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Archive for August, 2016

Get On Board the Restaurant Technology Train

Wednesday, August 31st, 2016

By Charles Marvil

In 2015, there was a 72.1 percent turnover rate. Sounds bad doesn’t it? And yet it is lower than pre-recession rates that, according to the 2015 NRA Forecast, averaged 80 percent.

Compounding the turnover issue now is the fact that the labor pool of employees is shrinking and wage increases are becoming mandated around the country. Operators are going to have to deal with these issues by increasing productivity, increasing prices, increasing the use of technology or a combination of all three.

To top it all off, a new generation has entered the workforce and is changing the rules of the game when it comes to how to recruit, train, manage and retain your employees. This young group is different because it has never been without the Internet or mobile technology.

If you want to hire the best employees for your company in today’s world, you’ll need to make a radical shift in how you interact with potential staff. Several established and new technology platforms can help the restauranteur navigate this shift and address the issue of retention.

Finding and Training Good Employees

Recruitment, or getting the word out that the operation is hiring, is typically done through a job posting site such as Craigslist, Indeed or Monster. But to keep up with the current “on demand” economy, recruiting tools like Hirewire (hirewire.com) offer an alternative.

Using Hirewire, an employer creates a profile of the job they are hiring for. The potential employee also creates a profile, which includes experience, availability, location and salary requirements. In addition to the traditional profile information, employees create a video profile of themselves that is included in their overall package.

Hirewire analyzes the two user groups, employer and potential employee, and sends a notification to the employer when there is a potential match. The employer can then contact the potential employee via text message to set up a time to meet face to face.

Founder and CEO Chau Nguyen says the video component has saved a tremendous amount of time and effort for the employer, as it gives them the ability to quickly determine whether there is a good fit based on initial communication skills. Currently the product is in beta mode and is being offered to employers for free to try. By this fall, Hirewire plans to begin offering the product using two potential pricing structures: frequency of hire (pay per hire) or, for larger employers, a subscription service.

Once the employee has been hired, the hospitality operator should provide an adequate amount of training to prepare the employee to interact with the guest. Many organizations do a good job providing this training, however, many small, independent operators are so stretched that providing training for new employees may be something along the lines of “Hi, welcome aboard. Here is your employee manual, read it when you have time. Here is Joe, follow him around today and watch what he does. You will be on the floor tomorrow as a server.”

Unbelievably this scenario is commonplace, but PeopleMatter (peoplematter.com) can help. PeopleMatter provides an operator with a way to offer training for employees that is effective and relatively easy to enforce. Since Millennials constantly access the Internet, PeopleMatter offers a number of training modules that are appropriate for the hospitality industry, and they offer the ability to create customized video training appropriate for the operation.

The platform allows for quizzes to ensure that the employee actually is retaining the needed information. All of this training is designed for desktop and mobile access, is trackable and can be put together in advance. This way, a new employee can be hired, given a link to the required training modules and be asked to complete them before reporting to work for their first day.

The PeopleMatter platform is very robust. In addition to the training module (LEARN), it includes modules for hiring (HIRE), scheduling (SCHEDULE) and data analytics (PERFORM). The PeopleMatter platform is extremely customizable and is well-suited for larger independent operations or multi-unit operators of typically five or more units.

Solving Scheduling Hassles

Scheduling has always been a hassle for any hospitality operator. In the “old days,” schedules were frequently created using an Excel spreadsheet and a request book that was usually hidden in the manager’s office.

Schedules were done at the last minute because the manager was too busy dealing with every other issue that arises in the restaurant. The schedule may have been posted or emailed the day before the next weekly schedule started, creating anxiety for many employees as well as the management team. Often when a group of employees all wanted the same day off, such as a major holiday, it created sen more problems.

Several technology platforms help relieve the stress of scheduling and provide improved lines of communication between employees, including ShiftNote (shiftnote.com) and HotSchedules (hotschedules.com).

Both allow the manager to create a schedule online then distribute it either via email or a text notification. Employees are able to make schedule requests electronically, although the manager must still approve the request. A manager can also restrict the number of employee requests for certain days, such as a major holiday, and the employees can search ahead and know this in advance.

In addition, swapping a shift with another employee can be done electronically, taking this responsibility out of the manager’s hands and putting it in the hands of the employees. Because there is an electronic record of the transaction, there cannot be a “he said, she said” situation if an employee does not show up for a scheduled shift.

