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Archive for October, 2013

4th & Swift Promotes Gianaras to Bar Manager

Thursday, October 31st, 2013

4th & Swift has promoted longtime employee Chris Gianaras to the position of Bar Manager. Gianaras originally joined the 4th & Swift team in 2008 and has held several positions in the past five years including food runner, server and part-time bar manager.

Gianaras brings a fresh perspective to the restaurant’s cocktail menu, with beverage creations such as the “Blood Meridian” featuring Bellringer gin, Poire Williams, blood orange juice, Ferrand Dry Curacao and honey; “Under the Volcano” with el Jimador Blanco, Varnelli Punch, Tempus Fugit Cacao, demerara, lemon and chocolate bitters; and “Days of Heaven” with Four Roses Small Batch Bourbon, Benedictine, lemon, wild rice syrup, Crispin cider and apple bitters.


Uncle Maddio’s Announces South Florida Franchise Agreement With John Verderame

Thursday, October 31st, 2013

Uncle Maddio’s Pizze Joint has announced a franchise development agreement with Golden Corral restaurant owner John Verderame to open three locations in South Florida. Verderame is part of the fast casual pizza brand’s growth, which has opened 18 locations in less than three years and has an additional 150 units in development.

Verderame will initially open locations in Palm Beach and Broward County, the first Uncle Maddio’s in the area. He has the option to expand his development agreement with Uncle Maddio’s throughout South Florida.

Uncle Maddio’s was recently named “One to Watch” by restaurant trade publication QSR Magazine. Founder Matt Andrew, who also co-founded Moe’s Southwest Grill, credits the popularity of Uncle Maddio’s pizza for its success attracting franchisees, along with an executive management team with more than 50 years of experience in the restaurant industry.


Taste of Atlanta

Friday, October 25th, 2013

October 25-27, 2013, Midtown Atlanta. For more information, visit Taste of Atlanta


Chef Rob Phillip and Hearth Pizza Tavern Appeal to Local Pizza Culture

Friday, October 25th, 2013

By Helen K. Kelley

Chef Rob Phillip, aka “The Food Guy,” says that Hearth Pizza Tavern in Sandy Springs, Ga., has created its own identity.

“We never set out to be an ‘Italian’ restaurant or a ‘pizza’ restaurant,” he explains. “Great inspiration comes from Italian roots, of course, but I say this because even in America today, there is a pizza culture – and it’s local. You used to hear people say that you could only get good pizza in New York or Chicago. But now, I think you can get great pizza in many cities across the U.S. People have created their own pizza culture where they live, and chefs are reflecting that through different methods – in different types of crusts and finishes via different heat methods such as natural gas, stone and wood.”

Customer tastes and preferences, primarily the desire for the freshest ingredients available, are the biggest influence on Hearth’s menu. Phillip and his staff make every effort to buy from local sources, but the overriding factor is quality and freshness of ingredients.

“No matter what time of year it is, our vegetables are always fresh. We peel, chop and prepare them for our pizza with inspiration and a true sense of delivery for the combination of flavors,” he says. “And since we won’t ever replace the pepperoni pizza on our menu, the pepperoni itself is an important item. So we buy that from a local charcuterie or another quality source.”

Another trend at Hearth is the growing customer appreciation for its vegetable side dishes. Preferences are tracked through sales of these sides, along with appetizers and
small plates that feature vegetables.

“Now is the time for vegetables, and we’re adding more and more of them as side dishes to our menu,” Phillip says. “When we try out a dish on our special menu and it grows in popularity, we move it to the main menu. For example, our roasted Brussels sprouts are off the charts in customer appreciation.”

Equipment has an important role in the menu at Hearth, including the smoker and charcuterie tools for making sausage. The gas-fired wood stone oven was selected for its performance and efficiency.

“While wood is certainly very romantic – you can smell the wood burning oven – I had to consider the dynamics of working the oven and the degree of difficulty. It was important to have a very good oven, but more important is that the handling of the dough is a prerequisite for making a product that pleases our guests,” explains Phillip. “I chose the gas-fired oven because it took the burden of keeping the wood burning off our cooks; I didn’t want their energy put into that. I couldn’t be happier with the oven we have and how it performs.”

