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Archive for December, 2009

Survey of Local Restaurants Finds Business “Bumping Along The Bottom”

Monday, December 28th, 2009

Increasing same-store sales is the Holy Grail for restaurant operators and investors. For a restaurant to be financially successful, sales must increase over the same period in the prior year. To take the temperature of local restaurants NetFinancials surveyed October 2009 same-store sales for 52 closely-held, mostly Atlanta-based restaurants.

The result? In the aggregate, restaurant sales in October were flat. Total sales for October 2009 increased less than 1% over sales for October 2008.

How are individual restaurants doing? Of the 52 restaurants surveyed 24 or 46% of the total recorded increased sales over October 2008. Twenty-six restaurants or 50% of the sample showed decreased sales compared to last October. Two restaurants showed no change in sales.

NetFinancials also looked at how these restaurants are doing year-to-date 2009 compared to 2008. The results are sobering. We narrowed the sample to 48 restaurants. Of the 48, only 10 or 21% of the sample had 2009 sales higher than year-to-date 2008 sales. Thirty-eight restaurants or 79% of the sample showed decreased year-to-date sales compared to 2008!

Conclusion: By October 2008 the national recession had seized the local restaurant market. Consumers were reining in their spending. Restaurant sales were already headed down. In October 2009 while total restaurant sales are not getting worse; they are not getting better either. We are “bumping along the bottom” – the sales “bottom” created when the recession latched on to consumers’ wallets.

The Sample: The 52 restaurants were drawn 90% from the metro Atlanta market. The sample includes restaurants in the fast casual, casual and fine-dining market segments. All sales were reconciled and therefore carry a high degree of accuracy. Aggregate sales from the sample for October 2009 were $9.01 million. For October 2008 aggregate sales were $8.95 million.

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


Shane’s Rib Shack Expands with Six New Locations in Georgia and South Carolina

Monday, December 28th, 2009

Shane’s Rib Shack, a Petrus Brands company, is expanding further into South Georgia with six new locations, including Savannah, Hinesville, Pooler and Valdosta, and into South Carolina with future store openings in Beaufort.

The first locations are expected to open by the end of 2009 in Savannah and Hinesville, Ga.

Area developers Patrick Hopkins, Bruce Watford and Russell Rosengart are bringing Shane’s to South Georgia and South Carolina. Hopkins, Watford and Rosengart are multi-unit operators with more than 20 years of experience in the restaurant industry.

Shane’s Rib Shack, a Petrus Brands company, is a rib shack, known for its slow-cooked baby back ribs, hand-chopped chicken and pork.  The original shack was founded in 2002, in rural McDonough, Ga. by Shane Thompson, who started the restaurant.  Since becoming a franchised restaurant in 2004, Shane’s Rib Shack has grown to become the country’s fastest growing fast-casual barbecue concept and currently operates more than 65 locations.


Fifth Group Restaurants Wins The Concierge Society of Atlanta’s Affiliate of the Year Award

Sunday, December 27th, 2009

Fifth Group Restaurants, owned by Partners Robby Kukler, Steve Simon and Kris Reinhard, recently won The Concierge Society of Atlanta’s Affiliate of the Year Award for 2009.  This is a Members’ Choice Award and is a very prestigious recognition as it goes out to the Society’s affiliate member who best understands and supports the Society’s profession. Fifth Group Restaurants was honored at The Concierge Society of Atlanta’s 25th Anniversary Gala.

Fifth Group Restaurants is the privately owned company that operates Atlanta restaurants South City Kitchen Midtown, South City Kitchen Vinings, La Tavola Trattoria, Ecco and The Original El Taco, as well as Bold American®, a catering and events company with onsite services at Studio 887 and the Event Gallery at the King Plow Arts Center and offsite at private homes, offices and Atlanta’s premier venues.


Porter Passes Court of Master Sommeliers’ Advanced Level Degree

Sunday, December 27th, 2009

Heath Porter, Wine & Spirits Director for Sea Island Resorts in Sea Island, GA, recently passed the advanced level degree as administered by the Court of Master Sommeliers.

The three day test consists of hand written theory about wine and all beverages from around the world. The second part of the exam is service orientation along with food and wine pairing and oral theory, and the final part consists of blind tasting 6 wines and naming the grape varietal, vintage and region.

Porter grew up in a dry county in Alabama. After moving to Hawaii at age 18, he began reading about wine and attending tastings to develop his palate, all as a means to gain better shifts as a waiter and bartender. He quickly fell in love with the whole concept of food and wine and was a finalist in the 2004 Chaine des Rotisseurs  national young sommelier competition. Porter worked as a wine steward in Honolulu then rose to general manager and wine director at W Hotel’s Diamond Head Grill.

When he’s not assisting guests or facilitating special wine events, Porter contributes to various publications, orchestrates wine events for charities, or can be found searching the world’s great wine regions for new offerings.


UCCA Annual Christmas Party

Friday, December 18th, 2009

December 18, 2009 at the Georgia Tech Hotel & Conference Center.  For more information, email


American Culinary Federation Atlanta Chapter Meeting

Monday, December 7th, 2009

December 7, 2009 at Atlanta Foods International,

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