Each time we thought we had poked our head into every romantic wine-sipping nook inside Frank Ski‘s Restaurant & Lounge during our guided tour with the owner this week, the V-103 FM morning man had one more surprise in store. From the outside patio filled with comfy couches under an awning overlooking Peachtree Road to a quiet back lounge tucked away in the rear of the restaurant, Ski has created an ideal environment to chill with friends and enjoy some down home tastes from his Florida and Baltimore roots. Invited local media will get a peek at the space tonight during a private party. Frank Ski’s Restaurant & Lounge officially opens to the public Monday night for dinner (the photos at right are courtesy of Ben Rose Photography).
Ski’s sprawling new business venture at 2110 Peachtree Road (the gorgeous brick and hardwood floor accented space used to house the Bennett Street Mick’s location during the Clinton administration) is the result of years of research personally conducted by the popular radio personality. “A lot of what we implemented here was the result of the mistakes I saw other people making around this city,” Ski told Dish during an interview in the restaurant’s VIP wine room. “I love having a drink at a great bar. But a lot of Atlanta restaurant bars are not conducive as meet and greet places. They’re just designed as waiting areas. I wanted the bar here to be a special place.” The space’s decidedly chill vibe is further enhanced by an elaborate DJ booth displayed in the center of the space (“You know me, I love my music so it had to be a focal point of this place,” Ski said) and leather couches.
Unlike a lot of restaurants in the city where the kitchens close at 9:59 p.m. and the general manager is a vapor trail after 7 p.m., Ski said his business will cater to a late-night clientele with the kitchen firing up menu offerings until midnight and the general manager will be actively engaged, working the room. “I go out a lot in this city and what I’ve noticed is that the hustle for making the money has been lost,” Ski explained. “How can you succeed as a business when most of your money is made at night and your general manager is gone and your kitchen closes at 10? I want to bring some of that hustle back.”
Among the menu highlights: a whole fish deep-fried snapper (based on Ski’s South Florida childhood when he used to catch snappers on fishing trips with his dad and then his Puerto Rico native father John Rodriguez would throw the whole fish into a deep fryer for supper) and crabcakes, a favorite from his days doing radio at 92Q FM in Baltimore. The crabcake recipe is courtesy of Sandra Brent, Ski’s mother, who is now a Baltimore chef (“My mom just spent a week in our kitchen making sure the staff was executing the recipes right,” Ski told us laughing. “I got a call from her one day where she told me, ‘Baby, I had to get on them about the crabcakes. I couldn’t find the lump [crab meat] anywhere!'”). Ski snuck his favorite cedar plank-grilled salmon recipe back from a certain famous Florida family vacation destination for the menu as well. Sides include sauteed vegetables and a sweet potato mash.
Ski says forging ahead and opening a new business with your name on the door during one of the worst economic collapses since the Great Depression requires one thing: “This takes a hell of a lot of faith,” he said. “But I truly feel this is the time when the next generation of great businesses are being created. My wife and I were able to go out and secure one of President Barack Obama‘s Small Business Administration loans two days before the deadline. Over the years, I’ve been a pied piper for a lot of businesses in Atlanta. I’ve made a lot of businesses a lot of money. One day you wake up and ask yourself: ‘When am I going to create something for myself?’ A block up the street, Atlanta mayor Kasim Reed has a billboard that reads: ‘Hire One.’ He was in here recently and I took him outside to look at his billboard. I told him, ‘That’s your billboard. ‘Hire One’ But we hired 50.’ I talked to Obama’s people in the White House last week and told them the same thing. You’ve just got to believe in yourself, your dream, hire the right people and have some faith.”