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Archive for September, 2014

Multi-Unit Franchisee To Open New Uncle Maddio’s Pizza Locations in Macon, Warner Robins and Valdosta

Tuesday, September 30th, 2014
Tyler Mobley

Tyler Mobley

Georgia native and Uncle Maddio’s Pizza Joint franchisee Tyler Mobley has signed an agreement to open three Uncle Maddio’s Pizza Joint locations in Georgia, expanding the concept’s Georgia footprint to 16 total restaurants. Mobley plans to open two restaurants in Macon, two in Valdosta and one in Warner Robbins, Georgia. The first restaurant is set to open in Macon in the summer of 2015.

The new franchise agreement is in response to the growing demand for Uncle Maddio’s locations across the state and the country. Now restaurant guests can enjoy made-from-scratch pizza in a community-like atmosphere with fast service and affordable prices.

“We are on a mission to bring the Uncle Maddio’s pizza concept to guests everywhere as we continue to expand in existing markets and in new states,” said Matt Andrew, CEO of Uncle Maddio’s. “We have commitments for more than 200 additional franchisees in the next year and have big growth plans throughout the country.”

Twenty-six-year-old Mobley is a University of Georgia grad and hails from Moultrie, Georgia. Mobley’s family has been in the farming business in South Georgia for years where Mobley learned business management skills from his father, who is also an Ice House of America franchisee. After graduating with a degree in marketing, Mobley moved to Atlanta and worked in sales for a medical device company.

“I was first introduced to Uncle Maddio’s after I moved to Atlanta and frequented the restaurant with my friends,” said Tyler Mobley, Uncle Maddio’s franchisee. “From day one I’ve been impressed by the quality and taste of the food. I consider myself one of Uncle Maddio’s biggest fans and most loyal customers and with my business background it was the perfect combination to become a franchisee.”

When deciding on a pizza franchise, Mobley compared Uncle Maddio’s to other fast casual pizza brands and chose Uncle Maddio’s for its sophisticated infrastructure and the company’s ability to work with new franchisees like him. Low franchising fees, skilled leadership advice, marketing support and a family-like atmosphere all appealed to Mobley. He was also impressed with Uncle Maddio’s 200 percent growth plan for this year.


Decatur Restaurant Week

Sunday, September 28th, 2014

September 28-October 2, 2014, Decatur, Ga. More information soon on Atlanta Restaurant Weeks


More than 90 Dining Destinations to be Featured at Taste of Atlanta

Friday, September 26th, 2014
TOA Round Badge

Click on this badge to buy now and save $5 off General Admission and VIP tickets with promo code TASTE when purchasing online at Offer expires October 20.

More than 90 Atlanta restaurants have signed on to participate in this year’s Taste of Atlanta, which will take place October 24-26 in Midtown at Tech Square. With eateries featured from both inside and outside the perimeter, festival-goers will be able to savor truly authentic flavors that represent every corner of the city.

To help attendees pinpoint their local favorites or discover new dining treasures during Taste of Atlanta, the festival will take food lovers on a culinary tour through the city’s many diverse neighborhoods. Whether it’s Buckhead’s St. Cecilia, Virginia-Highland’s The Original El Taco, Roswell’s Little Alley Steakhouse, Decatur’s No. 246, Brookhaven’s THERE, Alpharetta’s Milton’s or Midtown’s Table at Ten, festival-goers will experience a variety of signature tastes from each community.

Keeping with tradition, Taste of Atlanta will kick off the festival’s 13th year with an exclusive block party on Friday, October 24. The event, themed Culinary Matrimony, will feature local celebrity chefs, including Patric Bell, Ron Eyester, Jay Swift and Tyler Williams, for an evening of flavor pairings. Guests can also look forward to live music from Electric Avenue, a PleaseRock tribute band, and an assortment of libations. Select restaurants, including Seven Lamps, Fox Bros. BBQ, The Optimist and Buttermilk Kitchen, will also be onsite to serve up tastings.

“I think people will be hard pressed to find more culinary variety in one place,” said Chef and Restaurateur Ron Eyester of Rosebud, The Family Dog, Timone’s and his latest concept, Diner. “With every signature taste, the festival showcases just how diverse and progressive our city’s dining scene really is. I welcome any opportunity to support my fellow chefs and our local food landscape, and that is exactly what Taste of Atlanta brings to the table!”

