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Willie Degel talks About Restaurants, his Vision and the new Uncle Jack’s Meat House



Opening in Spring 2020

Willie Degel is the founder and owner of Uncle Jack’s Steak House. Beginning as a neighborhood steakhouse selling black, angus steaks in Queens, he has expanded his restaurant around New York and now has plans to take over the entire east coast. In this episode of Peachtree Corners Life, Rico sits down with Willie to chat about his entry into the restaurant business, how he builds his restaurants into a visual experience, and his plans for the new, Uncle Jack’s Meat House coming to Peachtree Corners.


Uncle Jack’s Meathouse http://www.unclejacksmeathouse.com/

“My father instilled hard work. My mother instilled confidence in us, good work ethic. Being the baby of four boys, my brothers beat me up every day, so I have a sense of fearlessness. I’m tough. I’m gonna keep coming. I’m never gonna give up. I’m never gonna quit. I always had vision. I’m a visual learner. I’m a hands-on person. I have to be in control of that. I have to be involved in it. It’s my personality, and I wouldn’t want it any other way.”

Willie Degel

Transcript of the podcast:

Rico [00:00 ]: Hi this is Rico Figliolini, host of Peachtree Corners Life and publisher of Peachtree Corners Magazine. I thank you for joining us. This is a live Facebook stream with a special guest today, of a new restaurant that’s going to be coming to the town center here in Peachtree Corners. Not there yet, long journey. We’ll discuss in a few minutes. Just want to say thank you to Guinnett Medical for GMC Primary Care, for being a sponsor of our podcast and family of podcasts that we do, including Capitalist Sage and Prime Lunchtime with City Manager. So I want to thank them and our other sponsors including Atlanta Tech Park and Prototype Prime, which is part of now, Curiosity Lab at Peachtree Corners. So, without further ado, let me introduce my guest. We have Willie – I should have asked you about the Degel at the beginning. And we lost your visual.

Willie [00:55 ]: Gotcha. Yeah. People try to fool me.

Rico [00:57 ]: There you go. So is it Willie Degel?

Willie [01:01 ]: Degel. D-e-g-e-l. Very simple.

Rico [01:04 ]: Excellent. Willie Degel. So, Willie is our guest today. He’s the founder and owner of Uncle Jack’s Steakhouse, which is a New York based place. I think right now, you have locations in New York and Georgia – in Duluth, Georgia, actually, is the one I’m familiar with. And you were a former host of the Food Network’s Restaurant Steakhouse.

Willie [01:26 ]: Yes. Restaurant Stake-out, yeah.

Rico [01:30 ]: Stakeout, that’s cool. And you’re a native from Queens. I’m a native from Brooklyn, New York. I found my way south to Atlanta. So we got a little bit in common from New York as far as that stuff goes. And the food of New York, if you will, which was a little difficult to find in 1995 when I moved here because there wasn’t good pizza, there wasn’t a good deli, an Italian restaurants were few and far between. Now it’s kind of much better. We’re seeing a lot more stuff coming down here from all over the place, not just from – I mean, Korean places, Japanese, a place from Chicago, New York and stuff. So, why don’t you tell us a little about yourself? Give us a little background.

Willie [02:13 ]: Yeah. I’m a baby of four boys from Flushing, Queens. You know, Catholic. We had to put ourselves through Catholic school. We had newspaper routes. We shoveled snow. My mother was, you know, worked hard. My father worked. He did two jobs – he worked in the post office and was a long shoreman. My mother worked for a legal secretary. So my father instilled hard work. My mother instilled confidence in us, good work ethic. Being the baby of four boys, my brothers beat me up every day, so I have a sense of fearlessness. I’m tough. I’m gonna keep coming. I’m never gonna give up. I’m never gonna quit. I always had vision. I’m a visual learner. I’m a hands-on person. I have to be in control of that. I have to be involved in it. It’s my personality, and I wouldn’t want it any other way.

Rico [03:02 ]: Cool. So what – you know, obviously it seems like it runs in the business a little bit. In the family. What got you started in food?

