Chef’s Kiss

Michelin embraces Atlanta dining while Hyundai whets appetites at its EV complex.

Eighteen Atlanta restaurants share the spotlight as the Michelin Guide comes to the city. Hyundai celebrates its progress a year into construction on its Metaplant America. Meanwhile, Georgia recommits to college, wins some accolades, and keeps pumping up the entertainment industry. 

Such works of art on the plate helped Atlas earn a Michelin star.

Forks in the Road  

The Michelin Guide arrived in Atlanta on Oct. 24, bestowing its coveted stars on five restaurants and highlighting others for sustainability and value. 

The anonymous inspectors awarded one star, indicating top-quality ingredients, distinct flavors, and high standards, to Atlas, Bacchanalia, Hayakawa, Lazy Betty, and Mujō. Bacchanalia also joined The Chastain in earning a green star for sustainable practices. 

Chef Freddy Money of Atlas.

Michelin named 10 restaurants Bib Gourmands, meaning they provide simpler fare at a good value: Antico Pizza Napoletana, Arepa Mia, Banshee, Bomb Biscuit Co., The Busy Bee, Estrellita, Fishmonger, Fred’s Meat & Bread, Heirloom Market BBQ, and Little Bear 

Also honored were Jarrett Stieber of Little Bear, Young Chef Award; Juan Fernando Cortés of The Chastain, Sommelier of the Year; Jason Furst and the bar team at BoccaLupo, Exceptional Cocktail Award; and Neal McCarthy of Miller Union, Service Award.  


Halfway Home 

Production is at least a year away at Hyundai Motor Group’s Metaplant America, but on Oct. 25 the company celebrated the first anniversary of breaking ground on the $7.6 billion project in Ellabell. 

Some 2,000 construction workers are at the Bryan County site, Hyundai says, and they have erected 27,045 tons of steel framing, 81 percent of the total needed to complete the structures. 

The complex will begin building electric vehicles and their batteries in early 2025 “if not sooner,” Metaplant America CEO Oscar Kwon says. The facility will be powered entirely by renewable sources, including 5.2 megawatts of electricity from solar panels above a parking lot. 

Hyundai has around 2,000 people building its Metaplant America in Bryan County.

The latest supplier to join the project is Daechang Seat. The South Korean company announced Oct. 23 it will spend $72.5 million on a Savannah plant, where more than 500 people will make seat frames. 

Georgia’s second-biggest EV project, the $5 billion Rivian truck plant in Social Circle, hasn’t broken ground despite being announced six months before the Hyundai plant. Rivian now says it plans to start construction early in 2024. It also opened a showroom in Atlanta’s Ponce City Market in October.  

Possibly supporting Georgia’s drive for e-mobility and green energy is a federal designation of Augusta, Richmond County, and parts of South Carolina as a regional tech hub for “advanced resilient energy” increasing the use of renewable energy in the electric grid. 

The designation, announced Oct. 23, is one of 31 tech hubs nationwide, five to 10 of which will receive up to $75 million to implement projects. 

Survey Ups and Downs 

Georgia has extended its record streak atop Area Development magazine’s annual rankings of the best states to do business to 10 consecutive years.  

The rankings are based on 14 factors companies consider in choosing locations. Georgia was first in seven, including workforce development, where the state has been No. 1 for 14 years. 

Site Selection magazine is due to announce its similar business climate rankings in November; Georgia was second to Virginia last year. 

But the surveys aren’t all rosy: Georgia finished 32nd in the Tax Foundation’s recently announced State Business Tax Climate Index. That’s down from No. 30 last year. Since 2014, Georgia has ranged from 28th to 34th. The state does well in corporate taxes but not in sales, unemployment, property, and individual income taxes. 

Assembly Studios celebrated its opening with a gala on Oct. 21.

Lights, Camera …  

One industry with a favorable tax climate is entertainment, although the tax credit that has helped Georgia become a world leader in film and TV production is drawing scrutiny. State economist Jeffrey Dorfman told a legislative study panel in June that the state should consider scaling back the credit; industry leaders argued against any changes at a hearing in early October. 

Developers keep building infrastructure, though. Just days after Gray Television held a black-tie gala for 2,500 guests to celebrate the opening of its Assembly Studios in Doraville, the Development Authority of Fulton County gave initial approval Oct. 24 to a $40 million, 10-year property tax break for Kane Studio, envisioned as a $1 billion soundstage complex in Chattahoochee Hills. 

The next coming attraction is Lionsgate Studio Atlanta in Douglasville, due to be ready by year’s end. 

Kennesaw State President Kathy Schwaig announces the public phase of the university’s fundraising campaign on Oct. 6.

Class Acts 

In October, a group of state agencies launched Georgia MATCH, a program that sends all of the state’s high school seniors personal letters listing the public two- and four-year colleges and universities that will accept them based strictly on their academic records through 11th grade. 

“This program will ensure that every high school student in our state knows that they have options to learn and succeed here in the No. 1 state for business,” Gov. Brian Kemp says. 

Students who qualify for Kennesaw State have an extra incentive to enroll: The university launched the public phase of its $200 million Campaign for Kennesaw State on Oct. 6. The fundraising drive for scholarships, research initiatives, and facilities began in 2019 with a $125 million goal but expanded after bringing in $120 million during its private phase. 

The University of Georgia, Georgia Tech, and Georgia College & State University are not part of Georgia MATCH because their holistic admissions processes go beyond numbers, but UGA students have a new work-training option. The Red & Black Publishing Co., which produces the independent student newspaper, on Oct. 19 celebrated the opening of its own creative agency, Extra, offering students work in marketing, advertising, and social media. 

Doug Widener is the new CEO of the Piedmont Park Conservancy.

Comings and Goings 

  • Walmart is building a $350 million milk-processing plant in Valdosta. Announced Oct. 11, the facility is expected to add nearly 400 employees to Walmart’s workforce of about 70,000 across Georgia when it opens in 2025.
  • Doug Widener, most recently the executive director of Chicago’s Lincoln Park Conservancy, has succeeded Mark Banta as the CEO of the nonprofit Piedmont Park Conservancy.
  • Atlanta Celebrates Photography became the Atlanta Center for Photography in October and opened its first programming space, the Project Lab, with an exhibition by photographer Kalee Appleton.