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Restaurateurs aim for community vibe
by Caroline Young
March 06, 2013 04:11 PM | 3682 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Staff / Nathan Self<br>
Jason Sheetz said his future looks bright in the Sandy Springs area with Hammocks Trading Company, the new restaurant he co-owns with William Sigley, where seafood is always on the menu.
Staff / Nathan Self
Jason Sheetz said his future looks bright in the Sandy Springs area with Hammocks Trading Company, the new restaurant he co-owns with William Sigley, where seafood is always on the menu.
New restaurants are popping up left and right in Atlanta, and three owners all agree on one thing: keeping it local and comfortable.

Fabrice Vergez, owner of F&B in Buckhead, said almost all of his customers are residents of Buckhead or Brookhaven, which he finds refreshing after working in downtown Atlanta at FAB, the French American Brasserie.

“When ’08 came, we got crushed,” Vergez said of the recent recession.

But he said he had no fear when he decided to open F&B in July because of the location.

“Down there I had no residential business,” Vergez said. “I moved from a 15,000-square-foot space to a 3,800-square-foot space, which is much more manageable.”

F&B offers French Mediterranean food, including menu staples like mussels steamed in garlic, shallots and white wine broth. But the menu changes every two or three weeks, Vergez said, using primarily local ingredients.

“We make everything from ground zero,” he said. “We’re a work in progress and we’re having a lot of fun with it.”

Vergez said his next step is to get more involved with the local schools and nonprofits.

“I want the restaurant to be open six days a week for the neighborhood,” he said.

Additionally, owners Jason Sheetz and William Sigley opened Hammocks Trading Company in Sandy Springs in August. Sheetz, who has 30 years of experience in the business, said word of mouth is the key to attracting local residents to his “beachy” seafood restaurant.

“We are more in tune with keeping prices at a neighborhood price point, as opposed to a Buckhead or Dunwoody price point,” he said. “That’s the biggest challenge, and being in a neighborhood as opposed to a big mall.”

Sheetz said the restaurant offers fresh produce, and menu items like trout and quail are regionally sourced.

“We’re on our third menu already. We’re going on our fourth menu in the spring,” he said.

And while Uncle Maddio’s Pizza Joint is a franchise, founder Matt Andrew, a Buckhead resident, said each metro Atlanta location has become “deeply embedded into the local community.”

“There are a lot of tactics and ways to do that. You get involved with local churches, businesses and essentially become well-known in the trade area,” he said

The pizza restaurant started in January 2009 in the Toco Hills Shopping Center in Druid Hills.

“We opened then, when the [economic] floor fell out,” he said. “We came out of the gate with guns blazing.”

Although he said they had to “weather the storm through the economy,” he considers the pizza business to be somewhat recession proof because people do not usually make it at home. He said Uncle Maddio’s is similar to Moe’s, where customers watch employees build salads, paninis and pizzas in front of them.

They offer local vegetables, free-range chicken and gluten-free options, and just opened a location on Roswell Road in Buckhead last fall and other in Dunwoody last month. It now has nine locations in metro Atlanta.

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