Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy may be the chief backer behind Fayetteville’s Pinewood Forest—not to mention the neighboring Pinewood Atlanta Studios, the largest purpose-built studio complex in North America, outside of L.A.—but don’t drive around this new live-work-play development looking for a fast-food chicken sandwich. In fact, don’t drive through at all. Pinewood’s proposed 1,300 residences, 25-acre town center, wellness center, and performing arts center can all be reached within a ten-minute stroll along broad sidewalks. The wooded hiking trail that surrounds the village traces a neat 5k.
To build a sense of community in this brand new development, the management has launched an ambitious culinary program curated by a culinary council including Atlanta Food & Wine Festival’s Dominique Love and Elizabeth Feichter. Love happens to live near Pinewood’s project director, Bill Lynch. When the two started chatting about dining options, Love urged her neighbor, “If you’re going to do this, do it right. Food is the biggest connector in our lives.” She was soon leading a group of developers on a national tour, helping them plan more than a dozen locally owned options, which could stretch from fine dining to snack vendors.
Earlier this week, Pinewood announced its first restaurant tenant: a unique, chef-driven concept featuring food from neighboring farms. The intimate, 30-seat space will be designed to feel “like you’re going to a friend’s house for dinner,” according to married chefs Tanya Jimenez and Michael Le. In fact, many of the dishes will be served family-style and were debuted during a recent tasting dinner at Pinewood’s sales center. Perfect dishes for sharing included rich coq au vin and mushroom Bolognese gnocchi. The restaurant’s name, Braise, comes from one of the chefs’ favorite cooking techniques. “Anything that is good takes time,” explains Jimenez.
Unfortunately, it will also take time for the restaurant to open, as it is currently slated for late 2019. In the meantime, Jimenez, who formerly worked for chef Gordon Ramsay in New York City, is completing a Women in Culinary Leadership Program under Chef Anne Quatrano—a project funded by a grant from the James Beard Foundation. Le has worked as a consultant across the United States and Europe. And, lately, the two have teamed up on a pop-up called Mushi Ni at East Atlanta’s We Suki Suki.
Pinewood presents a perfect opportunity for introducing new culinary talent, says Love. “You can expect some adventure—some familiar names and also some from out of state. It’s a great place to be an entrepreneur.”
The community’s first residents moved in before the holidays, and there are approximately a dozen people living there now, says Pinewood president Rob Parker. Look for announcements about a boutique hotel, a school, an arts program, and other amenities to come soon. Housing options range from 500-square-feet tiny cottages, apartments and condos, and three-story “skinnies” to million-dollar-plus custom homes—one of which will serve as the Pinewood Forest Idea House this fall, presented in partnership with Atlanta magazine.