Sales volume grew modestly at Atlanta’s independent restaurants in Quarter 1 2013, according to Robert Wagner, president of NetFinancials. Sales at Atlanta restaurants increased in that quarter 2.4% over sales for Q1 2012. This increase contrasts with Q1 2012 when Atlanta restaurants experienced a quarterly comparable sales increase of 6.8% over Q1, 2011.
Positive sales gains were reported by 61% of the 88 area restaurants surveyed. That leaves 39% with negative Q1 sales trends. Of the restaurants surveyed, 10% reported double-digit sales gains in Q1 2013.
“Q1 was a challenging quarter for Atlanta restaurants. Viewed in isolation, Q1 Atlanta restaurant sales growth was anemic and worrisome,” said Wagner. “But viewed in the broader national trend, Atlanta sales growth takes on a different appearance. Nationally the Q1 restaurant sales trend was negative 1.3% according to Black Box Intelligence, a restaurant sales and traffic-tracking company. Atlanta restaurant sales growth in Q1 while modest is at least positive. This shows that Atlanta restaurants can and, in the first quarter, did buck the national downward trend. It is significant that a majority, a full 61% surveyed, experienced positive sales growth in Q1 2013.”Restaurant operators attributed the tepid Q1 results to bad weather and sagging consumer confidence. For many operators, the quarter was salvaged by strong March 2013 sales.
The 88 independently-operated, non-franchise restaurants were drawn from the metro Atlanta market. Total Q1 2013 survey sales volume was $50,806,603. The sample included restaurants in Atlanta’s fast-casual, casual and fine-dining segments opened at least 15 months.
John C. Metz, Jr., CEO, executive chef and co-founder of Sterling Spoon Culinary Management, has been honored as the 2013 Gold Plate Award recipient by the International Facility Management Association (IFMA), which recognizes excellence in eight segments of foodservice operations. Metz is the creator of several Atlanta-area and Florida brands and concepts, including Market Street Café, Aqua blue and Marlow’s Tavern.
Metz, Jr. is now the second member of his family to win an IFMA Plate Award. His father, Metz Culinary Management Founder and Executive Chairman John C. Metz, was named an IFMA Silver Plate Award recipient in 1979.
IFMA Gold and Silver Plates have been awarded to such legendary operators as Dave Thomas of Wendy’s (’79), Ralph Brennan (’97), Steve Ells of Chipotle (’03) and most recently to Mary Molt of Kansas State University (’12).
A jury including national trade press editors, foodservice experts, past award winners and the chairperson of the International Gold & Silver Plate Society, weigh the merits of hundreds of candidates nominated by IFMA Members.
Concentrics Restaurants and Richard Blais recently announced their newest concept in conjunction with Michael Rosen of Juniper Hospitality. Located in San Diego, this joint venture will be on the outskirts of Little Italy in an early century warehouse space. Design, menu development and more are underway with hard details to follow.
The concept is being designed by The Johnson Studio, an international restaurant architecture firm known for its unique designs of Atlanta’s TWO urban licks, The Royce in Pasadena, Chicago’s TRU restaurant, New York’s Del Frisco’s Grille, Costa Rica’s Hotel Grano de Oro, Fearing’s in Dallas, Tahoe’s Manzanita, and more.
Blais will divide his time between his home base in Atlanta and the new project in San Diego. The west coast restaurant is expected to open in late 2013.
Clarion Events North America has announced announced that the American Culinary Federation Atlanta Chefs Association (ACF-ACA) will be organizing, planning and executing the show floor competitions and culinary demonstrations for the 2013 Atlanta Foodservice Expo. The ACF-ACA’s expertise is expected to bring in additional industry support and sponsors, as well as enhance the Expo’s value for attendees.
The 2013 Atlanta Foodservice Expo will be held October 20-22, 2013 at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta. For additional information, visit Atlanta Foodservice Expo
The Mill Kitchen & Bar in Roswell has hired Benjamin Castro as the new executive chef. Castro brings more than 15 years of experience to the Southern-inspired restaurant.