Hearth’s staff has input into the menu and has become the inspiration for the restaurant’s beer list.

“We serve a lot of craft beers, and that’s an influence from the staff, who are always talking about a brand-new beer they’ve tried elsewhere,” notes Phillip. “And you know, a style of beer can inspire a style of pizza.”

Seasons also inspire ideas for dishes on Hearth’s menu.

“We try make sure we’re thinking ‘seasonal.’ For example, we do more mushroom pizzas in the wintertime because mushrooms are woodsy and more wintery,” Phillip says. “We look ahead to the upcoming season and start thinking about fresh ingredients that will be available in the next month or two and how we can use them.”

In fact, inspiration is what Hearth is all about.

“The inspiration we get for our menu is through other foods,” says Phillip. “But we use pizza as our canvas.”


Proof of the Pudding’s Growth Plan

Friday, October 25th, 2013

By Debby Cannon

In 1979, Kay Goldstein, known as a “real foodie,” opened a creative, innovative concept in midtown Atlanta. A combination storefront bakery, “grab and go” restaurant and catering operation, Kay’s “Proof of the Pudding” quickly developed a loyal clientele. Known for delectable signature brownies and sandwiches, Proof was a “must stop” for gourmet picnic baskets, whether heading to a concert at Chastain or an outing at Piedmont Park.

Kay’s growing business success was soon paired with a growing family. Enter Phil Noyes, a veteran in Atlanta’s foodservice industry. Phil saw tremendous potential in Kay’s operation and purchased Proof of the Pudding in 1983. According to Phil, a strong start had been established for Proof, and he had the vision for an exceptional and growing catering company.

Phil was already no stranger to the catering profession. As President and Owner of MGR (a role he held from 1980 until 2006), Phil was the operator of food and beverage services for the Georgia World Congress Center. After the Georgia Dome and Centennial Park opened, he did the food and beverage operations for them, too.

MGR was well known and respected, as evidenced by being consistently named as the best convention center food service operation in the country. Phil’s foodservice career extended years before MGR, starting with Dobbs House. With DOB’s House, he became general manager of the Dobbs operations at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and corporate director of airport development.

Phil realized, soon after purchasing Proof of the Pudding, that his visionary expectations for the business would require a team approach. He needed a business partner who would bring exceptional business skills to the operation, particularly in the area of marketing. He needed a partner who would operate the business as an owner. He needed Guy Thomson. Guy, no stranger to Atlanta’s hospitality industry, complimented Phil’s background perfectly. Both knew Atlanta’s convention and hospitality industry extremely well.

Guy brought a lot to the table. As senior Vice President of the Georgia Hotel and Travel Association (GHTA), Guy had been in charge of numerous areas, including membership sales and services and educational programming. He had also been integral to the success of the Atlanta International Wine Festival and the Southeastern Hospitality and Foodservice Show, two large-scale events sponsored by GHTA. Guy’s roots were in foodservice, another perfect fit for Proof of the Pudding. He had moved to Atlanta in 1977 as general manager for Victoria Station Restaurants, a California-based specialty restaurant chain.

As with Phil, Guy saw nothing but opportunity in the Proof of the Pudding operation. It was a small catering company – a boutique caterer. One of Guy’s first reactions was that Proof had only one look – hunter green linen and silver chafing dishes.

That one look, over the last 24 years, has changed exponentially as well as the number of dedicated accounts. Today, Proof of the Pudding has more than 20 dedicated exclusive accounts that provide year-round financial stability for the business. Proof ’s venue locations are some of the most extensive and diverse in the industry. Venues include, among others, the Gwinnett Center, the Atlanta Civic Center, The Carter Presidential Center, The Georgia International Convention Center, Chastain Park’s Amphitheater, Georgia International Horse Park, The Ballroom at Carlos Center, Hudgens Art Center, University of Georgia, Mount Paran Church of God and Fripp Island Resort. Proof also has a significant presence at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport with Plane Delicious and Fresh Gourmet.

