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Archive for February, 2014

19 Industry Leaders Selected to Serve on Expo Advisory Council

Friday, February 28th, 2014

Atlanta Foodservice Expo LLC recently announced the 2014 Atlanta Foodservice Expo Advisory Council. The Show Management team has compiled a group consisting of 19 industry leaders to assist with the continued development of the event and ensure the needs of the local industry are well served at the show. The 2014 Advisory Council Members are:

Frank Abbinanti, Area Executive Chef (Atlanta Region), Levy Restaurants/GWCC

Paul Baldasaro, Chief Operating Officer, Buckhead Life Restaurant Group

Archna Becker, President, Bhojanic

Karen Bremer, Executive Director, Georgia Restaurant Association

Alexander Busch, Director of F&B/Executive Chef, Atlanta Marriot Marquis

Cathy Colasanto, Director of Operations, Turner Food & Spirits Co.

Patrick Cuccaro, General Manager, Affairs to Remember Caterers

Paul Damico, President, Moe’s Southwest Grill

Michael Deihl, Executive Chef, East Lake Golf Club

Toby Franklin, Chief Operating Officer, Rocket Farm Restaurants

Chip Haight, Director of Purchasing, Levy Restaurants/GWCC

Robby Kukler, Co-Founder & Partner, Fifth Group Restaurants

Amy Patterson, VP, Business Development & Corporate Events, Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau

Holly Royston, Food Sourcing Manager, Atlanta Community Food Bank

Todd Rushing, Partner, Concentrics Restaurants

Daryl Shular, Executive Chef/Chief Academic Officer, Le Cordon Bleu Atlanta

Jim Sprouse, Executive Director, Georgia Hotel & Lodging Association

Tracy Stuckrath, President and Chief Connecting Officer, Thrive! Meetings and Events

Hilary White, Owner/Executive Chef, The Hil, a restaurant at Serenbe

A key objective for the council is to assist show management with building awareness in the local community about the event to significantly increase the attendance and attract a larger group of exhibitors.

Atlanta Foodservice Expo is the only event in Georgia and the Southeast to bring together under one roof all sectors of the restaurant, foodservice, and hospitality industries with a broad range of the best suppliers. The second edition will be held October 13-14, 2014 at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta.


Rainey Unveils Seasonal Offerings at STK

Friday, February 28th, 2014

Chef Matt RaineyThe ONE Group recently welcomed Matt Rainey as the new executive chef of STK Atlanta. Formerly with the Buckhead Life Restaurant Group, Rainey brings a wealth of experience to the Midtown Atlanta steakhouse.

Blending two concepts into one — a modern reincarnation of a steakhouse and a chic lounge — diners are invited to enjoy quality steaks along with Chef Rainey’s specialty entrees and innovative side dishes, appetizers, salads, and desserts crafted from fresh, seasonal ingredients provided by local purveyors.

Starters like the Lump Crab Salad, Beef Tartare, and lil’ BRGRs remain on the menu, while Roasted Beet Carpaccio, Grilled Spanish Octopus, Buratta Salad and an updated version of the Seared Scallops have  been added. New, seasonally influenced entrees include a Chili Rubbed Lamb Rack, Pan Roasted Branzino, and Miso Glazed Sea Bass.  Guests with a sweet tooth can sample new dessert options like the Almond Fudge Brownie; Bag o’ Donuts – apple cider donuts topped with caramel and bourbon sauces; Banana Cream Pie; and Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie. Both STK’s popular Birthday Cake dessert and signature ICE STK mini ice cream cone sampler remain on the menu.

STK offers an extensive wine and spirit list, along with creative signature cocktails. Staples like the Cucumber Stiletto made with Grey Goose Citron, St. Germaine, fresh lime juice, cucumber, and mint; the Green Intensity – Grey Goose Vodka, lime juice, Serrano chili slices, and basil leaves; and the Strawberry Cobbler made from Belvedere Vodka, muddled fresh strawberries with a graham cracker crusted rim are available in STK’s lounge or as as a complement to a meal in the bistro or dining room.


