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Archive for December, 2010

Chris Coan of Gas South Wins 2010 GRACE Industry Partner of the Year Award

Wednesday, December 15th, 2010

Chris Coan , General Manager, Business and Government Markets, Gas South, was honored at the 2010 Georgia Restaurant Association’s Crystal of Excellence Awards (GRACE) with the Industry Partner of the Year Award.
Chris Coan
Coan joined the Gas South team in November 2006, but his first restaurant experience stretches back to when he was in high school. He used to work Saturdays and Sundays busing tables at Veeder’s Family Restaurant in Schenectady, N.Y., to earn extra money.

Today, Chris helps restaurants with their natural gas needs as part of his job with Gas South, and knows the amount of hard work required to be a successful restaurant. He works with restaurant customers to develop creative solutions for their needs as far as rate plans and price, but also looks at ways to help expand their marketing reach. He is responsible for all industrial and governmental customers with annual natural gas consumption greater than 30,000 therms.

A graduate of the Goizueta School of Business at Emory University, Chris also received an undergraduate degree in Chemistry from the State University of New York and a degree in Ceramics from Georgia Tech.

What restaurant industry means to Georgia: The restaurant industry plays a key role when evaluating the strength of the Georgia economy. The industry is a large provider of diverse jobs for Georgians while bringing together community members for one of the country’s favorite shared pastimes — eating out. As such, the restaurant industry plays a key role in keeping our local economy and communities strong.

Major trends: In this economy, controlling operating costs, including those associated with utilities like natural gas, will be very important. The other trend I see is more customers asking for local produce and sustainable products served at their favorite restaurants. The GRA has seen the interest in local and sustainable issues surfaced by various roundtables, committees, and GRA partners and acted quickly to build the Green Foodservice Alliance. The GFA is a great addition to the GRA and will have a big impact on helping its members learn and implement programs that promote environmentally friendly best practices.

Industry’s most pressing challenges: Credit issues will continue to be a big challenge in 2011. It will hit restaurant owners on two fronts. Most importantly, restaurant owners will find it much harder to find capital to support expansions or to stay afloat during slow times. In addition to tight credit, identity theft is the fastest growing crime in Georgia and regulations around data security for restaurants that accept credit cards will add additional costs and risks for owners as they work to stay compliant.

Advice to those just starting out: I don’t have much advice to offer someone entering the restaurant business, but for those who are new to the GRA, I would recommend they get involved. The best way to optimize your membership is to get involved with the various committees and roundtables. Working on a committee is a great opportunity to network with restaurateurs and the vendors who support their businesses. This is a great opportunity to learn about what’s going on in the industry and a friendly environment to refine your value proposition. For anyone looking to sell their services or products to a restaurant, I recommend you go out and eat at the restaurants your want to serve. It’s always easier to start a sales call with “I really enjoyed your special last night.”


Ron Eyester of Rosebud Wins 2010 GRACE Innovator Award

Wednesday, December 15th, 2010

Ron Eyester, Executive Chef and Owner, Rosebud, was honored at the 2010 Georgia Restaurant Association’s Crystal of Excellence Awards (GRACE) with the Innovator Award.
Ron Eyester, Rosebud
Ron began his career, like most in the industry, by taking a restaurant job in his teen years. And, like most everyone else in the business, he was captivated by the energy of the restaurant and developed a passion for the industry. According to Ron, the restaurant business is like a sick addiction: once you get in; it’s nearly impossible to get out.

Ron grew up in New York and spent his college years in Charleston attending The Citadel. It was while working on his Master’s degree back in New York that Ron experienced an epiphany of sorts and decided that he would pursue a career in the kitchen.

After college, he spent six or seven years following food, eventually settling in Atlanta as sous chef to the original Food 101. In 2009, he purchased the Morningside location of Food 101 and reopened it as Rosebud, a reference to Jerry Garcia’s guitar.

