News Profiles Events Beverage Technology Management Directory

Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Southern Proper Hospitality Appoints New Leadership

Monday, January 29th, 2018

Southern Proper Hospitality (SPH) CEO Tory Bartlett announced four new chef appointments to the Atlanta restaurant group’s culinary team. New corporate chef hire Benjamin Meyer and Beni’s Cubano executive chef Cesar Velazquez are now overseeing culinary operations for the company while Gary Finzer and Q. Matisse’ Myers have been promoted to executive chefs at Gypsy Kitchen and The Southern Gentleman respectively.

Benjamin Meyer. Photo by Brandon Amato.

Benjamin Meyer serves as the overall corporate chef for Southern Proper Hospitality. Meyer comes to SPH from Barcelona Wine Bar, having worked as the restaurant’s executive chef at large in Boston and Washington, D.C., before opening Atlanta’s West Midtown location. Prior to his time with Barcelona, Meyer ran Iridescence Restaurant atop the MotorCity Casino Hotel in Detroit and served as corporate chef at Michigan-based The Dali Group. He has also worked at such high-volume facilities as Michael Mina’s restaurants at MGM Grand Detroit and Paragon at Foxwood Resorts Casino in Connecticut.

As a corporate chef for SPH, Cesar Velazquez oversees Tin Lizzy’s Cantina and Beni’s Cubano as well as the forthcoming Street Taco scheduled to open at the Marietta Square Market this summer. Prior to this role, Velazquez paired robust, home-style Cuban cuisine with fast and friendly service as executive chef at Beni’s Cubano. He also previously managed culinary research and development for all of SPH’s restaurant concepts, developing recipes for both new and existing brands, working with vendors to procure products, overseeing new menu item rollouts and developing training programs.

Gary Finzer. Photo by Brandon Amato.

Velazquez earned his degree in culinary arts from the Art Institute of Atlanta in addition to a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Worcester State University in Massachusetts. Prior to joining the team at SPH, he was chef-partner at Chiringo Restaurant in Grayton Beach, Florida. He previously served as the executive chef at Peachtree Golf Club in Atlanta for nearly 11 years. His culinary career began as a chef-partner at Quattro Pizza Bar, also in Atlanta.

At Gypsy Kitchen, Gary Finzer is working to create just the right balance of European ambiance, uncommon spices and delicious, innovative dishes. Before joining the SPH team in 2014, Finzer worked at Bacchanalia and Star Provisions, eventually overseeing ordering for all five of James Beard Award-winning chefs Anne Quatrano and Clifford Harrison’s restaurants.

Q. Matisse’ Myers. Photo by Brandon Amato.

A graduate of New York’s prestigious French Culinary Institute, the Michigan native began honing his skills in New York working under such respected chefs as Guastavino’s Daniel Orr, Craft’s Tom Colicchio and Marco Canora, and Picholine’s Terrance Brennan and Craig Hopson. “Each helped me understand the importance of using fresh ingredients and preparing them properly,” says Finzer.

Bringing Southern charm by way of Brooklyn, Q. Matisse’ Myers joined SPH in 2014. His rise through the company’s ranks has been well-regarded: in 2015, Zagat Atlanta selected him as one of eight secret weapons behind Atlanta’s top restaurants.

Myers is a graduate of Johnson & Wales University and served as sous chef for True Food Kitchen in Atlanta and gained fine cuisine and kosher cooking experience in multiple high-end hotels in New York City.


South City Kitchen Avalon Now Open

Monday, January 29th, 2018

Fifth Group Restaurants’ newest addition, South City Kitchen Avalon, has officially opened for breakfast and dinner. Located at 9000 Avalon Boulevard at The Hotel at Avalon, the restaurant serves as the fourth outpost of the southern concept, marking 25 years since the birth of Fifth Group and the South City Kitchen brand in 1993.

Occupying 6,000 square feet at The Hotel at Avalon, South City Kitchen Avalon serves breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. Weekend brunch service will introduced soon.

While South City Kitchen Avalon’s rooted brand identity and separate street entrance lend it an autonomous feel, the restaurant remains connected to The Hotel at Avalon through complementary design work by The Johnson Studio at Cooper Carry – like the expansive bar spilling into the hotel lobby.