Castro began his culinary career as a teenager in his hometown of Athens, Ga. His first job involved washing dishes and preparing basic food at Athens’ Normal Town Café, known for its Southern “meat and three” style menu. Over the next four years, Castro worked his way around the city, honing his culinary craft at established eateries such as the Blind Pig Tavern, Harry Bissett’s Bayou Grill, East West Bistro and Athens Country Club. Under Chef Chris McCook, CEC at Athens Country Club, Castro began learning classic techniques and decided to pursue the culinary arts as his life’s career. Chef McCook is a graduate of the prestigious Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York and Castro’s respect for Chef McCook inspired him to also enroll in the renowned school. After graduating high school in 2001, Castro applied to the CIA with a recommendation from his mentor and was accepted. During his tenure at the CIA, Castro further developed his skills by working at upstate New York and New York City establishments, including The Woods, Paco’s, db Bistro and New World Home Cooking Company.
Castro returned to the Georgia culinary scene in early 2004, first to Athens and then to Atlanta, seeking a more competitive food scene. He landed his first sous chef assignment in 2005 at Aspen Signature Steaks in Kennesaw before moving to Pura Vida in Atlanta to work for Chef Hector Santiago.
Castro then opened ûrban as a sous chef with friend and chef, Mix McCroy. In 2007, Castro was hired by Pano Karatassos of the Buckhead Life Restaurant Group and began working at Bluepointe under Chef Doug Turbush. From 2007 to 2010, Castro served as sous chef at Chops Lobster Bar and also briefly worked at Buckhead Diner.
Castro left Buckhead Life Restaurant Group to perform Christian mission work in Haiti after the earthquake. Upon his return home, he owned and operated a farmers market business, specializing in sustainable ready-to-eat foods. In October 2011, Castro contacted his former mentor, Turbush, who was opening Seed in Marietta. He assisted with the opening and eventually became sous chef. After his tenure at Seed, Castro served as chef de cuisine at Bistro VG before joining The Mill Kitchen & Bar in Roswell.
Arby’s announced today that Paul Brown will be joining the company in the newly formed position of Chief Executive Officer.
Hala Moddelmog will report to Brown and continue to serve as President of Arby’s. Under her leadership, Arby’s has registered nine consecutive quarters of same store sales increases.
Brown previously worked at Hilton Worldwide, Inc., where he served as President of Brands and Commercial Services. He also served as President of Expedia.com and was a partner at McKinsey & Company.
Brown serves on the Georgia Tech Advisory Board and has served as an Executive-in-Residence at the Cornell University School of Hotel Administration. He holds a MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg Graduate School of Management and a Bachelor of Science degree from Georgia Tech.
Hours prior to the annual Taste of Nation event at the Georgia Aquarium a few of the Southeast’s restaurant industry leaders participated in a special “Top to Top” networking event at Legal Seafood’s.
The event kicked-off with a state-of-the-industry report from event co-host Wally Doolin, Chairman, Black Box Intelligence. Doolin delivered a hard-reality report on national restaurant sales, traffic and check growth, noting “17 quarters of negative traffic.” In predicting the future, Doolin said he “doesn’t see anything that says it’s going to change a lot.”
Doolin attributes the lack of growth to payroll tax, underemployment, weather, consumer uncertainty, oversupply of restaurants and the impact of take-home meals sold by grocers like Whole Foods.
He had some suggestions, though, to fight this tough economy, including: improving staff talent, investing in technology and building trust with restaurant’s customer base.
Doolin then introduced Billy Shore, Founder, Share Our Strength (SOS), who spoke about the amazing work SOS does in the quest to end childhood hunger in America. The organization has grown dramatically in recent years. Major restaurant chains joining SOS’s cause has been a primary reason behind the growth.
Shore noted that the biggest challenge is kids not having access to nutrition programs. SOS is working hard to create meal programs in schools. Shore pointed to success with school breakfast programs. By serving breakfast to children in their classroom instead of in the school cafeteria, SOS saw a 48 to 57% growth in participation. Studies show the importance of well-fed kids during school. Kids who eat breakfast do better in school, attendance goes up, grades improve and drop-out rates decrease.
