• 12 Nov 2012 5:39 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    The winners of the 2012 Georgia Restaurant Association Crystal of Excellence (GRACE) Awards were announced Sunday, November 11th at the Loews Atlanta Hotel. The GRACE Awards is the Georgia Restaurant Association’s (GRA) annual black-tie gala event honoring Georgia’s Restaurant Industry. Jenn Hobby Rivera, of Q100 the Bert Show, emceed the event and the Joe Gransden Trio provided live musical entertainment. The GRACE awards are peer-nominated and winners are selected by the GRACE Academy. GRACE winners are presented with crystal works of art created by renowned local artist Hans-Godo Frabel. Also, a portion of the proceeds from this event goes to the Atlanta Community Food Bank.

    6th Annual GRACE Awards Winners:

    Chairman's Award Honoree
    Janice Reece, The Atlanta Community Food Bank
    In her role as Marketing and Communications Director for the Atlanta Community Food Bank, Janice Reece oversees branding, marketing, communications and special projects. Janice joined the organization over 22 years ago when she became the first Marketing Director for Atlanta’s Table, the Food Bank’s prepared and perishable food rescue project. Prior to joining the Food Bank, Janice worked for 20 years in the hospitality industry where her leadership, marketing and team-building skills were sharpened. She spent the majority of those years in senior management with the thriving Peasant Restaurants.
    Through her strong relationships with members of the hospitality industry, Janice was responsible for the upstart of two of the Food Bank’s longest running fundraisers – Supper Club which recruits leading restaurants to
    host a monthly dining event, and Simple Abundance which recruits two to three top chefs each month to teach cooking classes. Under her leadership, the Food Bank’s events team raised more than $2 million annually.

    Lifetime Achievement Award Winner
    Herman J. Russell, Concessions International and Paschal's Restaurant

    From his purchase of a small parcel of land at age 16 in 1946 to an entrepreneurial legacy starting in construction; Herman J. Russell is a business entrepreneur, civic leader and philanthropist.
    Today, H. J. Russell & Company is a diversified organization including Concessions International, LLC with food and beverage units in seven major airports and a partnership in the Paschal’s restaurant on Northside Drive in Atlanta, Georgia, which is a cornerstone in his Castelberry Hill development project intended to revitalize the southwest edge of downtown Atlanta.

    Industry Partner of the Year
    Perry McGuire, Smith, Gambrell & Russell, LLP

    Smith, Gambrell & Russell, LLP was founded in Atlanta, GA in 1893. Perry McGuire, Counsel for Smith, Gambrell & Russell, is part of the founding board of the Georgia Restaurant Association.
    Perry’s first job was bussing tables at a seafood restaurant in Albany, GA and ever since he has felt a passion for the hospitality industry. Perry serves on the GRA Board of Directors, is Co-Chair of the Legislative & Governmental Affairs Committee. He was integral in shaping the Inaugural Golf Invitational fundraiser for the GRA-PAC.

    Distinguished Service Award
    Guy Thomson, Pitty Pat’s Porch, Proof of the Pudding

    With an extensive background in food service operations, marketing, and administration, Guy Thomson brings a unique level of expertise to his organizations. Thomson has served on the Georgia Restaurant Association Board of Directors where he headed up the government affairs committee. This year, he was a great supporter of the Inaugural Golf Invitational benefiting the GRA Political Action Committee (GRA-PAC). He has also served as the Chairman of the Southeastern Chapter of the National Association of Exposition Managers (NAEM) and is a member of the Advisory Board and past Chairman for the Board of the Atlanta Community Food Bank's “Atlanta’s Table.” Currently, Thomson also serves on the board of the Atlanta Convention and Visitors’ Bureau and the board for the Georgia State School of Hospitality.

    The Innovator Award
    Linton Hopkins, H&F Bread Co., H&F Bottle Shop

    Chef Linton Hopkins opened his first restaurant, Restaurant Eugene, on Peachtree Road in 2004, to critical and media acclaim. Chef Hopkins then opened Holeman & Finch Public House and H&F Bread Co., followed by H&F Bottle Shop. H&F Bread Co. creates wholesome breads and artisanal pastries to sell at local farmers markets and wholesale. H&F Bottle Shop is a service-focused retail experience with bottles of wine, spirits, and house-made mixers and garnishes that you may find in Linton’s restaurants. Chef Hopkins recently received the James Beard Award for Best Chef in the Southeast. He also served on the Chef’s Table panel at the GRA Annual Meeting.