Willie [03:13 ]: You know, I was on a blind date. I always cooked with my father. My father got cancer when I was 10. And he had to retire from one job – he almost died. We made soup for him, we brought him back from death, and then he would be at home two days a week, and he would cook. And I would go shopping with him cause I was the littlest. I would come home from Catholic school, on my bike from lunchtime, to see him. He would take me over to the butcher, go get veal cutlet and some pork, go to this place in Queens, Richmond Hill. So he taught me about dealing with people. About giving people tips. About saying hello and working with the average, everyday Joe that nobody’s better than anyone. And my father worked down the piers and he handled a lot of stuff for Queen Elizabeth, and he took care of the boats and the chefs. And the chefs used to give him gifts. So he used to explain this to me. So my father would set up his meats in a glass, and he taught me how to cook and prep, and he was very clean and organized, my father, and so am I. And that came from my grandmother. So that gave me a little taste and flavor. Then, I was always an entrepreneur. I went on a blind date. We saw a movie, you know, cocktails, and the girls were like, oh my god, you should bartend. I wound up getting a bartender’s job, and the rest is the history. And then I cooked and bartended. I did every position, you know? I run a company now, but I built every position, worked every position, then I try and fill the position and grow the company and build my people.

Rico [04:53 ]: Do you miss any part of that? Do you miss the cooking or the bartending? Do you miss the feel of that?

Willie [05:00 ]: Yeah. Like, I’m home today. I took off today Thursday. I work from my phone. I’m making a seven-level layer lasagna with my bechamel. So I’m always cooking. I love it. It’s a stress reliever to me. I have to be creative. I’m working on building new restaurants all the time, working on building people. The corporate infrastructure. The vision – the next five years. So yes – I miss being the interaction of running just one restaurant and me controlling everything and not depending on so many other people to run my vision. And that’s where the growing pains come. And that’s a, you know, trial and tribulation process.

Rico [05:43 ]: Now, you’ve – you started modestly, right? You opened up a place – Bayside Queens, I guess?

Willie [05:50 ]: Yes. My first bar/restaurant was in Main Street in my neighborhood, alright? And then I opened up the first Uncle Jack’s in Bayside on Bell Boulevard in 1996. So it was a bar – it was the first, sort of, fine, black angus steakhouse. I don’t think anyone knew what black angus even was.

Rico [06:13] : That’s funny – I don’t think it was too far from the – I worked on Bell Boulevard at a nightclub there in Bayside for a while. And, a lot of different – it’s a – it was an interesting neighborhood. So did you find success there? How long – is it still there?

Willie [06:28 ]: Yes. It’s still there. We’re open 24 years. I own the building, the corporate headquarters is upstairs, I’m in that store every day. We have the best customers. People come from all over. You know, that have been served there. And that’s where we built the legacy. That’s store – a small box, fifty seats, catering to everyone, giving them what they need, selling the best, executing day in, day out.

Rico [06:53 ]: So, you had that place for a while. And then, obviously, decided you wanted to grow and open another one. So how did you –

Willie [07:01 ]: We served a lot of developers and politicians, and then the mayors came there – Julianni, Bloomberg. So in 19-what is it, about 15 years ago on ninth avenue and 34th street, they were gonna transform that area with the Jet stadium. And a developer came to me and said, “We want to put an Uncle Jack’s in this building”. It was an apartment building on 9th avenue and 34th street. So I went and looked at it. They funded most of the project – half of it. I raised the other half of the money, built it out. The Jet project never went through, but I worked on the Knicks in Madison Square Garden, then I had Penn Station, then I had the Hammerstein ballroom, I had about ten hotels in the area. So again, I built it one customer at a time. You know, now it has the Hudson Yards, America’s largest, most expensive development ever, built two blocks away. I renegotiated, put another 15 years on the lease a year ago. What a vision of what was transformative in the neighborhood. So that was my second one.

Rico [08:06 ]: A lot of work, and a lot of experience getting that done, I’d imagine.

Willie [08:11 ]: Yeah. I mean, it’s not easy, you know. Starting from the bottom and being a self-taught entrepreneur and coming from a lower middle-class family. It’s never easy. Nobody wants to give you anything. You gotta go out there and you gotta earn it and you gotta win people over. You gotta attack other brands and understand that – why are people going to choose your brand over theirs?

Rico [08:38 ]: Right. Right. That makes a lot of sense. I mean – I deal with a lot of customers. I do use social media marketing and stuff. And it’s really – everyone thinks they have a unique business, but you really need to really point out what the uniqueness is, if it’s there. So, yeah.