These software programs interface with various POS systems and allow for clock-in enforcement. If an employee is scheduled for 9 a.m., the software will allow the employee to sign in up to 9:05 a.m. (or whatever window the manager establishes). After that time, the employee must get manager approval before clocking in.

In addition, scheduling software uses sales and guest count data to help predict future sales data, thereby providing proposed staffing level based on historic data. By comparing scheduled labor dollars with actual labor dollars, the manager can control labor costs more effectively.

One additional component that both ShiftNote and HotSchedules incorporate is the concept of a manager’s log book. Not surprisingly, both put the manager’s log book online, which allows for remote access by managers, owners or the corporate office. The log book is useful for tracking shift notes, employee issues, repair needs, accidents, inventory and much more. This type of technology is effective for improving company communication levels.

The hospitality industry is first and foremost a people-to-people business. No amount of technology will completely remove this element from the business. However, as wage rates increase and the labor pool shrinks, operators are forced to come up with solutions that will allow their employees to do their jobs more effectively and easily.

The next generation of worker is in the pipeline and completely comfortable with technology. Millennials are looking for an employer who shares this ideal, and when they find this fit, they are able to step into the gap and provide employers with quality work.

Today’s operators cannot expect to communicate in the same way they have communicated previously. Pen and paper is out, email is out, text and short video is in. By considering the capabilities of software platforms like Hirewire, PeopleMatter, ShiftNote and HotSchedules, hospitality operators will be able to attract, train, manage and retain the next generation of hospitality employees and leaders. It’s time to catch this technology train before it pulls away from the station.

 

Charles Marvil has more than 35 years of experience in the hospitality industry, including hotels, restaurant management and POS technology. He is currently a full-time instructor in the Michael A. Leven School of Culinary Sustainability and Hospitality at Kennesaw State University. 

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Restaurant Technology to the Rescue

Wednesday, August 31st, 2016

By Kevin Hogencamp

Penny pinching in the restaurant business is one thing. Freeing up 10 hours of your manager’s time each week to focus on what matters most – the food, menu and customers – is another.

That’s what Chris Smith says a Georgia technology firm’s app for ordering, invoicing and inventory is doing for the Savannah business he co-owns, Zunzi’s TakeOut & Catering, which serves sandwiches, salads and more with Swiss, Italian, South African and Dutch influences.

Orderly Snap appSmith says the Orderly app (www.getorderly.com) enables Zunzi’s to manage food costs, remove data entry from the restaurant’s daily duties and operate virtually without paper.

In short, the app produces a more efficient operation and a stealthier bottom line, he says.

“We’re pushing more customers through the line because my manager is able to be more productive with this time,” Smith says.

While most restaurant chains and franchises have automated, proprietary processes that increase efficiencies, many independent operations have been left behind by technology.

That’s why Mark Haidet says he helped launch Orderly through his company, Siftit Inc.

“I was frustrated with our manual processes and lack of information for running the business,” says Haidet, who is also co-owner of the Atlanta-area Takorea eateries.

Haidet says that when he asked his operating partner “why we were so bad at the back-of-house processes,” he was told that’s the way it is in most restaurants.

That didn’t sit well with Haidet, whose business management career is heavy in the information technology arena.

So he assembled some fellow restaurateurs to help him better understand the pain points and – over the past three years – has steadily developed simple, flexible technology solutions with Orderly.

For Smith, taking inventory no longer involves clipboards and spreadsheets; rather, he and other Orderly customers simply snap a photo of invoices with their smartphone or tablet. The technology and the people behind it do the rest, including integrating suppliers’ data, and restaurant bean-counters can access every invoice online and produce detailed spending reports

Orderly customers can get acquainted with the invoicing service by using a free app – and then upgrade to premium services. Later this year, Orderly will release a plate-costing module that will provide real-time cost-effectiveness data by menu item, giving restaurants control of their profitability.

Haidet says the way he looks at it, embracing technology takes away the way need for restaurant operators to have an MBA.

“We make all those processes paperless, painless and online,” he says.

After initially focusing on the Atlanta market, Orderly now has customers nationwide. Haidet says Orderly has doubled its business in the past year and now processes more than $10 million a month in customer orders and invoices for more than 1,500 restaurants.

