Pano Karatassos

(b. 1936)

When Karatassos opened Pano’s and Paul’s in 1979, his perfectionism and charisma won over West Paces Ferry elites and redefined the city’s view of upscale dining. Today his company, Buckhead Life Restaurant Group, operates thirteen venues (two in Boca Raton, the rest in Atlanta). He opens restaurants that reflect the times—the shiny frisson of Buckhead Diner and Pricci in the eighties, the east-west glamour of BluePointe in the late nineties—and then builds such loyal clienteles that his time capsules transcend trendiness. The Atlanta affiliate for Share Our Strength’s Taste of the Nation, of which Karatassos is chairman, raises more at its annual event than any other chapter: Last year it pulled in $695,000 to help feed hungry children.

Favorite Off-the-Menu Snack Karatassos has a weakness for Nestlé Drumstick sundae cones.

Closet Crooner The Savannah native is renowned among family and friends for his rich baritone voice. He warms up by singing Nat King Cole in the shower.

Sweet Smell of Success Karatassos never travels without his preferred cologne, Chanel Pour Monsieur.

Photograph by David Stuart