Chef and Restauranteur Marc Taft Forms Southern Fried Hospitality
Executive chef and restaurateur Marc Taft has created a restaurant management company called Southern Fried Hospitality to provide management and development for his four restaurants – Chicken and the Egg, Brine Seafood Shack (debuting spring 2017 in Alpharetta’s Avalon), FEED – Fried Chicken & Such (scheduled to open late spring in The Battery Atlanta adjacent to SunTrust Park) and CO-OP Community Table + Bar (scheduled to open April 2018 in Forsyth County’s HALCYON Development). The company also plans to expand its consulting services to both restaurants and hotel F&B operations.
“Brine and FEED are two brands that we plan to grow, so it’s important to make sure guests know what they represent,” says Taft. “Chicken and the Egg evolved through customer feedback. I firmly believe that having solid teams in place to lead these restaurants, taking care of guests and evaluating how diners respond will determine our long term objectives.”
As president of the company, Taft is focused on concept development and growth in addition to the company’s culinary operations. Joining Taft is the company’s vice president of operations Tom Foust, formerly of Rathbun’s, Chicken and the Egg and McKendrick’s and director of operations Fran Kieffer, who has worked at Chicken and the Egg, Rio Bravo, The Tavern at Phipps and Einstein’s restaurant. Foust oversees the day-to-day operations, the beverage programs, as well as all aspects of guest service, while Kieffer is responsible for front-of-house operations in each restaurant and providing direction to all general managers. The three men have a history of working together, having all served in management positions for Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants earlier in their careers. Now, their combined leadership experience allows them to establish a unique purpose driven corporate culture, exceptional service standards and memorable dining experiences.
Although Taft grew up in Alabama and has been a proponent of Southern fare ever since he first tasted his grandmother’s fried chicken at the Sunday dinner table, he looks forward to spreading his wings and showcasing his other culinary abilities with the creation of new restaurants under the Southern Fried Hospitality umbrella.
“Our restaurants reflect the experiences I have had throughout my career,” he says. “Although guests will see the majority of our brands heavily influenced by Southern heritage, we will be branching out with other unique concepts.”
One aspect of Taft’s chef-driven restaurants that will remain consistent is the dedication to bringing only the finest sourced ingredients to guests, whether it is sustainable, Southern California-style seafood outlined by the Monterey Bay Seafood Watch at Brine, modern-farmstead fare at Chicken and the Egg, fast-casual fried chicken and Southern sides at FEED, or hyper-local ingredients at CO-OP.
Many of Taft’s longtime employees at Chicken and the Egg have moved up in the ranks to take on management roles in the new restaurants, and the growth has already been generating an air of excitement at the restaurant.
“Something that Tom, Fran and I all agree on is that we have to be progressive and attract talent from multiple generations,” Taft says of what Southern Fried’s formation is achieving for his restaurants and his employees. “We are putting a lot of focus on technology and people and creating a culture from the inside out that drives the guest experience, and our staff is already responding very positively to the changes.”