chairman of the board of MFHA and Senior Vice President of Business Development and Industry Affairsfor the Coca-Cola North America Foodservice and On-Premise business. He knows firsthand the value of diversity.

“The multicultural consumer has always been extremely important to The Coca-Cola Company. Diversity is at the heart of our business, and diversity efforts reach across every aspect of our business –workplace, marketplace, supplier relationships and community,”Jackson says.

For The Coca-Cola Company, diversity is not only inclusive of ethnicity and gender, but hiring and marketing efforts take into consideration various generations, sexual orientation, gender identities and learning styles. Hiring and acquiring the best talent may be one of the biggest challenges for the franchisee community. Naturally, diversity and inclusion efforts can play an important role in setting some companies apart from others in the competitive landscape.

“Attracting the best talent may sound like the easy part, but sharing opportunities and more about the workplace culture with potential employees is more akin to marketing,” Jackson says. “It’s important we showcase how we’re different and what distinguishes us from the competition.”

In a recent study, MFHA looked at some of the top chains and found that fewer than 8 percent of companies surveyed communicate a dedication to diversity and inclusion well. For example, company websites are the first impression not only consumers see, but potential candidates. It’s critical that the commitment to diversity and embracing all cultures is clear.

Social media is a growing space where multicultural audiences lead and offers an additional chance for business to connect with consumers and customers. For example, according to the Pew Institute, 40 percent of black Internet users age 18-29 use Twitter. MFHA is looking at ways to “meet the millennial multicultural consumers where they are”and tap into digital platforms to showcase companies that are doing an excellent job.

“The millennial generation wants to feel good about the companies they work for,” Fernandez says. “Sometimes there is a disconnect when people of diverse communities don’t see companies giving back or how they represent them.”

Denny’s CEO John C. Miller understands the importance of capturing the attention of millennials. Leveraging social media is one way the restaurateur successfully connects with this audience.

“We have taken an ‘always open’ and ‘always on’ approach to managing social media platforms, which include Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Instagram,”Miller says. “Our customers can see our ‘come as you are’ mantra not only come to life but become a part of their everyday interactions online.”

Billing Denny’s as “America’s Diner”is more than a brand platform as the organization implements programs that truly reflect the nation’s diversity. In 2013 under Miller’s direction and leadership, Denny’s spent $81.5 million with minority and women-owned businesses, representing 13.8 percent of its overall spending and surpassing the industry average.

“We’re incredibly proud that our staff come from such diverse backgrounds and make up 63 percent of Denny’s total workforce and 44 percent of its overall management,”Miller says.

The success of companies like Denny’s didn’t happen overnight. It required its leaders to be intentional in its diversity and inclusion efforts. Often the next step to creating and promoting an inclusive culture is as easy asking the right questions: Is our organization reflective of the community? When we say we believe in diversity, do our words match our actions? How can we share and showcase the diverse backgrounds of our current and future employees better?

These questions can help lead to a path of progress and allow leaders to focus on doing more of what works and addressing deficiencies with action.

 

Ellen Hartman, APR, Fellow PRSA, is the CEO of Hartman Public Relations, a full-service public relations agency specializing in the foodservice Industry. Hartman has experience working for Coca-Cola Refreshments, Olo Mobile/Online Ordering, Chili’s, Huddle House, First Watch, Fresh To Order, and Uncle Maddio’s and many QSR brands including Popeyes, Church’s and Arby’s. An industry leader for more than 25 years, Hartman is active in the Women’s Foodservice Forum, Les Dames d ’Escoffier International and has served on the board Georgia State University School of Hospitality. She earned her APR accreditation from the Public Relations Society of America and is a member of PRSA’s Fellow program for senior accomplished professionals.

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The NAFEM Show

Thursday, February 19th, 2015

February 19-21, 2015, Anaheim, Calif. For more information, visit The North American Association of Food Equipment Manufacturers Show

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Distinguished Service Award Winner: Bill Bolling

Wednesday, February 18th, 2015

From Restaurant INFORMER, 2014, Vol. 4, Issue 4

Bill Bolling of the Atlanta Community Food BankIn Georgia, 18.9 percent of people live in food insecure households, meaning they don’t always know where they’ll find their next meal. As the founder and executive director of the Atlanta Community Food Bank for more than 35 years,Bill Bolling has made it his life’s work to change that.

Bill’s efforts to feed others started early. As a kid in the tiny town of Denton, N.C., he used his tractor (a gift from his grandfather, Ben Carroll) to plough gardens for the less fortunate in his community. As his grandfather’s sidekick, Bolling would also help grow food, raise livestock, fill the pickup and distribute the bounty to needy families in town.

Bolling has served as Executive Director of the Atlanta Community Food Bank (ACFB) since founding the organization in 1979. In this capacity, he oversees the distribution of more than 35 million pounds of food and grocery products each year through a network of 600 local and regional partner nonprofit organizations that feed the hungry across 29 Georgia counties.

The ACFB partners with Georgia restaurants in a number of ways to help feed the hungry. One is through its monthly supper club, which is typically held the second Tuesday of each month. Each month, a different top Atlanta restaurant serves as the host, and they donate 20 percent of the night’s proceeds to the ACFB.

Then there’s Atlanta Table, an ACFB initiative that collects prepared food from the city’s hospitality industry — more than 200 restaurants, caterers, corporate dining rooms, hotels, convention centers, special events and other food service providers regularly contribute thousands of pounds of food each month. The food is then distributed to the hungry through family shelters, child are centers and community kitchens.

As a charter member of Feeding America, the national network of food banks, Bolling was instrumental in the start-up of food banks across the country. He is a frequent speaker on topics related to hunger, poverty, regionalism, affordable housing and public policy reform. His skills in bridging various public sectors have made him a leader in strengthening the community to serve those most in need.

The food “banking”concept allows individuals and resources to deposit food and funds, and social agencies can make withdrawals of the food for their clients at no cost. The ACFB is now in its fourth location –a LEED-certified 129,000-square-foot facility that features one of the state’s largest rooftop solar power arrays. About 110 employees and hundreds of volunteers work in the acquisition, processing, packaging and shipping of food. They have a fleet of trucks that make deliveries to partner agencies all over the region, using logistics software acquired from UPS and a fleet of 15 tractor-trailer trucks.

This past summer, Bolling announced he is stepping back from his role as Executive Director but will continue to be a part of the food bank community. Whatever his next step may be, he has changed the lives of thousands of Georgians for the better.

 

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