*Participating restaurants include:

  • 10th & Piedmont
  • 1920 Tavern
  • 1 Kept
  • 4th & Swift
  • Aja
  • Alma
  • Argosy
  • Article 14
  • Barcelona
  • Barrelhouse
  • Bartaco
  • Bellwoods Social House
  • Bhojanic
  • Big Tex
  • BLT Steak
  • BrickTop’s
  • Burger Fi
  • Buttermilk Kitchen
  • Café Intermezzo
  • Chai Pani
  • Cibo E Beve
  • Cinebistro
  • Coast
  • Davio’s Northern Italian Steakhouse
  • Delia’s Chicken Sausage Stand
  • Der Biergarten
  • Desta Ethiopian Kitchen
  • Diner
  • Don Antonio by Starita
  • Egg Harbor Café
  • Farm Burger
  • FIGO Pasta
  • Fox Bros. BBQ
  • Grand Champion BBQ
  • G’s Midtown
  • Hard Rock Café
  • Ink & Elm
  • JCT Kitchen
  • Jim ‘N Nick’s Bar-B-Q
  • Johnny Rockets
  • Kaleidoscope
  • King + Duke
  • Little Alley
  • Lusca
  • Makan
  • Max Lager’s
  • Max’s Wine Dive
  • Mediterranean Grill
  • Mi Cocina
  • Milton’s
  • Morelli’s
  • Nahm Thai Cuisine
  • No. 246
  • Ocean Prime
  • Paschal’s
  • Polaris
  • Ratio Bakeshop
  • Ray’s NY Pizza
  • Ri Ra
  • Righteous Que
  • Rosebud
  • Saltyard
  • Seven Lamps
  • Smoke Ring
  • Smokebelly
  • South Main Kitchen
  • Sprinkles Cupcakes
  • Sufi’s
  • Sugar Shack
  • SunO Desserts
  • Table at Ten
  • Taco Mac
  • Taqueria del Sol
  • The Albert
  • The Big Ketch
  • The Bishop
  • The Family Dog
  • The Melting Pot
  • The Optimist
  • The Original El Taco
  • The Pig and the Pearl
  • The Spence
  • Thrive
  • Timone’s
  • Tin Drum
  • Trader Vic’s
  • Tupelo Honey Café
  • UmmaFood Inc.
  • Villains
  • Vin Vie Bistro
  • Waffle House
  • White Oak Kitchen
  • Will’s Way Creole Kitchen
  • Woody’s
  • Wrecking Bar

*Restaurant List Subject to Change

For the most up-to-date list of participating restaurants and event news, please visit the 2014 festival website (


Justin Kurtz Announced As New Executive Chef of Lobby Bar and Bistro

Friday, September 26th, 2014
Cranberry & Brie Empanada

Cranberry & Brie Empanada

beef carpaccio

Beef Carpaccio




Lobby Bar and Bistro recently announced Justin Kurtz as its new Executive Chef. Kurtz hails from multiple Ritz-Carlton locations (Orlando Grande Lakes, South Beach, Lake Tahoe and Lake Oconee) and most recently from Chateau Elan Winery and Resort, where he served as Exe
cutive Chef and oversaw operations at three of their fine dining restaurant locations.

“I am excited to showcase my culinary chops at Lobby Bar and Bistro. My menu will offer comforting approachable flavors…with some fun. I am looking forward to the new menu speaking for itself,” explains Kurtz.

Highlights from Chef Kurtz’s new menu include the Cranberry & Brie Empanada with Toasted Macadamia Nuts and Orange Honey, Scallops with Creamed Corn, Poblano Vinaigrette, Crispy Manchego and Beef Carpaccio with Pickled Shallots, Fried Onion and Black Peppercorn Vinaigrette.








Kaffee Hopkins Partners with Sterling Hospitality

Friday, September 26th, 2014

Kaffee Hopkins has partnered with Sterling Hospitality as the director of brand marketing for Aqua Blue, Marlow’s Tavern and Sterling Spoon Culinary Management.

“These guys don’t believe in maintaining the status quo, so I’m thrilled to be in an environment that embraces new ideas,” says Hopkins. “Mediocrity isn’t on the menu, and that suits me perfectly.”

Kaffee’s advertising background made her a standout candidate for the job. She has served as vice president, group management supervisor at Grey Worldwide advertising agency. She comes most recently from Noffel Consulting, a firm she founded. Her experience with such brands as Willy’s Mexicana Grill and Applebee’s proves she knows how to help unique dining experiences stand out.

