Saturday, May 28, 2011

Frank Ski's "Thirst" for the Restaurant Industry Lands Him in South Buckhead

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?

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widmerpool said...

To quote Bill Walton, "Terrible."

Who the hell is Frank Ski???

Atlantan99 said...

Funny you should ask. Atlanta-based The Shumacher Group handled the lease of the restaurant and had a not so short bio accompany their post about the transaction.

Yes, Frank does do plenty for the community and is a top rated DJ in a top ten market and does rake in over a million a year in salary and endorsements but that has ZERO to do with the cuisine or quality of the restaurant.

A shockingly small portion of the post was dedicated the restaurant itself. Not a good play IMHO.

Anonymous said...

"The food likely won't be amazing"
Really? Based on what. Its not like he has had another restaurant and the food was terrible.

"he's likely to only draw a single demographic"
What is the demographic? Black people? you said yourself that he has been on the radio since 1998 & he has a tv broadcast of his morning show on the CW so that "single demographic" with a wide range of ages is enough to keep his job for more than a decade.

Plus the ridiculous comparisons with rapper, producers & other stars compared to a local DJ that lives full time in this city (and isn't jet setting to other cities for work/tours) is just laughable.

Atlantan99 said...


The food likely won't be amazing based on my informed assumptions about Ski's plans for the restaurant.

Ski will likely draw a single demographic. If you were not just another "anonymous" commenter, I'd personally guarantee you that over 95% of the clientele he attracts to the restaurant will be of a single demo, African-American. I'm not being racist, I'm just saying that's how it will turn out. To that end, I'm actually saying he may fare better than others have, he may actually succeed where others have failed. The initial talk indicates he hopes to create an atmosphere until now only found in LA and NYC. I believe that the emphasis will be on the atmosphere rather than the food.

OrleagianSnow said...

Frank Ski, it appears, is taking the right steps toward success. Good management, location, and sound marketing (publicity) are core fundamentals. He has hired the GM of nearby Houstons, not bad; is in radio industry, and this is one of plenty articles/blogs buzzing his name, and has a decent location though it is as jinxed as the unique architecture at the foot of I-85 on Monroe Dr. But has good accessibility. My one recommendation to him would have been to change the name, if he wants a cross over audience. His name represents urban culture and unfortunately many do not want to co-mingle with that audience. With that said, there are many restaurants in Atlanta with "one demographic" and no one sees that a faux pas.
Ski is entering a "Do or die" industry I recommend he get heavily involved and learn the biz. Everyone of all demographics would support a visibly hard working man committed to his new venture.

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