Ron’s mantra is to buy local, and he consistently challenges himself to resource the freshest available products. But for him it’s not just about the food, but taking the time to develop relationships that ultimately enrich the restaurant.

And that feeling stretches to the restaurant employees as well. Ron says the people are just as important as the food served, and a sense of humor, grace under pressure, and an intense love of food are all requirements for the restaurant’s staff and friends.

He’s also known around town for his themed dinners, such as The White Dinner (themed around the Beatle’s White Album), the Jerry Garcia Tribute (each course paired with a live Grateful Dead song), and 80s Night, a six-course dinner centered around favorite dishes from the decade.

On Saturdays, Eyester also helps run the Morningside Farmers Market, which is located next to his restaurant.

Most challenging part of career: I took a very non-conventional, non-traditional pathway into business. This made “getting my food in the door” very challenging. But the biggest reward has been Rosebud.

Major trends: Casual concepts will continue to grow, “farm to table” will continue to gain momentum, and social media will emerge as a dominant marketing tool.

Industry’s most pressing challenges: Economy, and working with local government agencies to facilitate the process of actually opening restaurant and regulating certain aspects of our industry.

Advice to those just starting out: Stay committed, learn from other restaurants, support local, and make a personal/professional agenda that you don’t stray from.

Key to success: The work ethic that I learned from my father, support from my wife, almost an obsessive level of passion and a willingness to sacrifice almost anything at any given time.


Kat Cole of Cinnabon Wins GRACE Distinguished Service Award

Wednesday, December 15th, 2010

Kat Cole, COO, Cinnabon, Inc., was honored at the 2010 Georgia Restaurant Association’s Crystal of Excellence Awards (GRACE) with the Distinguished Service Award.
Kat Cole
Kat Cole has spent a career building an international brand and mentoring countless women, and now she is on a new adventure as COO for Cinnabon, the market leader among cinnamon roll bakeries that operates more than 770 franchised locations worldwide.

Prior to her role with FOCUS Brands at Cinnabon, Inc., was Vice President of Training and Development for Hooters of America, Inc., the international company that operates and franchises restaurants and manages the Hooters Brand Entities and generated approximately $1 billion in annual revenue.

It’s where she got her start in the restaurant industry. She was first hired as a hostess at a Hooters in Jacksonville because she wasn’t yet old enough to be a Hooters Girl and serve alcohol in the state. As soon as she turned 18, however, she went through her first day of training to become a Hooters Girl.

She has built on that first day of training with more than a decade of multi-disciplined experience, Kat is widely known in and outside of her industry for mentorship and development, and is a sought-after speaker and consultant in the field of leadership development, strategic communications, personal branding, and leveraging social media and technology to enhance brands, professional networks and philanthropic initiatives.

Her own philanthropic involvement includes serving on the board of directors of the Women’s Foodservice Forum and the Certification Governing Board for the NRAEF. She is also chair of the board of directors for the GRA and is president of the GRA-PAC. She is an avid volunteer with organizations that support women and children in need and fighting hunger and homelessness. On top of all that, she is currently pursing her MBA at Georgia State University, and is set to graduate this December.

What restaurant industry means to Georgia: It is a foundation upon which this state’s culture and economy is built. Whether it’s the actual “business” of this industry and the many chains that have grown here, or the mere act of gathering at a great Georgia eatery with friends and family, dining in Georgia is a foundation of all of our families, our business lives and our economy. It is comfort, not only in what it provides by way of sustenance, but also by way of being a workplace with arms open wide to all those who have the “want to” to serve others.

Major trends: Innovations that lead to capturing market share and providing cost savings will be top priority. Surviving by acquiring or being acquired, running lean or changing your business model. Also, customer service and volunteerism will increase. Now more than ever, our guests need an escape from reality, and our industry is always the go-to place in tough times. Those operators who master service inside their four walls and out will no doubt be more successful long term, even through tough times.  And lastly, green initiatives will continue to grow and be a focus of consumers – not only to reduce the carbon footprint of our operations, but to support local industry that is so vulnerable to market fluctuations.