Executive chef David Gross leads the kitchen, executing a blend of South City Kitchen staples and seasonal dishes developed exclusively for the Avalon location. As the first South City Kitchen location to host daily breakfast services, Gross incorporates the facets of a traditional southern breakfast with lighter menu options. Chef Gross’ inspiration lies in light, contemporary Southern cuisine focused on grains, vegetables, seasonality and local farmers.

Breakfast dishes include a stacked chicken biscuit with gouda, pecan-smoked bacon and apple butter; smoothies like a green smoothie with spinach, pineapple and apple cider; avocado toast with H&F whole grain bread, hass avocado, poached eggs and smoked bacon; and more. For dinner specialties exclusive to the Avalon location, guests can look for salmon tartare with a bourbon-based “Kentuckyaki” sauce, pickled okra, Old Bay crema and house chips; pan-seared tuna with eggplant-peanut hummus, braised cabbage, herb pistou and black pepper yogurt; and duck cassoulet with spice-rubbed duck leg, andouille sausage, Sea Island red peas and green tomato chow-chow.

The Hotel at Avalon, a 330-key Autograph Collection hotel, opened to the public Tuesday, January 16, in tandem with the Alpharetta Conference Center.


Brendan Keenan Named Executive Chef of il Giallo Osteria & Bar

Monday, January 29th, 2018

The owners of il Giallo Osteria & Bar, Chef Jamie Adams and Leonardo Moura, named chef Brendan Keenan as the new Executive Chef of their authentic Italian restaurant.

Executive Chef Brendan Keegan

Chef Keenan comes to il Giallo after serving as Executive Chef of Marietta Seed, Stem and Drift restaurants. Prior to that, Keenan worked at several of Atlanta’s restaurants, including Woodfire Grill, The Sound Table and Bluepointe. A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, his formative years were spent in San Franscisco working alongside James Beard Award winning chefs Michael Mina at Aqua and Julian Serrano at Masa’s

Having worked with Chef Jamie Adams at several Buckhead Life Restaurants as well as at Adam’s previous restaurant Eno, the chefs recently reconnected and realized that they have a similar passion for crafting an innovative approach to old world Italian dishes. In the coming months Chef Keenan will be applying his inspired culinary skills to put a distinctive spin on the menu at il Giallo.


Babalu Tapas & Tacos Hires Abe Ruiz as COO

Monday, January 29th, 2018

Abe Ruiz is the new COO of Babalu Tapas & Tacos.

Babalu Tapas & Tacos announced the addition of Abe Ruiz to the Spanish-meets-Southern-style tapas restaurant’s team of executives. As chief operating officer, Ruiz oversees the organization’s daily operations and drives the restaurant’s growth across the Southeast and Midwest, which includes three new locations planned for 2018.

“Abe has been instrumental in creating exceptional dining experiences for national restaurant concepts across all segments,” said Bill Latham, CEO of Eat Here Brands. “He’s demonstrated exemplary leadership skills and an attention to detail that we are very proud to have at our corporate office in Atlanta.”

Prior to his arrival at Babalu, Ruiz spent two years as COO of Famous Dave’s of America, where he was responsible for the company’s brand strategy and operations. He led the building of the company’s international franchising platform and key initiatives that reinvigorated business performance including opening new restaurants in the UAE. Previously, he was the COO for Colon Gerena Restaurant Group, the parent franchisee for Famous Dave’s of America, Applebee’s, Longhorn Steakhouse, Olive Garden, Sizzler and Wendy’s in Puerto Rico. Ruiz’s career also includes a role as vice president of marketing and operations for IL Mulino NYC, a fine dining concept that has been rated as the top Italian dining destination in New York City for 27 years.


The Painted Duck Opens with Games and Food

Monday, January 29th, 2018

Justin Amick and William Stallworth, founders and principals of Painted Hospitality, an Atlanta-based company that creates and operates entertainment driven concepts, announced the opening of The Painted Duck. The Painted Duck is a drinkery, duckpin bowling and gaming parlour located in the new Stockyards Atlanta development on the Westside at 976 Brady Avenue. The Painted Duck follows The Painted Pin, an upscale boutique bar, bowling and entertainment venue in Buckhead that opened in June 2014.

