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Archive for November, 2016

Bob Amick Wins GRACE Lifetime Achievement Award

Tuesday, November 29th, 2016

By Christy Simo

amickIt’s a winding path from 1968, when a New York teenager came to Oglethorpe College aiming for a law degree, to today, as Bob Amick sits in the dining room of Atlanta’s TWO urban licks. But for Amick, this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award winner, the road to owner and founder of Concentrics Restaurants makes total sense.

“I was always in [the restaurant industry] but never planned to be in it,” he says, recalling his time washing dishes in a pizza joint and running a hot dog stand when he was a teen. “I really thought as I got into college that I was going to go to law school.”

He says, though, that despite his plans, “I could never get the restaurant business out of my head.”

So after graduating college in 1972, he soon found himself working for Stouffer’s Hotels, where he spent time as a beverage manager before traveling the country opening hotels and training the hospitality teams.

“The business sucks you in, and sometimes it doesn’t let you go,” he says. “I enjoyed it.”

It was while at Stouffer’s that he first met Steve Nygren. Amick would eventually team up with Nygren and Richard Daley to operate the Pleasant Peasant restaurant company.

“I woke up one day and realized if I’m going to do this, I can’t do this as an employee,” he says. “So I made the decision that if I was going to stay in it, I might as well go for it and take a look at it from another direction.”

As a partner in Pleasant Peasant, Amick helped grow the company’s concepts, including Mick’s Restaurants, to 42 locations across the country during the 1980s.

However, by 2002 he had left the company and was ready to scale down. He and his wife decided to open a restaurant just down the road from their Ansley Park home. Little did he know it would be the start of his next adventure.

“Originally I was only going to open one restaurant, which was ONE Midtown Kitchen. My wife named it because we had all these restaurants, and now we were just opening one,” he says.

From that experience emerged Concentrics Restaurants, which today is one of the state’s largest restaurant companies. It owns, manages and develops acclaimed concepts around the country, including seven in Georgia as well as in Chicago, St. Louis and San Diego. The company also offers full-service development and management services for food and beverage operational needs.

“It’s not for the faint of heart. You have to work hard and do it well,” he says of the restaurant industry. “It’s not an easy business – our world operates differently than other industries. You live, work and breathe the industry 24/7.”

Clearly the hard work has paid off. Concentrics restaurants have been recognized by publications like Bon Appétit, Food & Wine, The New York Times and InStyle magazine.

But his company’s influence stretches far past the restaurants’ front doors. Many of today’s top chefs in Georgia once worked in one of Concentric Restaurants’ kitchens, including Kevin Gillespie, Todd Ginsberg and Zeb Stevenson, to name just a few.

“Watching people become successful is a great contribution,” he says. “Since I’ve been in the industry for so many years, I can now provide a platform for people to learn and grow and contribute their own role in Georgia’s hospitality industry.

“I’ve been a part of the restaurant scene since 1968, and I’ve seen how Atlanta has transitioned over all of these years to become a culinary destination,” he says. “Guests are more knowledgeable about food these days, and so they appreciate and understand what us restaurateurs are trying to create for the city.”

When you’re in the restaurant industry, your work is often a family affair. And while Amick encouraged his children to pursue a career independent of their father’s company, several have found that the restaurant life suits them, too.

“I am a restaurant junky, and I love to compete and try new things. My love for the business has been passed down to my children, and I have been able to see them grow in the industry and be a part of it as well,” he says. “It’s incredibly satisfying to see my family thrive in this business. I’m extremely blessed to have a supportive family, and our time spent away from work is being spent on the other side of the table.”

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How to Get and Maintain an Alcohol License in Georgia

Monday, November 28th, 2016

By Dan Plevak

Many restaurateurs find the alcohol licensing process to be a taxing and laborious process, but advance planning can often reduce many of the issues that applicants and license-holders encounter. While the rules governing alcohol regulation can vary immensely by jurisdiction, there are a few general tips that can make the process go a little more smoothly no matter where your restaurant is located.

Alcohol in Georgia is regulated at the state level by the Georgia Department of Revenue and at the local level by the city or county where the restaurant is located. So a restaurant must hold both a state license and a local city or county license in order to purchase and sell alcohol.

