Though previously confirmed as an incoming Dekalb Avenue Inman Park tenant, Mel and Sandy Toledo’s Foundation Social Eatery will open in Roswell behind Aqua Blue this December. Mel says the husband-and-wife team had signed a lease for the Inman Park space, but the landlord lost funding for the project. When that happened, they decided to look closer to their Marietta home for a location for their “rustic new American” restaurant.
Now scheduled to open the first week in December at 1570 Holcomb Bridge Road, Foundation Social Eatery will serve dinner, and eventually lunch, Tuesday through Sunday.
“The Foundation name draws upon the fact that when I decided I wanted to be a chef, I did all the right things to get a strong foundation for my career,” says Mel, who went to culinary school in San Francisco, completed an externship at Daniel in New York City, worked at Bacchanalia, and then trained at Michelin-starred restaurants in France. “Most of my career, I’ve been doing fine dining. I’ve gotten over the fussiness of it. I want to give people an environment that is social.”
In order to stimulate a return to “the art of conversation,” Mel says Foundation won’t have any TVs. He’ll focus on creating “well-executed meals in a casual environment.”
Foundation will serve house-made potato gnocchi and pastas, three types of bread (country loaf, sourdough and focaccia), house-made sausages, and meats roasted and finished in a wood-fired oven. There will be boutique wines, local and craft beers, and some cocktails.
“My background is French and I have a huge affinity for regional Italian—not the tomato sauce-heavy dishes people think of, but dishes that showcase the simplicity of ingredients,” Mel says. “I pride myself on being a craftsman and practicing simple elegance—giving respect to the protein and keeping it honest.”
The exact menu is yet to be created but will definitely include gnocchi with braised chanterelles or seasonal mushrooms, house-made bacon, and a poached egg.
The restaurant will be divided into four sections, Sandy explains. The main dining room has opaque, moveable screens separating it from the rest of the space. There’s a fifteen-seat bar and a twenty-seat banquette area. Booths and high-tops sit near the kitchen, allowing diners to look through a window to see the chefs in action. The patio features cinder block planters and a lot of cement, to highlight the literal meaning of foundation (as in a building’s foundation). There’s also a private dining area that balances daintier curtains with hard structural pieces—such as nails, iron, and wood—used as design elements.
Architectural and design firm ai3 took its inspiration from Mel, who has a tattoo of an orchid—the flower Sandy carried in her wedding bouquet—on his arm. From that image, they created a graphic motif used for wood cutouts on walls, suspended pieces hanging from the ceiling, and more.
“There are no tablecloths whatsoever. The music will be a little loud. I want a good buzz going on,” Mel says.
He adds that the restroom floor tiles feature messages intended to spark conversation upon return to your party, but he won’t reveal what those messages say yet.