Friday, December 12, 2014

2015 Will Bring Big Changes to Here to Serve Restaurants

Shake up at local restaurant group

Atlanta-based Here to Serve restaurants will reportedly soon change ownership, and with that change comes news that Director of Operations David Abes, a 14 year veteran of the company, is moving on.  Effective January 1, Abes will become a partner in LDV Hospitality, the New York based firm bringing Corso Coffee, American Cut and Lugo Cucina Italiana to Buckhead Atlanta.  Abes has "bought into the business," and will become Director of Operations for the Atlanta units and be an equity owner in the overall company. Corso Coffee is expected to open next week, followed by American Cut and Lugo next year.  

Chef Tom Catherall, founder of Here To Serve, has reportedly come to an agreement with his ex-wife Leigh, whereby she will assume control of Here to Serve Restaurants.  The couple's divorce proceedings have reportedly been going on for months and an agreement was only recently reached. (Tom will retain a minority ownership stake in FLY Burger Bar Boutique, a non Here to Serve restaurant he opened earlier this year on Concourse B of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in partnership with Concessions International.)  

In addition to the new ownership and Abes' departure from the company, Shout will close.  The popular bar & restaurant at on two levels at Colony Square was reportedly not offered a lease renewal and will cease operations at the end of the year.  The roughly 14,000 square foot restaurant opened in 2004 replacing short-lived Wildwood restaurant, a spot better known by many as the longtime home of "Country Place." Country Place was for many years a popular concept from Steve Nygren of the Peasant Restaurant Group.  

Here to Serve previously operated a second restaurant at Colony Square.  "That's a Burger" was located adjacent to Shout and itself replaced Corner Bakery.  The burger joint did not fare well and was replaced by Piri Piri, another Here to Serve concept.  Piri Piri suffered a similar fate and was replace by Tamarind Seed, a Thai eatery that remains in business in the space today.

In case you have not been keeping track, Goldberg's closed in Colony Square earlier this year while the two level former home of Houlihan's also remains vacant.  I've heard rumors of there being plans for new "users" in the respective space, but with now a third large space available, I've yet to hear anything confirmed. 

Tom Catherall, now 65, started Here to Serve in 1993 with tomtom, a bistro, in Lenox Square.  In the years since, Catherall has grown the group to include over a dozen restaurants;  Noche (4 units), Prime, Aja, Cantina, Goldfish, Twist, Shout, Coast, Smash, Strip and Shucks. Catherall, originally from New Castle, England, got his first apprenticeship at age 15 and after 50 years in restaurants, will reportedly now spend more time at his Watercolor, Florida residence.  

Unclear at this time is whether the group's loyalty program, currently known as "Friends of Tom" will be renamed "Friends of Leigh" or something else.  It is expected that former AJC dining critic Meredith Ford will remain in place as Director of Marketing & Communications, a title she had held since February. 

10 comments:

SB said...

Nice reporting Eli.

jeff a. taylor said...

Really telling. When you did your last post on Corso sitting empty and LDV Hospitality's plans a few days ago, I really surmised that they were waiting on hiring a local top manager to fire everything up. At least if they wanted to avoid previous missteps from out of town "concepts" trying to clone themselves. Will be very interesting to watch now.

Vett Vandiver said...

thanks for sharing, sad to see Shout go - fun times at that place.

Anonymous said...

As always, great reporting! Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Abes and Catherall are dirt bags anyways. Blatant stealing of recipes and multiple mistresses. What sort of master chef steals recipes from Houston's?

Anonymous said...

The new Director of Operations Phil Handley is just as guilty especially when it comes to the multitude of women. This company is racist, sexist and run by men who think they can do whatever and who ever and get away with it because they are " top brass". L-E-Y

Anonymous said...

Now that was a article! Great writing!

Anonymous said...

I can confirm Phil Handley is garbage. He is in a wrongful termination lawsuit now and he has a propoblem with one of his restaurants altering time cards, among people work off the clock and manager threatening retaliation for blowing the whistle that he's trying to sweep under th carpet now. Either Handley or all of here to serve will be in court soon and it will likely bring the whole company down.

Anonymous said...

Do not eat at this restaurant. There is a severe case of nasty roaches that plague the kitchen.. The sushi bar had to be shut down a couple weeks ago during service because of the infestation. It has not been addressed by the owners.

Anonymous said...

The headline "2015 Will Bring Big Changes to Here to Serve Restaurants" may have been an understatement.