Willie [08:56 ]: Here’s what I say. I live by this motto. What, where, and why. What are you selling? Where is it? And why should they come?

Rico [09:07 ]: Yeah, why should they buy it, right?

Willie [09:09 ]: You know, human nature – we have our senses. We’re visual, we smell, we touch. You know, when I – it’s not rocket science here, you know? Technology makes our life easier – it becomes a convenience. It becomes an organizer. It becomes a director. It becomes – it remembers and tracks and does everything for us and creates laziness. But you, as a business man and a businesswoman in today’s environment – you still have to keep your simple models, and you must execute your vision and game plan, day-in, day-out to whoever your customer base is.

Rico [09:51 ]: I – you know, and that applies to probably every business that you can think of, right?

Willie [09:57 ]: I think so. Right? I mean, it applies to Amazon, it applies to Google, it applies to Walmart, it applies to Home Depot, Target. You see their numbers. They’re all coming through, incredible, having great sales, because everybody’s working, and the economy’s booming.

Rico [10:13 ]: Yeah. And if you don’t – if you stay stagnant and you don’t change, you get lost, right? So – I mean –

Willie [10:19 ]: Time, today. I always say, right? Freedom is priceless. Time stands still for no one. People will step right over you.

Rico [10:30 ]: That’s right. That’s right. That’s what’s happening to a lot of these places right now, right? So Walmart is trying to become an Amazon. Amazon is flying away with stuff, right? I mean, no one goes to stores anymore, it seems. I mean, even friends that I know to go a store to maybe touch things, to see it, and then they’ll go back and buy it online or they might actually buy it on Amazon while they’re in the store. The –

Willie [10:54 ]: I – what I feel is – listen. 92% of retail is done in small shops or big stores. So, how much more of that can be done online? Now, me – I’m very progressive. So I’ve been shopping on the internet from the day it started. I was creating my own. But I’m very – I’m a visionary. So I believed it when everyone was scared of it. So you still will have retail. It’s just changing.

Rico [11:25 ]: That’s right.

Willie [11:26 ]: And it’s evolving. And people today want an experience. So in some sense, I always hated the big malls. I like a small town. I like a community. I like individual owners working a niche. And a lot of that’s come back with these many energy town centers. And I believe that’s the transformation of America again. It’s full of evolution, just new.

Rico [11:54 ]: Now, you talked about, you know, customers coming. But you also talk about experience. Experiential, right? I think one of the locations you opened in Queens had a roaring, 20’s style, basement bar/lounge.

Willie [12:08 ]: Right. It’s a hidden speakeasy called Bootlegged Jack’s. You have to go through the laboratory bathrooms, and it’s a big, steel vault door. You have to press this button and a red light goes off inside. You have to have the password to get in. And then the little metal hatch opens up. You tell the doorman the password, and then you get in, and it transforms you into an early 1900’s speakeasy lounge, Bordelo-sense-feel whiskey parlor.

Rico [12:36 ]: Unbeli-that’s an experience. Now how would you get the password? Is that something –

Willie [12:40 ]: The password is based on who you are, who you know, how many times you come to the restaurant, what are you eating upstairs, are you having a celebration? So it’s all done based on networking.

Rico [12:53 ]: So the restaurant – there’s a restaurant upstairs. Is it the normal Uncle Jack’s steakhouse upstairs?

Willie [12:59 ]: Yes. It’s the Uncle Jack’s Meathouse. The same location. So the Uncle Jack’s Meathouse is not a classic style steakhouse like Uncle Jack’s Steakhouse. It’s more of a new concept, where you come to get your meat game on. I’m the steak doctor. So I’m basically a meat expert. I grew up in a German-Irish household eating meat and potatoes my entire life. So I went shopping with my dad, I understand every aspect of meat. I live for it. I love it. I’m a carnivore. I’m a caveman, right? I love the nutrition. I like working out. It makes me feel strong. In this meathouse concept, it looks like an old, meat factory warehouse, but yet it has a level of luxury in the seating, in the materials used. And then we have a great menu mix where you could go there and you could spend anywhere from 20 dollars a person to 100 dollars a person and have four to five different style dining experiences. And it all is entertainment based. It’s very visualizing. The decor, the atmosphere, the artwork, the graffiti, everything handmade, customized, the way the food is displayed. I designed all these metal plates, we got hanging bacon, we got a cookie staircase. We have, you know, meatballs on golf cues. It’s very cool.