Some things have not changed, however, in analyzing the last 34 years of Proof of the Pudding’s operation. The strong emphasis on teamwork and the family atmosphere of the company is as evident today as in the beginning years. Phil Noyes, in his initial vision of growing Proof of the Pudding into a world-class catering operation, knew the company’s leadership had to have ownership opportunities in the company to run the business as their own.

In addition to Guy Thomson as a partner/owner, Corporate Executive Chef Vagn Nielsen joined Proof in 1990 and became one of the owners/partners. Chef Nielsen today oversees the food preparation for all of Proof’s permanent venues. Janice Hammersley Wilmer, creative director for Proof of the Pudding, works closely with Chef Nielsen in serving superb food in visu- ally exciting ways. Also with Proof since 1990, Wilmer became one of the owners upon joining the company. Joined by Glenn Byron, vice president and general manager, and Ben Witte, senior vice president of operations, the Proof leadership team has been a powerhouse of talent and experience for decades.

While the core values of Proof of the Pudding have not changed as well as the company’s commitment to superb food, exceptional service and enticing visual presentations, the leadership team of Proof has recently changed. Phil Noyes’ son, Adam, acquired Guy’s ownership interest and became senior vice president last year.

“The timing was perfect – for everyone involved and for Proof,” Guy Thompson says. Many businesses do not have the depth that Proof has, according to Guy, and passing leadership to someone else means selling the business. “We’re extremely fortunate to have someone who has been preparing for this leadership role for decades.”

Adam’s extensive hospitality industry experience started literally as a child, with numerous and varied roles in both MGR and Proof of the Pudding. Growing up in the business, Adam was “hands-on” doing everything from working events to loading trucks during the ’96 Olympics. He graduated from Western Carolina University with a degree in hospitality and then joined Ritz-Carlton as a food and beverage intern.

Positions with Hyatt Hotels then followed, starting in Hyatt’s corporate management trainee program. With Hyatt, Adam found a passion for sales and marketing, which led to positions advancing from a sales manager to associate director of sales and marketing, corporate director of sales recruitment for Hyatt North American Full Service and most recently as director of sales and marketing for the Grand Hyatt Atlanta in Buckhead. In 2011, Adam was awarded Hyatt’s Director of Sales of the Year Award for the entire corporation. In Adam’s role as senior vice president for Proof, he is responsible for overseeing operations, financials and growth and development.

Similar to the feelings of his father more than 30 years ago when he became owner of Proof, Adam is enthusiastically excited about the present and future of Proof of the Pudding. According to Adam, he will pursue aggressive but cautious growth. “We’ll look at ‘smart growth’ involving new venue opportunities but never compromising our core values,” he says. Among those possibilities are increased involvement in sporting events, possibly the racing segment and several downtown Atlanta possibilities. Continuously enhancing technology and streamlining management operations will also be key.

And what does the future hold for Guy Thomson? As owner of Pitty Pat’s Porch in downtown Atlanta, he has a passion for being an integral part of downtown Atlanta. With a Southern theme offering great cuisine and ambience, Pitty Pat’s Porch has gone through an extensive renovation. “Pitty Pat’s Porch now has an outside porch,” he says. “Imagine that … after all these years!”

The importance of authentic Southern attractions for those visiting Atlanta has led to the idea of a “Southern Connection,” and Pitty Pat’s Porch will be a part of this important group, including destinations such as Mary Mac’s Tea Room, Paschal’s and the Margaret Mitchell House.

Guy plans to continue his active involvement with the Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau (ACVB) and is working diligently with the ACVB’s international committee on training opportunities to prepare the city’s businesses for the growing number of visitors from abroad. “I’ll also continue my involvement with the Atlanta Community Food Bank and Georgia State University’s School of Hospitality,” he says. On the Industry Board of Directors and a frequent guest lecturer, Guy’s has had a long-term commitment to developing the leaders of the future for the hospitality industry.
“Guy has always been there for the hospitality industry,” Noyes says. “He is always the first to raise his hand to volunteer to help and he gives 100 percent. What he has done for the hospitality in- dustry in Atlanta and throughout Georgia has been remarkable.”

“I love working and I love this industry,” Thompson says. “I am bullish on downtown Atlanta. We are positioned for great growth, and I’m excited to be a part of that.” This is great news for Atlanta and the hospitality industry.