Industry’s most pressing challenges: Customers having the disposable income to spend in our restaurants, regulatory changes (food safety, healthcare, employment law, banking), and exterior expenses as an employer (taxes, healthcare, wages) that may cause local restaurants to go out of business.

Advice to those just starting out: Take care of the employee first, then the customer; treat it like it’s your own business; and SAVE MONEY! If you’re not sure what to do, always ask these three questions: Is it good for my guests? Is it good for my employees? Is it good for my business?  If the answer is yes to all three, then do it!

Greatest accomplishment: My greatest accomplishments are the people I have mentored and developed. They have taught me so much about myself and life and are the very reasons I am able to do all the volunteer work that I do. I am also proud of my work with food banks across the country and in places like Rwanda to elevate and educate women. This industry has been very good to me, and it’s the least I can do to give back every chance I get.


Bob Campbell, CEO of Tappan Street Restaurant Group, Restaurateur of the Year

Wednesday, December 15th, 2010

Bob Campbell, CEO of Tappan Street Restaurant Group, Inc., was honored at the 2010 Georgia Restaurant Association’s Crystal of Excellence Awards (GRACE) with the Restaurateur of the Year Award.

Campbell has spent most of his restaurant career building Taco Mac from just one location into a regional concept. Born in Tallahassee but raised in Germantown, Tenn., outside of Memphis, Bob received his business degree from Auburn University. He got his first job in the restaurant industry while in Auburn, working the counter at “Momma Goldberg’s Deli.”

While in school, Campbell started traveling to Atlanta on weekends and breaks to serve and bartend at Taco Mac. After graduation, he was appointed manager of Taco Mac and promoted to general manager in 1992.

Over the next five years, Campbell helped open and manage multiple Taco Mac locations, and in 1999 co-founded Tappan Street Restaurant Group, Inc. and assumed rights to the Taco Mac name. Today, he currently manages 25 Taco Mac restaurants in three states, and there are plans for continued regional growth. A new concept in Atlanta, Deckard’s Kitchen & Kegs, also launched in September 2010.

Campbell is a board member of the GRA, chair of its marketing committee, and board member of its political action committee as well as a board member for Camp Twin Lakes.

What restaurant industry means to Georgia: Jobs, jobs and more jobs. Where else can someone with a Ph.D. work next to someone with barely a high school education? In good economic times and bad, people look to restaurants to fulfill or supplement his or her income through some form of service job within a restaurant.

Industry’s most pressing challenges: Besides weathering the economy, legislative action at the local, state and federal level becomes the most daunting issue of the future. First, as tax revenues fall in a souring economy, government will continue to find new ways to tax businesses. With the restaurant industry being one of the largest industries in Georgia, we are certain to draw the attention from taxing authorities. Secondly, with the current trend towards combating America’s growing waistline, the restaurant industry as a whole will be the focus of much legislative attention.

Advice to those just starting out: Stick it out. There are a great number of opportunities in this industry if someone is willing to work. It is also an industry that very much allows someone to create his or her own opportunities. There are countless stories of restaurateurs who have worked his or her way up from the bottom. Anyone from any walk of life can be a success in the restaurant business. In a sense the restaurant business gives many people the chance at the American dream.

Key to success: Taco Mac caters to such a variety of people with diverse backgrounds. Someone in a suit can be sitting next to someone in shorts and a T-shirt and still feel comfortable in our restaurants. With our price point and product quality, customers also feel they are getting good value for his or her dollar. The sports we show on TV also create a sometimes much-needed diversion from the stresses of a troubled economy.


What Restaurateurs Must Know About Food Allergies – Part 1

Wednesday, December 15th, 2010

For thousands of people, food allergies are a very real danger. One bite of something containing an allergen – or merely coming in contact with an allergen – could be fatal.

