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Archive for March, 2015

Central Atlanta Progress Atlanta Meeting

Tuesday, March 31st, 2015

March 31, 2015, Sidney Marcus Auditorium – Georgia World Congress Center. For more information, visit Georgia Restaurant Association 


2015 ACF Golf Invitational

Monday, March 30th, 2015

March 30, 2015, Legacy on Lake Lanier Club, Buford, Ga. For more information, visit Atlanta Culinary Federation


2015 Arby’s Foundation Spring Invitational

Monday, March 30th, 2015

March 30, 2015, TPC Sugarloaf, Duluth. For more information, visit Georgia Restaurant Association 


IACP 37th Annual Conference

Friday, March 27th, 2015

March 27-30, 2015, Washington D.C. For more information, visit International Association of Culinary Professionals.


High Museum Atlanta Wine Auction

Wednesday, March 25th, 2015

March 25-28, 2015, High Museum of Art, Atlanta. For more information, visit High Museum Wine Auction.


Mastering the Launch: Ford Fry Finds Inspiration in People, Places and Partnerships

Tuesday, March 17th, 2015

By Helen K. Kelley

From Restaurant INFORMER, Vol. 3, Issue 7 

Ford Fry

Ford Fry

Chef Ford Fry is always looking for the next challenge. Having successfully established five new concepts – JCT. Kitchen & Bar, No. 246, The Optimist & Oyster Bar, King + Duke and St. Cecilia – in just a few short years, Fry is obviously never short on ingenuity and the next good idea. And actually, he makes it look kind of easy. But what does it really take to get a restaurant not only up and running, but operating in the black?

Location, Passion and Partnerships

Fry says the first thing he takes into consideration when launching a new restaurant is location.

“I ask myself if the space has a story to tell and if the restaurant would meet a need within the community where it is located,” he says, adding that having distinct locations also helps keep different concepts from overlapping. “We have two restaurants on the west side of Atlanta, two in Buckhead and one in Decatur. Even though they’re all fairly accessible to each other, each is located in a very distinct neighborhood with its own unique inspiration and passion, so I don’t think they ever ‘cannibalize’ each other.”

Once the location is established, everything else begins to fall into place, Fry says.

“If it’s a good location, the next things to consider are what we [our team] are passionate about as well as what the neighborhood needs right now,” he says. “Once we determine those elements, then we look at all of the super-talented chefs we have working with us and figure out which one best fits into the mold for the new place. Having the right chef who’s passionate about it makes it so easy to get the restaurant open.”

Partnering with chefs and other team members is one of the most fun and rewarding aspects of a new venture, according to Fry, who says that all of his chefs get together for regular brainstorming sessions to share ideas and talk about what’s successful in their restaurants. And sometimes, their inspiration comes from visiting cities in other parts of the country.

St. Cecilia

The main dining room of St. Cecilia, which opened in January 2014 in Atlanta

“A group of us – that includes me, the chef, maybe our COO, maybe the pastry chef – will take what we call an ‘inspiration trip’ to see what’s going on in another region. For example, we’ll go to Seattle or Portland, eat in different restaurants and observe other people who are passionate about their concepts,” he explains. “The trip gives us an opportunity to throw ideas around and brainstorm on the road. We’re inspired by what other people are doing and start asking questions like, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool if we did this?’”

Fry, his corporate chef Kevin Maxey, and the chef selected for the new concept work together to create a menu and ambience that set it apart from others. But the chef is given the freedom to help define the restaurant’s identity through his own passion and creativity.

“And once the concept reaches that defining point, I want that chef to be the face of that restaurant. It’s their time to shine,” says Fry.

Commonalities and Differences

All of Fry’s restaurants have a few things in common: they’re as formal as guests want them to be; they’re chef owned and operated; they’re committed to their communities; and they serve exceptional food made with local ingredients in casual environments where a great deal of attention is paid to detail. However, each restaurant has its own unique identity, and that’s a big key to success, Fry says.

“For example, in Buckhead, we have King + Duke, which is a very ‘wood-driven’ restaurant … everything from wood grilled meats to fish coming out of the hearth. The decor is very warm with accents like dark leathers,” he explains. “Then, we have St. Cecilia just down the street, where the environment is very light, bright and more female-friendly. It’s very different from King + Duke, with its own personality.”

Fry adds that price points are another way to structure a restaurant’s identity.

“For example, JCT. is very different from The Optimist in pricing,” he says. “They’re both on the west side of town, though, so price point is a way to differentiate between the two.”