“To say I’m excited to have Kaffee on our team would be an understatement,” says John C. Metz, co-founder, CEO and Executive Chef of Marlow’s Tavern and Sterling Spoon Culinary Management. “She brings the kind of courage, customer insight and fresh thinking we live by to a whole new level.”

Hopkins spent the last few months immersing herself in the brand’s culture — from the corporate offices, into the kitchens and helping the guests — to inspire engagement that is true to the brands she now represents, including Aqua Blue, Market Street Café, Sterling Spoon, and Marlow’s Tavern.


New Fresh To Order App Now Available

Friday, September 26th, 2014

Fresh2OrderFresh To Order (f2o) now offers a new mobile app, where guests can pay for their meals and earn rewards through their cell phones. The Fresh To Order App is now available through the Apple App Store and Google Play for iOS (iPhone) and Android platforms. The Fresh To Order App will integrate with Apple Passbook (Apple’s mobile wallet) and Google Wallet beginning in October. Fresh To Order will accept NFC (Near Field Communication) payments through the app starting in 2015.

The app also offers a loyalty program and exclusive rewards. For a limited time, guests can get a $3 credit at sign-up and earn an additional $2 credit by referring a friend. Guests will also receive $10 credit on their next meal when they have $100 in purchases.

“Fresh To Order continues to innovate our menu, service model and now its digital platform by introducing a mobile app which helps us maintain leadership in the “fast-fine” niche,” said Pierre Panos, CEO of Fresh To Order. “Whether they’re looking for the closest location, want to preview our latest menu options or use their phones for payment, we’re providing our guests with a rich digital experience in the palm of their hand.”

With the new app, guests will be able to quickly browse the selection of cooked-to-order panini sandwiches, salads and chef-inspired entrees, including grilled salmon and brown sugar roasted pork loin.

Mobile apps continue to be a growing part of the restaurant experience. According to, 32 percent of Millennials look at restaurant menus online via a smart phone. With a spending power of $1.3 trillion, it becomes a business imperative that restaurants offer a variety of relevant ways for them to access their favorite restaurants.


Healthy Choices, No Sacrifices

Wednesday, September 24th, 2014

By Helen K. Kelley

From Restaurant INFORMER, 2014, Vol. 4, Issue 2

Heirloom Cafe

From left: Co-owners Jessica Rothacker and Travis Burch with Chef de Cuisine Sal Speights at Heirloom Café in Athens

With so many take-out foods and restaurant meals targeted as big contributors to the obesity crisis in America, more and more people are making conscious choices and eating healthier foods. Even fast food chains are jumping on the bandwagon to address the growing wellness trend by adding an array of healthy menu choices and posting calorie and nutritional content in response to consumer demand.

Old-fashioned Recipes Offer Healthy Returns

Here in Georgia, many locally owned restaurants are committed to providing healthy menu options. At Heirloom Café and Fresh Market in Athens, treasured family recipes form the centerpiece of a menu that just naturally provides healthy choices.

“We don’t necessarily call ourselves a healthy restaurant – we just are one,” says Jessica Rothacker, who opened Heirloom with the inspiration of what she calls “heritage” dishes – recipes that have been passed down through families, featuring strong Southern roots. “And healthy doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice taste.”

Rothacker – whose own mother’s recipe for meatloaf is on the menu in the form of a sandwich – says that part of the interviewing process at Heirloom Café involves asking the prospective new employee about his or her favorite family recipe.

Heirloom Cafe Salad

Heirloom Café’s Cucumber Salad with pickled mustard, salt-cured peaches and a grapefruit-ginger vinaigrette

“We want to know what dishes have become family classics. In that way, we also learn about the wonderful memories created around the table; we learn more about food and the way it comforts generations,” she explains. “And then our chef will recreate those dishes, putting his own spin on them, and we’ll feature them on the menu.”

That “spin” includes composing dishes that balance heritage comfort food with lighter food. For example, Heirloom’s meatloaf is prepared with grass-fed beef and is poached instead of roasted, which produces a leaner version than a traditional meatloaf. Appetizers feature local cheeses, fresh fruits and vegetables, and breads are multi- or whole-grain. Salads are made with ingredients like salt-cured peaches, fresh corn and cherry tomato jam.

Heirloom reworks classic dishes – such as gumbo and spaghetti with handmade pasta – into healthier versions by using seasonal, locally sourced ingredients. Fortunately, there is good availability for these, with two local farmers markets and many farms located within a 60-mile radius of Athens.