“We will continue to evolve and be driven by our customers’ needs combined with our experience in process and technology design,” he says.

Smith says that his experience as a Five Guys Burgers and Fries franchisee helped him appreciate the importance of putting systems in place at Zunzi’s. So he knew from Day 1 that the Orderly product – which does not have an upfront fee and costs $100 to $250 per month depending on the customer’s choice of available modules – was a sure thing.

Smith says Orderly’s value to Zunzi’s will increase exponentially when he expands the concept to other locations.

“The chaotic, frenetic pace in a restaurant is too much and too important for the manager to have to worry about data entry,” he says.

The National Restaurant Association says that its yet-to-be-released 2016 survey shows that while most restaurant operators agree that innovation can help their business, many don’t embrace new technology because of the cost and perceived complications involved.

For restaurants that other equipped to embrace technology, it’s a matter of which app or software to implement.

And getting started.

Turn Tables Faster and Reduce Identity Theft

Tavernpointe restaurant’s Patrick Reels says that until recently, he discouraged large groups from splitting the check individually.

It was time-consuming for the servers and, thus, a burden on other customers.

Now, Reels uses splitting checks as a selling point at the Midtown Atlanta restaurant, which opened at the corner of Spring and Peachtree streets last summer.

“Before, when people would get bold enough to ask, ‘Can you separate our 70 checks, and I’d say, ‘Uh, no,’” he says.

Awkward.

“Until this app came out.”

Split ApplicationThe app is Split (www.payandsplit.com), an Atlanta company’s innovation that aims to reduce the time and friction associated with serving large groups by enabling diners to view, pay and split their checks directly from their phones.

Reels says the free app is a godsend at Tavernpointe, which does a huge chunk of its business in its spacious private dining room.

“The customer simply tells the server they are paying with Split, and the tab magically appears on their phone; from there, they can pay their share with the app,” Reels says. “They don’t even have to see their server again – because, you know, when you’re ready to go, you’re ready to go.”

The tab can be split among diners or by menu item, and customers can share the bill with friends by tagging them. The app integrates directly into your POS and does not require extra hardware. Transactions are handled behind Split’s PCI-compliant gateway, eliminating the risk of identity theft when customers hand off their cards.

“It’s really like the greatest thing ever in this business,” Reels says, noting that customers without the app can pay their bill the old-fashioned way.

“I wish this had come out a long time ago. All of us in the restaurant industry would have made a lot more money,” he says.

Split CEO and co-founder Jimmy Patel says restaurants whose customers use the app are turning tables up to 15 minutes faster because diners don’t have to wait on servers, and servers don’t have to wait on credit cards to process.

Patel says the app is a much more robust all-in-one-mobile solution than originally intended. For example, customers are able to privately rate their experience, and restaurants, in turn, can directly market to customers with the app.

“The point of payment isn’t the end of a diners’ experience, but the beginning of their continual engagement with the restaurant,” Patel says.

Also, Split customers can view menus, order takeout and pay in advance through the app.

Patel says the enhanced customer experiences are paying off at the cash register for Split’s restaurant partners. On average, Split customers’ tab amounts are at least 10 percent higher, and their tips are 4 percent higher, he says.

Split is the first app from The Ampersand Group, a mobile development company that specializes in productivity tools for the restaurant and hospitality industry. The 1-year-old company, which charges a monthly fee to participating restaurants along with a cut of transaction fees for take-out orders, recently expanded beyond Atlanta.

Earlier this year, Split was awarded with the title of FinTech Innovation of the Year Award by the Technology Association of Georgia.

“We will continue to improve and innovate upon the platform we have already built while adding additional services to help our restaurant partners deliver the best guest experiences in the business,” Patel says.

Launch That Cooking Class or Pop-up Dinner

Atlanta’s Robert Neidlinger has been in technology sales for 20 years. But he’s a lifetime foodie at heart who seeks out opportunities for social dining experiences and to enhance his kitchen skills sans culinary school.

Often, that hasn’t been so easy.

“In Atlanta, there were always great cooking classes and wine tours and other food-and-beverage events out there, but the information was not in one place, so they were hard to find,” he says.

Not, anymore.

Last year, Neidlinger launched CulinaryLocal (www.culinarylocal.com), a ticketing platform and marketplace for Atlanta-area restaurants, businesses and organizations that host food and beverage events. His company profits from charging a percentage for each ticket sold.

