Chef Mel Toledo’s original restaurant Foundation Social Eatery is rising from the ashes one suburb over. The fine dining establishment closed in Roswell on December 31, 2020, after the lease ended. Toledo and wife Sandy, along with operating partner Nick Hassiotis, had a new location in Halcyon picked out, but decided against it due to the pandemic-induced economic instability. Two years later, the Foundation Social Eatery team has a new space—55 Roswell Street—in Alpharetta. It is slated to open the first week of December with an adjacent Parisian-style café called Petite FSE to follow in January 2023.
“This has not been the worst time in restaurant history to be closed with all the supply chain issues and staffing shortages,” Hassiotis says. “The restaurant already had a clientele in Roswell, so we felt staying nearby was good for business. We’re all about making people feel good about coming here.”
“We want it to have a feel like it did before but with our ‘big boy’ pants on. It’s a more refined, polished version,” Mel Toledo says.
The menu will reflect the same French-inspired style of cooking Foundation fans are used to with updated dishes. Staples like confit pork ribs and chicken Bolognese are balanced by new items such as lightly smoked salmon tartare with truffled egg salad, caviar, bronze fennel, and brioche, and roasted hen with celery root, crispy foie gras, brown butter, and bordelaise. The Foundation team is also upping their game with caviar service and tableside sauce pours.
“People want an experience,” Mel says.
Hassiotis is designing the cocktail menu with spins on classics, including clarified milk punch and egg sours. Beer will change seasonally, while wine options focus on French varieties and include rose, orange, and ambers. At Petite FSE, guests will be able to purchase bottles retail.
“I’ve always loved visiting bistro-style markets and have dreamed of opening one of my own,” Mel explains in a press release.
“We learned during the pandemic that there was a need for things that are easy to pick up and take home,” Sandy adds.
Petite FSE will offer counter service breakfast and lunch, as well as coffee and wine. Expect freshly baked bread, take-home pasta, and charcuterie boards designed to be enjoyed at home. Some items, like paninis and salads, will be made to order. Mel even hopes to offer a European-style snack of tinned fish, aioli, and baguette. The coffee program features Land of a Thousand Hills beans, highlighting espresso drinks like cappuccinos and lattes.
Designed by ai3, the new Foundation Social Eatery is comprised of four distinct areas, each with its own materials and personality. There’s Petite FSE, the main Foundation dining room, an open-air patio for lounging, and a covered patio for dining. A chef’s table looks into the kitchen, which is surrounded by floor-to-ceiling windows on two sides.
Although the original location was bright and airy, this one features some darker tones, but mint accents in Petite FSE blend the two looks. Overall, the spaces are about the same size and feature raw wood and poured concrete. Some decor elements are repurposed from the original space, providing a sense of home.
“We are really stoked to be opening up again,” Hassiotis says.