To discuss how restaurants are contributing to Share Our Strength, Doolin led a panel of speakers including: George McKerrow, Jr., Co-founder and CEO, Ted’s Montana Grill, Hala Moddlemog, President, Arby’s and John Miller, CEO, Denny’s Restaurants.
Each of the panelists described their organization’s commitment to ending childhood hunger. Arby’s, for one, has raised over five million dollars in just a two year time for SOS.
Georgia’s restaurant industry can certainly be proud of the work it has done to support SOS. With the leadership of McKerrow and Pano Karatosos of Buckhead Life Restaurant Group, the Taste of the Nation event in Atlanta is the leading city fundraising event for SOS.
It’s likely that the restaurant industry will only grow in its commitment to solving childhood hunger. As John Miller of Denny’s put it “wouldn’t it be great if it was our industry, the industry that feeds people for a living, solves this problem.”
Chef-owners Anne Quatrano and Clifford Harrison have announced that David A. Carson will take the helm of Bacchanalia’s kitchen as executive chef. Carson has been a part of the Bacchanalia restaurant family as a dedicated chef de cuisine for the past eight years. He assumes the role vacated by Daniel Porubiansky.
As a leader on Bacchanalia’s culinary team, Carson assisted in hosting the restaurant’s first annual “New South Family Supper” on April 14th, which benefited Southern Foodways Alliance.
Tin Drum Asiacafé, the Atlanta-based Pan Asian restaurant concept, announced the signing of a seven-unit development agreement in Nashville, Tennessee with CANUSA ENTERPRISES, a regional restaurant group. The agreement is the first in Tennessee. Tin Drum currently boasts 13 units across Georgia and Alabama and plans to open up to eight additional units this year.
“After thorough market research, we’re confident in our decision to begin development of Tin Drum in Tennessee – Nashville specifically,” said Steven Chan, Tin Drum’s Founder and CEO. “This is our largest franchise deal to date.”
“We selected Tin Drum for the exceptional quality of the food, the growth potential of a Pan Asian concept and how we felt about doing business with Steven Chan, Tin Drum’s CEO,” said Fletcher Elkington, with Memphis based Elkington Real Estate Group represents CANUSA ENTERPRISES. “We believe Tin Drum is one of the most unique concepts in America and believe the Nashville market is a perfect fit.”
Tin Drum continues to grow in Georgia, as well. The franchise just opened its newest franchise location in Roswell, Ga. The 50-seat restaurant, which opened April 13, is Tin Drum’s 13th location. Jeffrey Sitterley is the general manager. They also announced a new franchised location in Athens, Ga.
Chef Steven Satterfield of Miller Union has been named a finalist for Best Chef: Southeast in the 2013 James Beard Foundation Awards. Finalists were selected by an independent volunteer panel of more than 600 judges across the country. Satterfield’s finalist nomination recognizes him as a chef who has set new or consistent standards of excellence in the Southeast region.
A Georgia native who spent his childhood in Savannah, Satterfield partnered with co-owner Neal McCarthy in 2009 to open Miller Union, a Southern restaurant offering sustainable and locally sourced cuisine. Satterfield incorporates his grandmother’s simple approach to cooking, canning, preserving and using local ingredients in his culinary philosophy and also continues to develop connections with local growers, dairies and producers.
As a member of Slow Food Atlanta, Georgia Organics and the Southern Foodways Alliance, Satterfield is actively engaged with Atlanta’s progressive culinary community. In 2011 and 2012, he was nominated for Food & Wine magazine’s “People’s Best New Chef,” following Miller Union’s placement on the “Best New Restaurants in America” lists from Bon Appetit and Esquire, as well as Atlanta Magazine’s “Restaurant of the Year” in 2010. The James Beard Foundation recognized Miller Union as a semifinalist for the national award of best new restaurant in 2010.
2013 James Beard Foundation Award winners, including the winner of Best Chef Southeast, will be announced on May 6, 2013, at an awards ceremony held in New York’s Lincoln Center.