CulinaryLocal’s 100-plus partners include Pine Street Market, The Cook’s Warehouse, Bellina Alimentari, Symposium Wines and others who host cooking classes, popup dinners, wine-and-chocolate pairings, walking food tours and other events. CulinaryLocal donates 60 percent of its service fees for nonprofit fundraising events to The Giving Kitchen, an emergency assistance nonprofit for restaurant workers facing hardship.

“What we’ve developed is a beautiful showcase of their events online, along with a platform to help them sell more tickets,” Neidlinger says.

CulinaryLocal not only posts events on its website, it advocates for them by assigning “ambassadors” to write articles and promote the events on social media.

“Food is very visual art and needs to be showcased rather than treated just like everything else,” Neidlinger says. “We’ve quickly become experts in event marketing, so we’re constantly working with our partners on how to promote their events to get the most traction.”

Pine Street Market Chef Rusty Bowers credits Neidlinger and CulinaryLocal for boosting attendance at his Atlanta business’s whole hog, sausage-making and cured meat classes – while strengthening the Atlanta food-and-beverage scene.

“He’s a great promoter for us all, and he’s getting us in front of people who’d never heard about our company and our shop,” Bowers says.

Because CulinaryLocal is exclusively a platform for authentic culinary experiences and not simply a promotional avenue for restaurants, some event submissions are rejected.

“We vet everything that comes through,” Neidlinger says.

Prevent Inventory Loss

One week. That’s how long it took for Josh Carden to conclude that paying $100 a month to have White Columns Country Club’s refrigeration units’ temperatures continually monitored is an outright bargain.

A walk-in cooler quit working on a Sunday night, and the Milton country club’s food and beverage operation is closed on Mondays.

A text alert sent to Carden from Atlanta technology company VeriSolutions (www.verisolutions.co) saved more than $5,000 in food from spoiling.

“We made a call and got it repaired right away. Tuesday would have been too late” to save the food, says Carden, the Milton country club’s executive chef.

Founded in 2015, Atlanta-based VeriSolutions offers mobile applications that, in addition to directly saving customers’ money by preventing losses, ensures compliance with safety protocols in the restaurant, hospitality and healthcare industries.

“We were focused on building a solution that enables people to be proactive rather than reactive when it comes to monitoring their refrigeration devices,” says VeriSolutions founder and CEO Michael Crocker.

VeriSolutions’ integrated software platform communicates with a network of sensors and runs on cellular data networks, so no internet connection is necessary to keep customers constantly plugged in their refrigeration units’ temperatures. There’s no installation costs or upcharges – just a standard monthly fee.

Carden says he impresses White Columns’ health inspector by showing her daily reports providing temperature readings every 30 minutes from each of the country club’s 11 refrigeration units. Along with receiving immediate notifications when the temperatures vary from his 33-to-42-degree threshold, Carden is emailed a customized summary report at 6 a.m. daily.

“The first time I showed her the report, she said, ‘That’s spectacular. I love your commitment,’” Carden says.

Crocker, whose background primarily is in the medical image software business, says VeriSolutions has plans to expand its monitoring services to employee handwashing.

The company’s foundation, he says, is to develop and provide cost-effective solutions that improve efficiency and safety compliance.

“I don’t think we’re revolutionary,” Crocker says. “We’re evolutionary.”

Enhance Your Guests’ Experience

Retail Data Systems, the mega-provider of point-of sale (POS) hardware and software, also has new technologybased solutions for restaurants.

Among them is software that enables staff members to use a tablet to take tableside orders, manage customer seating, set up reservations and text customers when it’s time to be seated. Integrated into the restaurant’s POS system, the mobile solution aims to enhance the guest experienceand increase speed of service, says Garry Easterling, sales manager for Atlanta-based RDS Southeast.

“It’s becoming high in demand at table-service restaurants,” he says. RDS also recently rolled out a restaurant solution that, among other attributes, displays videos of menu items on kitchen monitors. This technology shows kitchen staffers “what dishes should look like before they are plated and served to the customer,” Easterling said.

Postec, a 29-year-old Roswell-based provider of POS solutions for the hospitality, retail and grocery industries, also took a major technology step forward this year by adding Toast, an all-in-one mobile POS and restaurant management system to its portfolio.

