Local radio personality Frank "Ski" Rodriguez of the Frank and Wanda Morning Show on V103, is getting into the restaurant business. While I reported in 2009 that he was looking to open a club and restaurant called "Kolor" in Buckhead near the InterContinental Hotel, those plans never came to fruition due to neighborhood resistance. The plan was to open Kolor in a 15,000 s/f space on the first level of the back portion of the shopping center currently anchored by Orvis and Verizon. Ski, his attorney and property owner Scott Selig appealed the NPU-B zoning but were repeatedly rejected and gave up the fight in early 2009.
Now, Ski will open "Frank Ski's," a restaurant and bar in the 8,000 s/f space that most recently was home to Thirsty Dog Tavern. Originally, the space was one of restauratuer Bob Amick's "Mick's" restaurants. Mick's closed around 2007 and later became VITA and most recently, VITA's owners re-concepted the space as the short-lived Thirsty Dog Tavern. Inaccurate reports by other local media suggested that Genghis Grill would open in the space, but as we know, GG opened in the shuttered Blockbuster Video not far away.
"Ski envisions a concept thats like a mix between a restaurant and the lobby of a W Hotel that is something generally only seen in NYC or LA. The restaurant will seat over 300 and will offer sophisticated Southern food. Frank comments that he wants Frank Ski’s Restaurant & Bar to be about the experience , the food the wine and the people."
James Johnson, currently manager at nearby Houston's, has been hired to be General Manager at Ski's upcoming restaurant.
With Sean Combs, I mean, Puff Daddy, I mean, P. Diddy, I mean Diddy, still seeing success with his Justin's restaurant, it's likely its close proximity to Thirsty Dog space was a contributing factor in location selection. Diddy closed his Justin's restaurant in New York but Atlanta remains profitable, so I'm told, and accordingly, remains open. Interestingly, Chris "Ludacris" Bridges's midtown eatery "Straits" just added lunch service Tuesday through Saturday though the restaurant as a whole continues to fall short of expectations. Another local hip hop icon, Jermaine Dupri, closed his namesake Cafe Dupri in 2008 and according to WSB-TV, left many employees unpaid.
Retail wise, Jazze Pha and friends opened and closed Knitch at Atlantic Station less than a year after opening and Bow Wow's mother closed her Taste boutique at Atlantic Station last year amidst financial problems. More recently, Ne-Yo indulged his girlfriend Monyetta Shaw and opened Emeryln & Ester, a womens boutique in Buckhead.
All in all, I think retail may be the worst business for celebrities to enter and restaurants / lounges could work, but more often than not turn into money pits. While Ski does not have the name recognition as Ludacris or Diddy, he is well known in the local community. Helming the top rated Frank & Wanda morning show since 1998, his endeavor may surprise some. The food likely won't be amazing, he's likely to only draw a single demographic, but his proximity to Justin's and relatively ample parking may help him find success in an industry, and specific space, where others have failed.
No opening date or timetable has been announced but I'd say given the work planned for the space, an early fall opening is likely.
This is my opinion, given what I've seen in Atlanta. What do you think? Will Frank find success in this venture?