Q&A with 5 Napkin Burger’s Kathy Tuchman

ATL Food Chatter: August 23, 2011
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The 5 Napkin Burger that opened last Monday in the former Nickiemoto’s space may be the sixth store for the New York-based company, but the sleek Midtown project also included a couple of company firsts—including a spacious patio and a local partner, Kathy Tuchman, who sold the 5 Napkin team on the city and the site. Tuchman, a former New Yorker who has lived in the South for ten years, fell in love with the concept when she attended the opening of the original 5 Napkin Burger on the Upper Westside. She has a culinary background that includes private chef work and operating a small catering company. She helped with the planning and design process for the local 5 Napkins, which included recruiting Johnson Studio to design the space and hiring local chefs Ian Forrest and Jason Davis to run the kitchen.

Q: Why Atlanta? And what about this concept will make it stand out from Atlanta’s many burger-oriented restaurants?
KT: First, I love Atlanta and especially Midtown because of its energy and dining scene. I thought that 5 Napkin Burger would fit right into Midtown Atlanta. 5 Napkin offers its guests the opportunity to dine with us many times and not have to eat the same thing. And you can make a reservation and not have to wait in line for someone to take your order. We will be open throughout the day so if a guest just wants to come in and just have a drink at 4 p.m., they can.

Q: The menus at your restaurants offer a lot more than burgers, including sushi rolls and entrees like fish and chips. What was the approach in building the menu beyond the burgers?
KT: 5 Napkin is a neighborhood restaurant; we want our guests to be able to enjoy a full sit-down dining experience. The menus reflect our intention to offer a broad array of dishes that can appeal to a customer base from carnivores to vegetarians.

Q: We hear that the patio at the Midtown location is going to be spectacular, can you share any details?
KT: The patio was specifically designed for the building by the Johnson Studio and takes advantage of the energy of the corner and Midtown. It will seat around 40 guests. It is the first outdoor structure of its kind for 5 Napkin Burger. We’ve left some of the bamboo trees from Nickiemoto’s on the backside of the patio as well.

Q: You are holding a contest to see who can build the best burger that says “Atlanta” You recently held a similar contest in Miami: Can you offer some inspiration for this contest by describing the Miami winning entry?
KT: In Miami the winning burger was called El Cubano. It had a local spin with a burger patty topped with ropa vieja, provolone cheese, pickles and mojo garlic aioli.

Atlanta is the second market where the new partnership between Open Table and Savored—an online, members-only restaurant discount pricing service—will be rolled out. The program debuted in San Francisco last month, offering users a 30 percent discount on their bill in exchange for a $10 reservation fee.

In a recent New York Times article on the renovation of the former City Hall East into Ponce City Market, Anne Quatrano states that she is planning to open a po-boy shop in the development.

Bones is Atlanta’s sole candidate for Men’s Health magazine’s “Manliest Restaurant in America” contest. The competition between the 45 restaurants appears to involve the serving of meat in various forms and quantities.

Atlantic Station. Pinkberry is opening its 5th Georgia store in Atlantic Station, according to What Now Atlanta.

What Now Atlanta also reported that Yard House, a California-based upscale chain with a beer focus, is taking over the Dolce space.

Buckhead. Upscale seafood chain Ocean Prime will open in the former Sambuca space in late October.

Eater Atlanta is reporting that Bocado owner Brian Lewis is looking to open a second venture in Buckhead, and the restaurant will differ in style from Bocado.

According to its PR firm, Southern Art will open in the Intercontinental Hotel Buckhead on Monday, September 26.

Cakes and Ale began service last week in its new digs on Decatur Square. Chow Down Atlanta landed the scoop that former Dynamic Dish owner/chef David Sweeney will head lunch service in its new bakery, which is scheduled to begin in a couple of weeks.

Midtown. Thrillist notes that Robert Gerstenecker, chef of Park 75 in the Four Seasons, has joined the burger brigade with the introduction of Chef G’s Burger Bar, a lunch affair held every Wednesday.

Old Fourth Ward. Creative Loafing reported that Rathbun’s veteran Joey Zelinka replaced Brendan Keenan as chef de cuisine at hipster bar-cum-restaurant Sound Table.
Roswell. The AJC reports that Table and Main, featuring a simple, seasonal Southern menu supported by local vendors and purveyors, has opened at 1028 Canton Street.

Virginia Highland. Cacao Atlanta’s third store (which offers pastries and preserved Southern fruits, like paw paw butter, along with its signature bean-to-bar chocolates) is open at 312 North Highland Avenue.

Bella Cucina’s take-away counter, Porta Via, is featured—along with Piedmont Park—in Food and Wine magazine’s “America’s Best Parks for a Picnic” story.

Westside. The Goat Farm arts center is the location of Atlanta’s latest secret supper club, PushStart Kitchen, a Southern/Latin-American fusion culinary experience founded by Zack Meloy (4th & Swift) and his wife, Christina. For the time being, they serve ten guests per gathering, two nights a week, on a first come/first serve basis via email RSVP.

Leroy’s Fried Chicken is now open from 10 a.m. until 11 p.m. every day.

Question of the Week: What Kirkwood restaurant is now offering a weekly supper club?

PS . The answer to last week’s QOTW—What ATL ice cream concept blends ice cream with an interesting ingredient to hop up the flavor?—is Frozen Pints. The company combines select beers with complementary ice cream flavors, reports Thrillist.

Do you have restaurant openings, closings, or other news to share? Email James Oxendine at atldiningchatter@gmail.com