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Food & Drink

A Passion for Latin: Peachtree Corners’ Newest Latin American Restaurant

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From left, Jay and Ofelia, David Aaron and Juanita (Photos by Isadora Pennington)

It was a sunny and warm spring day when I pulled up to Latin Fresh on South Old Peachtree Road. Pops of color alluded to the tropical vibe I was about to encounter in this charming and innovative restaurant.

Latin Fresh, open only since January 24, 2022, is a restaurant unlike any other in the area. Offering traditional dishes that hail from Latin American countries such as Brazil, Peru, Colombia and Venezuela, the menu is fresh, bold and creative.

For many Southerners, Latin American food might be synonymous with burritos, tacos and other Mexican or Tex-Mex dishes. That’s something that the family behind Latin Fresh wants to change.

“I realized there were a lot of Mexican restaurants,” said David Aaron who co-owns the restaurant with his fiancé Juanita and his parents Jay and Ofelia. Aaron, who recently moved to Peachtree Corners from Colombia, hopes to provide a menu that not only speaks to his personal passion for Latin cuisine but also offers an opportunity for locals to expand their palates.

A variety of flavors and experiences

“No Latin American country is exactly the same; we are all full of colors, cultures, music, traditions, dialects, all across Latin America. Latin America is composed of Central America, the Caribbean, South America and every single country is completely different,” Aaron explained.

Fortunate enough to travel extensively, Aaron has been able to see firsthand the variety of cuisines in the 33 countries that comprise Latin America. “The food in Colombia on the east side is completely different to that on the west, the south or the north side,” he said. “It’s completely different, and that’s just one country.”

Aaron, a chef who has been working in the restaurant industry for 21 years, has cooked in settings that range from cafeterias to Michelin Star restaurants. He grew up in Miami with his parents and a large, vibrant family.

Aaron’s father Jay was a pilot and when he retired, he opened a restaurant. He used his cooking skills to raise money for foundations he cared about as well as feeding his large family from his home kitchen.

“We had something like 70 first cousins, my mother has 15 siblings,” said Aaron. “We always had people coming to the house and my father was always cooking, trying different things, always homey foods and done from scratch. If he wanted a tomato sauce, he would cut the tomato and make it himself.”

Beyond his father’s obvious love for cooking, Aaron noted the financial element to making food from scratch. If you’re buying ingredients, as opposed to prepared goods, you can often stretch your dollar to create larger batches of food which is essential when you’re cooking for dozens of people on a given day.

“I have never been to cooking school, never ever, just learned from my mom,” explained Jay Aaron, David’s father. “When I came here, I was 20 years old. I never cooked in my house, but when my mom came here and saw that I was cooking, she couldn’t believe it. I like it. I really enjoy it, it’s really important that I enjoy whatever I do.”

The road to Peachtree Corners

At the onset of the pandemic, David Aaron was working in Miami and his catering business took a huge hit due to canceled events and ongoing shutdowns. As a result, he relocated to Colombia where he took a more hands-on approach in one the restaurants owned by his restaurant group.

While this restaurant in Colombia was incredibly successful, he and his fiancé Juanita Mesa decided they wanted to find somewhere in the States to settle down. Juanita’s background in hospitality — which led her to live in Australia, South Africa, Spain, London, Canada — and her ability to speak five languages has offered her a unique perspective, and it was with careful consideration that she chose this area.

Considering it to be family-friendly and inviting, they saw the area was also ripe for a dynamic Latin restaurant concept. “I think what’s special about it is it’s family,” Juanita explained. “It’s what Latin America is all about; we are all about having our family together. David and his parents, you can’t get closer to family than that. His sister lives 40 minutes away and having that support of being able to ask questions — they know the area — that was super important to us.”

Aaron’s parents relocated from Miami to be closer to their family and grandkids here and are deeply involved in the venture.

The feel and flavors of home

“The idea behind Latin Fresh is that everything is fresh, everything is cooked from scratch,” said Aaron. Customers are able to choose a base, a protein, a side and a couple of sauces. “In Latin America you drench everything in sauces,” Aaron explained with a laugh.      

Whether you prefer an empanada, a bowl or a wrap, you can craft a unique and delectable dish with flavors you may have never experienced before. Friendly and knowledgeable staff are there to walk you through all the different options, explaining the ingredients and origins of all the menu items to find a dish you’re sure to love.