Rothacker feels that farm-to-table ingredients are the most important aspect of healthy eating and the reason for Heirloom’s mission of celebrating local growers and the community by crafting a “fresh take” on heritage dishes.

“Local ingredients are at the center of everything we’re doing,” she says. “Not only is the history of the dishes important, but also the ingredients and the people who are providing those ingredients – the way they take care of their vegetables and fruit and animals. It adds so much to the experience.”

In addition to healthy food, Heirloom Café promotes a healthy working environment for its employees, welcoming their input for the menu and encouraging them to interact with customers and each other.

“We make an effort to cultivate a positive work experience for our staff and make them feel like family,” Rothacker says. “And we encourage that conviviality to spill over between servers and guests. When you have happy employees, you have happy customers, too.”

Heirloom also offers a little healthy incentive for its guests.

“We have a wonderful, walkable neighborhood, so we give a discount to customers who walk to our restaurant,” Rothacker says. “You get a reward for getting here on your own feet!”



The Man Behind the Curtain

Wednesday, September 24th, 2014

By Erika Valko

From Restaurant INFORMER, 2014, Vol. 4, Issue 2

Bob and Justin

Bob Amick, right, with his son, Justin

2014 has been a big year for Bob Amick, a familiar name in the restaurant industry. His Atlanta-based restaurant operating group, Concentrics Restaurants, recently opened several concepts across the U.S., including the innovative bowling eatery, The Painted Pin, and Juniper & Ivy, a San Diego concept with Chef Richard Blais. Amick, the brain behind these concepts, often remains out of the spotlight, letting the restaurant and its talent shine instead.

No stranger to the restaurant industry, Amick launched his career at an early age and never left. In the past five years, Concentrics Restaurants has gained a national presence with concepts in Florida, Alabama, North Carolina, Chicago, St. Louis and more.

Restaurant INFORMER recently spoke to Amick about the process behind his development and management consulting services, his 2014 openings and what it’s like working with family in the restaurant industry.

RI: What inspired you to start a career in the restaurant industry?

I’ve been in the restaurant business since I was a kid, 12 years old. It got in my blood and never left.

RI: You have been labeled “The Man Behind the Curtain.” What does this title mean to you, and why do you prefer to stay out of the spotlight while letting the restaurant, chef, etc. take center stage?

I’m in the business of developing chef-driven, one-of-a-kind restaurants where the chef and management team is the most important piece. They give the restaurants life. You can have all the ideas in the world, but at the end of the day, I’m not the one who makes it happen every day – they are. They are the team and talent who interpret my idea and bring it to life.

We develop and design successful restaurants all over the U.S., and I take great satisfaction in creating something and watching it become successful. It’s not important whether it’s me or someone else who gets recognized. What’s most important is the experience of the restaurant and the folks who are providing that experience to our guests.

Painted Pin

The Painted Pin

RI: The Painted Pin recently opened in Atlanta. How is this upscale bowling and eatery venue unique in comparison to your other concepts?

My son asked me to get involved with him in his new venture. It was fun for me to bring my hospitality and service background to the entertainment and bowling business, all the while working with my son Justin. Our goal was to break away from the monotony of the typical bowling alley design and create an ambiance and energy while still focusing on the details – we have personalized lane-side ball and shoe delivery as well as an all-star food and beverage program. – we succeeded in offering these details and service and creating an ambiance that really set The Painted Pin apart from other bowling concepts.

RI: Could you tell us a bit about your other 2014 restaurant openings? What is making 2014 a good year for you and Concentrics Restaurants?

Already this year, we’ve opened Juniper & Ivy, our second concept with Richard Blais that was just named Best New Restaurant in San Diego, as well as my son’s boutique bowling concept, The Painted Pin in Buckhead, and IOS Greek Kitchen, a full service Greek-inspired concept in Charlotte, North Carolina.

We are also working on two concepts in Orlando, Florida, another in Columbus, Georgia, as well as a roof-top bar and restaurant in Louisville, Kentucky, and a neighborhood tavern in Decatur.

We’re also busy working in our own restaurants here in Atlanta. We’re working on rebranding our own PARISH in Inman Park with Chef Zeb Stevenson and are very excited about the changes to come. TWO urban licks is 10 years old, and we are going through a major refresh, including a new private dining option that seats 50 in the upstairs space of the restaurant. ONE. midtown kitchen just launched a brand new website; TWO, TAP and PARISH’s are in development.

