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A wave of closures at the height of the pandemic made sense. But as diners have returned in droves to sit-down restaurants—a 2022 survey suggests that more people are eating out now than before the pandemic—independent eateries have continued to struggle. What are restaurants up against these days—and how can they survive?
Zeb Stevenson on why he never wants to own a restaurant again and his new gig with Oliva Restaurants
For 25 years, ever since he secured his first cooking position—at Waffle House, no less—Zeb Stevenson wanted to be the chef at his own restaurant. “That was really all I ever set out to do,” he says. In 2019, he achieved his goal, opening Redbird in Westside Provisions District with Ross Jones (formerly of Watershed on Peachtree, where Stevenson was previously executive chef). His “free-spirited,” vegetable-forward approach to cooking attracted diners for four years, even surviving the Covid-19 pandemic. However, in February 2023, Stevenson reluctantly shuttered his life’s dream, noting unsustainable costs of labor and food.
Gardeners and chefs, pumpkin whisperers and okra aficionados, taco technicians and pecan purveyors: meet Atlanta’s green giants.
In October 2020, Zeb Stevenson added weekend biscuit sandwiches served from a walk-up window at Redbird and dubbed it Birdy Biscuits. Recently, with the popularity of Birdy Biscuits and the increase in foot traffic in Westside Provisions District, Stevenson decided the area—and his team—was ready for lunch service.
Biscuits are going to help us get through the long winter ahead—they're warm, fluffy, comforting, and thankfully for us, plentiful in Atlanta.[
Chef Zeb Stevenson says this is "the single most requested recipe" at Redbird, his popular Westside Provisions District restaurant that opened last summer. "I don't know if it's because it's vegan, or because it's uber-flexible, or because it's just plain delicious, but guests request it all the time."
Like naming a baby, picking the right name for a restaurant can trigger high-level anxiety. Will the name be easy to pronounce and remember? Will it stand out from the others? How Google-able is it?
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