“It’s very homey flavors to us, which we know is probably not homey to our customers,” said Juanita. “We want people to be able to come here and taste things and feel at home like when we went into our mom’s kitchens growing up. Having that, not only in the food but also the service, to have people who can approach you like family, like a friend, to be able to ask questions.”

Describing such a varied menu can be tough, but Aaron considers it a kind of Latin American soul food. “It’s food that warms the heart.”

In fact, the very design and aesthetics of the restaurant have been chosen to evoke a familiar feeling, like that of walking into a Latin friend’s house. Along one wall, a large mural was painted by a Colombian artist who the team flew in. The opposite wall is covered with wooden planks in colors that were carefully chosen to be light, bright and joyous.

Family owned and operated, they hope that Latin Fresh is approachable, cozy and comfortable, both for local Latin neighbors and those unfamiliar with Latin American cuisine.

A fresh, family concept

Another key tenet of the Latin Fresh concept is sustainability. All of the restaurant’s furniture was refurbished, and they source their food and juices locally and from independent farmers whenever possible. Even their plates, forks and cups are all ethically made from compostable materials.

“Fresh is the concept; we don’t use canned products, preservatives or GMOs. We are big on that,” said Aaron. “I’m a big vegan activist; I think it’s the future of food. All our bases and sides are vegan, and then we have three vegan protein options.”

A family affair, it is not uncommon to see Aaron’s father working in the kitchen, his mother ensuring everything is just right on the line, Juanita manning the phones and answering questions. “To serve people is my favorite,” said Aaron’s mother Ofelia.

If you’re fortunate enough to meet the family, you’ll find they are friendly and approachable, ready to offer unique insight to their one-of-a-kind menu.

During my visit I was fortunate enough to be able to sample several dishes, and I have to say that they were each incredibly unique, flavorful and delicious. Every ingredient, though vastly different in origin and preparation, was so thoughtfully prepared it seemed as though they were destined to be paired with one another.

The drinks, made from tropical fruits — many of which I had never tried before — were delightful. I found myself cycling through the offerings, sampling sauces and going back for seconds of every dish. Thoroughly stuffed and feeling the love, I headed home with several boxes of delectable Latin soul food. What an experience.

Peachtree Corners is truly lucky to have Latin Fresh in the neighborhood.

For more information visit latinfreshgroup.com

Isadora is a writer, photographer, and designer living in Avondale Estates, GA. She has worked in print for the past decade and has been published in the Atlanta INtown, Oz Magazine, Atlanta Senior Life, and the Reporter Newspapers.

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Food & Drink

Sucré: New Orleans-Style Luxury Pastry Shop Opening in Peachtree Corners

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Opening this fall at The Forum Peachtree Corners

Abney Harper, co-owner of the luxury New Orleans brand Sucré, shares her journey into the culinary world. Sucré recently opened its first location outside of New Orleans in Woodstock, Atlanta, marking an exciting expansion. Abney hopes to create a beautiful, magical experience showcasing handcrafted, complex pastries while ensuring quality and consistency. The Forum Peachtree Corners will open this fall, 2024. This interview by Rico Figliolini

Podcast Timestamp (where to find it in the podcast):
00:00:00 – Abney Harper’s Journey
00:01:44 – Sucré: New Orleans-Style Luxury Pastry Shop
00:03:37 – From Law to Pastry: A Serendipitous Journey
00:06:16 – Expanding Sucré’s Presence in Georgia
00:08:09 – From Restaurants to Pastries
00:12:47 – Navigating the Challenges of Scaling a Business Across States
00:15:18 – Navigating Regulations and Expansion Plans
00:17:22 – Expanding Sucré Brand Beyond New Orleans
00:20:08 – Discovering A New Orleans Passion
00:21:24 – Bringing the Essence of New Orleans to Atlanta

Podcast Transcript:

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Food & Drink

New dining experience opens at Hilton Hotel

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Dahlia’s Restaurant & Porch // Photo by Bruce Johnson

Dahlia’s Restaurant & Porch offers southern-style fare and easy entertainment

Just in time for the summer season, Hilton Atlanta Northeast has launched a new dining option, Dahlia’s Restaurant & Porch.