There are many tragic stories of allergy sufferers who died after consuming even a trace of allergen, and it’s not enough to say they should have been more careful. In this age of convenience and rush, allergy sufferers face a uniquely grave problem. Even when allergic individuals carefully read food labels, share allergy concerns with friends and with food service workers, carry epinephrine injections, conscientiously avoid all foods known to contain the allergen, and wear medic alert bracelets, there is still the ominous awareness that every bite of food could be their last.

The food manufacturing industry historically has made little effort to provide reliable and consistent information concerning allergens, and it has taken accounts like that of Christina Desforges, a young teenager with a peanut allergy, who died after kissing her boyfriend who had consumed peanut butter hours earlier to really make the industry take note of the issue.

Thankfully, the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA) took effect in 2006. This act requires food labels to have clear statements concerning the presence of the eight major food allergens (see sidebar).

While the food manufacturing industry is rising to meet the challenge of removing the risks for allergy sufferers, our food service industry is only slowly waking up to the need for change. Restaurateurs have an equally important responsibility and should design training programs for staff, provide accurate ingredient information to customers, and overall, support the trend toward making the world safer for those who suffer from food allergies.

Allergy Basics
A food allergy is an exaggerated response by the immune system to a specific food or groups of foods. Some reactions are mild, while others are life threatening. The body reacts to the food as if it is a foreign invader and mobilizes antibodies, which causes inflammation and other adverse reactions.

Some people have just one allergy, while others have several. Some have mild to moderate reactions such as dermatitis or inflammation around the mouth while others may experience anaphylaxis after coming into contact with a mere trace of an allergen. For individuals with mild allergies, allergic reactions can occur 4 to 6 hours after ingestion of a specific food, while other reactions may take more than 6 hours for the development of any adverse reaction or condition. However, the amount that may be eaten before symptoms appear is usually very small and varies with each individual.

In fact, in very sensitive individuals, the amount of an allergen that can trigger a reaction can be less than a milligram, which is evidenced by the fact that many individuals have experienced reactions from mere traces of an allergen. Furthermore, of the eight foods that have been identified to be the cause of the vast majority of reactions, peanuts and tree nuts cause the most severe reactions, and, according to one allergist, “most, if not all peanut allergies are considered potentially anaphylactic.” The only treatment for food allergies is avoidance of the problem food(s). Thankfully, many children outgrow allergies to milk, eggs, wheat and soy, but allergies to peanuts, tree nuts and shellfish tend to be life-long.

Numbers and Statistics
An estimated 11 million Americans suffer from food allergies, which amounts to 2% of the adult population and 6-8% of children in the United States. (To put that figure in perspective, there are 11.6 million employees in the restaurant industry.)  Eleven million means that 1 in 25 people in America are suffering from food allergies.  While that is a staggering proportion, research provided by the Food and Drug Administration reveals that approximately 90% of food allergies are caused by the big eight. Despite the fact that these eight foods account for the vast majority of food allergies, reactions are widespread and hard to prevent because nuts, milk, eggs, and wheat are so commonly used in food manufacturing and often are labeled in inappropriate or misleading ways.  For patrons of restaurants that use any kind of manufactured item in their production, the risk of facing an allergen is present.  Likewise, restaurateurs should realize that unless every item on the menu is made completely from scratch with pure ingredients, or unless precise information about store-bought ingredients is known, there is the risk that an allergic patron could have a reaction.

When one considers that approximately half of the American food budget is spent on meals away from home, and the average American eats 198 meals out a year, it is clear that the risk of having someone experience a reaction in your establishment is worth considering.

Even though not all anaphylactic reactions are fatal, they almost always result in emergency room visits. According to the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases, food allergy is the most frequent single cause of emergency room visits for anaphylaxis and accounts for 34 to 52 percent of such emergency room visits. In addition, anaphylactic shock as a result of food allergies kills, by some estimations, 150 to 200 people every year.