Rico [14:22 ]: Now, we were talking a little bit before we started this show that what you – you know what you tried to do a year ago. You had taken over a piece of area that, you know – is this going to be a standalone building?

Willie [14:36 ]: Hold on [dog barking] My wife took my dog out.

Rico [14:44 ]: This is what happens when you do live stream.

Willie [14:46 ]: Right. It’s okay. So Peachtree Corners – it’s three quarters, semi-attached building. And next to me is an Xfinity store. So we worked a deal with the landlord so we had this Xfinity store right next door, and now we have 4000 square foot inside, and then we have about 2000 square foot outdoor dining patio space. Some of it covered, some of it not.

Rico [15:12 ]: Nice. So you’re gonna – so what were you describing before, it’s gonna be the same look and feel. So if someone went to the Duluth location, it would be similar to that?

Willie [15:21 ]: It’s gonna be a lot like the Duluth location, but each store is unique for the area. Each menu gets tweaked for the area. So being that we’re at Peachtree Corners, we’re gonna have this special Peach Compote burger designed just for that area. So little things – we do our research of the area. All the history, who owned the land, who farmed there, what was grown there. So that’s all involved in the philosophy and story and the makeup and the ingredients we use when we’ll unveil a new location.

Rico [15:52 ]: So you’re – I mean, the meathouse is actually also like a farm to table? Are you local?

Willie [16:00 ]: Right. We use as much locally sourced, fresh ingredients, working direct with farmers, vendors, who makes honey, who makes cheeses, who’s raising their own pork, meat, sausages. Whatever way we can, we try to integrate that as much as possible.

Rico [16:17 ]: Okay. So, we’re – how far are we along now? Because it looks like you want to maybe open five additional locations, or five in total in the Atlanta area. You’ve got Duluth. Where are you now as far as getting the building, ground breaking?

Willie [16:30 ]: You know, when you design things at the level that I’m doing, it takes time. You know, working with towns today, it’s not easy. There’s a lot of regulation, there’s a lot of red tape. You gotta fight through. You have to hire a lot of people. You know, this was a fully brand new building. A brand new restaurant. It’s not like a face lift. You’re not taking an existing one. No permits were filed. So there’s a lot of different steps you gotta go through. But once you’ve passed that process and you get your store open, you know, those battles mean nothing. It’s all about execution, feeding everyone in the Peachtree community, building loyal customers, friends, winning them over, making them a part of the family, and getting them to love our house.

Rico [17:14 ]: So do you have – do you have a timeline of when you think things will happen?

Willie [17:19 ]: Well we – the final meeting is on the 27th. We just had unanimous approval on the elevation’s design. So we figure we’re breaking ground in two weeks, and we start building the building. You’ll see all the fencing wrapped. We have great visuals of what’s go come. And it’s the selfie of me on the fence, and if you send in pictures right now, you’ll be able to get invited to the grand opening and have dinner with me.

Rico [17:45 ]: So wait, there’s selfies on there now?

Willie [17:47 ]: No. The fencing that wraps the job site is getting wrapped with this meathouse fencing. Then it’s a full size selfie of me, the steak doctor, and we want people to take pictures and selfies next to it and send it in. And we’re gonna pick about 25 of the best photos and different people to come to the grand opening week celebration.

Rico [18:11 ]: Wow. Nice. Do you have an estimated time of when that might be – that grand opening?

Willie [18:15 ]: Well, we gotta figure, probably early spring of next year.

Rico [18:19 ]: Early spring. Okay. And are you working on any other restaurants or locations?

Willie [18:24 ]: Yes. Right now, I’m talking to other people in Georgia. I’m looking for the belt line, I’m looking for other developers to work with me, I’m talking to the Revel right next door, next to my Duluth store to maybe do a Jack’s tavern or one of my burger concepts there. Or maybe a speakeasy, right? So I have the Bootlegged Jack’s concept. I talked to Miami, I’m talking to Orlando. I’m looking in Virginia and Washington and North Carolina. So I’m gonna try to take over the east coast with this concept.

Rico [18:54 ]: Sounds good. And they’re all company owned. None of them are franchises?