    Restaurateur of the Year Award
    Jay Swift, 4th & Swift

    Jay Swift has been in the industry since the age of 14. Jay continued his passion for the restaurant industry throughout high school and college, and then enrolled in the American Culinary Federation Apprenticeship Program and graduated first in his class. Upon graduation, Jay worked in his native town of Baltimore, then moved to Boston, New York, and finally made his way down to Atlanta. Jay made the transition from being a chef, to then being a chef and entrepreneur when he opened his restaurant 4th & Swift in the eclectic Old Fourth Ward area. Jay is well known in the Atlanta culinary community for not only his restaurant, but his involvement in Share Our Strength and serving as chef co-chair for the Flavors of Atlanta, a culinary event that benefits the Georgia Chapter of the American Liver Foundation. Swift was also honored with two invitations to cook at the James Beard House in New York City. Swift recently celebrated his 4th year of 4th & Swift.

  • 12 Nov 2012 4:23 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    Georgia State University’s J. Mack Robinson College of Business will introduce a Fast-Track Master's in Global Hospitality Management in fall 2013. The one-year program, which will be the only master’s-level hospitality program offered in Georgia, was created by Robinson’s Cecil B. Day School of Hospitality Administration.

    “We developed the master’s in response to demand,” said School of Hospitality director Debby Cannon. “Months of dialogue with industry leaders and executives helped us realize the need for a program with a global emphasis.”

    Intended for established hospitality professionals as well as for those seeking to enter the discipline, the Fast-Track Master's in Global Hospitality Management will develop a cadre of upper-level managers to meet the needs of the sector as it continues to grow worldwide.

    The 10-course curriculum will be taught at GSU’s Buckhead Center on Monday and Wednesday evenings. Candidates must hold a four-year undergraduate degree from an accredited college or university. Professional experience is preferred but not required.

    In addition to their degree, graduates of the program will receive a Certificate of Specialization in Sustainable Hospitality Management.

    For more information about the Fast-Track Master's in Global Hospitality Management please visit
  • 09 Nov 2012 10:34 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    In June 2012, the US Supreme Court upheld the major coverage provisions of the Affordable Care Act (the ACA) as constitutional, prompting companies to pay closer attention and spurring action within their organizations to prepare for the employer requirements under the law. Looming deadlines are driving companies to step up their compliance efforts now to mitigate the potential for unforeseen tax liabilities under the ACA. Read more on the key parts of the health care law.

  • 09 Nov 2012 10:23 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    The Post 9/11 GI Bill provides educational benefits for service members who have served on active duty for 90 or more days since Sept. 10, 2001. In conjunction with this bill, the College of Continuing and Professional Education’s Culinary Apprenticeship Certificate program can provide former service members the training needed to pursue a career in the culinary industry.

    This year the Culinary Apprenticeship Certificate program has four Post 9/11 veterans enrolled in the course. Over the course of this 9-month program these students: Robert Lewis, Bartholomew Talley, Brandon Wilson, and Jessica Simon-Jones will participate in 405 hours of classroom instructions. They will also be working alongside accomplished professional chefs in top kitchens serving 420 apprenticeship hours, gaining invaluable experience on their way to learning the skills they need to succeed in the hospitality field.

    Kennesaw salutes, not only the veterans enrolled in their programs, but all who have bravely served our country.

    For more information on the Culinary Apprenticeship Certificate and Post 911 benefits, please contact Pam Moss. Ms. Moss can be reached via phone at 770-423-6963 or email at
  • 07 Nov 2012 10:31 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    The MenuMasters Awards recognizes visionary and creative foodservice professionals in Research & Development, Culinary and Menu Development. Awards are given to those who enhance the value of foodservice to consumers with exciting, industry-building innovations and breakthrough ideas.

    Nation's Restaurant News is now accepting nominations for the MenuMasters 2013 Awards. Foodservice R&D teams, companies and individuals can win a MenuMasters Award for outstanding achievement and innovations in menu development. Submit nominations directly to or submit at

    MenuMasters categories include: New Menu Item, Healthful Innovations, Menu/Line Extension, Limited-Time Offer, Menu Revamp, Trendsetter, Innovator, and MenuMasters Hall of Fame.

    Visit now to see more information and to submit your nomination for the 2013 MenuMasters Awards. Please submit nominations by December 31, 2012.

    For more information please contact or 813.789.3866.