Food allergies appear to be on the rise, particularly in children. The most common allergy in children is the peanut allergy, and more than one million Americans are severely allergic to nuts.  What is most alarming to the restaurant industry are those statistics that directly reflect allergic reactions in restaurants.  According to a 2001 fatality survey conducted by the Food and Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN), 47 percent of food-allergy deaths occurred in restaurants, and one-third of allergic respondents to the 2004 FAAN survey experienced reactions from food provided by restaurants.

Responsibility and Risk
The fast pace of restaurants necessitates efficient communication and quick responses, but a human life is always worth an extra consideration.  Even though the threat of causing someone’s death is enough to make restaurateurs enact new strategies to aid those with food allergies, the threat of litigation certainly gives an added motivation.
It begs the question: what is the responsibility of the food service industry in meeting needs for allergy sufferers? Beyond immediate financial losses, losing in court brings the irreparable loss of reputation. And the loss of reputation will deter non-allergic customers as well as allergic customers because the idea that there was negligence in one area tends to make people think that there is negligence in another. In other words, the overall quality of food safety will be called into question should someone experience a reaction to food served in your restaurant.  For this reason, it is important to have strict procedures in place to prevent such an incidence.

Nancy Caldarola, PhD, RD, a consultant with Concept Associates, is active in the GRA and    the    Women’ s    F oodservice    F orum.    With more than 35 years in the industry she has held senior operations, training, and marketing roles in several international chains. She is a past lecturer at UGA, and was recently named Education Director for NACS CAFÉ at GSU. 678-523-3080

Allison Barfield graduated from the University of GA with a degree in Dietetics. She is currently a graduate student at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis studying Occupational Therapy. A licensed pilot, Allison’s future includes mission work in underdeveloped areas where she can share her knowledge and skills.


Nancy and Mark Oswald – Ruth’s Chris Steak House

Wednesday, December 15th, 2010

Nancy and Mark Oswald, Co-Owners – Franchisees, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, were honored at the 2010 Georgia Restaurant Association’s Crystal of Excellence Awards (GRACE) with the Lifetime Achievement Award.  Here we look back at their careers in hospitality along with their viewpoints about the industry and their work.Nancy Mark Oswald

Nancy got started in the restaurant industry more than 30 years ago, when she worked directly with New Orleans’ Grande Dame of Service and Hospitality, Ella Brennan. Ella took her under her wing and taught Nancy all aspects of running a restaurant, from scheduling servers and restructuring the banquet sales department, to running the in-house advertising agency and working with Chef Paul Prudhomme to get his recipes out of his head and down on paper.

“Undoubtedly, one of the most important things Ella, and later Ruth Fertel [the “Ruth” in Ruth’s Chris Steak House], taught me was to diversity my experience and skills, to know every department in the organization and cross-train wherever and whenever I could,” Nancy says.

For Mark, his first introduction to the industry was a summer job in the bakery of a state hospital, but it wasn’t until his college years at Tulane University, when he began running his fraternity kitchen and making money with it, that he realized he was a good fit for the field. His first full-time, permanent job post-college? Commander’s Palace, where he met Nancy.

Since then, the two moved to Atlanta and after a stint working for the Liberty House Restaurant Corporation launched Sizzling Steak Concepts. The franchise group successfully opened eight Ruth’s Chris Steakhouses and operates nine locations.

In April 2010, Mark and Nancy formed Steak House Concepts, LLC for the purpose of opening additional Ruth’s Chris restaurants. In May of this year, they purchased the Ruth’s Chris Steak House in Myrtle Beach, S.C., and has also purchased development rights for a Ruth’s Chris restaurant in Charleston, S.C.

