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Archive for February, 2010

Table Talk: How Restaurateurs are Spending Marketing Dollars

Friday, February 26th, 2010

Question: With so many new restaurants opening, how do you utilize marketing dollars to stay top of mind with your customer?

Hugh Acheson, Five and Ten, The National:
“We don’t have marketing dollars. We don’t advertise, and we don’t have a marketing budget. We do direct mail, email, things like that. And of course, the number of restaurants opening now is a lot less than a year ago. So the way we market is consistently good product, and hopefully people are always talking about it.”

Rick Crowe, McKendrick’s:
“Quite honestly, we keep it local. For us, we really don’t spend a lot of marketing dollars. It’s all word of mouth. With the people we have in the four walls, we’re rely so heavily on them to spread the word and keep things moving that we kind of focus in on that. What we do spend is local, we do a lot with the concierge, we do a lot with the hotels. We do a little bit with a magazine here and there, but not a whole lot. And by local I mean a dinner for the VIP or we’ll pick up the tab, things like that with our dollars. That’s kind of how we target it.”

Russ Umphenour, FOCUS Brands Inc.:
“In addition to our traditional means of media outreach, we’re diligently working on using more direct response and social media vehicles to better measure the effectiveness of our advertising and further connect with our customers.  Of course, we always develop new products to continually position ourselves as innovators in the food industry, and we’re increasing our level of in-store service to enhance the way we market our brands to our customers in person.”


Georgia Organics 13th Annual Conference and Expo a Sell-Out

Thursday, February 25th, 2010

More than 1,000 people learned, laughed, ate, and made new friends and contacts at the Georgia Organics 13th Annual Conference and Expo in Athens last week.

The sold out event offered the Southeast’s most affordable opportunity to learn about sustainable agriculture through 10 farm tours, nine in-depth workshops, 36 distinct educational tracks, and an Expo with 70 sustainable vendors.

Click here to view photos of the VIP reception, chefs backstage cooking their hearts out, and many, many other Farmers Feast photos.
At the climactic Farmers Feast, Slow Food founder Carlo Petrini called for a steady, consistent resistance to conventional food production tactics (such as “food pornography,”) so farmers can receive fair prices and consumers can eat with dignity.


Three Atlantans Advance to The US Sommelier Championship Area Competition

Thursday, February 25th, 2010

Three wine experts from Atlanta’s restaurant and beverage trade have received top scores in the on-line preliminaries of The US Sommelier Championship and have qualified to move on to the TOP|SOMM Area Competitions. Christopher Gaither of Restaurant Eugene, Eric Crane of Empire Distributors, and Matthew Olson of Eric Solomon Selections will join a total group of 50 advancing to the next stage of competition.

TOP|SOMM is a competition for wine service professionals administered under the framework of the Guild of Sommelier, judged by Master Sommeliers and governed by the standards of the US Court of Master Sommeliers.  The competition recognizes excellence and encourages mastery of wine and spirit knowledge and service. Founded on professional participation, TOP|SOMMSM allows wine service professionals to fine tune their skills and compete for the title TOP|SOMMSM or Top NEW|SOMMSM each year in the United States.

To attain the distinction of being selected as the TOP|SOMMSM at the Championships the candidate must successfully progress through three tests.  All contestants will take the Preliminary On-Line test; with 50 contestants qualifying for one of five Area Competitions and the top 10 to 14 competitors moving on to the US Championships to be held at Guild of Sommeliers Annual Meeting. All levels of competition are judged by Master Sommeliers.

Each year TOP|SOMMSM  and the Guild of Sommeliers will recognize two winners of distinction, TOP|SOMMSM  of the Year and the Top New | SOMMSM of the Year. The latter will be bestowed on the highest scoring candidate under 33 years. The TOP|SOMMSM of the year will have the opportunity to represent the United Sates in the World Sommelier championships, held every three years.

The format of the competition will be based on the Advanced Sommelier Exam conducted by the Court of Master Sommeliers. The format will feature three areas of examination: theory, practical service skills and blind tasting.


More Restaurants Offering Gluten-free Menus

Thursday, February 25th, 2010

Fifth Group Restaurants recently announced that each of their restaurants have created separate gluten-free menus and offer instructions on how to order the menu items that might have potentially harmful components for those who suffer from celiac disease.  This is one of the first company-wide initiatives in the city’s restaurant industry to cater to guests with food allergies.

“As a company, we are dedicated to giving our guests as many dining options as possible – and that includes options for those with dietary restrictions,” said Fifth Group Restaurants Partner Robby Kukler. “It’s another step in striving to satisfy our current patrons and potential new diners, and with a rise in celiac disease diagnoses, I think it’s a big step that we absolutely must take,” he adds.

Celiac disease (CD) is a lifelong digestive disorder that, upon the consumption of foods that contain gluten, creates an immune-mediated toxic reaction that causes damage to the small intestine and does not allow food to be properly absorbed.  Gluten refers to the proteins in specific grains that are harmful to persons with celiac disease, and these proteins are found in all forms of wheat, rye, barley and triticale.  Even small amounts of gluten can affect those suffering from CD and cause health problems.

“People who suffer from gluten allergies suffer 365 days a year, therefore restaurants should offer practical solutions for every meal, every day of the year, too,” adds Kukler.

Figo Pasta is another restaurant recently promoting gluten-free dishes on their menu, including a gluten-free fusilli pasta.


Cystic Fibrosis Atlanta Wine Opener

Thursday, February 25th, 2010

February 25, 2010 at Mason Murer Fine Art in Atlanta. For more information, visit


ACF Atlanta President’s Gala Award Winners

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

Hundreds of members and guests turned out for ACF Atlanta’s annual Presidents Gala held at the Hilton Atlanta. Executive Chef Louis Spost and the hotel banquet staff provided a delicious spread for the occasion.

The evening included an awards presentation.  Below are the winners.

Chef of the Year: Jay Yarbrough, CEC CCA
Educator of the Year: Kerri Crean, CSC CCE
Humanitarian of the Year: Patrick Gebrayel, CEC
Vendor of the Year: Sunbelt Foodservice
Junior Member of the Year: Dominique Fallings
Presidential Award of the Year: Cheryl Glass

To view pictures from the event visit ACF Atlantas’ web site.


Atlanta Magazine’s Best of Atlanta

Monday, February 22nd, 2010

February 22, 2010 at Cobb Galleria in Atlanta.  For more information, visit



Sunday, February 21st, 2010

February 21-24 in Long Beach, California.  For more information, visit


The 17th annual Taste of Athens

Sunday, February 21st, 2010

February 21, 2010 at The Classic Center in Athens, GA.  For more information, visit


Georgia Organics Annual Conference

Friday, February 19th, 2010

February 19-20, 2010 in Athens.  For more information, visit

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