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Game’s On: Fox Bros. BBQ

By Kenna Simmons

Things Jonathan Fox, one-half of Fox Bros. BBQ in Atlanta, wishes he’d known about opening up a concessionaire in the old Georgia Dome: They needed six people there all the time to staff six point-of- sale stations. They needed both a front and back of the house. Using existing staff was hard without running into overtime. “It turned out to be really just like opening a whole other restaurant,” he says.

But they learned and adapted, and after the old Dome was replaced by Mercedes-Benz Stadium, they decided to open up there, believing they knew what to expect. Another surprise: Because the stadium was under construction, that experience was like opening a brand new restaurant, complete with reviewing and making decisions based on drawings instead of actual space. They also increased from one location at the Dome to four at the new stadium.

Around Labor Day 2017, Fox remembers two weeks where “there were [Atlanta United] soccer games, pre-season NFL games, back-to- back college kickoffs. Then more soccer games and the [Falcons] home opener. … I look back in amazement to when we started cooking for our friends to [opening in the] stadium where there’s no telling how many people we served.”

It’s worth it, Fox says, because opening in a venue catering to tourists helps expand the restaurant’s reach. Despite the exposure Fox Bros. BBQ has gotten in local and national media (such as on the popular Food Network show Diners, Drive-ins and Dives), Fox says after 10 years they still find out that people don’t know who they are.

“To have the opportunity to have multiple locations at this hub of tourism so people can find out about you – that was an opportunity we couldn’t pass up.” The restaurant also has a stand at SunTrust Park, new home of the Braves that opened in 2017, and provides the ’cue for Terrapin Taproom, a restaurant located adjacent to the park in The Battery Atlanta.

Stadiums and parks are much more likely to include local, independent restaurant offerings now, says Linton Hopkins, the James Beard Award winner whose C. Ellet’s Steakhouse recently opened in The Battery. “They are recognizing people don’t want anonymity food, institutional food. They want something that defines where they are,” he says.

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