Unlike with on-premise POS systems, Toast’s software updates are performed over the web and at no charge to customers. Also, Postec’s customers can manage online ordering, gift cards, loyalty programs and inventory over the web.

Alan Wright, Postec’s vice president of sales, says Toast’s applications provide an affordable, functional and serviceable cloud-based solution for Postec’s customers.

“Until very recently, the tradeoff between cloud-based solutions and reliability was too great for most professional operators to absorb,” he says.

Now, when it comes to what technology can do for restaurants, the future is wide open

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10th Annual GRACE Awards Finalists Announced

Wednesday, August 31st, 2016

The Georgia Restaurant Association (GRA) announced the finalists for the 2016 Georgia Restaurant Association Crystal of Excellence (GRACE) Awards.

2016 GRACE AWARDS FINALISTS

Restaurateur of the Year: Small/Independent
Federico Castellucci, Castellucci Hospitality Group
Jamie Durrence, Daniel-Reed Hospitality
Jeff Landau, Metrotainment Cafes

Restaurateur of the Year: Franchisee
Shawn Hooks, Firehouse Subs
Donnell Thompson, RWDT Foods DBA Denny’s
Mack Wilbourn, Mack II, Inc.

Restaurateur of the Year: Large/Corporate
Arby’s Restaurant Group, Inc.
Cinnabon
Waffle House

Industry Partner of the Year
Coca-Cola
Sysco
US Foods

Distinguished Service Award
Willy Bitter, Willy’s Mexicana Grill
Van Jakes, Jake 22 Management
Regynald Washington, Hojeij Branded Foods

ProStart Student of the Year
To be determined by the Hospitality Education Foundation of Georgia (HEFG)

Manager of the Year
Yvette Pearson, The Public Kitchen and Bar

Restaurant Employee of the Year
Valita Drayton, Krystal

Lifetime Achievement Award
Bob Amick, Concentrics Restaurants

The GRACE Awards Gala will take place November 13 at the Delta Flight Museum in Atlanta. At the event, winners will be announced from each of the categories of finalists. The GRA will also honor the Restaurant Employee of the Year, Manager of the Year, ProStart Student of the Year and this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award winner, Bob Amick of Concentrics Restaurants.

All finalists are peer nominated, which ensures that we honor the most deserving in our industry. The winners are then decided by the GRACE Academy, which consists of all past GRACE nominees and current GRA Board Members.

“This is a very special year, as we celebrate the 10th Annual GRACE Awards Gala. Through this event we remember and recognize the last decade of GRACE Awards winners and their achievements as well as look to the bright future we face in the restaurant industry in Georgia,” said Karen Bremer, CEO of the Georgia Restaurant Association.

A portion of the proceeds from this event will go to benefit the Atlanta Community Food Bank, whose mission is to fight hunger by engaging, educating, and empowering the community.
For more information, ticket reservations, and/or sponsorship opportunities, visit GRACE Awards Gala.

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Atlanta Les Dames d’Escoffier Welcomes 12 New Members

Tuesday, August 30th, 2016

The Atlanta chapter of Les Dames d’Escoffier welcomes 12 accomplished new members across a variety of food, beverage and hospitality related professions to join the invitational organization whose mission is education, scholarship and philanthropy. New members include:

· Dame Wendy Allen, Cooking School Director, The Cook’s Warehouse
· Dame Jodi Burson, Director of Brand Enhancement, Big Green Egg
· Dame Debby Cannon, Ph.D. Director, Georgia State University, Cecil B. Day School of Hospitality Administration
· Dame Lauren Carey, Executive Director, Peachtree Road Farmers Market
· Dame Kendall Collier, CEO, A Divine Event
· Dame Kate Dolan, Executive Corporate Chef, Golden State Foods
· Dame Lisa Ito, Pastry Chef, Umi Buckhead/Himitsu Lounge
· Dame Chrysta Poulos, Creative Director – Pastry, RocketFarm Restaurants
· Dame Nancy Resman, Senior Catering Sales Manager, The Ritz-Carlton
· Dame Alice Rolls, Executive Director, Georgia Organics
· Dame Suzi Sheffield, Founder & CEO, Beautiful Briny Sea
· Dame Tracy Stuckrath, President & Chief Connecting Officer Thrive! Meetings & Events

Les Dames d’Escoffier International (LDEI) is dedicated to creating a supportive culture in the community, fostering excellence and promoting the achievement of women in hospitality professions through educational and charitable activities.

