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Food & Drink

Local Restaurant Group Grows Concepts

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Raquel Stalcup, Charlie Sunyapong, Natalie Young, Tola Mak
Photos by George Hunter

Owners of Pêche Modern Coastal and Stäge Kitchen & Bar aim to cover the area with varied cuisine.

The vision, passion and creativity behind Pêche Modern Coastal at The Forum comes from a love of food, good service and, collectively, decades of experience.

Owners Tola Mak, creative director of marketing; Charlie Sunyapong, corporate executive chef; and Raquel Stalcup, director of operations, put their knowledge and acquired skills into varied and interesting food offerings throughout the area. 

Raquel Stalcup, Charlie Sunyapong, Natalie Young, Tola Mak
Raquel Stalcup, Charlie Sunyapong, Natalie Young, Tola Mak

Besides the high-end seafood restaurant, they are also the force behind nearby Stäge Kitchen & Bar, another local favorite.

Stäge is focused on tapas and sushi as well as fresh pasta, steaks and seafood. “It’s driven by local and seasonal items, so [the menu] changes to incorporate fresh ingredients,” said Mak. 

Although Pêche emphasizes fish and seafood offerings, they try to have something for everyone. 

“We use lots of classic French techniques in our cooking styles, but with a modern twist,” said Sunyapong. “We’ve also got a raw bar offering, something no one else in the area really had.”

With an eye to freshness and authenticity, there’s no freezer in the Pêche. Fresh ingredients are delivered four times a week.

Vereak Chhun, executive chef, Brian Thomas, Michael Real
Vereak Chhun, executive chef, Brian Thomas, Michael Real

Even though the restaurant strives to stay true to the vision of the chef, the kitchen is flexible when it comes to dietary restrictions, allergies and just plain preferences. “We have vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free,” said Stalcup. “If it’s not on the menu, the chef will make something special.”

Three paths come together

“I have had a love for food since I was young,” said Sunyapong. 

He was in one of the early classes of the now-shuttered Culinary Institute of America in Tucker. He took a hiatus for about a decade and focused on the beauty industry. But his first love called him back.

He then opened a restaurant in the Parkside district in 2017. Shortly afterward, he teamed up with long-time friends who’d had similar dreams. “We’d been talking about doing this for like 20 years,” he said. “Then once we opened one restaurant together, we just kept going.”

Mak grew up cooking with his parents and grandparents. “They worked in hotels and restaurants. Since I could probably walk, I was in a kitchen, just doing little things,” Mak said. 

His grandparents owned a bakery in Thailand. When his parents immigrated to the U.S., they opened a Thai restaurant in Norcross.

After a childhood around the food industry, Mak also went to culinary school. He took the corporate route and worked in several hotels throughout the metro area.

“I worked for Marriott, Renaissance, the Marquee,” he said. He said that the last thing a corporate executive chef got to do was cook.

“You’re not allowed in the kitchen,” Mak said. “Most hotel chefs are in the office. You’re just managing the staff and the numbers. You’re not really allowed to be that creative, so I opened my own restaurant.”

Stalcup grew up in Hawaii. Her family had some restaurants in hotels, and she grew up working alongside them. The family moved to Atlanta when she was 15 and she started working at local restaurants. That’s when Stalcup met Sunyapong and Mak.

She worked for Buckhead Life Restaurant Group and Here to Serve Restaurant Group for 15 years, bartending and managing the different concepts. “I moved to Johns Creek / Peachtree Corners 20 years ago, managing at Stoney River, and I was the general manager at Cabernet Steakhouse in Alpharetta,” she said.

Although they traveled different paths, the three friends ended up at the same conclusion. “With so much experience in different areas of restaurants and all of us with the cooking background, we realized we can do this ourselves,” said Sunyapong. “So we opened La Belle Vie six years ago.”

They sold that restaurant and have formed their own restaurant group, Saltie Butter, in late 2020. “We have a really good owners’ group where everyone specializes in their area,” said Mak. “So we’ve been able to expand a lot faster.”

Bringing a variety of cuisine to the area

Besides Pêche and Stäge, the group is looking to open two more restaurants — one in Dunwoody, named Campus 244. While it will also concentrate on top-notch cuisine and service, it won’t be like the previous two.

The group is building momentum and putting profits into new development. “I’m out to three times a week looking for locations and meeting with developers,” said Mak. “We’re talking about 10 restaurants in the next five years, so it’s more of a process. We go in and train and develop menus and then we kind of move on to the next project.”

Part of Saltie Butter’s focus has been on mentoring new chefs and restaurateurs to form the next successful generation. The group encourages the staff to grow, learn and bring their cultures and ideas into the mix.