The Painted Duck will play host to unique competitive group gaming options, and food and beverages from a seasoned hospitality team. The gaming area of the business will have 16 full service duckpin bowling lanes, 2 Belgian feather bowling lanes, 2 indoor horseshoe pits, knuckleball, toad in the hole, 2 indoor deck shuffleboard courts, 22 ft. table shuffleboard, a basketball 3 point and free throw shoot out, air hockey, snookball (a hybrid sport that blends pool with soccer) and other games.

Chef Thomas Collins is serving up cuisine he is dubbing “backyard barfare”. The menu offers shareable small plates, dips, sliders, sandwiches, salads, and skewered wood fired meats and proteins called “quills” prepared on a custom grill. Items such as the House Cracker Jack, Westside Beef Jerky, Duck Phat Fries and Duck Nuggets will provide plenty of small bite options. For those with larger appetites, there are salads and sandwiches such as the Smoked Beef Brisket Sandwich with pickled red onions, chili mayo, and cilantro on a brioche bun, the Shaved Vegetable Salad with yellow beets, kohlrabi, carrots, radish, apples, bitter greens, blue cheese and apple cider vinegar, and the Sausage & Peppers made with Pine Street Market spicy Italian sausage, sauteed onions peppers served on hoagie roll. The aforementioned “quills” include Hawaiian Pork & Pineapple, Spicy Chicken Thighs, Thai Ahi Tuna, Sesame Shrimp, Seasonal Garlic and Herb Vegetables, Peruvian Filet Mignon and King Crab Scampi. The menu’s piece de resistance is the Whole Roasted Peking Duck that must be ordered one hour in advance and is served family style with peppered bacon, lettuce, tomato, grilled onions and King’s Hawaiian Rolls.

Bartender Trip Sandifer’s beverage program focuses on signature and classic cocktails, artisanal wines by the glass and local and craft beer. Sandifer offers 26 classic cocktails ranging from obscure to more modern classics. His signature cocktails include the Frosted Duck L’Orange which was inspired by an Atlanta classic, The Varsity’s Frosted Orange, the Kentucky Nitro, which is served on tap and offers bourbon, coffee, vanilla, nutmeg syrup, bitters, pineapple juice and is charged with nitro, and Glam Pop, which is also served on tap and is described by Sandifer as a “bittersweet Italian soda.”A wine list boasting benchmark producers is curated by owner and Advanced Sommelier Justin Amick.


Fifth Group Restaurants Announces Alma Cocina Buckhead

Monday, January 29th, 2018

Fifth Group Restaurants announced plans for a second Alma Cocina concept at the Terminus development in Buckhead, to be located at what was previously the Bricktop’s space. Slated to open mid-2019, the restaurant and bar will bring Alma Cocina’s authentic Mexican cuisine and lively atmosphere to the burgeoning mixed-use destination, occupying 7,000 square feet at the corner of Peachtree and Piedmont.

Continuing the concept’s approach to contemporary Mexican and Latin American cuisine, Alma Cocina Buckhead will feature local ingredients and Latin American flavors.

“Buckhead has been a major area of growth for Fifth Group in the past several years – we opened South City Kitchen Buckhead in 2016 and Ecco Buckhead is slated to open later this year,” said Fifth Group partner Robby Kukler. “In our 25th year as a restaurant group, we’re excited to share our plans for an expanded presence further on Peachtree Street as we bring Alma Cocina’s energy and flair to the Buckhead neighborhood.”

The announcement of Alma Cocina Buckhead marks a new chapter in the relationship between Fifth Group Restaurants and Terminus building ownership, Cousins Properties.

“We’ve had the pleasure of working with Fifth Group Restaurants to open the original Alma Cocina concept at 191 Peachtree, as well as South City Kitchen Buckhead on Peachtree Road,” said Larry Gellerstedt, chairman and chief executive officer of Cousins Properties. “Fifth Group is a proven operator with an exemplary twenty five-year track record of delivering some of the most successful restaurants in the city, and we’re thrilled to work with their team on this project.”

The Alma Cocina Buckhead announcement comes at the onset of Fifth Group Restaurants’ 25-year anniversary, marking an exciting 2018 including the openings of South City Kitchen Avalon in Alpharetta, Ga. and Ecco Buckhead in the Phipps Plaza area.


