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Archive for June, 2013

GSU School of Hospitality – Evening at Herren’s

Tuesday, June 25th, 2013

June 25, 2013 at The Balzer Theater at Herren’s in Atlanta. For more information, visit


Pinkerton Honored for Innovative Leadership in Craft Brew Industry

Tuesday, June 25th, 2013

There’s no doubt that John Pinkerton likes beer. As brewmaster and owner of Moon River Brewing Company, Pinkerton serves as the ambassador of local beer in Savannah – it’s the only local brewery in the city.

Opened to the public in 1999, the brewery was voted #28 by BeerAdvocate on its list of Top 50 American Brewpubs in 2003. And in 2010, Pinkerton proved his mettle when the brewery won a Gold Medal for its Rosemary India Pale Ale in the “Herb and Spice or Chocolate Beer” category at Denver’s Great American Beer Festival.

Pinkerton was recently selected a finalist in the GRA’s 2012 GRACE Awards Innovator category and is a recipient of the Savannah Craft Brew Festival’s Pioneer Award.

“I see brewpubs really leading the charge in the craft brew industry because we are the
interface between the consumer and the breweries, more so than the breweries themselves,”
Pinkerton says. “Most people have their experience with the breweries when they go to the
store and buy their product off the shelf. Whereas with brewpubs, you’re right there where
they make the beers, you’re often in the position to talk to brewers, and it has a very strong, local cultural factor.”

For nearly 20 years, Pinkerton has worked in every aspect of operations, both in brewpubs and in regional-scale production breweries. Over the years, he’s also established a sense of leadership and service to the craft-brewing industry. He was a founding member of the Rubber Boot Society’s steering committee (a Mid-Atlantic brewer’s guild), as well as a longtime member of the Brewers Association. He also helped establish the Georgia Craft Brewers Guild in 2010 and is currently serving as president of the organization.

He frequently serves as a judge for regional and national beer competitions, and he also volunteers his expertise for conferences and festivals.

Pinkerton was instrumental in getting HB 472, the Brewpub Bill, passed this past legislative session, an initiative the GRA worked on and supported. It increases the amount of beer brewpubs can produce annually from 5,000 to 10,000 barrels and allows sales to distributors.


Eight Steps To Social Media Success

Monday, June 24th, 2013

By Ellen Hartman

If you are at a loss when it comes to how best to engage in social media, it’s time you stick your toe in the water. Social media has become a vital and powerful tool for savvy restaurateurs in the battle for consumer awareness in this highly competitive marketplace. Effective communication efforts demand that operators embrace social media no matter how intimidating it might seem at first.

An unrelenting, constant emergence of new tactics, social media platforms and industry-specific websites has made it difficult to settle on a plan of attack. A limited amount of strategy and resources further complicates the process for many foodservice operators.

“The growing popularity of platforms like Zagat and Yelp demonstrate the importance of maintaining a vibrant social and digital presence,” says Jeanie Hornung, founder of Monkeybread, a social media firm. “Facebook’s recent Graph Search announcement means that those restaurants that have been actively building and engaging their communities on Facebook will have a leg up once this new feature launches. Social media is now imperative if you want your brand to remain relevant.”

Maintaining an effective and engaging social media presence can be overwhelming, but with 89 percent of consumers using the Internet to research restaurants (AIS Media), opting out is no longer viable. But take heart, even the most socially media confident and knowledgeable operators had to start somewhere.

An integrated marketing strategy that includes social media can make the difference between being a marginally successful restaurant and a runaway success. Increased revenue, strengthening existing relationships and attracting new customers are all byproducts of an integrated, strategic social media plan with legs.

One case in point is Georgia restaurateur Steven Chan, who is the founder and chief executive of Tin Drum Asiacafe. Chan, who has embraced the digital age in a big way, uses social media effectively and is making beautiful music at the same time. Through his collaboration with TwinBear, a social marketing agency, Chan uses Tin Drum’s website to allow followers to download music from local artists. The move is generating genuine buzz not only for the featured artists but for the restaurants as well.

