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Doty discusses Shaun's closing

ATL Food Chatter: October 26, 2010
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Shaun Doty surprised the Atlanta dining community last week with the news that he was closing his Inman Park restaurant, Shaun’s. We talked with him more this week about the decision and his pursuits.

Beyond the question of balance in your work and personal life, which you addressed in the press release as a big part of your decision, can you talk about some of the other issues that led to the decision to close Shaun’s? What role did the economic climate play?

SD: Two years ago, the economy got really bad. A year ago, [my partners and I] took a hard look at Shaun’s and said, “Let’s give it another year.” The economy hadn't gotten better—and we were still striving to be the same restaurant. But people’s dining habits have changed. For example, Shaun’s Sunday spaghetti night speaks to what many people want to eat right now. But it isn’t the kind of the cooking that is the heart of that restaurant. I didn’t want to lose sight of what Shaun’s was about. I was looking for that kind of themed night as an opportunity to sustain the business, but it wasn’t ultimately the solution.

It comes down to your best use of energy. Shaun’s was a great idea at the time when we opened four years ago. Unfortunately, it’s just not appropriate at this time and place.

And I honestly get a lot of satisfaction out of Yeah! Burger. I’m proud that we offer alternatives for people looking for healthier options to popular foods. I was involved in gluten free options long ago because of my involvement in the autism community. [Doty’s son is autistic.]

I’m not just turning a page here—it’s a whole new chapter. This is a positive chapter.
I’m looking forward to making time for my family. It’ll take some reprogramming; I’m programmed to work at night. I want to do some things I’ve never done. I’ve never watched Mad Men. I’ve never been to Chastain for a concert.

What is next for you?
SD: Based upon some serious market research, I believe there is a substantial, unmet need for fast-casual, modern, chef-driven concepts. Yeah! Burger is just the first of the type of concepts I’m considering. You have to eat but you don’t have to spend $30 on a meal. So I’m working hard to create fast-casual projects like Yeah! Burger that feature modern design, sustainable products and an approachable menu. It’s like a new girlfriend—exciting! The point is, I’ve still got game in me. I’ve got a lot of energy for new projects.

(Bill Addison contributed to this report)
 
NEWS AND NOTES:
On Nov. 7 the Atlanta Chapter of Les Dame d’Escoffier International hosts the tenth annual Afternoon in the Country at Serenbe in Palmetto. More than sixty chefs will offer tastings that can be paired with more than 30 fine wines and premium micro-brews on Serenbe’s grounds. For details, visit

Southern Living Magazine has just published their list of twenty favorite Atlanta restaurants. (Ru San’s? That’s an unexpected choice.) [UPDATE: It looks like this article has been temporarily pulled from the site. Over at Omnivore, responding to Cliff Bostock's wonder at the odd choices, the travel editor who wrote the piece said the article had been mislabeled online.—BA]

Nation’s Restaurant News
has just published the Top 2011 restaurant trend list. Pies are rated the number one trend item.

Buckhead. Tomorrow’s News Today is reporting that Brookhaven’s Verde Taqueria will soon assume control of the shuttered Fox & Hounds Pub & Grille on Collier Road.
 
Decatur. Creative Loafing got the scoop that the Fox Brothers crew is opening The Big Tex Cantina, featuring "Texican" fare like chicken fried steak and stacked enchiladas from a family recipe. Look for the opening in downtown Decatur, in the space most recently Nathalie's Fish House, in late winter or early spring 2011.

Midtown. Moe's Original Bar B Que, an Alabama-based chain, is opening its first Atlanta restaurant in Midtown at 349 14th St. in the building previously occupied by Kool Korners.

Sandy Springs. Tomorrow’s News Today is reporting that the Arena Tavern team is planning to open their second store at 6317 Roswell Road by late January.

Smyrna. Atlanta Cuisine.com posted that famed Sichuan chef Peter Chang is planning to open an upscale resto called Peter Chang’s in the former Olive’s Waterside spot at 6450 Power’s Ferry Road in early December.

Westside. Fava Mezze, a lunch-only spot featuring Middle Eastern cuisine, is slated to open in late October at 1099 Hemphill Avenue.

Question of the Week: What new Indian-themed supper club is holding two events in November?

PS. The answer to last week’s QOTW—What former Buckhead fine dining spot has reopened as a late night cocktail lounge?— is The Ivy, formerly Carbo’s Café.