Willie [18:59 ]: No. They’re all individually owned by me. And I have company shares for everyone who works involved in the company, runs my stores. They’re all gonna get shares and be working partners and owners. Then we’re gonna grow the brand.

Rico [19:13 ]: Okay. So you have local partners from Atlanta?

Willie [19:16 ]: Yes. So my team in Atlanta now – Brian, April, and the chef, Chris there – they’re all getting shares of the company. The opening team in Duluth will get shares in the company.

Rico [19:27 ]: So the chef that you have there now – or that you know will be there – what’s his experience? Is he working off – he’s obviously working off an existing menu that, plus the tweaks to that menu, I’m assuming, with you.

Willie [19:40 ]: Yes. Me and my chef work hand in hand. I’m a self-taught chef, so I understand the business. I understand what people like and what people need. So my chef is a creative tool, and he has the love and has the passion. Be able to work with others. And be young and be shaped and moldable. So Chris is excellent. He’s passionate, he loves food. He listens well. He works well with me. And you always say – the rich guy Tillman said, “Shut up and listen.” You know, when you have young people looking at you, eyes wide open, and realize, like, you have thirty five years of experience doing this. Are you willing to listen and learn? And work with me? And build a team? And teamwork, you know, leads to dream work. And that’s what we’re going here. We’re building a dream, and we’re changing people’s lives, we’re taking care of the community. It’s very important today to have place that people could go have a drink, have quality food, fresh, educated, good staff. It’s important.

Rico [20:46 ]: Oh, for sure. And a lot of people are talking about, like, scratch kitchens, right? I’m assuming yours is a scratch –

Willie [20:54 ]: Well that’s what we do. We make everything from scratch every day. We run a lunch show, we run a dinner show. If you see the new Peachtree location, we have this big round tower. I did a private, big round custom-made table in there to sit 14 people. It’s like the corporate event space where all these TVs on the wall for private parties. It’s going to be mind-blowing.

Rico [21:16 ]: So it’s gonna be it’s own private room, I guess?

Willie [21:19 ]: Right. When you walk in the door, there’s gonna be all these refrigerators of all the different meats, dry aged and tagged. How we’re aging them for 35 to 120 days. Also – that visualization you can see from walking around outside the building because they’ll be in the window. All the windows and doors open up. I put string lights, so it’s like a little string appeal in between the buildings. So it’s gonna be really cool.

Rico [21:47 ]: I can’t wait to see it – I can’t wait to see the renderings. I know you said you would share some with us, and we’ll be able to put that on our website along with an article about this. So I appreciate that, Willie.

Willie [21:57 ]: No problem.

Rico [21:58 ]: So what’s next for Uncle Jack’s Steakhouse?

Willie [22:02 ]: We got Peachtree working, I’m working on a lease in Miami, I’m working on a lease in Orlando. So, you know, to me, I’m gonna build one store at a time. The leases – the paperwork, the agreements, the design work – that all takes months. So I’m – me, I’m trying to do that now and the rest is my team executing the game plan.

Rico [22:22 ]: Excellent. Right. So we’ve been – this is great. We’ve been talking to Willie Degel. And – about Uncle Jack’s Meathouse – Steakhouse in New York, but Meathouse in the south. That’s what you’re expanding out on. With tweaked menus, especially to the local area. What was that particular one that you mentioned about Peachtree Corners?

Willie [22:45 ]: We’re gonna do a peach cobbler burger. It’s gonna have a peach jam, it’s gonna have cheeses that go with it. I don’t want to let you know the whole recipe yet, it’s gonna be different. We use it in some different things. We’ve got a peanut butter burger. So we’ve got a lot of new tweaks for the menu just from the Peachtree area.

Rico [23:02 ]: That sounds great. I can’t wait to try that. It’s such a – I miss New York in some ways. I don’t miss New York in a lot of ways, but what I miss in New York is the food from New York and the experimentation and stuff that goes on, and the experience, like you said. I mean, heck, Coney Island’s always an experience I think when you go there and check out the food.

Willie [23:22 ]: Coney Island’s changing. A lot of people developing there. Listen – I grew up in Queens. I live in Long Island now. Long Island don’t have the food like Queens. Queens – you have 177 languages. The largest ethnic groups in anywhere in the world. Its amazing cultural experience – we take all of that and it becomes Americanized. It gets infused. It’s the melting pot of the world. But, look, I love Georgia. Georgia is clean, neat, organized. The people are nice. Everybody’s kind. In New York, there’s grime, there’s wearing down on everyone. I’m gonna turn 52. I got an escape plan. I know where I’m going. I’m outta here in a couple years as well.

