ATL Food Chatter: July 27, 2009
(Editor’s Note: Look for Food Chatter to now post every Monday. Better yet, you can sign up for our weekly dining newsletter to have the column sent directly to your inbox.)
When Jay Swift, chef-owner of 4th & Swift in the Old Fourth Ward, shared his thoughts with me about the restaurant’s first year, he said he was pleased at not only the response of his local customers—which has enabled him to survive the recession to date—but he also felt good about being part of the dynamic growth in his neighborhood. In its first six months of operation, 4th & Swift’s American regional comfort food menu attracted both local and national acclaim, including being named one of the top 10 new restaurants in the country by Gayot.com. However, the last six months have seen a significant reduction in the level of business travel and expense account diners due to the economy, according to Swift (and echoed by many in the restaurant community).
Some critical adjustments—price decreases, early-bird specials, re-jiggered staff schedules—had to be made address economic realities, but Swift feels that with the continuing support of Atlanta’s dining community, he will survive until the economy recovers. In fact he believes that the number one lesson learned during his first year was “how to survive the trough.”
In that time, Swift has also demonstrated an impressive commitment to the redevelopment of the restaurant’s intown community. He’s a member of the Historic Fourth Ward Park Conservancy, a not-for-profit whose mission is to create a ten-acre multi-purpose park to serve the entire neighborhood. But he keeps an eye on business possibilities, too: He told me he is almost ready to start thinking about some new concepts that he and his son, Jeb, who is his sous-chef, might develop in the neighborhood.
NEWS and NOTES:
Buckhead. Cami Cakes, a bakery out of Jacksonville, Florida that features cupcake flavors such as red velvet with cream cheese frosting and sweet potato with cinnamon frosting, has opened at 2221 Peachtree Road.
Repeat Atlanta is reporting that the Buckhead Life Group’s next restaurant, Chez Niko, will now be called Bistro Niko, and is aiming for an October opening.
Decatur. The Decatur Minute blog broke the news that The Iberian Pig, a restaurant run by the Castellucci Family of the local Sugo restaurants, will open in the former Sage site at 121 Sycamore Street by late summer.
Druid Hills. Method Coffee Shop in Emory Village has closed. The space will become the second location for westside’s Octane Coffee Bar and Lounge this fall.
Midtown. The Schumacher Group has Mitra listed for sale.
Vinings. Soho has hired Bob Matthews, formerly of Nikolai’s Roof, to oversee their wine program.
Question of the Week: What Buckhead Italian restaurant is changing their menu to a broader-themeed Mediterranean cuisine at the end of the month?
P.S. The answer to last week’s QOTW—What popular ATL concept is rumored to be opening a store in Birmingham, Alabama this fall?—is Flip. (Jimmy posted the correct answer last week.)