The initiative — designated the Sandy Springs Restaurant Council — was borne of a partnership between the Sandy Springs/Perimeter Chamber of Commerce and the Sandy Springs Hospitality and Tourism Board.
Insiders said establishing and maintaining a singular vision and voice — including that pertaining to the city governing process — will be key to the new entity’s success. “We have over 300 restaurants in Sandy Springs,” said chamber President/CEO Tom Mahaffey. “Restaurants have different issues and concerns from our other businesses, so if we can unify as one group we can present any concerns as one to [the] city council if we need to go to the city.
“Also, we can promote Sandy Springs as a go-to destination that will benefit all of the restaurants.”
Registration in the new group has been steady since its inception this past fall, incrementally achieved via monthly meetings alternating at participating establishments.
Jason Sheetz, owner of Hammocks Trading Co., has been a part of it since the very beginning. “Organic” is how he described the ongoing process and progress.
“It’s starting to get legs now,” Sheetz said. “The chamber saw it as an opportunity to get the restaurants together and build awareness of the independent restaurants of Sandy Springs. With Sandy Springs continuing to build its infrastructure and city center [forthcoming], there’s a lot of energy to attract new businesses of all types.”
Those behind the scenes assert that the restaurant council should continue to grow and develop its marketing strategy.
The primary message/goal is to promote Sandy Springs as a city of many different “flavors,” Mahaffey said. “Sandy Springs has many international, Southern, fusion, seafood, white tablecloth, light dining, patio dining, early morning breakfast-to-late-night dining and many entertainment spots,” he said. “Sandy Springs is not just to get from Atlanta to Roswell/north Fulton. … It’s a destination.
“We are unique with many opportunities for our guests.”
One key promotional objective the restaurant council is planning for calls for it to partner up with the 20 hotels that lie within the city’s borders.
When asked about the restaurant council’s potential, Sheetz said it could eventually model itself after the Georgia Restaurant Association.
“We started this thing with a bunch of different ideas about what it should it be,” he said.
“Right now we’re focused on making sure that: (a) locals know about us — all the different options for dining in the city — and (b) showcasing this collective of independent restaurants … trying to show our variety, but still keep our small-town feel.”