Rico [24:05 ]: That’s funny. The escape from New York. That’s funny. That’s what I did in ’95. Yeah. Good luck there. We’ve been with Willie – I appreciate you being with us, Willie. Thank you, and hang in there with me for after I close this out, but I wanna thank the Facebook livestream people. My facebook fans for showing up for Peachtree Corners Live for this show with Willie and talking about the new restaurant that’s gonna be opening up early spring hopefully – mid-spring. That’s Uncle Jack’s Meathouse. Lots of stuff sounds so unique. Can’t wait to have it. But thank you guys – I appreciate you being with us. Thank you, Willie.

Willie [24:50 ]: No problem, Rico.

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Food & Drink

My Favorite Holiday Foods & Desserts



Favorite Holiday Foods

We asked some local people what their favorites were for this holiday season

The Bramble Family
Kyra, Cliff, Stevie, Reid
Owner of Noble Fin

Peanut Butter Cookie Kisses

“One of the joys of making this dessert during the holidays is not the actual eating of these cookies, but the pure look of excitement in our kids’ faces. The excitement of gathering all of the ingredients, and the fun of pouring the ingredients into the bowl, making a mess and watching the kids be filled with so much excitement as the cookies get placed into the oven.”

Debbie Mason
Peachtree Corners
First Lady

While Debbie is involved with many of the city’s activities, including the Peachtree Corners Festival, she takes time to bake for her family. She shares this favorite holiday recipe.

Debbie’s Sour Cream Pound Cake

2 sticks butter, softened
½ teaspoon baking soda
3 cups sugar
1 cup sour cream
6 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups flour

Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each. In a different bowl, sift together the flour and baking soda. Then add the flour mixture, alternating with adding the sour cream, beginning and ending with flour. The batter should have taken on a different sheen when it’s ready. Add the vanilla and blend well. Pour into a greased and floured tube pan. Bake in a preheated oven at 325 degrees for 90 minutes. Enjoy!

Executive Chef Ken Hampton
Hilton Atlanta—Peachtree Corners

“I have been Executive Chef at the Hilton Atlanta—Peachtree Corners Hotel, known as the “Castle on the Hill,” for the past nine years, and I’ve seen tremendous growth in the area. Over the years, several local companies have held their holiday celebrations at our hotel. The holiday season is my favorite time of the year—I love to see the joy and happiness of our customers celebrating the season with co-workers and family.

“Our holiday collection this year includes Red Velvet Cheesecake with Bourbon Eggnog Crème, Warm Salted Caramel Vanilla Bean Cake with Peppermint Ice Cream, Cranberry Pumpkin Pie with Berry Coulis and Pearls Sugar Waffles with Mini Cider Donuts.”

Gina Solomon
Wesleyan Artist Market

Harvest Salad

“This is, hands down, a sure hit—even for those who typically do not enjoy a salad. The combination of sweet and savory is a crowd pleaser every time. Crisp green apples, toasted pecans and dried cranberries make it a seasonal specialty.”

● The salad ingredients include:
● mixed greens lettuce
● sliced red pepper
● cubed Granny Smith apples
● sliced red onion
● toasted pecan halves
● dried cranberries
● crumbled blue cheese
● salted bagel chips and
● homemade dressing of oil, apple cider vinegar, sugar, dried mustard and poppy seeds.

Jeanne Aulbach
Peachtree Corners City Council

Jeanne Aulbach

Jeanne likes to keep it basic. “Generally, if I’m hosting for the holidays, I just roast a turkey and fix some candied sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes and succotash. No recipes needed!”

Chef Donte Youmans
Firebirds Wood Fired Grill in Peachtree Corners

Surf and Turf

If turkey isn’t your style, Chef Youmans has a suggestion: try a half-pound lobster tail and a 7-ounce applewood-smoked, bacon-wrapped filet seared over glowing embers of Firebirds’ 100% wood fired grill.

“Our Surf and Turf is a special entree combining a flavorful hand-cut filet with a juicy lobster tail grilled to perfection.”

