Q&A with Real Chow Baby’s Chip Joyner

ATL Food Chatter: April 11, 2011
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Chip Joyner, co-founder of The Real Chow Baby, and his wife, Carol, are examples of some of the younger restaurateurs in town who involve themselves in community service and philanthropy in some new and creative ways. They help support the City of Atlanta’s youth recreation centers with an ongoing program at both locations of the create-it-yourself Asian stir-fry concept. Last year, the Joyners donated over $7,000 to the city’s Centers of Hope recreation centers. Diners at their restaurants have been encouraged to include an additional tip on their bills that go directly toward the centers. In 2010, a nickel from every stir-fry sold was donated to the centers.

Joyner, a restaurant industry veteran with over twelve years of management experience (a college classmate of Kasim Reed) discusses his professional and philanthropic efforts.

Q: What motivated you to go into the restaurant business?

CJ: I started working in the restaurant business while in high school in Los Angeles. I worked at one of the country’s largest concessions companies and started by selling sodas at concerts and Lakers games. By the time I graduated from high school, I had been promoted more than four times and left there as a concessions and commissary manager. Although I had other interests and goals, I did enjoy the business.
While in college I interned for two U.S. Senators, the Republican National Committee, worked at the Democratic National Convention in 1992, and interned for Johnnie Cochran. Following college, I worked on Capitol Hill for U.S. Senator Carol Moseley-Braun and planned on attending law school. While applying, Johnnie suggested that I try working for my father’s restaurant company for one year, before deciding to attend law school. It was his thought that I could add value to my father’s growing restaurant company, and could benefit from trying to grow with the company. I promised Johnnie that I would give it one year. I ended up staying with his company for 15 years.
Q: How did the Real Chow Baby concept originate?
CJ: My former business partner [Mike Blum] came up with the concept after doing research on growing concepts, health food trends, and cuisine not available in Atlanta. He came up with the concept and the name. Shortly after the Howell Mill location, I invested and became a partner in the concept. Two years ago, the partnership sold the concept to our family’s restaurant company.
Q: Where do you and your wife’s civic spirit come from?
CJ: We both love Atlanta and we wanted to give back to the city. We also care about the children of the city. It really does take a village and this contribution is our small part to adding to the lives of the children who live around the community centers.
Q: Where do you and your wife like to dine here in Atlanta?
CJ: Between running a restaurant company and having three kids we don’t dine out as often as we used to. However, some of our favorites are Rathbun’s Steak for the food and wine, Yeah! Burger with the kids, Pura Vida for the spices and flavors, Houston’s for the excellent execution, Java Jive for great pancakes and scramble.

Anne Quatrano will host a family-style, fundraising farm supper for Georgia Organics, called the Farm Fete Feast, on Sunday, May 1, at 3 p.m. at Woodland Gardens in Winterville, GA. The event will feature 23 talented local chefs like Joshua Hopkins of Abattoir; Jay Swift of 4th & Swift; Steven Satterfield of Miller Union; Hilary White of The Hil; Hugh Acheson of Empire State South; and Linton Hopkins of Restaurant Eugene.

Legendary Buckhead nightclub impressario Johnny Esposito died on Monday, March4th.

National foodie web site Eater.com is slated to launch an Atlanta branch mid-2011.

Avondale Estates. Decatur Metro first reported that longtime neighborhood favorite Our Way Cafe has reopened after being closed for over a year due to fire damage.
Downtown. The Octane Coffee Bar folks today opened Octane Pocket Bar—featuring donuts from Sublime Donuts, pastries from H&F Bread Co., and Octane’s epic coffee—in the Bank America Plaza at 600 Peachtree Street.

Marietta. The ACJ reported that Hashiguchi Japanese Restaurant has closed.

What Now Atlanta broke the news that the Top FLR and Dinner Party Atlanta owners have partnered to open a restaurant that they describe as “unique unto itself” at 805 Juniper Street in the former Cuerno/Lupe space “sometimes this summer.”

. According to What Now Atlanta, the second Morelli’s Gourmet Ice Cream location will open the first week in May in the former Cold Stone Creamery spot inside the Edgewood Retail District.

Roswell. Look for a Barkers Red Hots to open in the Roswell Crossing Shopping Center late this month.

Sandy Springs. Look for B’s Bistro on the Circle to open in the former Tasting Room location at 6010 Sandy Springs Circle.
Westside. US Airways magazine named Abattoir as one of “The 14 Most Trendsetting Restaurants in the US”.

Question of the Week: What Buckhead restaurant is rumored to be expanding to LA?

PS. The answer to last week’s QOTW—What intown sweets shop has added a bicycle delivery service?—is Cake Hag, which operates Sweet Ride ATL. (Commentor Jori got that one right away last week.)