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Archive for April, 2013

Paul Brown Joins Arby’s as New CEO

Tuesday, April 30th, 2013

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 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.


Share Our Strength Networking Event Draws Industry Leaders

Tuesday, April 30th, 2013

share our strength

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.”


2013 Taste of Marietta

Sunday, April 28th, 2013

April 28, 2013. For more information, visit Taste of Marietta


Restaurants Leverage Green Practices to Support Environment, Community

Monday, April 22nd, 2013

by Helen K. Kelley

As America shifts toward a greener culture where citizens and businesses recognize their responsibility to the environment, more and more restaurants are expanding their own environmental conscience — by implementing a wide variety of sustainable practices and encouraging their staffs, customers and fellow restaurateurs to go green, too.

Small Decisions, Big Results

Every restaurant, regardless of size, menu or clientele, can make conscious choices that have a positive impact on their communities as well as the environment. And sometimes, simply using common sense is the greenest choice of all, according to Frank Bragg, owner of Radial Café.

“Don’t let stuff go to waste, try to spend as little as possible and bring new life to something that was going to be destroyed or throw into the landfill,” he advises. “Every small decision we made also made sense from a sustainability standpoint.”

Those small decisions have earned Radial Café a three-star rating from the Green Restaurant Association, whose certification program helps restaurants achieve their maximum green potential. Radial Café is one of only 68 restaurants in the country to achieve the three-star certification.

Radial has implemented a number of green practices such as converting to products that can be recycled — all paper napkins, take-out boxes and straws are 100% compostable — repurposing old building materials during the restaurant’s recent renovation, and making all energy systems as efficient as possible.

“The lights aren’t on in our restrooms until someone walking in, and it’s the same thing in our office and cooler. Our thermostats are programed for the season, per day and per hour so that the HVAC isn’t running if it’s not absolutely necessary,” says Bragg. “Our water faucets and dishwasher have low flow features and restroom faucets are touchless. We also conserve water by using fresh foods instead of thawing frozen foods in the sink. And we don’t sell bottled water — we filter our own.”

The payoff from these decisions is multiple. By making the investment in upgraded systems, Radial Café has actually ended up saving money on water and electricity. The restaurant’s staff has embraced the changes, many of them putting green practices to work at home through recycling, gardening and composting. And being green is good marketing — many customers appreciate Radial’s sustainability efforts and have become regular patrons because of it.

Go Local and Do It Yourself

Shipping and the pollution it creates are detrimental to the environment. But by ordering local and regional products, you can reduce the travel time it takes to get these products to your restaurant, thereby reducing pollution from the shipping process, says Paul Hymel, general manager of Lure, a Fifth Group restaurant.

“For example, we used to order those ‘fancy’ sparkling waters from overseas. But when we thought about the harm we were doing through the shipping process, we switched to products that are bottled locally and regionally,” he says.

Additionally, Lure has started carbonating its water in-house and packages it in reusable bottles.

“These things help us reduce our carbon footprint,” says Hymel. “And once you figure out how to incorporate a new practice into daily use, it becomes a habit…and it becomes easy.”

Nicolas Quinones, co-owner of Woodfire Grill, says that purchasing from local and small vendors has a dual role in his restaurant’s green practices.

“Food, of course, dominates our purchasing. So we choose to purchase all of our produce from local organic growers and our proteins from sustainable-practicing fisheries, ranches and farms,” he states. “This fits in with our goal of being as green and sustainable as possible, while also supporting our local farmers and businesses.”

Sustainable Beverages

Beverages can also be the focus of sustainability on a restaurant’s menu.

At Woodfire Grill, having a sustainable wine and beer list has proved beneficial in more than one way. The majority of the restaurant’s wine list comes from vineyards that practice biodynamic agriculture, a method of organic farming that integrates treatment of animals, crops, and soil as a single ecosystem, and beers are purchased from small breweries.

“Three quarters of the wines we pour by the glass are from sustainable vineyards. We feel they just taste better,” explains Quinones. “The same is true of our beers. We like to support people who are hand-crafting beer in small batches, and the tastes of these beers are very unique.”