“Our members stand out as leaders in their industries, and this new member class further contributes to the overall strength of our local chapter in our very special 20th anniversary year,” said Chapter President Dame Gayle Skelton. “It is a humbling experience to lead this group of leaders as we continue to award scholarships to women in the industry, support non-profit partners with grants and work together to enhance everyone’s paths – both professionally and personally. Welcome, new members!”

The LDEI Atlanta membership boasts more than 120 prominent women in career paths ranging from professional chefs, restaurateurs, caterers, farmers, food retailers, event planners, cookbook authors, food journalists and historians, winemakers and wine industry professionals, food publicists, and culinary educators to hospitality executives. For more information on Atlanta Les Dames d’Escoffier International or the chapter’s signature event, Afternoon in the Country, visit Atlanta Les Dames d’Escoffier.

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Concentrics Restaurants expands to South Carolina

Tuesday, August 30th, 2016

Concentrics Restaurants is expanding with its first South Carolina concept, Dockery’s. The 10,000 square foot restaurant will offer live music and its own on-site brewery. Slated to open in late Summer 2017, Dockery’s will be located in the heart of Daniel Island. Concentrics is partnering with a local Daniel Island investment group.

“We are thrilled to enter the Charleston market for our first concept in South Carolina” says Bob Amick, Concentrics Restaurants’ owner. “Dockery’s will embody the best of this unique part of the South with quality fare, a unique atmosphere, and its own brewery. We are keeping it simple: great food, great beer and great music.”

A family-friendly concept that focuses on high quality fare and craft beer, Dockery’s will be designed by The Johnson Studio at Cooper Carry. Previous designs by this group include Charleston’s Cypress and The Sanctuary at Kiawah Island. On a national scale, the studio is recognized for its designs for Del Frisco’s Double Grille at Rockefeller Center in Manhattan and Atlas at The St. Regis in Atlanta.

“We are very excited to welcome Concentrics and the Dockery’s concept to Daniel Island”, states Matt Sloan, President of the Daniel Island Company. “With the addition of Dockery’s, Daniel Island now will have its own destination brewery and chef driven restaurant concept to complement the growing retail cluster on Island Park Drive. “

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Nick Anderson named Executive Chef of Ormsby’s

Monday, August 29th, 2016

Chef Nick AndersonOrmsby’s recently welcomed new executive chef Nick Anderson to the team.

A graduate of Johnson & Wales University in Charlotte, North Carolina, Anderson started his career working under chef Paul Albrecht at Spice before taking a sous chef position at Canoe, where he stayed for six years. Anderson then went on to hold chef de cuisine roles at Tomo and Rathbun’s before arriving at Ormsby’s.

He formed a friendship with two of Ormsby’s owners, Michael Goot and Leslie Battle, when the restaurant hosted its holiday party at Canoe several years ago, and he has patronized Ormsby’s ever since. “My wife and I like to take friends there or stop in for a nightcap when we’re having a date night,” he says. “It’s a change of pace for me, and I’m really excited to be part of this talented staff and management team.”

One of the changes that Ormsby’s patrons can look forward to with Anderson helming the kitchen is the addition of more local meat and produce. “I’ve developed relationships with local farms over the years and plan to use those to highlight great local products throughout the menu. That way my guests know what they’re eating,” he says.

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One. midtown kitchen Offers Restaurant Industry Special

Sunday, August 28th, 2016

Chefs Matt Weinstein and Christopher Maher at ONE. midtown kitchen have cooked up some fun options for industry folks. On Sunday, restaurant workers with a current check stub or business card with valid id will receive 50% off select menu items and drink specials.

Chef Maher explains “We wanted to create an opportunity for those in our industry who work so hard, to go out to a nice restaurant and enjoy great food and drinks, without breaking the bank.”

And, Chef Weinstein adds “We just want to give back to our friends in the industry that we love. We plan on doing that with good food, good drink and a good time.”

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Neighborhood Dinner Series Added to Taste of Atlanta

Saturday, August 27th, 2016

Organizers behind Taste of Atlanta have created a new culinary event in advance of the city’s signature food festival — Taste of Atlanta Tuesdays, a series of four weekly five-course paired tasting menus in some of the city’s most iconic neighborhoods created by some of Atlanta’s finest chefs.