When beginning the licensing process, confirm that the premises are suitable for alcohol licensure. Some jurisdictions prohibit licenses from being issued to premises that are too close to schools or churches. Others may impose additional zoning requirements.

It is particularly important to look into these issues prior to acquiring a building or entering into a lease. Alternatively, a restaurateur could negotiate a licensing contingency clause under its lease that would al-low the tenant to terminate the lease if an unsurmountable licensing issue arises.

A restaurant may need more than just one license from the state and local jurisdictions, as additional li-censes can be required for bars, lounges and patios. The question of who gets the license must also be an-swered. In some cases it is a corporation or limited liability company. In others, an individual must hold the license. Sometimes it’s both.

In any event, the applicant will want to ensure that all license-holders – and in some cases, a company’s owners and management – meet criminal history, tax and other fitness requirements.

Another consideration is timing. The state of Georgia has made great strides in application processing times by using a temporary alcohol license program during the investigation of an application. But each local jurisdiction has its own set of requirements.

Sometimes there are hearings that must be attended, and an applicant is at the mercy of a jurisdiction’s hearing schedule. Sometimes advance public notices must be advertised. License applications also often require inspection approvals from the local fire, health and building departments, so those items should be worked into any grand opening timeline.

Once licenses are issued, there are more requirements than simply preventing alcohol sales to minors. The licenses must be renewed on an annual basis. In some cases, new filings are required if the restaurant un-dergoes an ownership or management change.

Some jurisdictions require that employees maintain their own individual pouring permits. Finally, restau-rants must adhere to day-to-day regulatory alcohol code compliance by being familiar with practices re-lated to hours of operation, happy hour promotions, carding policies and more.

The world of alcohol regulation is complex – but it is much more manageable if one knows what is re-quired on the front end.

Dan Plevak is an attorney with Taylor, Feil, Harper, Lumsden & Hess PC who specializes in alcohol li-censing and regulatory matters.

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Chef Mihoko Obunai opens NEXTO

Monday, November 28th, 2016

obunaiChef Mihoko Obunai, in conjunction with Concentrics Restaurants, is pleased to announce NEXTO, an Old Fourth Ward Japanese-centric eatery.

Obunai offers ramen, hot and cold plates and robatayaki. Signature dishes include the Chrysanthemum gomaae with pecan, tahini, dashi, katsuobushi ($6), Charred avocado with umami dashi, quail egg, bourbon togarashi ($8), JFC wings with caramelized garlic, ginger, soy, togarashi, yuzu ranch ($8), Unagi and chips buns with crispy unagi, shoestrings potato, wasabi tobiko, sansho ($10), Wagyu ribeye with ginger, charred onion, yuzu kosho ($14), Buta kimchi mini don with pork belly, kimchi, soft egg, scallions rice ($8), Curry vegetable with seasonal vegetables, tofu, veggie broth ($14) and the Late night ramen burger offered after 10:00pm with fried egg, kimchi, kaiware, sriracha kwechap for $12.00.

The small focused wine program features wines from classic and adventurous producers, regions and grape varieties. Japanese inspired cocktails, sakes, shochu and craft beers are also offered.

Obunai has been in the Atlanta culinary scene for quite some time, including her time at the restaurant Repast that she co-opened with Joe Truex. In 2010 she was selected as a StarChef “Rising Star Chef” and later competed on the Food Network’s “Chopped”. In 2012, Obunai trained with Chef Jack Nakamura (her ramen mentor) at Ramen Lab in New York City. Obunai won the “First Annual Ramen Battle” at The 10th Annual StarChefs International Chefs Congress in Brooklyn, NY. She was the only woman Ramen Master and beat fierce chef competitors Jamison Blankenship (Chuko), Harold Jurado (Google, Richie Nakano (Hapa Ramen), and Youji Iwakura (Snappy Ramen).

Obunai later launched her own ramen pop-up “Mibo Ramen” nationwide. In 2014, she launched another ramen pop-up at Atlanta’s Soundtable called “Ramen Freak” which was met with great acclaim.