If It’s Free, Reuse It

Rainwater is a free resource that only requires a little bit of effort to harness. Lure has begun collecting rainwater and condensation from its HVAC system — known as “gray” water — to use for other purposes, such as flushing toilets and watering all the shrubbery and plants on the patio.

The gray water is collected and stored in the restaurant’s basement in a “rain pillow,” which Hymel likens to a 30,000-gallon waterbed.

“Whenever it rains and as we collect condensation from our HVAC system, the water runs down and feeds into the pillow. Whatever it can’t absorb will run off,” he explains.

And if the pillow runs dry, the restaurant has a mechanism to switch over to using city water as needed.

A Greater Good

Hymel says that conservation and sustainability practices can bring communities together for a common and greater good.

“Regardless of where you fall on the side of the global warming debate, we can all agree that we can reduce the amount of garbage we produce and we can conserve our natural resources,” he says. “And we can do it because we love our community and our earth and we want to give back. We want to leave it a better place than when we arrived.”

Bragg agrees, and encourages fellow restaurants to make small decisions that bring larger rewards for both the environment and their local communities.

“It’s not that expensive and I think it will be second nature for more and more restaurants to go green as time goes on,” he says. “Ultimately, it’s just the right thing to do.”


SweetWater 420 Fest

Friday, April 19th, 2013

April 19-23, 2013, Atlanta. For more information, visit SweetWater 420 Fest


Atlanta Dogwood Festival

Friday, April 19th, 2013

April 19-21, 2013. For more information, visit 2013 Dogwood Festival


Staplehouse and The Giving Kitchen Initiative

Friday, April 19th, 2013

Staplehouse began in 2009 as an underground supper club in the Grant Park home of Chef Ryan Hidinger and his wife, Jen. Hosting 10 guests every Sunday for dinner allowed the couple to talk with guests and hear their thoughts on food, the city and all the possibilities for both. Over the last four years, many strong and lasting relationships have formed. This was the prelude to Staplehouse.

Earlier this year, Chef Ryan was diagnosed with Stage IV gallbladder cancer. The Hidingers’ friends and family, along with the Ryan’s Cancer Treatment Center team and the Atlanta community, have surrounded the couple with a tidal wave of love and support that has forever changed their perspective on life. As a result, their dream restaurant has been re-purposed to tell a story of hope and will give back to those who stepped up in their time of need.

With help of several friends, the Hidingers founded a non-profit called The Giving Kitchen, an initiative that will assist the metro Atlanta restaurant community by lending a helping hand to industry members impacted by medical or other unanticipated hardship. Staplehouse will be the flagship and backbone of The Giving Kitchen, a casual fine dining experience with a purpose. The restaurant will dedicate all (after tax) proceeds to The Giving Kitchen Iniitative.

The operation will be managed by seven partners, including Chef Ryan and Jen Hidinger along with Chef Ryan Smith and Kara Hidinger (Ryan’s sister). The business will be supported by well known restaurateurs Ryan Turner, Chris Hall and Todd Mussman, and managed by the Unsukay back-of-house systems called Basecamp.

An historic two-story brick building (formerly a residence) located in the heart of the Old Fourth Ward neighborhood of Atlanta will house Staplehouse. Downstairs, a cozy 50-seat restaurant will present sustainable, local flavors and cocktails. The second floor will house The Giving Kitchen offices and a Foundation Function Room, where guests can share dinner privately. Square Feet Studio in Atlanta has graciously donated the design for Staplehouse.

For more information, log on to The Giving Kitchen or watch the video below.


36th Annual Vidalia Onion Festival

Thursday, April 18th, 2013

April 18-21, 2013, Vidalia, GA. For more information, visit Vidalia Onion Festival


David A. Carson to Take Over Helm of Bacchanalia

Thursday, April 18th, 2013

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 Continues Southeastern Expansion

Thursday, April 18th, 2013

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.

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