Chef Tom to open first restaurant in Virginia Highland.
About two months since his former Here to Serve restaurant group abruptly ceased operations, chef Tom Catherall has inked a lease to return to Atlanta. According to Jennifer Brett at the AJC, Catherall plans to open "Tom Tom Tapas & Tequilas" at 1000 Virginia Avenue in Virginia Highland. The restaurant space was previously the original Noche Tequila & Tapas Bar.
“Catherall signed the 10-year lease today with The Meddin Company and plans to open the upscale-casual restaurant in February in time for Valentine’s weekend” his representative said in a statement.
“Tom Tom Tapas & Tequilas will be classic Catherall with a Spanish-inspired menu that is both innovative and always fresh.”
Rather than a return of Catherall's famed tomtom bistro of Lenox Square, the new Tom Tom would seem instead to be a return of Noche, only by a different name. Tomtom bistro, Catherall's first Atlanta area restaurant, opened at Lenox Square in 1993, and while popular, closed in 2002. The former tomtom space, along with others, is the current home of Urban Outfitters.
Along with "Tom Tom Tapas & Tequilas," Catherall has also registered the business name "Tom Tom Kitchen & Bar" with the Georgia Secretary of State.
This move hints at Catherall's rumored return to TOWN Brookhaven, where he once operated three popular concepts, Smash Kitchen & Bar, (which was liked to a tomtom reboot pre opening), Noche Tequila & Tapas Bar, and Shucks Oyster & Wine Bar.
The most likely candidate for the assigned business name would be the Smash space given the similar names.
GLL Real Estate Partners, who purchased Town Brookhaven in August for a reported $162 million, is likely motivated to get as many restaurants as possible reopened as they are currently sitting idle.
Previously, Catherall had expressed interest in reopening the former Noche in Vinings Jubilee, but it's believed property owner Paces Properties is moving forward with other interested parties.
Catherall, now a resident of Watercolor, Florida, had not been part of Here to Serve since last year. Catherall transferred ownership of the company to ex-wife Leigh Catherall as part of the couple’s divorce settlement. Sources indicate that ahead of the transfer, he took a "poison pill" of sorts, leaving the company in poor shape to continue as a going concern.
Sources indicate that Catherall does not plan to relocate to Atlanta but will instead have a general manager, and/or perhaps an operating partner, to run the restaurants.
As I recently revealed, former Here to Serve Director of Operations David Abes, who spent the past year with LDV Hospitality, has returned to Buckhead Life. Additionally, Phil Handley, who took over for Abes, is not a viable option for Catherall either, as he is now opening General Manager at JP Atlanta at the upcoming Hotel Indigo on Peachtree Street downtown.
Former Prime General Manager and subsequent Regional Director for Here to Serve Mark Pinsky indicated to me that he has "no plans to be involved" in Catherall's latest venture(s).
Giving his penchant for gift card promotions, perhaps Catherall will attempt to make good on the many gift card balances left virtually worthless following Here to Serve's closure.
There has been no announcement about a restaurant group or holding company name, but "Used to Serve You Restaurants" was suggested by a reader
Are you excited for Tom Catherall's return to Atlanta? Are you a former employee still bitter over the abrupt closure and lack of payment? Which restaurant space would you like Catherall to take over next?
Please share your thoughts below.