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Celebrate the Spooky Seask with Family-Friendly Halloween Events at Gwinnett Parks



Gwinnett County Parks and Recreation has so many ways to celebrate the haunting season. Some are spine-chilling and others are educational but all are family friendly:

  • Walk Among the Stars is on Oct. 24, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Collins Hill Park, 2225 Collins Hill Road, Lawrenceville 30043. Celebrate National Lights on Afterschool at this free event for all ages with costumes, games, crafts, inflatables and more. Visit www.livehealthygwinnett.com or call 770-822-3197 for more information.
  • Gourd Monsters & Mocktails is Oct. 25, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at Prime Timers Pointe at George Pierce Park, 55 Buford Highway, Suwanee 30024. Create a spooktacular masterpiece while enjoying mocktails and tasty treats! All instructions and materials provided. Ages 50 and older, $5 per person. Preregister by Oct. 22 online with code GPP41901 or call 678-277-0910.
  • Escape the Room: Teen Edition is on Oct. 25, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Rhodes Jordan Park Community Recreation Center, 100 East Crogan Street, Lawrenceville 30046. Help solve the mystery, beat the clock and escape. Ages 11 to 14, $10 per person. Preregister by Oct. 21 online with code RJP41605 or call 678-277-0890.
  • Super Hero Costume Party is on Oct. 26, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Lilburn Activity Building, 788 Hillcrest Road, Lilburn 30047. Come to this free event dressed as your favorite hero for an afternoon of fun, games, music and more. All ages welcome. Preregister to reserve your spot online with LAB41620 or call 678-277-0875.
  • Fall Into Halloween is on Oct. 26, from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Lucky Shoals Park Community Recreation Center, 4651 Britt Road, Norcross 30093. A Halloween festival complete with crafts, games, costume contests and a haunted surprise for everyone. All ages, $3 per person. Preregister online with code LSP41610 or call 678-277-0860.
  • Harvest Homecoming is on Oct. 26, from noon to 4 p.m. at McDaniel Farm Park, 3251 McDaniel Road, Duluth 30096. A free event with a special trip to the farm for games, face painting and tours. See the furry farm friends, enjoy a hayride, visit vendors and sample some tasty s’mores. All ages, preregister online with code MFP41690 or call 770-822-5450.
  • Trail of Terror is on Oct. 26, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at Vines Park, 3500 Oak Grove Road, Loganville 30052. Get your chills and thrills as you experience the shadowy and sinister Phantom Village. All ages, $5 per person. Preregister online with code EXT41700 or call 678-377-4010.
  • Underwater Pumpkin Patch is on Oct. 26, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Bethesda Park Aquatic Center, 225 Bethesda Church Road, Lawrenceville 30044. Come find your perfect pumpkin in the pool patch to decorate for our pumpkin contest. All ages, $8 per person. Preregister online by Oct. 18 with code BEP41101 or call 678-277-0880.
  • Spooktacular Skate Party is on Oct. 26 from, 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at Pinckneyville Park Hockey Rink, 4758 South Old Peachtree Road, Peachtree Corners 30071. Create ghoulish crafts, roast marshmallows, participate in a costume contests and more! Free to attend, bring your skates and have some fun. Additional fees may apply. All ages, preregister online with code PVP41690 or call 678-277-0920.
  • Evening with Edgar Allan Poe is on Oct. 26, from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. at Lawrenceville Female Seminary, 455 South Perry Street, Lawrenceville 30046. Get into the spooky season with one of the most renowned writers to hear tales that will make your blood run cold! Ages 16 and up, $26 per person. Preregister by Oct. 20 online with code LFS41402 or call 770-822-5178.
  • Boo Bingo and Potluck is on Oct. 31, from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Bethesda Park Senior Center, 225 Bethesda Church Road, Lawrenceville 30044. Dress up in your best Halloween costume, bring a frightfully good potluck dish and enjoy a round of Boo Bingo! Ages 50 and up, $6 per person. Preregister Oct. 29 online with code BEP41908 or call 678-277-0179. 

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Food & Drink

Great Spaces: Ten Bistro



Ten Bistro

One of Fourteen included in Our Great Spaces for Your Corporate & Holiday Events

Ten Bistro
5005 Peachtree Parkway #820
Peachtree Corners 30092

Ten Bistro is the vision of Owner and Chef Jesse Kauffman who initially spent a long time on the corporate side of the restaurant business. Much of his formation included eight weeks of training in the kitchen, at each new restaurant that he managed.