Chef Ron Eyester Returns to Food 101

Wednesday, December 20th, 2017

Food 101 Chef Ron Eyester, photo by Henry Hollis

November marks the 18th anniversary of Food 101 and the return of Ron Eyester, Food 101’s executive chef from 2001 to 2008 and “Top Chef” Boston chef contestant. Eyester is managing both the kitchen and the dining room. Eyester is refreshing the lunch, dinner and brunch menus, overseeing a departure from heavier, Southern-slanted cuisine and finding inspiration in the essence of Food 101’s early days.

Eyester’s culinary career first began in Charleston, but he developed his skills as both a chef and restaurant owner in Atlanta, where he went on to open four of his own restaurants after purchasing Food 101’s Morningside space from 101 Concepts in 2008. Eventually, Eyester’s larger-than-life personality would make him a Twitter phenomenon and secure him a spot on season 12 of Bravo’s “Top Chef.” In the next phase of his career, Eyester launched I Dig Food, a consulting brand in which he partners with other local restaurateurs to curate food-inspired events. One such event was “Smoke A Peach” with 101 Concepts’ Smoke Ring, and he and the 101 team look forward to developing more of those events in the future.

“I couldn’t be more excited about this homecoming,” says Eyester. “Sandy Springs has become such a bustling area, and we’re just minutes away from Buckhead and other booming neighborhoods. It’s a great time to strengthen Food 101’s momentum with new menus that are more reflective of our original vision. This is a restaurant that has stood the test of time by consistently offering top-quality ingredients and satisfying dishes while still keeping things new and exciting for guests.”

Eyester looks to his New York background and the restaurants where he grew up eating to bring a “new age diner” feel to Food 101’s latest offerings, expanding the current focus on Southern fare in favor of a more comprehensive American menu. His menu changes emphasize the craft of comfort food, highlighting the traditions involved and the patience required to create these dishes. Eyester, who has always been heavily involved in the Eat Local movement, is also adding lighter dishes to the mix, giving guests more options than just the heavier items often associated with comfort food. Food 101 has a renewed focus on providing the ultimate brunch experience, which is one of Eyester’s specialties.

“It’s been an honor to be a part of the Sandy Springs community for the past 18 years, and we are looking forward to getting back to our roots,” says 101 Concepts co-owner Steve Buero. “Ron really found his niche in neighborhood dining and shares our commitment to serving the community, so having him back on our team is helping us revisit Food 101’s original concept and what made the restaurant a local landmark in the first place.”

New lunch and dinner menu selections include the following starters and entrées:

Braised Lamb Shank, photo by Henry Hollis

• Honey and lemon glazed smoked chicken wings with fresh herbs and slightly pickled carrots ($10)
• “Green goddess” glazed Brussels sprouts with scallions and toasted almonds ($9.50)
• Connie’s chopped salad with romaine hearts, white beans, radish, tomatoes, shaved fennel, fried capers and buttermilk cucumber and dill dressing ($10)
• Ahi tuna “au poivre” with garlic spinach, horseradish celeriac puree and soy-balsamic reduction ($28)
• Braised lamb shank with butternut squash puree, slightly pickled mushrooms and natural jus ($28)
• “Shake & bake” pork cutlets with cranberry-cheddar mac’ and cheese, green beans and applesauce ($24)
• Lavender & lemon poached salmon with grilled romaine, local apple and caper relish and dill aioli ($24)
• Red Hare Root Beer BBQ St. Louis-style ribs with chopped Southern slaw and house-made steak fries ($26)

Weekend brunch, another well-known strength of Eyester’s, now features items such as the following:

Skillet Pancake, photo by Henri Hollis

• Fried cheese grits with smoked pineapple aioli ($7)
• “Skinny brunch” with sliced organic tomatoes, grilled asparagus, leeks, fresh herbs and soft poached eggs ($13)
• Skillet pancake with sorghum-sea salt butter, Vermont maple syrup and 10x sugar ($10)
• “Pastrami” cured salmon Benedict with baby arugula, soft poached eggs and hollandaise ($15)


Michael Manley Appointed as Executive Chef at Lure

Wednesday, December 20th, 2017

Fifth Group Restaurants announced the appointment of Michael Manley to the executive chef position at Lure. A member of the Fifth Group Restaurants culinary team since 2014, Manley previously served as a sous chef at Lure.

