Monday, June 18, 2012

Pizza Pals Taking on BBQ in Tucker


Mike Nelson and Clay Harper are best known for their chain of Fellini's Pizza restaurants but have been expanding their restaurant empire with mixed results.  Many Fellini's are locatednext to, or near, La Fonda Latina locations, sister restaurants, if you will, serving Latin cuisine in a casual setting. 

Two summers ago, the duo launched Three on The Tree, a yogurt shop they opened in a classic Taco Bell turned Wolf Camera.  The FroYo shop did very well early on, helped by both its proximity and favorably marketing from adjacent La Fonda and Fellini's.  The Tree featured six flavors, at least two of which were crafted by local chef Julia LeRoy.  With a seemingly ever increasing number of yogurt shops popping up, and with LeRoy involved with other ventures, Three on The Tree was shuttered last September. 

One of Chef Julia's other projects was another with Nelson and Harper, Leroy's Fried Chicken, which opened to much fanfare this past June, but closed just four months later.  Many diners and critics loved the chicken, but many found the prices high for what was basically a counter.  (Curly's Fried Chicken opened in its place not long after, and is still open.) 

Ringside Franks & Shakes opened in place of Three on the Tree's original Wieuca Road location, but is not directly affiliated with the Fellini's guys.  Jeremy Kelly, a 12-year veteran of Fellini's, enlisted Nelson & Harper in opening the restaurant though I'm not privy to the terms of their agreement. 

All that to get you caught up to now!

Clay and Mike now have their eyes on Tucker, a city (currently) not home to any of their concepts.  Though not in Tucker, Fellini's on LaVista Road near Vista Grove is frequented by families of nearby Lakeside High School and archrival Tucker High.  I think it's a safe bet there will be cross-marketing between the two restaurants. 

The Greater Good will open on Hugh Howell Road across the street from Publix in a restaurant that was most recently Golden Dolphin, a fish camp style restaurant that closed this past April.  The restaurant was a Western Sizzlin back the day, and if you know WS, you know this is a rather large space. 

A longtime resident of nearby Oak Grove, I'll be the first to tell you Tucker is no Decatur.  Tucker's non-chain food options have increased as of late but remain limited.   Matthews Cafeteria has been a Tucker landmark since 1955, and continues to serve up southern favorites like fried chicken. chicken & dumplings and Bar-B-Q ribs, among other things.  Matthews is located on Main Street in downtown Tucker, which last year attracted Jason Hylton and James Maggard of the Matador Cantina.  The Matador Cantina has locations in both Oakhurst and Glenwood and was joined by Local 7 last year.  Local 7 features traditional American fare, highlighted by a number of burger options. 

Another local group is also adding to Atlanta's BBQ options.  Fox Brothers Restaurant Group, owners of both Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q in Little Five and Big Tex Cantina in Decatur will open Fox Bros. Rib Joint on Scott Boulevard later this summer.  The space was previously home to Maddy's Barbecue and is located across the street from the proposed (but vehemently opposed) Walmart Supercenter at Suburban Plaza. 

What are your thoughts on Tucker's new dining option?  What do you think is missing from Tucker?  What is your favorite Tucker eatery?  Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

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7 comments:

F&B Guy said...

If Clay and his team can put out a good BBQ product, they will be supported by the local Tucker community. The last BBQ joint failed probably because of location (in a gas station down the road).
Currently, the best restaurant in Tucker is Taqueria Los Hermanos. The "brothers" who own this company (4 stores) have extensive culinary training and their cuisine is an inspired hybrid of Mexican/French cooking. The tastes are awesome!
What Tucker needs...hmmmm...a true brew pub would probably do well. There is a large and growing group of craft beer makers in the Tucker area and they would support this type of concept.
Also, stangely enough, a donut shop would probably rock! There is a Starbucks, but, either a Dunkin Donuts or a Krispy Kreme would get traction with the locals.
Finally, another type of ethnic cuisine, probably Indian, would do well. No more Mexican is needed. There are several Thai restaurants that do fine, and other than that, options for ethnic are limited.

Mike said...

I work in Tucker and I think I've been to pretty much every single restaurant here except for some of the big chain places (applebees). The Local 7 was a spectacular addition to the area- it was sorely needed on main street.

I've never been a meat and 3 person so Matthews hasn't ever done much for me. I'd really like to see the new BBQ place thrive.

Anonymous said...

La Fonda Latina does NOT serve Mexican food. It's Latin American food; Mexico is in North America.

Anonymous said...

a somewhat upscale bar would do really well. the only bars around are dive bars. local 7 is ok, but it can be overrun with kids at times and the service is horrible, while the food is just mediocre.

TheJohnP said...

Went to Golden Dolphin once and it was pretty good for a fish house. Figured it could have had a chance, but guess not.

Love me some BBQ and will give the place a try, but The Greater Good is not a name that makes me think BBQ or even a restaurant. Hope that ends up just being me and doesn't hurt their chances to grow.

I am surprised they didn't try this concept out in an area where they have established Fellini's/La Fonda. Actually I would love to have a closer La Fonda to me (Chamblee).

Anonymous said...

I really enjoy La Fonda but considering Tucker is already pretty set for Mexican Food it would seem to be a bit of a waste. I'd like to see another option for Indian, Vietnamese, or Ethiopian in the area but oh well- a solid BBQ would be a perfectly good addition.

The Golden Dolphin I went into just once- the food was terribly bland so I never even considered going back.

Anonymous said...

"Anonymous said...

La Fonda Latina does NOT serve Mexican food. It's Latin American food; Mexico is in North America.

June 19, 2012 2:39 PM"

And yet Mexico (which speaks Spanish which is a Latin based language) is also part of Latin America.