The casual dining experience brings understated luxury to an easy, breezy setting with comfortable patio furniture on a spacious outdoor deck, a full bar with top-shelf spirits and an impressive wine collection. The cuisine is Southern style and utilizes regionally sourced, farm-fresh ingredients.

“You really can’t ask for an easier setting or a more comfortable way to unwind,” said Andrew Stegen, executive vice president of operations for FullG Capital, the hotel operator. “In the old days, hotels had restaurants for the travelers, and the locals came occasionally. Now, it’s the other way around. You have to appeal to the people who live here.”

At a press preview on May 15, Dahlia’s Restaurant & Porch was unveiled for the first time.

Dahlia’s plans to offer weekend buffets, sports viewing on the patio and family-friendly cookouts.

Photo by Bruce Johnson

“Dahlia’s is a great addition for our hotel guests but also for the local community! We are most excited about our new porch, which is the perfect place for happy hour spritz, outdoor dining and future programming,” said Mike Roling, general manager of Hilton Atlanta Northeast. 

The food is led by executive chef Robert Chafflin, who said he likes to bring an approachable yet flavorful take on southern culinary staples. For the preview, guests were wowed with shrimp and grits, braised beef short ribs, mushroom risotto, shrimp po’boys, cheesecake with caramelized peaches and a whole lot more. 

The beverages were just as tantalizing – from the signature Black Dahlia to the unexpected Southern Dandie to an array of seasonal spritzes. 

“We are excited to bring a newly renovated restaurant space, brand new porch, and refreshed menu to our property,” said Roling. “We welcome the public, both locals and hotel guests alike, to come join us for a dining experience elevated by our southern hospitality.”

Dahlia’s Restaurant & Porch also has a private dining area and a lounge area—perfect for relaxing after a busy day, grabbing a sumptuous meal with the family or meeting friends for lunch or dinner and drinks. Dahlia’s also provides catering for hotel events. For more information, visit dahliasrestaurant.com.

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Food & Drink

U&ME Coffee Bakery & Wine Celebrates Grand Opening In Peachtree Corners

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Mayor Mike Mason and members of the Peachtree Corners Business Association (PCBA), business professionals, and community well-wishers recently celebrated the opening of U&ME Coffee Bakery Wine, a new establishment in Peachtree Corners.

The event was marked with a ribbon-cutting ceremony attended by friends, family members of the owners, Paula Gil and Pablo Vicens, who are married, and their dedicated staff.

Left to right:  Paula Gil & Pablo Gil, Owners

U&ME Coffee Bakery Wine, a local family-owned business, focuses on creating a welcoming space where families can gather, students can study, and friends can hang out.

This establishment offers free high-speed Wi-Fi, weekly specials and a cozy environment for all.

Paula Gil emphasized the importance of offering breakfast, lunch, and dinner options that cater to various tastes and needs.

Family and Friends, Staff, Pablo Gil, Paula Gil, Mayor Mike Mason, Lisa Proctor PCBA Board, Suzanna Martinez PCBA Board, Donna Linden PCBA Board, and Audrey Boyce PCBA Outreach.

The goal is to deliver the highest quality specialty items at fair prices.

“We are excited to bring our blend of coffee shop, wine bar, bakery, and diner spot to Peachtree Corners,” stated Paula.

U&ME Coffee prides itself on using 100% Colombian Medellin Coffee and ensuring all baking is done on-premises to guarantee freshness and quality.

Further distinguishing themselves, Paula and Pablo have incorporated homemade empanadas, pizzas, and pastries into their menu, all made from scratch to offer a unique taste experience.

In addition to their dine-in services, U&ME Coffee caters to those on the go with their to-go orders and provides catering services for special events.

Mayor Mason, alongside PCBA Board Members Lisa Proctor, Donna Linden, Allison Reinert, Suzanna Martinez, and numerous local business supporters, expressed their delight in welcoming U&ME Coffee Bakery Wine to the city.

“The city council and I are delighted you chose Peachtree Corners for your business location. We are pleased to have this new specialty restaurant available as part of our business-friendly city,” Mayor Mason remarked.

Contact:  U&ME Coffee Bakery & Wine
Telephone: 470-359-6972
Facebook:  Facebook U&ME Coffee Bakery Wine
Located at 3433 Medlock Bridge Road, Peachtree Corners

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