“Social media is allowing Tin Drum to help launch the careers of local musicians, and that is a very exciting proposition,” says Chan. “The feedback we’ve received has been tremendous.”

To best leverage social media marketing opportunities, try following these eight steps:

1. Build a turnkey website that enables quick and easy updates, such as newly innovated menu offerings and event announcements. For larger companies or franchised operations, consider a content management system, which allows individuals to make website updates without much (if any) web development knowledge. Make your website social. Use reliable plugins that allow visitors to view your Facebook and Twitter streams and LIKE or follow you directly from your website. You should also display links to your social media profiles on your website’s homepage – cross-linking between your sites and sources will maximize your web presence and create synergy between different forms of digital media.

2. Choose quality over quantity – maintaining a concentrated, strategic presence on a few social channels is far more effective than spreading yourself too thin over multiple platforms without proper time or strategic investment. Select the channels in which your target market is engaged but also those that you feel comfortable with. Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Foursquare and YouTube are the most popular social media platforms for restaurant operations, while Yelp, Urbanspoon and Zagat are three restaurant review sites that have likewise developed a strong following. Additionally, there are many other popular (and useful) social media sites, but the ones mentioned above are best for getting started.

3. Food is social! Posting pictures of menu items, providing recipes, showing videos of your chefs in action – that’s rich and shareable content. Use social platforms to inform and educate your customers about daily specials, wine pairings, seasonal ingredients and menu items. If you are interesting and engaging, your customers and fans will spread the content for you.

4. Monitor your presence daily. Responding to feedback with two to three personal and well-written sentences will illustrate your commitment to not only satisfying, but also surpassing customer expectations. Be conversational, and by all means, don’t do the hard sell. You should be warned, however, that thanking your fans and responding to your critics can take considerable time, resources and patience. To that end, many restaurant operators find they need to hire at least a part-time social media manager.

5. Use promotion and Facebook ads to drive fan acquisition. There are several DIY platforms like Shortstack or NorthSocial that allow you to build out promotional tabs that can be “fan-gated.” Facebook users must LIKE the page before they can access the offer or contest. This can be easily accomplished through a Facebook post or tweet. Facebook ads allow marketers to target down to zip codes. This makes advertising on Facebook very cost effective. This will generate engagement and, if done correctly, create considerable, bottom-line changing buzz. Celebrating milestones like anniversaries, holidays, birthdays, grand openings – and promoting such happenings on your website and social media profiles – will also enable you to connect with and entice your customers through fun, spirited messaging.

6. Pique customer interest with deals and special offers – according to a recent study by The NPD Group, coupons, deals and specials account for almost one-third of the decisions of where to eat. In actuality, a simple 2-for-1 Facebook post or printable coupon on your website might be the most effective influencer of all. With Facebook Offers, you can create a coupon or discount; post it for your fans that can then share with their fans. You are also able to control the amount of coupons or offers distributed.

7. Use consistent messaging across all channels – staying active in every channel or platform for which you engage is definitely important, but so is creating cohesive, consistent communication. For example, if your Facebook posts are fun and friendly in tone, make sure your Tweets and website content are of the same variety (and speak to the same offers, events and topics).

8. There’s an APP for that. As smartphone use increases, operators are using new technologies to provide speed, convenience and a boost to revenue. According to Noah Glass, CEO of OLO, launching a mobile payment application for their restaurant may be the No. 1 “must do” in 2013. “Mobile ordering has grown exponentially in the past year. Last year, orders through mobile phones was 10 percent of the total order volume for our partner restaurants,” says Glass. “Now, for hundreds of the restaurants we work with, it’s more than 50 percent of the order volume. It’s about finding your customers where they are – and customers are increasingly on their smartphones.”