Located in a funky and industrial corrugated metal shed, surrounded by a bamboo hedge, NEXTO boasts modern minimalistic design. Front and center is a bustling open kitchen flanked by a unique Todd Murphy piece that was commissioned specifically for NEXTO.

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Geno Dew Joins Atlas as General Manager

Monday, November 28th, 2016

Atlas is pleased to welcome Geno Dew as General Manager. The acclaimed Atlanta restaurant is located in the heart of Buckhead at The St. Regis Atlanta. Offering _mg_9597-3a wealth of experience, Dew most recently served as General Manager of STK in Atlanta and has a rich history working within the hospitality industry. During his tenure with Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants, Dew led teams for award-winning restaurants in Atlanta, Washington DC and Miami, as well as opening Enoteca Carbonari and Spice Market by Jean Georges.

“Being able to lead the Atlas team is a dream come true, tailor-made for me with everything in life that I love and am passionate about,” says Dew. “Our guests delight in the cornerstones of what makes the Atlas experience so special – you see the work of Masters not only on the walls, but also on the plate and in the glass.”

Thanks to strong support from the Atlanta community, Atlas is set to celebrate its two-year anniversary in January 2017. Since opening, the restaurant has garnered both local and national attention for its signature fine dining cuisine, attentive service, and museum-worthy art collection from leading publications including bon appétit, Travel + Leisure, Forbes, Garden & Gun, and Architectural Dig
est. Most recently, Atlas received a Four Diamond rating from AAA.

“Chef Grossman is the most talented, passionate Chef that I have had the good fortune to collaborate with, along with Caleb Hopkins, one of the best wine directors in the region. Working with this dream team is incredibly inspiring in itself, but to have the opportunity to serve the diners of Atlanta in the setting that is Atlas completes the circle,” adds Dew.

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2016 GRACE Awards

Monday, November 28th, 2016

The winners of the 2016 Georgia Restaurant Association Crystal of Excellence (GRACE) Awards were announced on November 13 at The Delta Flight Museum in Atlanta.

Restaurateur of the Year Award: Small/Independent
Jamie Durrence, Daniel-Reed Hospitality

Finalists
Federico Castellucci, Castellucci Hospitality Group
Jeff Landau, Metrotainment Cafes

Restaurateur of the Year Award: Franchisee
Shawn Hooks, Firehouse Subs

Finalists
Donnell Thompson, RWDT Foods DBA Denny’s
Mack Wilbourn, Mack II, Inc.

Restaurateur of the Year Award: Large/Corporate
Waffle House

Finalists
Arby’s Restaurant Group, Inc.
Cinnabon

Industry Partner of the Year
Coca-Cola

Finalists
Sysco
US Foods

Distinguished Service Award
Regynald Washington, Hojeij Branded Foods

Finalists
Willy Bitter, Willy’s Mexicana Grill
Van Jakes, Jake 22 Management

Lifetime Achievement Award
Bob Amick, Concentrics Restaurants

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

Restaurant Employee of the Year
Valita Drayton, Krystal

ProStart Student of the Year
King-La’Keit Randall, Westover High School

The GRACE Awards Gala is the Georgia Restaurant Association’s (GRA) annual black-tie gala event honoring Georgia’s restaurant industry. As a special 10 year celebration of the GRACE Awards, recognition was given to the finalists and honorees from the past decade. Jim Stacy, host of the Cooking Channel’s “Offbeat Eats” and owner of Pallookaville Fine Foods, served as the Master of Ceremonies and the Joe Gransden Duo provided live musical entertainment.

The GRACE Awards are peer-nominated and winners are selected by the GRACE Academy. GRACE winners are presented with crystal works of art created by renowned local artist Hans Godo Frabel. Additionally, a portion of the proceeds from this event goesto the Atlanta Community Food Bank.

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Chef Taft Brings Seafood Shack to Alpharetta’s Avalon

Monday, November 28th, 2016

Executive chef and restaurateur Marc Taft, who brought the farm-to-table restaurant Chicken and the Egg to Marietta in 2011, is now adding a fresh seafood alternative to Alpharetta with Brine Seafood Shack.