No. 246 pasta

No. 246 makes handmade pasta for menu items such as the squid ink spaghetti with Georgia white shrimp, basil, garlic, pequin chilies and breadcrumbs

Staffing and Deadlines

One of the most commonly cited challenges in getting a new concept running smoothly is staffing. Fry says it’s probably the most consistent and important one he has faced with opening each of his restaurants.

“Certainly, we consider the caliber and experience of each person we hire,” he says. “But I’m also looking for someone with a great attitude, even if they need training. The training can take a little extra work, but sometimes that’s a good challenge to have.”

Over time, Fry and his team have developed a philosophy of nurturing and empowering employees that has, in turn, provided a formula for the successful launch of a new concept.

“I really appreciate people and want to be able to mentor and motivate them and provide them with a good career path. And I’ve been fortunate to surround myself with a great core team,” he says. “So, we’ve positioned ourselves to set up and open these restaurants with all the right people and systems in place. Because of that, launching a new concept really hasn’t been too difficult. We haven’t experienced a problem with moving too fast or doing too much.”

Ford adds that meeting deadlines is another ever-present when opening a new restaurant.

“Almost everything takes a little longer than originally anticipated. Lease negotiation can take up to four months, and design almost always takes a month longer than you think,” he says. “So usually when I run into a problem with deadlines, it’s because I didn’t plan for enough leeway from the get-go.”

King & Duke

King + Duke’s concept revolves around “hearth cooking,” and the kitchen uses a 72-inch open-fire hearth with adjustable stainless steel grills operated by pulleys

Onward and Upward

Always excited to take on something new, Fry’s goal is to continue creating restaurants that are relevant, timeless and inspired by the people they serve and the neighborhoods and spaces in which they are located. His upcoming plans include opening Superica in Inman Park’s Krog Street Market, a sister concept to The Optimist in Inman Park, and a new concept in Alpharetta’s Avalon development in 2014.

While most people in the same position might worry about overextending themselves or not succeeding with a new concept, Fry says he has confidence in his team and the strategies they have developed together.

“I suppose if our formulas weren’t working so well, it would add a lot of work and worry to the equation,” he says. “But for the most part, all of our restaurants perform and hold their own because our chefs and staff are passionate and excited about what they do. So it’s all ended up being really fun.”

About Ford Fry

Ford Fry’s culinary inspirations cover many years and much of the country: from eating out with his family as a child in Texas, to studying at the New England Culinary Institute in Vermont, to spending time as a fine dining chef in Florida, Colorado and California – and eventually as a corporate chef in Atlanta. Although the corporate chef position didn’t stick, Fry’s love for Atlanta did – and it has proved a recipe for success so far. Fry and his restaurants have been included in numerous national and local publications, such as Bon Appétit, Condé Nast Traveler, Chicago Tribune, Cooking Light, Every Day with Rachael Ray, Esquire, Food & Wine, Garden & Gun, Sky, Southern Living and The Washington Post.

Along with his roles at JCT. Kitchen & Bar, King + Duke, No. 246, The Optimist and St. Cecilia, Fry is also the founder of one of Atlanta’s most popular food events, The JCT. Kitchen & Bar Attack of the Killer Tomato Festival. This annual event features some of the South’s best chefs and mixologists, who are paired with local farmers to create innovative tomato dishes. The Attack of the Killer Tomato Festival is also an excellent opportunity for chefs and attendees alike to meet producers and develop longstanding relationships in order to further support the local food movement. Proceeds from the event benefit Georgia Organics, an organization that is very important to Fry.

Fry also serves as a founding chef of the annual Atlanta Food & Wine Festival, a luxury event that celebrates the deep food and beverage traditions of the South.


Sorry, We’re Closed: Why Trademark Protection is Important in the Restaurant Industry

Tuesday, March 17th, 2015

By Chase E. Scott

From Restaurant INFORMER, Vol. 4, Issue 5

trademark sign and padlockFirst and foremost, let’s discuss the nuts and bolts of trademark law: a trademark is any word, phrase, symbol, design, or other recognizable expression that an individual or entity uses as an indicator of the source of goods or services. Essentially, if you would like for a word, phrase, or design to uniquely identify your restaurant or culinary product, then you intend to use that word, phrase, or design as a trademark. The standard used to determine if one party is infringing on another party’s trademark is whether the two marks are confusingly similar to consumers. Courts apply a number of factors to determine whether a likelihood of consumer confusion exists, including but not limited to: the degree of similarity between the marks in sight, sound, and meaning, the sophistication of the customer base, and the relatedness of the goods or services provided. Instances of actual consumer confusion, where a customer confuses your restaurant for an unaffiliated restaurant, are a factor in determining likelihood of confusion, but courts do not always find that a likelihood of consumer confusion exists even when there are instances of actual confusion.