“We have been incredibly fortunate to have Ruth Fertel and Ella Brennan as role models and mentors. What they both taught us above all else is to be collaborative and to not let egos get in the way of progress,” Mark says. “Both Ella and Ruth demonstrated by example that if you put the success of the team first, personal success will most certainly follow. They also showed by example that it was critical to be passionate about whatever you were doing (or do something else!).”

The pair have received numerous awards, including the 2008 Ruth U. Fertel Award by Ruth’s Hospitality Group, the highest accolade the company bestows. Their franchise is also the only one to have won the Franchise Leadership Team of the Year Award twice, in 2006 for its Atlanta/Centennial Park location and in 2008 for its Birmingham spot. Nancy was also named the 2005 Volunteer of the Year by the Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau (ACVB).

The two are active in their community, with Nancy serving on the committee for the Luckie-Marietta District and on the executive board of the ACVB.

Industry’s most pressing challenges: The state of the economy and the pressure on consumers’ pocketbooks continue to be challenges for every industry. More specifically, heightened issues of concern for the hospitality industry are governmental mandates legislating how we conduct business day-to-day and the on-going need to recruit new generations of leaders.

How they’d like their contribution to the Georgia restaurant industry to be remembered: We hope we have helped demonstrate that owning a restaurant—for any of us—is a POSSIBLE dream. Our industry provides many opportunities for advancement and a welcome point of entry to business ownership. It rewards hard work and determination as long as you are willing to take a few calculated risks along the way.

Greatest accomplishment: Professionally, watching the people within our franchise develop, mature and accept new challenges. We have witnessed the development of numerous careers—team members who have blossomed from side cooks to chefs, grown from bartenders to general managers. It doesn’t get much better than that!


Forbes Travel Guide Rates 4 Georgia Restaurants Highest

Tuesday, December 14th, 2010

Atlanta restaurants Bacchanalia and Quinones at Bacchanalia received a four-star rating from the Forbes Travel Guide, formerly the Mobil Travel Guide. The Forbes Travel Guide, which provides one of the world’s most comprehensive evaluation systems of hotels, restaurants and spas, has defined the hospitality industry’s highest standard for excellence for more than 50 years.

Bacchanalia and Quinones at Bacchanalia are two of 152 restaurants internationally and two of three restaurants in Georgia to be named to the list of four-star ratings. Park 75 restaurant in the Four Seasons Hotel also received the distinction. And, the Georgian Room restaurant located at the Cloisers on Sea Island received the five-star rating. Forbes Travel Guide’s incognito experts evaluated each restaurant on a variety of specific criteria, and in receiving this exclusive rating, they are showcased for maintaining an uncompromising commitment to the highest levels of food quality and ambiance, creating distinctive, unforgettable dining experiences. The full list can be found at Forbes Travel Guide.

“We are incredibly honored to be recognized with such prestigious awards,” said Anne Quatrano, chef-owner of Bacchanalia and Quinones at Bacchanalia. “We take immense pride in ensuring our guests enjoy a unique, exquisite and memorable meal that exceeds their expectations.”


Aaron Russell Joins Restaurant Eugene as Pastry Chef

Tuesday, December 14th, 2010

Chef Linton Hopkins announced that Aaron Russell is joining Restaurant Eugene as Pastry Chef.  In addition to the desert menu, tasting desserts and nightly mignardises, Russell is supervising the cheese program.

Says Hopkins of his newest hire, “he brings refinement, creativity and sophistication to the table, which is the perfect complement to my menu.  He’s just a great fit for us.  He is a true professional and a nice guy.  I couldn’t be happier.”

After culinary school, Russell’s culinary career started with Johannes Klapdohr at Nikolai’s Roof. He later worked as pastry chef under Bruno Menard at The Dining Room in the Ritz-Carlton Buckhead and later with Guenter Seeger as the Pastry Chef at Seeger’s namesake restaurant. It was Chef Seeger’s impeccable approach to local, organic ingredients and simple preparations which has held the most influence on Russell’s current style.