The phone rings a lot. We are excited about the projects that we’ve completed and the ones we have in development. So far 2014 is busy all around, and we’re very thankful for that.

RI: What do you think is the most valuable step in your development and management consulting process?

The most important thing is to know your client – really know and understand what the market is, where they go, what’s popular, what’s not, etc. This is the framework before you can do anything else. From there you can move to formulating an idea, a concept, etc.

RI: TAP: a gastropub just opened in the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. Do you have any advice for people looking to expand their restaurants? What is different about setting up and running an airport location versus a typical restaurant site? 

TAP Airport is a licensing agreement, so we don’t actually run it from day to day. The reality is, given all the regulations, it’s a whole different world – incredibly thorough, very difficult and the numerous agencies involved make it a long process. Albeit long, the result is gratifying; it is the busiest airport in the world.

RI: Family affairs can be difficult in this business. Having worked with your son, Justin Amick, do you have any tips on how to successfully work with family members in the restaurant industry?

Regardless of how hard you try, family is family – with family comes ups and downs. It’s not just Justin; I work with my entire family on a daily basis. Sometimes the family side gets in the way, but we try very hard to keep business, business and family, family. You can never tell family to stop being family. It’s what is most important.

RI: What are some of the challenges you have encountered while launching a new restaurant, and how did you meet those challenges?

It all comes down to people and the process – you can never have too much talent, on any level. The biggest challenge, with any opening, is the process. It’s grueling and ever-changing. It’s finding the talent who can deal with the changes, stick with us through the process and ultimately execute your vision.

RI: What are some of the most memorable experiences you have had in your career?

The night Bono walked in, unannounced, and ordered a pint from the bar at ONE. midtown kitchen.

RI: What would you say are some of the biggest successes you’ve experienced?

My family and the fact that I still love what I’m doing.

RI: More and more restaurants are embracing healthy options and adopting sustainable and green/energy efficiency initiatives. How do you incorporate these trends into your concepts, and what other trends do you see developing in the future?

We committed to our environment and to the quality of the product we put on our plate. Our effort is to make both of those as compatible as possible – quality and a responsible product. We do what we can to make a difference.

RI: What do you have in store for the future?

The surprise is ahead…that’s the fun of this business.


Shake Shack to Open in Atlanta

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2014

Shake ShackDanny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group (USHG) has announced it will open its first-ever Atlanta Shake Shack on September 30th.

The newest addition to the Shake Shack family is located in Buckhead Atlanta – the new luxury retail, residential and office development.

Born in New York City’s Madison Square Park in 2004, Shake Shack is a modern day “roadside” burger stand known for its 100% all-natural Angus beef burgers, flat-top dogs, frozen custard, crinkle cut fries, craft beer and wine, and more.

The two-story Buckhead Shack features all the Shake Shack classics, plus a selection of frozen custard concretes. Vanilla and chocolate recipes use only real sugar and no corn syrup.

The Buckhead-specific concretes include Pecan Pie Oh My (vanilla frozen custard blended with a slice of pecan pie from H&F Bread Co.) and Campfire S’mores (chocolate frozen custard blended with marshmallow sauce, graham crackers and dark chocolate chunks from Cacao Atlanta Chocolate Co.). A longtime fan-favorite that originated at Shake Shack’s flagship location in NYC’s Madison Square Park will also be offered, The Concrete Jungle (vanilla frozen custard blended with chocolate truffle cookie dough, bananas and peanut butter sauce).

Shake Shack burgerA location-specific shake is on the menu as well. Made with frozen custard spun fresh daily at the Shack, the Peachtree is a caramel peach milkshake.

As part of its community outreach efforts and mission to Stand For Something Good®, the Buckhead Shack is partnering with Camp Twin Lakes (CTL), which provides year-round camp experiences for children with serious illnesses and life challenges. Five percent of sales from the Campfire S’mores concrete will benefit CTL, and Shake Shack team members will volunteer at events run by the charitable organization.

In keeping with Shake Shack’s commitment to green architecture and eco-friendly construction, the interior walls of the Buckhead Shack are clad in reclaimed industrial Southern Yellow Pine. Like all Shacks, this location features energy-efficient kitchen equipment and lighting. Chairs and booths are made from lumber certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, and tabletops are made from reclaimed bowling alley lanes handcrafted in Brooklyn, NY.


Edible Agriculture Tour Georgia – Kennesaw

Saturday, September 20th, 2014

September 20, 2014, Kennesaw State University, Kennesaw, Ga. For more information, visit EAT GA

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