The federal trademark application process consists of two key phases: trademark clearance and the filing of the application. During the trademark clearance phase, a trademark attorney will perform an initial “knock-out” scan to determine if there are any identical or confusingly similar marks currently used by a third party in connection with related goods or services. The attorney may also recommend a more in-depth search to be performed by a third party searching company. If the attorney determines that the mark is available for the proposed use following the clearance phase, he or she will complete and file a federal trademark application and will monitor the status of the application through registration, responding to any issues (called “Office Actions”) cited by the United States Patent & Trademark Office along the way.

Often overlooked when opening a new restaurant, trademark issues can have a significant impact on an establishment’s bottom line and can potentially be the downfall of an otherwise profitable restaurant. How so? To illustrate potential pitfalls, I present two hypothetical scenarios in the context of a fictional local restaurant:

Restaurant Alpha

Chef/owner John Doe opened Restaurant Alpha in Atlanta on May 1, 2009. In the interest of avoiding attorney’s fees, John opted not to investigate whether anyone else was already using “Restaurant Alpha” before he settled on the name. John has operated Restaurant Alpha peacefully for several years. The quality of the food, friendliness of the staff, and beautiful décor of Restaurant Alpha has established the restaurant as a mainstay in the community. John invested a significant amount of money into marketing and building his brand, and Restaurant Alpha is well-known throughout the greater Atlanta metropolitan area.

Scenario #1 – What you don’t know can still hurt you:

On the eve of the restaurant’s anniversary in late April 2014, John receives a cease and desist letter from Peter, the chef and owner of an unaffiliated restaurant named Restaurant Alpha in Seattle, WA. John learns from the letter that Peter owns a federal trademark registration for “Restaurant Alpha” for use in connection with restaurant services that was filed on December 1, 2008. John’s mistake in choosing the identical name for his restaurant was inadvertent. He had never heard of a Restaurant Alpha in Seattle or Chef Peter, nor did he believe that he was infringing another party’s trademark. Nevertheless, a trademark attorney informs John that he is indeed infringing on Peter’s registered trademark. With little to no likelihood of a successful defense in the event of litigation, from a practical standpoint John is faced with two options: 1) change the name of his restaurant, destroy all menus, signage, and advertisements in his possession bearing the name Restaurant Alpha, and reach out to any third parties currently running advertisements or promotions featuring the mark requiring them to pull the ads from the marketplace; or, 2) take a license from Peter (if offered) to use the name in a limited capacity in a limited territory and pay Peter a license fee to use the name, while being subject to additional onerous terms.

Scenario #2 – Local participation may vary:

One of John’s friends from Colorado tips him off that another restaurateur, Bill, has opened a restaurant named Restaurant Alpha in Denver and it is quickly becoming a popular spot amongst the locals. Somewhat concerned, John hires a trademark attorney to investigate the restaurant and its use of “Restaurant Alpha.” The trademark attorney discovers that Bill began using the name Restaurant Alpha in connection with his restaurant on October 1st, 2014, and that Bill filed a federal trademark application for “Restaurant Alpha” for use in connection with restaurant services on November 1st, 2014. John’s attorney informs him that, without evidence that Bill knew of John’s restaurant and that he had adopted the mark “Restaurant Alpha” in bad faith in an attempt to benefit from Bill’s hard work and marketing dollars, it would be very difficult to stop Bill from using the name in Denver. Up to this point, John has been a “common law” user of the trademark “Restaurant Alpha,” meaning that his exclusive right to use the mark extends only to the geographic area in which the mark is being used. In this case, John’s common law rights would likely extend only to Atlanta and the surrounding counties. Further, if John elects not to spend the money to challenge Bill’s trademark application, Bill could become the owner of a federal registration for “Restaurant Alpha” even though John used the mark first on a common law basis. Bill’s registration would not prevent John from continuing to use the mark in Atlanta, but John could not expand outside of the Atlanta market. Bill, however, would be free to franchise or expand across the U.S., provided he does not use the mark in Atlanta.

Strong trademarks are the building blocks of successful businesses. They are the core of your brand – the name of your restaurant, the design on the front door, and the name of a signature dish or cocktail. The hypotheticals above are just a few examples of scenarios in which a few thousand dollars spent on the front end on trademark clearance and trademark application filing fees could prevent incurred costs of tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees to defend a trademark dispute in the future.


Chef Stuart Tracy Takes the Reigns at The Brasserie & Neighborhood Café at Parish

Monday, March 16th, 2015

Chef Stuart TracyChef Stuart Tracy, the founding chef of Charleston’s Butcher & Bee, has been announced the new executive chef of both The Brasserie & The Neighborhood Café at Parish.

