Richard Blais, through his business Trail Blais, will partner with Atlanta-based Concentrics Restaurants in opening an as-yet-unnamed eatery at 75 Fifth Street in Midtown. Interestingly, Blais previously operated his own restaurant, BLAIS, on East Paces Ferry Road in Buckhead in 2004, but it closed after less than a year. (Preceded by, and followed by, a number of failures, the space has been Buckhead Bottle Bar for about a year now.) Blais's failure was, of course, before he became a household name, as a result of his his multiple appearances on Top Chef. This new concept comes on the heels of his Top Chef All-Stars win earlier this year, and word that his new Hot Dog concept, HD - Haute Doggery will open later this year in Poncey-Highland.
Blais worked as Executive Chef at ONE Midtown Kitchen in 2005, helping the restaurant earn a rare Four Star review in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. ONE Midtown Kitchen is one of Concentrics Restaurants most popular concepts, and was surely a good time for Blais. In 2006,he competed on Iron Chef America and in 2008, on the 4th season of Top Chef. After gaining popularity and returning to Atlanta, Blais was hired by Tom Catherall of Atlanta-based Here-to-Serve Restaurants as Executive Chef at Home. Home was Catherall's southern themed restaurant in what had been Posh and before that, Seeger's, from famed chef Gunter Seeger. Home opened in early 2008, and was wildly popular, so much so, it was said that reservations had to be requested weeks in advance. It was clear Blais's presence at the restaurant was a large part of its success. By August, he seemed to be in the restaurant less and less, and resigned the post in September, with the restaurant re-concepted not long afterward.
I may not be a fan of Blais, but there is no denying he is talented and is a draw. He single- handedly made Home the success that it was, and has a national fan base with over 108,000 followers on Twitter. But I have a simple question: with so many options in Atlanta, so many opportunities, why opt to take over a space notorious for restaurant failure? Why not open in Atlantic Station or Buckhead Atlanta?
If Mark Toro of North American Properies and Den Oliver of OliverMcMcmillan are serious about this local crap they are pitching, why is Blais not opening in one of those projects? He opted to take over what I and many others would consider a problematic, if not cursed, restaurant space that has seen both The Globe, and more recently, Waterhaven close. While the Globe is clearly missed more than Waterhaven, they both had better than average food, but had to deal with a largely college (Georgia Tech) clientele and dreadful deck parking.