So what’s your best bet? Hire a digital/social media expert, consider your target market and then develop a comprehensive strategy that aligns closely with the goals of your restaurant operations and the image of your brand. Implementing a strategic and consistent online marketing program can freshen your brand image and simultaneously trounce your digitally clueless competitors.

Ellen Hartman is president and CEO of Hartman Public Relations, LLC, a full- service public relations agency specializing in the foodservice industry. Hartman and her team have experience working for full service brands such as Chili’s, Huddle House and Olive Garden, fast casual brands such as Cosi, and many QSR brands including Popeyes, Church’s, and Arby’s. An industry leader for more than 20 years, Hartman is a frequent speaker at industry events, is active in the Women’s Foodservice Forum and Les Dames d’Escoffier International and has served on the board of the Multi-Cultural Foodservice Hospitality Alliance.


George McKerrow is 2013 Share Our Strength’s Restaurateur of the Year

Monday, June 24th, 2013

Share Our Strength recently recognized the foodservice industry with its 2013 Leadership Awards.

George W. McKerrow, chief executive officer of Ted’s Montana Grill, received the 2013 Restaurateur of the Year award for championing the issue of childhood hunger and encouraging other restaurant groups to get involved in Share Our Strength’s Dine Out For No Kid Hungry™ fundraising program by demonstrating how doing good is good for business. McKerrow was instrumental in helping the restaurant group raise more than $150,000 in 2012 for Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry® campaign, and leveraged his role in the community to raise government awareness of Share Our Strength’s mission. McKerrow has also co-chaired Share Our Strength’s Taste of the Nation® committee in Atlanta for 13 years.

McKerrow was one of eight individuals and businesses honored for their contributions to Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry® campaign. The annual awards ceremony and dinner was part of the nonprofit organization’s annual Conference of Leaders, and recognized award- winners for their passion, dedication and outstanding commitments to realizing a country where no child grows up hungry.


Old Vinings Inn Continues Its Classic Southern Appeal

Monday, June 24th, 2013

Originally built in the 1880s as a village post office and general store, the Old Vinings Inn has long been a mainstay restaurant for Atlantans. The menu, which offers fresh, regionally-inspired fare, is sophisticated, while also preserving a rich history.

With more than 20 years of experience in the restaurant industry, proprietor Lee Schulman is now leading the Old Vinings Inn team and continuing to deliver the restaurant’s classic Southern appeal. Schulman has led management teams at several Atlanta restaurants, including Atlanta Fish Market, Tom Tom A Bistro, OK Café and Stoney River Legendary Steaks.

To help achieve his goals at the restaurant, Schulman hired Executive Chef Don Diem. Diem has worked in restaurants all over the United States for the last 23 years, including the Keystone Mountain Lodge in the Rocky Mountains, Edgartown Yacht Club in Martha’s Vineyard, and Noche in Atlanta. He has also cooked for celebrities such as Kevin Costner, Ashton Kutcher and Michael Strahan.

Diem uses seasonal ingredients to produce simple, satisfying Southern cuisine. The dinner menu includes items such as blue corn-crusted Gulf oysters, kale chop-chop salad, buttermilk fried chicken, double-cut marbled pork chop, pecan mountain trout, cheddar grits, fried green tomatoes, Old Vinings Inn fudge cake and farmhouse peach pie. There is also an extensive wine and cocktail menu with house-made beverages including the Old Vinings Inn Plantation Punch made with St. Germain, Campari, champagne and fresh grapefruit juice.

Located on the second floor, the Attic Bar features an outdoor patio overlooking Vinings. Guests can enjoy a full service bar, dinner menu during dining hours, a special Attic Bar menu and live music Wednesday- Saturday night. For special celebrations, Old Vinings Inn offers a range of private dining options with customizable  menus.



Bantam + Biddy Hires Keoko Turner

Monday, June 24th, 2013

Keoko Turner has always loved the culinary arts. His passion for cooking lies in the different emotions that good food evokes and he lives by the philosophy, “cook what you love.” He is now putting that philosophy to work as he joins the team of chefs at Bantam + Biddy.