Tracy has received praise from outlets like New York MagazineGQFood & Wine, and The Huffington Post. He has also earned “Best Late Night Menu” and “Best Sandwich” nods, along with a 2013 Rising Star Chef Award.

“I am very excited to move back to Atlanta after so long in Charleston, and couldn’t be more thrilled for the opportunity provided for me. I have admired Parish for quite some time. The ownership has been exceedingly accommodating, and I can’t wait to contribute to the restaurant group, and to our neighborhood,” explains Tracy.

We are thrilled to have the founding chef/partner of one of Charleston’s iconic restaurants at Parish. The market and restaurant combination is right up Chef Tracy’s alley and we are all very excited to see him put his stamp on Parish,” says Bob Amick, owner and founder of Concentrics Restaurants.



Unsukay Community of Businesses Founders Honored for Their Work With The Giving Kitchen

Monday, March 16th, 2015

Unsukay Community of Businesses Founders The National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRAEF) has announced Unsukay Community of Businesses founders, Ryan Turner, Chris Hall and Todd Mussman, as Cornerstone Humanitarians among its 2015 Restaurant Neighbor  award winners. The winners will be honored at a gala on April 14, 2015, during the National Restaurant Association’s Public Affairs Conference in Washington, D.C.

The Foundation’s Restaurant Neighbor Award celebrates the outstanding charitable service performed by restaurant operators. Now in its 17th year, the award recognizes the impact restaurants and entrepreneurs have made on their local communities. Recipients of the 2015 Restaurant Neighbor Award receive a $5,000 contribution to continue supporting their charitable initiatives.

Cornerstone Humanitarians: Ryan Turner, Chris Hall & Todd Mussman, Founders, Unsukay Community of Businesses (Atlanta, Ga.): In response to an employee who was diagnosed with stage 4 gallbladder cancer and given a grave prognosis that warranted major funding beyond his health insurance coverage to pursue progressive healthcare options, the founders led the charge on hosting a community fundraiser and raised nearly $300,000 within a four week period to help offset his expenses. The outpouring of support from the Atlanta restaurant community sparked the idea for the Unsukay partners to help found and create The Giving Kitchen, a non-profit whose funds provide crisis grants to members of Atlanta’s restaurant community. In just over a year, $300,000 dollars has already been granted to over 150 recipients. The Giving Kitchen also just started construction of the forprofit restaurant it owns, called Staplehouse. One hundred percent of all dividends from Staplehouse will flow directly to The Giving Kitchen.


Tal Postelnik Baum Hires Chef David Berry to Helm Kitchen at Bellina Alimentari

Monday, March 16th, 2015

Chef David BerryRestaurateur Tal Postelnik Baum has hired chef David Berry, formerly of Horseradish Grill, to helm the kitchen at Bellina Alimentari. Opening this summer in the Central Food Hall at Ponce City Market, the Italian-inspired eatery will also feature a gourmet market, wine bar and culinary club.

“We are so pleased to be working with David,” says Baum. “He has really impressed me with his food, and he shares my passion for Bellina Alimentari’s concept. We have talked a lot about the authenticity that will be at the core of his menu, with seasonal ingredients from local farms at the forefront.”

As executive chef, Berry will be responsible for all culinary operations, including menu development, hiring kitchen staff and hosting cooking classes for the restaurant’s members-only culinary club. Berry is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in New York and has more than 12 years of experience managing the kitchens of fine dining restaurants.

“I began cooking as soon as I could see over the stove,” jokes Berry. “I started out making pancakes for myself and barbecuing with my dad, but once I entered middle school and my mom went back to work as a nurse, I helped out with family dinners,” he recalls.

Despite his interest in cooking at such a young age, Berry’s career path began to lead in a different direction during college. After studying engineering at the University of Tennessee, Berry returned to his hometown of Greenville, South Carolina, to work in restaurants and caught the culinary bug for good.

Prior to joining the team at Bellina Alimentari, Berry was the executive chef at Horseradish Grill, where he oversaw all food operations and menu development for the Atlanta institution overlooking Chastain Park. He also served as the executive chef of McKendrick’s Steak House in Dunwoody for two years.

“I really love Italian food, but what attracts me to this project the most is Tal’s passion for fresh, genuine cooking and her desire to work with local farmers. That connection with farmers is near and dear to me,” says Berry.

Berry’s menu will also feature a ragù and a traditional meatball that Baum fell in love with when tasting his food. “I’m a Southern boy who grew up barbecuing, so I love pork, and we’re going to be doing a fantastic porchetta,” Berry reveals.

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