Debby Cannon, Ph.D., CHE, is director of the Cecil B. Day School of Hospitality Administration at Georgia State University.


Mark Bailey Joins Sterling Spoon Culinary Management

Friday, October 25th, 2013

Mark Bailey has joined Sterling Spoon Culinary Management as a market partner. Sterling Spoon’s client roster includes clients such as The Coca-Cola Company, NCR, Greenway Medical, Cousins Properties HQ, Global Payments, AFLAC and The Woodruff Arts Center.

Since 1995, Bailey has helped develop and manage the daily operations for several metro Atlanta-area brands. His enthusiasm for the industry began while cooking in high school and followed him throughout his education at DeKalb Community College. While studying business, he was inspired to combine his management skills with his passion for providing excellent customer service. This led him to pursue a career in retail restaurant management.

Bailey served as vice president of Roasters from 1995-2005, where he directed four locations and created a managerial training program. In 2006, Bailey began working as director of training for Shane’s Rib Shack, focusing on franchise development and corporate business consultants. He joined Figo Pasta in July 2008 as director of operations and continued on to Mirko Pasta in the same position two years later. He oversaw multiple aspects of both restaurants including franchise offering and management of more than 150 employees.


Matt Albertario is Executive Chef at Ray’s on the Creek

Friday, October 25th, 2013

Ray’s on the Creek has recently welcomed new executive chef Matt Albertario to its team.

Albertario grew up in a family of cooks, always watching his mother and grandmother in the kitchen. He began his culinary career as a teenager making pizzas in a local pizzeria. His interest in cooking led him to attend culinary school at Kendall College in Evanston, Ill. and pursue his passion.

Prior to joining Ray’s Restaurants, Albertario worked in Chicago as a sous chef at several different private country clubs until moving to Atlanta in 2006 to serve as the executive chef at Wildfire. After six years of running the kitchen at the Dunwoody restaurant, he started at Ray’s on the River as executive sous chef before joining the Ray’s on the Creek team.


Houston-Based MAX’s Wine Dive Comes to 12th & Midtown

Friday, October 25th, 2013

MAX’s Wine Dive, a “gourmet comfort food” concept with five locations in Texas, is slated to open spring/summer 2014 in the 12th & Midtown development in Midtown Atlanta.

The restaurant features a dual-sided menu consisting of “MAX’s Classics” on the left and a seasonal menu on the right. The seasonal, chef-driven offerings change three times a year and are unique to each MAX’s as they are designed and created by that particular location’s Executive Chef and culinary team. The Classics menu offers items such as Southern Fried Chicken with mashed potatoes, collard greens and Texas toast; Fried Egg Sandwich with truffle oil, applewood-smoked bacon, Gruyère, lettuce, tomatoes and garlic black truffle aioli on artisan sourdough; and Nacho Mamas Oysters with crispy fried Gulf Coast oysters and garlic aioli on crispy MAX’s wonton chips, habanero salsa and cilantro. Additionally, the menu will feature an international wine list.

MAX’s Wine Dive will join several other eateries scheduled to open at 12th & Midtown in within the next year, including Tabla, Panera Bread, Taco Diner, Fig Jam and BurgerFi.


Barberitos Southwestern Grille and Cantina Announces 14 New Locations

Thursday, October 24th, 2013

Barberitos Southwestern Grille and Cantina has announced that franchise contracts have been secured for 14 upcoming locations. Currently, Barberitos has 35 restaurants in five states, with the 14 additional locations slated for Tennessee, Georgia, North and South Carolina, and Florida. The growth spurt will push the company to the 49-unit mark in 2014 for the Athens, Ga.-based franchise.

Despite the tough economy, Barberitos has seen a 24.11 percent increase in system-wide sales this year. Same-store sales are up by 6.92 percent from 2012.

Barberitos quick service restaurants offer fresh, Tex-Mex cuisine including a variety of burritos, tacos, salads, quesadillas and nachos made to order.


Fulton County Food Code Briefing

Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013

October 23, 2013, Atlanta. For more information, visit Fulton County Food Code Briefing

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