Turner is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y. He began his career in New York City at Vong as chef de partie. He left Vong to go to Union Pacific as chef de partie under the direction of celebrity personality and former executive chef Rocco DiSpirito. After a stint as executive sous chef at Striped Bass in Philadelphia, Turner headed south to Atlanta, working at BLT Steak in the W Atlanta Downtown and most recently at Bistro Niko.

His role at Bantam + Biddy includes spearheading menu development, training staff and establishing a cohesive brand concept for the restaurant.




MAR Brings Coastal Mexican and Spanish Fare to Decatur

Monday, June 24th, 2013
MAR Executive Chef Joey Zelinka

MAR Executive Chef Joey Zelinka

MAR, now open in Decatur, offers authentic Mexican and Spanish cuisine along with handcrafted cocktails in a casual environment with a taste of the coast. The menu, designed by Executive Chef Joey Zelinka, offers wood-roasted fishes, creative cebiches, tacos and more.

Zelinka brings his expertise from The Sound Table, Rathbun’s and 4th & Swift, along with a knowledge of coastal cuisine gleaned from living in Miami and gaining experience at one of the area’s Latin American restaurants, OLA. Highlights from the menu include dishes like Gallega Octopus with Sea Salt, Paprika Oil, Purple Potato and Piquillo, Foie Gras Empanada with Pickled Cabbage and a Spicy Mango Peach Sauce, and Red Snapper Ceviche with Lime, Heirloom Tomato, Castelvetrano, Basil and Tigers Milk.

MAR BAR offers a selection of cocktails and margaritas made with freshly-squeezed juices and house-infused tequilas. The extensive tequila selection allows guests to sample three flights served with lime, salt and grilled Serrano pepper.

Owned by international restaurateur Humberto Bermudez, MAR is an extension of his Porto Buzios Group restaurants in Central Mexico.

The rustic, yet modern space, designed by MAR Co-owner Michele DeHaven, features brick walls with exposed beams and a wooden ceiling. Pops of turquoise and driftwood bring the restaurant’s interior to life, and a bamboo-lined patio with umbrellas brings guests to the beach.


Deihl Elected to ACF Vice President, Southeast Region

Wednesday, June 12th, 2013

The hospitality community in Atlanta have come to know the tremendous volunteer efforts of Chef Michael Deihl. Soon, the Southeast will see the passion, energy and leadership Deihl delivers in his newly elected role of American Culinary Federation Vice President, Southeast Region.


Deihl and the other ACF national officers will serve for a two-year term that begins at the board’s installation during the President’s Grand Ball at the 2013 ACF National Convention, Las Vegas, July 25.


Deihl is the Executive Chef of the prestigious East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta, home of the PGA Tour Championship and FedEx Cup Championship. Chef Deihl has completed his 40th year in the Food & Beverage industry and constantly comments on how much he still learns every day in the kitchen. Chef Deihl has overseen kitchens at some of the finer country clubs, hotels, restaurants and catering facilities on the East Coast. Chef Deihl has also taught culinary arts as an adjunct professor for 15 years.


Deihl was voted by his peers as ACF Chapter Chef of the Year in 1998 & 2006, Humanitarian of the Year in 2005 and was named the Georgia Restaurant Association’s 2007 Grace Award Winner for Distinguished Community Service. He is president of the ACF Greater Atlanta Chapter. Deihl is the co-founder of Operation Chefs Unite which in conjunction with the USO has fed over a million soldiers passing through the Atlanta Airport.


Congratulations to Chef Deihl.


2nd Annual Pastured Poultry Week

Monday, June 10th, 2013

June 10-16, 2013. For more information, visit Georgians for Pastured Poultry


GRA Coastal Chapter Meeting

Tuesday, June 4th, 2013

June 4-5, 2013, Savannah.

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