MetroFresh owner/chef Mitchell Anderson concedes that he’s become an 11 Alive Wizometer Weather junkie in recent months. After a successful five years with his original healthy, hand-crafted casual dining MetroFresh concept at Midtown Promenade on Monroe Drive, Anderson debuts a sibling shop, MetroFresh in the Garden at the Atlanta Botanical Garden this month.
Guests have a habit of raining down on popular Midtown tourist destination when the weather forecast calls for sun and warmth so Anderson keeps an hourly eye on the skies and the weather app on his phone. With a gorgeous weekend ahead with temperatures reaching 80, the business owner is anticipating a repeat of last weekend’s onslaught of soup, salad and sandwich seekers.
“We sold out of every single drink and practically every mouthful of food in the shop!” Anderson told us Thursday during a tour of his new location. “We probably served 600 guests. The garden’s guest services rep was helping us bus the tables! It was hysterical if one has a sense of humor about such things. Thankfully, I have an amazing staff at both locations and we were able to re-group on Sunday and prepare for this weekend’s nice weather too.”
Anderson says, depending on the forecast, his MetroFresh in the Garden bread order can rise from 8 to 40 loaves on any given day. In addition to MetroFresh’s usual array of sandwiches and sides, the new location offers up a kid-friendly, interactive GORP! (Good Old Raisin & Peanut) snack bar featuring granola, golden raisins, walnuts, dried mango and pineapple and chocolate chips for instant on-the-go garden trail mix.
“It’s a variation of what my Aunt Ginny, an old family friend, used to make for us before we went hiking as kids,” Anderson explains. “I remembered how much fun that experience was and I wanted to bring that same sense of fun to our families visiting here.”
Another first for MetroFresh in the Garden is a sturdy farm table set in the center of the eatery, perfect for families or groups of famished garden visitors. Adhering to the garden’s ongoing green mission, all of MetroFresh’s disposable containers and utensils (save for the soup container lids) are compost-ready. The plates, for example, are made out of recycled, pressed fallen leaves.
“We wanted to elevate the dining experience while being in sync with the garden’s green mission and pairing that with our farm-to-table fresh food that is healthy for you.” Anderson says. “And I’m on the lookout for compostable soup lids too!”
While he was courted to expand his MetroFresh brand into Buckhead office buildings and metro strip malls, Anderson says he’s now glad he waited for the Atlanta Botanical Garden opportunity to germinate.
“This is literally organic growth for MetroFresh,” he says laughing. “It just feels completely right for us. We have the best of both worlds here where we see regulars from the other shop and we’re serving out-of-towners who we can introduce the MetroFresh concept to. I just need to work on dividing my attention evenly between my two children now so no one feels left out. I am your friendly, neighborhood codependent chef, after all!”