At only 23 years of age, Russell became the youngest ever 5 Star pastry chef.  His work at The Chocolate Bar saw him nominated in 2008 and 2009 for “Outstanding Pastry Chef” by the prestigious James Beard Foundation.


Chef Michael Deihl to Run for ACF Southeast Regional Vice President

Tuesday, December 14th, 2010

Michael Deihl, CEC CCA ACE AAC announced that he has accepted the nomination to run for the American Culinary Federation’s (ACF) 2011 Southeast Regional Vice Presidency.

Deihl is currently Chairman of the Board for the ACF Greater Atlanta Chapter, ACF State of Georgia Coordinator and the ACF Southeast Ethics Chair. He has served 2 terms as President of the ACF Greater Atlanta Chapter from 2006 thru 2009 and one term as ACF National Ethics Chair from 2008-2010. Under Deihl’s leadership, the ACF Greater Atlanta Chapter earned the 2008 ACF National Chapter of the Year award.

Most recently at the 2010 ACF National Convention in Anaheim the new Culinarians Code which Deihl orchestrated, was approved by the ACF National Board of Governors. Deihl is also the co-founder of Operation Chefs Unite (OCU) and in conjunction with the ACF Greater Atlanta Chapter and the USO, they have fed over a million soldiers passing through Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport over the last 6 years.

Deihl has a long history with the ACF over the last 25 years and has contributed much of himself to the chapters and communities he has served. A recipient of the ACF Chapter Chef of the Year award in both 1998 & 2006, along with the ACF Chapter Humanitarian of the Year award in 2005, Deihl’s past leadership abilities also include serving as President and Chairman of the Board of the Hilton Head Island Chefs Association from 1992-1999. Chef Deihl has given selfishly of himself throughout his culinary career in the hopes of giving a helping hand to those around him and welcomes this new challenge ahead of him as a candidate for the 2011 Southeast Regional Vice Presidency

View a profile article on Chef Michael Deihl.


Fry and Belline to Open New Restaurant in Decatur

Tuesday, December 14th, 2010

Ford Fry, Owner/Executive Chef of JCT. Kitchen & Bar, announced that he is partnering with Drew Belline to open a new Italian-inspired restaurant in the old Eurasia Bistro space in Decatur in February 2011.  Belline, who was previously chef de cuisine at Floataway Café, will serve as executive chef/partner for the new restaurant.

“Drew is an amazing chef and I think it is time for him to have a partnership in his own restaurant,” says Fry.  “We share a passion for locally sourced, simple though not simplistic food and wood-fired cooking and are both really excited to bring Italian-inspired dishes to Decatur.  Plus, Decatur is home to Drew, so it’s truly a perfect location!”

Belline is an Atlanta native and a graduate of Johnson and Wales.  He began his career in New York, working first at Charlie Palmer’s Kitchen 22 and then at Tom Colicchio’s Craft, before returning to Atlanta to work under Anne Quatrano and Clifford Harrison at Quinones at Bacchanalia and Floataway Café.

Fry is currently the owner and executive chef of JCT. Kitchen & Bar, an Atlanta restaurant known for offering Southern farmstead cuisine.  He is a native of Houston, Texas, and a graduate of the New England Culinary Institute.  Fry’s culinary background also includes stints in executive and sous chef positions at The Ritz Carlton in Aspen, Houston and Naples, as well as Snowmass Lodge in Snowmass, Colorado, and the Ojai Valley Inn and Spa in Ojai, California.   He is also the founder of one of Atlanta’s top food events, The JCT. Kitchen & Bar Attack of the Killer Tomato Festival.  This event, which raises funds for Georgia Organics, gives chefs and attendees the opportunity to meet local producers and develop longstanding relationships in order to further support the local food movement.  Fry currently serves as a Co-Chair of the Georgia Organics Chef Advisory Board and as a member of the Founders Council for the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival.

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