He comes from a family of foodies; his mother was always very focused on organic, healthy foods, and his grandfather was a life-long baker. He rolled into the restaurant business very naturally.

When this attractive space became available in his community, he jumped at the chance to open his own, and just like that, Kauffman became both a Peachtree Corners resident and restauranteur. Although he didn’t realize it at the time, he decided on a brilliant way to get the neighborhood to rally behind him.

He put out the word to the 10 major subdivisions in Peachtree Corners, soliciting favorite recipes from his neighbors. “There’s always that one person known for their white chicken chili at the tennis team party,” chuckled Kauffman. So in a genuine attempt to find out what his fellow citizens would enjoy eating, his initial menu emerged, complete with the names of the neighbors who had volunteered them and the subdivisions they hailed from.

“So that’s where the “10” came from. And Bistro, just because a bistro has everything from French onion soup, to a good fresh fish, to filet mignon, and good organic salads. So that’s Ten Bistro!”

The Ten Bistro Noël

Both corporate and family gatherings on the smaller side, which do not necessarily require a private event space, are welcome in the restaurant. If a private function is a requirement, buyout of the restaurant is always an option.

The best number for a party size here is 50 or less—50 would take-up the whole restaurant. They’ve had parties of up to 65, with some guests spilling over onto the patio, but you can’t always count on the weather.

How About a Holiday Party with Ten Bistro?

Great news! Kauffman and his team do provide off-site catering for 10-150 people. Call the restaurant to discuss your vision and Ten Bistro can come to you!

For a group reserving the whole restaurant, they’ll start off with either passed around appetizers, or set them up on the bar. Envision brie wrapped in puff pastry with pineapple chili marmalade, asparagus fries, pitta and hummus, vegetable crudités, and bruschetta toast points.

Once guests are seated two choices of salad are offered; either Caesar or the House Salad.

Entrees can be served one of two ways; family-style, with guests being served from platters brought out by servers or plated in advance and brought out. For family-style, “servers come out with large platters of truffle mashed potatoes, green beans, and asparagus, and serve everybody. Then we come out with 3 different proteins and everybody can have all of them, like salmon, steak, and chicken. So, you get a nice full plate that we keep serving until people are full,” explained Kauffman.

Alternatively, you may develop a menu from which guests will be able to choose one of three entrees if the party is large. If the party is 20 or smaller, guests can have a choice of up to five entrees. “That’s where we can include vegan, vegetarian, seafood, chicken, steak, for a nice broad coverage. Then we just plate it, and bring it out,” offered Kauffman.

Desserts are the grand finale of either aforementioned scenario. 

Dietary restrictions can be accommodated here. Whether you’re a vegetarian, or you’re avoiding gluten, or dairy. Meals can be easily made per your request. Because everything is made to order, any undesired ingredients can be easily left off.

Kauffman has always had his finger on the pulse of every food decision at the restaurant. For the past seven years he’s shifted his focus from shaking hands and kissing babies in the front of the house to the kitchen even more so. There’s a reason the “boutiquey” restaurant is often buzzing.

Artwork from local artists adorns the walls of this eclectic establishment. If you should find a piece that speaks to you, they’re for sale – all proceeds go to the artists who created them.

Book it!

Any day is a good day to host a party at Ten Bistro. Kauffman recommends scheduling your holiday season event one month in advance.

From Sunday through Thursday, the group would have to spend $4,000 to rent the whole restaurant. This includes an open bar and a four-course meal.

The buyout price for Friday and Saturday is $5k, including a four-course menu, an open bar, tax and gratuity.

Daytime parties that take place on Saturday or Sunday can be done for much less: $20 per person, with a 20-person minimum.

For smaller groups of 15 to 25 that don’t need to rent the whole space for a private venue, it’s from $15 to $20 per person for lunch groups. For three course dinners, it’s $27 per person, alcohol would not be included. It would be billed separately.

To book your holiday fête or soirée at Ten Bistro, call Owner and Chef Jesse Kauffman at 770-375-8330.

Disclaimer: Pricing is meant as a guide and is subject to change, please check with the individual facilities directly.

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