    MenuMasters 2013
    Saturday, May 18
    The Drake Hotel, Chicago, IL
  • 30 Oct 2012 3:04 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    The Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau's (ACVB) Restaurant Committee needs your help! As they gear up to celebrate ACVB's 100 th anniversary in 2013, they wanted to make you aware of a contest that will kick off a Year of Hospitality. They will be compiling a list of Atlanta's 100 Signature Dishes.

    If you would like to submit a dish (appetizer, side dish, entrée, dessert), click on this link:

    The list will be published January 1, 2013 and will be promoted throughout the year on and through ACVB's social media networks. Please join them in celebrating 100 Years of Hospitality!
  • 29 Oct 2012 5:40 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Who Should View: Restaurants owners, managers and operators. 

    Why: To learn how restaurants will be affected by the electric vehicle industry and consumer expectation to charge their cars while they visit various establishments.

    View the Presentation


    Every major auto manufacturer is introducing an electric vehicle to the market. These will have a need to “plug n” and there is an effort underway to create a robust electric vehicle charge infrastructure in Georgia. Consumer surveys show that consumers expect to find chargers at restaurants. 

    Atlanta has been added to a national effort to deploy charging infrastructure, called The EV Project. See the FAQ.

    ECOtality, the Department of Energy are offering a chance to be a part of a national and historic undertaking in the electric vehicle conversation. Utilizing both government grants and private funding, the EV Project is offering FREE electric vehicle chargers, installation funding and establishing, within the Greater Atlanta Area, a comprehensive electric vehicle charging infrastructure.


    The EV Project offers:

    ·          Level 2 Electric Vehicle Chargers (Free equipment and Operating Costs) that collect and report data through December 2013

    ·          Program pays $1,000 toward the installation costs of each Level 2 Charging Station

    ·          Installation estimates are conducted free of charge

    ·          A minimum of 2 stations are required to participate in the program.  Four are preferred.

    ·          DC Fast Chargers are available for select locations ($14,000 toward installation costs)

    View the EV Project Host Package.

  • 25 Oct 2012 3:23 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    By Robert Wagner, CPA

    Quarter 3 2012 showed a continued decrease in sales velocity at Atlanta’s independent restaurants. Sales at Atlanta restaurants increased in quarter 3 2012 just 3.7% over sales for Q3 2011. Through three quarters of 2012 Atlanta restaurants have experienced declining quarterly comparable (“comp”) sales. Beginning in Q1 2012 comp sales were 6.8%; then in Q2 comp sales were 5.0% and now in Q3 comp sales are 3.7%. Year-to-date through September 30 2012 Atlanta restaurant sales increased 4.9% over sales for 2011.

    Quarter 3 2012 vs. 2011
    A majority of Atlanta restaurants posted same-store sales increases in the third quarter, 2012 when compared to the same period in 2011. Of the 78 restaurants surveyed, 71% reported positive sales gains in Q3 2012. That contrasts to 29% of restaurants reporting Q3 negative sales trends. Twenty percent of restaurants surveyed reported double-digit sales gains in Q3 2012.

    Robert Wagner, NetFinancials president states that, “While we should not lose sight of the fact that restaurant sales were positive in Q3 2012, the sales trend is worrisome. Throughout 2012, the trend has been lower overall positive sales comps and fewer restaurants doing well. In Q1 2012 81% of the restaurants we surveyed showed positive sales for the quarter. That dropped to 71% of restaurants reporting positive comps in Q3. Similarly in Q1 2012 37% of surveyed restaurants reported double digit sales gains. That dropped to just 20% of restaurants reporting double digit sales gains in Q3. By each metric we follow sales gains at established Atlanta restaurants have declined during 2012.”
    “Restaurant operators tell us that the primary reason sales velocity is down is a small drop in the number of diners. At many such Atlanta restaurants their sales trend is positive because they were forced to take modest price increases during the year. In summary, in Q3 2012 for numerous Atlanta restaurants the number of guests is down but the average amount each guest spends – the average check – is up.”

    The Sample: The 78 independently-operated, non-franchise restaurants were drawn from the metro Atlanta market. Total Q3 2012 sales volume was $43,221,903. Our sample included restaurants in Atlanta’s fast-casual, casual and fine-dining segments opened at least 21 months.

    Robert Wagner, CPA is president of NetFinancials, Inc. which provides a full range of tax and accounting services for restaurant companies. Email: Direct: 404-874-7002
    This NetFinancials restaurant sales survey is provided free of charge as a service to the restaurant industry.