“What we do is really try to grow a lot of the people within our group, and give them a shot,” said Sunyapong. “I think that gives us the opportunity to really expand and not just be a one trick pony.

Arlinda Smith Broady is part of the Boomerang Generation of Blacks that moved back to the South after their ancestors moved North. With approximately three decades of journalism experience (she doesn't look it), she's worked in tiny, minority-based newsrooms to major metropolitans. At every endeavor she brings professionalism, passion, pluck, and the desire to spread the news to the people.

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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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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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Cheeseburger Bobby’s in Peachtree Corners is Under New Management

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After being closed for a few months, locals are happy to see that Cheeseburger Bobby’s in Peachtree Corners has reopened under new management.
From left, owner Sandra Lowe and her daughter Isabelle // Photos by George Hunter

New owners of Cheeseburger Bobby’s bring neighborliness along with fresh, well-prepared fare.

After being shuttered for several months, locals seem happy to see that Cheeseburger Bobby’s in Peachtree Corners has reopened under new management.

Keith and Sandra Lowe took over the franchise a few months ago and are working hard to win back customers. They are committed to quality food, consistency, cleanliness and good service.

“My background is in retail operations,” said Keith Lowe. “We had restaurants within the retail cafés that we ran.”

Although his wife is more involved in the day-to-day running of the restaurant, she admittedly doesn’t have experience running a fast-casual eatery.

“It’s something that we’ve always wanted to do. We’ve always wanted to open a business for ourselves. So, this opportunity came back in April. And then we bought it and went through the whole remodel,” Sandra Lowe said.

Bringing a Peachtree Corners staple back to life

The Cheeseburger Bobby’s franchise fits well for the Lowes because of the structure and support from the corporate office.

According to its introduction to franchisees, the business aims to work easily and efficiently for restaurant industry veterans or those just entering the profession.

One thing that stood out for the couple was the fresh, made-from-scratch food and a menu that’s not too complicated.

The fact that there are vegetarian and healthy options like salads, black bean burgers, and turkey burgers was also a plus. Additionally, customers have the option of several toppings for their sandwiches as well as seasoning for fries and an extensive fixings bar.

They knew little about the previous owners or what caused them to give up the franchise, but they vowed to become a fixture in the community and build loyalty with the basics.

An inviting place for the entire community
“Cleanliness is tops for us,” said Sandra Lowe. “That’s number one. … We have a great environment, great customer service and consistent food. We talked about how those three things will win back customers.”

On a recent weekday lunch rush, a mix of office workers, holiday shoppers and construction workers came through.

As Sandra Lowe passed out samples of the signature frozen custard, the chilly late fall weather had no effect on orders for milkshakes and other confections.

The custard recipe is reminiscent of the old-fashioned, hand-churned type many grandmas used to make. Some say it has a richer, creamier texture and a smoother consistency than typical ice cream.

A recipe for success

As a homemaker and the queen of her castle, Sandra Lowe didn’t hesitate at the chance to get back into the work world. Her 15-year-old twins are old enough to be more self-sufficient, so she and her husband decided it was time to try something new.

“It works out perfectly,” she said. “I come to work in the mornings, stay until 3 p.m., and then I’m back with my kids in the evening.”

“Because my background was operations in food, sanitation and all those things, this was an easy decision,” said Keith Lowe.

Additionally, they surrounded themselves with knowledgeable, professional staff.

“We hit a home run with Kenneth, our general manager,” he said. “He has over a decade of experience running restaurants. And Archie, our shift manager, has been at this restaurant for the entire 12 years that has been open.”

A mix of experience with new energy

“We think we have a very welcoming environment,” said Sandra Lowe. “Great customer service, consistent, fresh food served with a smile and a clean environment are our focus.”

Another significant factor is the focus on community.

Although the restaurant hasn’t been open for long, the Lowes have joined the Southwest Gwinnett Chamber and have reached out to Norcross High and Wesleyan schools for partnerships.

“Being engaged with the committee is important to us,” they said almost in unison.

Making Cheeseburger Bobby’s a true family business is also essential.

“The [kids] come to work here every weekend,” said Sandra Lowe.

“We’ve seen that the kids are more social. It gets them away from the phone. It gets him interacting,” said Keith Lowe.

“We’ve talked to them about the importance of eye contact and helping the customer have a great experience. We’ve even seen them really grow in such a short time.”

Cheeseburger Bobby’s
Located in the Peachtree Square Shopping Center
6050 Peachtree Pkwy #140
cheeseburgerbobbys.com
770-696-1337

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