Atlanta Restaurants’ Sales Volume Outpaces National Trends

Friday, February 28th, 2014

By Robert Wagner, CPA

Atlanta restaurant sales volume continued to outpace national sales trends in the year and calendar quarter just ended. During that time, national restaurant trends remained weak with little or no revenue growth and declining customer traffic. In contrast, Atlanta restaurant sales increased 4.5% and 4.6% for 2013 and Q4 2013, respectively. For both the year and quarter ended December 2013 positive sales gains were reported at more than two-thirds of the 90 Atlanta restaurants surveyed.

In its survey of national restaurant sales Black Box Intelligence, a restaurant sales and traffic-tracking company, reported Q4 revenues declined -.2% while same-store customer traffic declined -2.4%. For 2013 as a whole Black Box reported that restaurant sales declined -.1%. A separate national survey by NRN-MillerPulse reported a modest 1.1% sales increase for 2013.

By “Atlanta standards,” the 2013 sales results are routine. For the last three years, quarterly and annual Atlanta restaurant sales increases have averaged 5%. But Atlanta’s restaurant sales growth is exceptional when viewed in a national context. For example, compare Atlanta’s 4.6% Q4 sales gain to a bellwether such as McDonald’s, where comparable USA sales declined -1.4% in Q4 2013.

Atlanta’s improved restaurant sales were due to robust Atlanta-area visitor traffic, local population growth and positive metro economic trends. In particular the metro Atlanta unemployment rate dropped from 8.7% in December 2012 to 6.8% in December 2013.

Restaurant operators report that the 2013 sales increase was primarily driven by higher customer counts and modest menu price increases.”

The Sample: The 90 independently-operated, non-franchise restaurants were drawn from the metro Atlanta market. Total 2013 survey sales volume was $218,941,368. The sample included restaurants in Atlanta’s fast-casual, casual and fine-dining segments opened at least 24 months.

Robert Wagner, CPA is president of NetFinancials, Inc., which provides tax and accounting services for restaurant companies. 



Jeff Sime Joins Legacy Restaurant Partners

Friday, February 28th, 2014

Jeff SimeJeff Sime joined Legacy Restaurant Partners in late 2013 as the vice president of operations and oversees the day-to-day operations of Olmsted and Article 14 at 1180 Peachtree in Midtown, STATS, Game-X, Glenn’s Kitchen, SkyLounge at the Glenn Hotel, Max’s Coal Oven Pizzeria, Der Biergarten, Ventanas and City View Room in the Luckie Marietta District in Downtown Atlanta.

Sime is an industry veteran with more than 20 years of experience in every aspect of restaurant operations, from site selection and menu development to training and strategic growth. He started his career with Hillstone Restaurant Group, working at six Houston’s Restaurants across three states. He then joined Stoney River Legendary Steaks, which had just opened in Atlanta and was an ideal match for his high volume, standard driven experience. While with Stoney River, Sime was responsible for 13 units in seven states as the managing partner, opening director and director of operations. He has also been instrumental in opening, rebranding and consulting for several Atlanta-area restaurants, including The Big Ketch Saltwater Grill, Old Vinings Inn and Milton’s Cuisine and Cocktails.

He holds a bachelor’s degree in both hospitality administration and marketing from Florida State University.


If You’ve Been Waiting to Sell, 2014 Might Be the Year

Friday, February 28th, 2014

By Curtis Kroeker, Group General Manager of

 With only slight increases from the middle of the recession in 2009 to 2012, 2013 saw a major increase in the number of restaurant transactions. This was mostly due to an uptick in the economic recovery, strong supply and demand fundamentals, improved lending options, and continued improvement in small business financial performance.

In fact, according to, restaurant-for-sale activity rose 78 percent in 2013 compared to 2012. Additionally, restaurants are bringing in more revenue with improved cash flow and, as a result, the median sale price is the highest it has been since before the recession.

But what do all these numbers mean for selling in 2014?

Many owners spent time and money readying their restaurants for sale prior to the economic downturn. However, due to declining financials and a slowing business-for-sale market, these owners placed their plans on hold and decided to wait out the Great Recession for a time when they felt they could receive an acceptable sales price. With the recent spike in transactions, overall improvement in small business health and rise in buyer confidence, it looks like that time is now. This combination of latent buyers and sellers is coming together to create an increasingly strong market and, likely, for some time to come.