  • 25 Oct 2012 3:18 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    Atlanta Journal Constitution
    By Bob Townsend

    In the pilot episode of the new Food Network reality show, “Health Inspectors,” Atlanta chef Ben Vaughn is tasked with cleaning up a dirty situation at Big Momma’s Chicken & Waffles in New Orleans.

    Roaches, grease and grime, and chicken parts bobbing in a sink full of murky water are among the gross-out kitchen conditions. But as the show’s star, and the restaurant’s savior, Vaughn coaches and cajoles the owner and his crew into putting things right. And by episode’s end, Big Momma’s passes its health inspection.

    Vaughn recently wrapped filming for the first season of “Health Inspectors,” which premieres Oct. 26. But he’s been busy working as the executive chef at both Max Lagers and the new White Oak Kitchen & Cocktails in downtown Atlanta.

    Since moving from Memphis to Atlanta last December, with his wife Audrey and their four children, Vaughn said he and his family have really grown to love the city. We caught up with him at White Oak last week, where Vaughn talked about “Health Inspectors” while munching on a chopped salad and sipping a sparkling water.

    Q: How has it been moving to Atlanta, opening White Oak, and having a Food Network show, all in the same year?
    A: Great. I’m really excited to roll this show out based in Atlanta. It’s been an ideal situation from the beginning. Last night there were 300 people in the dining room and I must have taken pictures with 40 people who’d already seen the pilot and the promos. I can’t wait to see how it goes from here.

    Q: How real is this kind of reality show?
    A: The show is legitimate. It’s not faked for TV. These are real failing businesses, typically with real cash problems. It’s tough love. There’s no ranting and raving. The Food Network programming isn’t about making people look stupid.

    Q: Generally, do you think health inspectors do a good job?
    A: These days, people want to know what the health score is. And now we’re going to give them the tools to know what it means. Honestly, I’m not on the side of the health inspectors or the restaurateurs. I just think it’s a part of doing business.

    Q: Were you ever really grossed out during filming?
    A: I was grossed out sometimes. Smells and things you suddenly see can turn you at any point. When you’re not prepared for it, things like roaches behind a refrigerator can be pretty off-putting. But the gross stuff isn’t shown for gross-out sake. It’s part of identifying the problem and fixing it.

    Q: Have you ever had a bad inspection or come close to being shut down at a restaurant where you were the chef?
    A: No. I can proudly say I have a really good move where I can chicken-wing a guy and put him in a headlock all in one swoop. So if the guys in the kitchen let me down, especially now, having a show called “Health Inspector,” I’ll just use that move. Our score at White Oak is 99 right now, by the way.

    Q: Can you just walk into a restaurant and tell if the kitchen is clean?
    A: When we go out to eat, my wife and I go to the bathroom to wash our hands, and if the bathroom is filthy, chances are the kitchen will be, too. Dirty menus are another tell. And staff uniforms. If the staff doesn’t care if they look disheveled and horrible, chances are they’re not following through on the temperature of your chicken.

    Q: The premiere episode, “Rats in the Cellar,” takes place at Salud, a high-end Mexican restaurant in Chicago, where one of the owner’s friends gets food poisoning. How bad was it?
    A: Salud. Crazy. That’s all I can say [laughs]. Honestly, it’s a total tune-in moment. If you miss Salud, you’re missing out on life. You’ve just got to see it to believe it.
  • 23 Oct 2012 9:31 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    The National Restaurant Association (NRA) encourages restaurant operators nationwide to apply or nominate a fellow industry professional for its 2013 Faces of Diversity Award. The Faces of Diversity Award is sponsored by PepsiCo Foodservice and celebrates the diversity of the restaurant industry by honoring individuals who have achieved the American Dream.

    Application/nomination forms are accepted online at until January 7, 2013.

    “As one of the most diverse industries in America, the restaurant industry is full of success stories of people of all cultures and backgrounds who have achieved the American Dream,” said Dawn Sweeney, National Restaurant Association President and CEO. “Our Faces of Diversity Award celebrates the unique stories that make up our industry, and highlights that diversity strengthens the fabric of the restaurant community.”

    The Faces of Diversity Award recognizes the diversity of the restaurant industry and the role it plays in helping individuals achieve professional and personal success. Three individuals, who through hard work and determination have realized their dreams, are selected each year as the national winners. Winners will be recognized on the NRA’s website, and a $2,500 ProStart student scholarship will be presented in their name.

    For more information on the Faces of Diversity Award and to see the stories of last year’s winners, visit


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