“We’re always looking for new ways for our festival guests to interact with some of Atlanta’s best chefs,” explains Taste of Atlanta co-founder Dale DeSena. “But at the festival itself, we can only offer a sampling. Thanks to our partners at Springer Mountain Farms, Taste of Atlanta Tuesdays will give diners an opportunity to experience what each of these chefs can create with a more personal and intimate dinner at their restaurant.”

Each Tuesday evening dinner begins at 7 p.m., and chefs will visit every table to discuss the flavor profiles they’ve created for the night’s menu. Reservations are limited.

Sept. 13 – Chef Michael Perez of Colletta in Alpharetta’s Avalon neighborhood.

Sept. 27 – Chef Drew Van Leuvan at Seven Lamps in Buckhead.

Oct. 4 – Chef Tom Catherall of TomTom in Virginia-Highland.

Oct. 18 – Chef Todd Richards of White Oak Kitchen and Cocktails in Downtown Atlanta.

A portion of proceeds from the first three dinners benefit Meals On Wheels Atlanta and its mission to provide essential services for Atlanta’s growing senior population, including delivering 200,000 nourishing meals annually. The dinner at White Oak will benefit The Edna Lewis Foundation, which aims to revive, preserve and celebrate the rich history of African-American cookery.

In the future, festival organizers want to bring Taste of Atlanta Tuesdays into other Atlanta neighborhoods and spotlight more iconic eateries and their talented chefs.

“The goal behind Taste of Atlanta Tuesdays is not only to introduce new diners to these chef-driven neighborhood gems but also to provide an added incentive for guests to return to a favorite restaurant they may have overlooked as our city’s exciting culinary scene continues to expand,” explains Springer Mountain Farms marketing director Dale Faunce.

The 15th annual Taste of Atlanta returns Oct. 21-23 to Midtown’s Tech Square. For more information, visit Taste of Atlanta.

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East Meets West With Spicy Fusion of Latin American and Indian Cuisine at Affairs

Sunday, August 21st, 2016

Blending authentic Indian cuisine with the rich diversity of influences in Latin American cooking, Affairs offers Atlanta diners a truly international fusion of cooking and culture. A joint venture from the Walia Hospitality Group and the Thakkar Group, this bold mixture of East and West promises a spiced indulgence in the former home of revered Indian destination Urban Spice. Located at 4120 Old Milton Parkway in Alpharetta, Affairs restaurant and tapas lounge is now open.

“My love for Indian cuisine is well known,” says restaurateur Ricky Walia, the man behind the successful Masti – Fun Indian Street Eats in Toco Hills as well as the recently opened Bombay Brasserie in Roswell. “But I also love foods from South America, Central America and the Caribbean, and I want to incorporate elements of all of those into an exciting new experience unlike anything Atlanta has ever seen or tasted before.”

True to Walia’s culinary heritage, Affairs features a traditional tandoor oven as well as a sigri, a small, open-flame stove also used in Indian cooking. The menu promises such Indian staples as aromatic biryanis (mixed rice dishes) and rich, thick dal stews, in addition to a wide array of dishes and styles from across Latin America, Europe, Africa and Asia. A variety of rice dishes, breads, barbecue platters, salads and appetizers rounds out the menu.

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Marlow’s Tavern Begins Construction in Brookhaven for October Opening

Sunday, August 21st, 2016

Brookhaven will soon welcome the newest location of Marlow’s Tavern, Atlanta’s favorite neighborhood tavern. Construction is already underway for the October opening. Marlow’s world-class hospitality, chef-driven fare and creative cocktails will be found in the Brookleigh Marketplace at 3575 Durden Drive. The location will boast a contemporary bar and expansive patio.

“North Atlanta has always been supportive of our taverns and we look forward to serving our new neighbors in the Brookleigh Marketplace. We hope to offer the Brookhaven area a comfortable neighborhood gathering place that they want to visit time and time again,” says John C. Metz, executive chef and co-founder of Marlow’s Tavern.

Featuring crisp, cool salads, classic American burgers, fun food for the kids and more, the menu at Marlow’s Tavern focuses on fresh ingredients with seasonal, locally sourced items when available.

The beverage menu boasts wines from around the world and an enviable selection of draft, bottled and canned beers, including local craft brews and national favorites. Signature drinks start with fresh fruit juices, house-made simple syrups, fresh herbs and small batch liquors.

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