The latest from Taft’s Southern Fried Hospitality is set to debut this spring in the Avalon retail complex. The restaurant’s Cape Cod-meets-Santa Monica menu was inspired by Taft’s time spent on the West Coast.

“I’ve always been enamored of how Southern California does seafood,” says Taft. “It’s fresh, it’s healthy and there’s a laid-back vibe. It always feels like a vacation getaway. That’s exactly the kind of relaxed environment we want to bring to diners at Brine.

“On the menu: think really good lobster rolls, fish stew, clam fritters, tuna poke, fresh oysters and fish tacos, all overseen by Taft and Brine chef de cuisine David Connolly, previously of Two Urban Licks and Tap in Atlanta and Michelin-starred Spiaggia in Chicago.

A rooftop bar will feature fresh, tiki-style craft cocktails served next to fire pits under a retractable roof. Downstairs, a raw bar and classic boat drinks are on the menu.

For diners on the go, there’s a walk-up window inspired by New England clam shacks where you can grab takeout, soft serve ice cream, milkshakes and cocktails, wine and beer to enjoy while strolling through Avalon.

Brine’s seafood will follow the sustainable practices outlined by the Monterey Bay Seafood Watch, the nonprofit dedicated to empowering consumers and restaurants to make choices that result in healthy oceans. Much of the seafood from New England, the West Coast and the Gulf region will be geo-tagged so Brine chefs know precisely where the fish was caught, down to the captain’s name and boat.

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Chef Mihoko Obunai opens NEXTO

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2016

 

Obunai offers ramen, hot and cold plates and robatayaki. Signature dishes include the Chrysanthemum gomaae with pecan, tahini, dashi, katsuobushi ($6), Charred avocado with umami dashi, quail egg, bourbon togarashi ($8), JFC wings with caramelized garlic, ginger, soy, togarashi, yuzu ranch ($8), Unagi and chips buns with crispy unagi, shoestrings potato, wasabi tobiko, sansho ($10), Wagyu ribeye with ginger, charred onion, yuzu kosho ($14), Buta kimchi mini don with pork belly, kimchi, soft egg, scallions rice ($8), Curry vegetable with seasonal vegetables, tofu, veggie broth ($14) and the Late night ramen burger offered after 10:00pm with fried egg, kimchi, kaiware, sriracha kwechap for $12.00.

The small focused wine program features wines from classic and adventurous producers, regions and grape varieties. Japanese inspired cocktails, sakes, shochu and craft beers are also offered.

Obunai has been in the Atlanta culinary scene for quite some time, including her time at the restaurant Repast that she co-opened with Joe Truex. In 2010 she was selected as a StarChef “Rising Star Chef” and later competed on the Food Network’s “Chopped”. In 2012, Obunai trained with Chef Jack Nakamura (her ramen mentor) at Ramen Lab in New York City.  Obunai won the “First Annual Ramen Battle” at The 10th Annual StarChefs International Chefs Congress in Brooklyn, NY. She was the only woman Ramen Master and beat fierce chef competitors Jamison Blankenship (Chuko), Harold Jurado (Google, Richie Nakano (Hapa Ramen), and Youji Iwakura (Snappy Ramen).

Obunai later launched her own ramen pop-up “Mibo Ramen” nationwide.  In 2014, she launched another ramen pop-up at Atlanta’s Soundtable called “Ramen Freak” which was met with great acclaim.

Located in a funky and industrial corrugated metal shed, surrounded by a bamboo hedge, NEXTO boasts modern minimalistic design. Front and center is a bustling open kitchen flanked by a unique Todd Murphy piece that was commissioned specifically for NEXTO.

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Annual GRACE Awards Gala

Sunday, November 13th, 2016

November 13, 2016, Atlanta, GA. For more information, visit Georgia Restaurant Association

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Savannah Food & Wine Festival

Monday, November 7th, 2016

November 7-13, 2016,  Savannah, GA. For more information, visit Savannah Food and Wine Fest

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ACF Atlanta Chefs Association Monthly Meeting

Monday, November 7th, 2016

November 7, 2016, Halperns’ Steak and Seafood, College Park, GA. For more information, visit ACF Atlanta Chefs Association

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