“Seafood has always been a passion of mine, so I couldn’t be more thrilled for the opportunity to dive in further at Lure,” said Manley. “The Lure team has become family during my years as a sous chef, so I’m very excited to further my career here as we continue creating delectable dishes made with fresh, sustainably sourced ingredients.”

Inspired by his mother, grandmother and Saturday morning public broadcasting favorites – the likes of Julia Child, Jacques Pépin and more – Manley began his official culinary career prepping plates in his high school cafeteria before moving to Nashville to receive a bachelor’s degree from Lipscomb University. After returning to his home city to graduate from Le Cordon Bleu, Manley served as an intern, lead line cook and eventually executive sous chef at Decatur’s Cakes & Ale before joining the Fifth Group Restaurants team.

At Lure, Manley will helm the kitchen, drive menu development and work in conjunction with the rest of the team to flesh out the restaurant’s signature special menu weeks, focusing on the merits and diverse flavors each type of seafood has to offer.

Fifth Group restaurants include: South City Kitchen, La Tavola Trattoria, Ecco, The Original El Taco, Alma Cocina and Lure, as well as full-service events company Bold Catering & Design.


Thomas Hill Joins Drift Fish House and Oyster Bar as Executive Chef

Wednesday, December 20th, 2017

Drift Fish House & Oyster Bar Executive Chef Thomas Hill. Photo by Heidi Geldhauser

Drift Fish House & Oyster Bar has a new executive chef on board: Thomas Hill. Hill has reunited with Drift owner and restaurateur Doug Turbush, with whom he originally worked at Atlanta’s Bluepointe in 2008, to bring seasonal seafood dishes with progressive flavor combinations to East Cobb diners. 

“It’s such a pleasure to be working with Tom again,” says Turbush. “Our guests will really appreciate his passion for seasonality and his ability to bring out the natural beauty of the ingredients he uses.”

“Spending nearly five years on the West Coast shaped how I look at food and the way I think it should be treated,” says Hill, whose culinary career took him to Oregon and Alaska. “I want to introduce our guests to ingredients they don’t normally have access to and show them how a focus on seasonality and ingredient-driven dishes can completely change the dining experience.”

New additions to the Drift menu so far include fall and winter flavors such as roasted pumpkin ravioli with shrimp; New Bedford sea scallops with brown butter cauliflower puree, prosciutto and maple sage vinaigrette; and roasted beet salad with pistachios, pomegranate, fennel and goat cheese.

Prior to Drift, Hill served in the kitchens of Turbush’s other restaurants – Seed Kitchen & Bar and Stem Wine Bar – after moving to Atlanta from Portland, Oregon, where he had been working at Le Pigeon under Gabriel Rucker. Hill credits Rucker for shaping both his culinary style and the way he views his role as executive chef. “Watching Gabe made me realize that I want to be the kind of chef who still works on the line and is part of the entire process of running a restaurant and not just the finished product,” he says.

Hill is a Georgia native who got a taste of the restaurant industry during high school, bussing tables and washing dishes until he worked his way up to line cook. Upon graduating from Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Atlanta, he went on to work as lead poissonnier at Rathbun’s before moving to Homer, Alaska, to serve as lodge chef at Within the Wild Adventure Co. In both of these positions, Hill worked primarily with fish, honing his technique and continuously developing new recipes and menus. In 2011, he moved to Portland, Oregon, to work for Little Bird Bistro and Le Pigeon, where creativity was encouraged and no dishes were off limits. From these career experiences, Hill developed a penchant for making fine dining more accessible by injecting familiar home-style dishes with pristine ingredients and exciting flavor profiles to pull diners out of their comfort zones.


Henri’s Bakery and Café Opens Third Location

Wednesday, December 20th, 2017

The third location of Henri’s Bakery & Café, an Atlanta institution known for gourmet baked goods and signature deli sandwiches in Buckhead and Sandy Springs, opened on the westside on December 5. The new Westside shop offers the same quick-service breakfast and lunch and vast selection of freshly baked cookies, pastries, breads, cakes and other desserts, but in a modern 5,000-square-foot kitchen and retail space that houses much of the company’s bakery operations.

The opening of Henri’s Westside location coincides with the return of the bakery’s original recipe doughnuts.

Switch to mobile version
Subscription Resources Advertising About Us Past Issues Contact F T L