So if you were one of those business owners who waited out the recession, but plan to sell in the coming year, here are a few tips to help you get the most from your sale:

1.     Don’t navigate the sales process alone

 Navigating the sales process on your own is quite the challenge. Instead, consider hiring a business broker who has experience in the food industry. He or she can then advise you about how to make your restaurant stand out from the crowd and attract serious buyers. Having worked with numerous restaurant owners and spoken with buyers, your broker will know exactly what needs to be done to position your business as an attractive investment to a broad base of buyers who are willing to pay a premium.

2.     Have all proper documents prepared and ready

Make sure you have the proper financial documents available to show buyers. This helps prove you’re serious about selling and that you’ll be a good person to work with throughout the sales process. Also, having your financial documents organized and up-to-date shows potential buyers you’re on top of things and that they can expect to see few surprises down the road.

Tax returns, accounts receivable reports and expense reports are a few documents buyers will want to see upfront. They’ll also expect to see at least three years of these records to give them a solid background of the business’ finances. Making non-financial documents like supplier contracts or company process manuals available is also beneficial.

3.     Invest in your restaurant now

 Don’t forget about the physical nature of your restaurant, as its appearance will play a big role in shaping how prospective buyers see your business. If you’ve put off painting or renovating the space, now’s the time to do it. Potential owners will be impressed and be more likely to purchase your restaurant if they know these tedious tasks are already out of the way.

Curtis Kroeker is general manager for, a business-for-sale marketplace. Since 1996, BizBuySell has offered tools that make it easy for business owners and brokers to sell a business, and potential buyers to find a business to purchase. BizBuySell currently has an inventory of approximately 45,000 businesses – spanning 80 countries – for sale at any one time and receives more than 1 million monthly visits. The site also features an extensive franchise directory as well as an easy-to-use business valuation tool.


Nikolai’s Roof Debuts Modern Look and Updated Menu

Thursday, February 27th, 2014

A longtime icon of Atlanta’s dining scene, Nikolai’s Roof has attracted devoted followers over the past 38 years. After briefly closing for renovations, the restaurant has unveiled a new look and a new menu for a new era, but diners will still recognize the familiar panoramic view from the 30th floor of Hilton Atlanta.

The new design concept from CMMI, Inc. is inspired by the restaurant’s Russian heritage, with a cool grey and cream color scheme hinting at icy Russian winters. Other additions to the 7,500-square-foot restaurant and bar include warm walnut wood tables, glass ribbon chandeliers and floor-to-ceiling wine cabinets that surround a new dining niche for wine dinners and large groups.

Spearheading the changes to the menu is chef de cuisine Stephanie Alderete. Her contemporary menu includes a nod to Nikolai’s Roof’s longtime Russian influences and can be enjoyed a la carte or by requesting the three-, four- and six-course options starting at $55.

The Lounge at Nikolai’s (formerly Point of View) has also undergone a transformation, adding conversational groupings of seats along the perimeter that afford guests a bird’s-eye view of downtown Atlanta through floor-to-ceiling windows. The bar menu continues the Russian-inspired theme with popular, infused vodkas and signature drinks like the Russian Coffee and Moscow Mule. For those who want to enjoy a light bite during cocktail hour, starters from the dining room menu are available in the bar and include the restaurant’s signature piroshkies.


Fulton County Food Code Briefing

Wednesday, February 26th, 2014

February 26, 2014, GRA Office. For more information, visit Georgia Restaurant Association


Atlanta Chefs Expo 2014

Sunday, February 23rd, 2014

February 23, 2014, Georgia Freight Depot, Atlanta. For more information, visit Atlanta Chefs Expo


GRA Education Seminar: Food Cost Modules

Sunday, February 23rd, 2014

January 23, 2014, Atlanta Community Food Bank. For more information, visit Georgia Restaurant Association


17th Annual Georgia Organics Conference

Friday, February 21st, 2014

February 21-22, 2014, Jekyll Island, Ga. For more information, visit Georgia Organics Conference

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