Q&A with GRA President Karen Bremer

ATL Food Chatter: May 10, 2011
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Karen Bremer, former president of Peasant Group and owner of City Grill and Dailey’s (both of which closed in 2009), has served as the executive director of Atlanta-based Georgia Restaurant Association (GRA) since August 2010. Bremer, who is one of the trade association’s founders, has spent her time in office focusing on advocate issues for the 2,500 restaurants represented by the GRA; honing a unified voice for an industry with sales of over $14 billion annually; and working on plans that include a Georgia restaurant history project that may result in the creation of a restaurant museum in Atlanta.

Still in the embryonic stage, the Georgia Restaurant History Project, in collaboration with Georgia State University’s hospitality program, aims to preserve and maintain the legacy of Georgia’s restaurant industry and create a tourist destination. Bremer requests that “if anyone has memorabilia, old menus, etc. and would like to donate them to the archiving of the history of Georgia restaurants, contact Yvonne at info@garestaurants.org or call 404-467-9000.

Q: How has your “return” to GRA been so far?
KB: Support from the restaurant community has been wonderful—encouraging and engaging, as well as a real affirmation of the giving nature of the industry from a financial perspective.

Q: What are some of your plans for GRA moving forward?
KB: Making sure that we help make restaurants better for Georgia and to make Georgia a better place to operate a business. We’re reaffirming that our primary responsibilities are advocacy for Georgia’s restaurant industry, and education for operators and for young people on a career path into the restaurant industry.

Q: What is your current take on Atlanta’s dining scene?
KB: If you take a look at the National Restaurant Association’s “What Hot” survey results, it’s apparent what’s trending: the South. Of course, being in Atlanta, we already know that. The top three trends are locally sourced meats and seafood, locally grown produce, and sustainability—all of which are staples of Southern cuisine. While we honor and embrace our heritage, Southern cuisine also continues to evolve.


Cakes and Ale, Empire State South and Miller Union were cited as examples of Atlanta’s sophisticated Southern fare in a New York Times piece by Atlanta bureau chief Kim Severson.

Piece of Cake cofounder Helen Cleveland has returned to the company after an 18 year “sabbatical.”

Due to the popularity of Dining in the Dark, this one-of-a-kind event has added an eighth chef to its impressive line up. Watershed’s Chef Joe Truex will cook for 16 guests on July 21.

Spice Route Supper Club’s menu for their next gathering this Saturday,  May 14, is a family-style feast of Southern Indian dishes including beef curry, roast duck, and fried okra in yogurt.
Decatur. Decatur Metro is reporting that Decatur will get its first food truck event, Saturday, May 14 from 3-7:30 pm, prior to Decatur’s Concert on the Square. Look for Atlanta street food faves like Yumbi, Tex’sTacos and Westside Creamery. And the event sponsor, The Marlay House, has created its own food truck: Mobile Marlay, featuring fish and chips.

Downtown. Creative Loafing is reporting that chef Cyrille Holota is moving across the street from FAB to BLT to replace Jean-Luc Mongodin, who is rumored to be rejoining his mentor, Joël Antunes, in London.

Inman Park. The soon-to-open One Eared Stag was serving oysters and beer to walk-ins during last week’s Inman Park Festival, according to the AJC.

Kirkwood. According to What Now Atlanta, Aces Bar and Grille at 1992 Hosea Williams will close at the end of May and re open in June with a new name and a new concept geared toward higher end food and craft beer.

Midtown. Saturday, May 7 was opening day for the Piedmont Park Green Market. Hours are 9 a.m.-1 p.m. every Saturday until December 10.

Oak Grove. Mimi’s in A Minute, on the corner of Clairmont and Briarcliff, has closed.

Virginia-Highland. As Bill Addison tweeted last week, Cacao Atlanta Chocolate Co. will be opening their third local store in August at 1046 N. Highland Avenue. Though the sweets are still in development, the owners are planning to add a patisserie component to the store—and they’ll continue to sell High Road ice cream.

Question of the Week: Who won the first annual Whynatte Mixology competition held here in Atlanta?

PS. The answer to last week’s QOTW—What local architectural firm has been tapped by an international hotel chain to design a new concept for one of its famous brands?—is ai3.