Thursday, April 19, 2018

Babalu Tapas & Tacos® Looks Inward for Outward Growth; Chief Operating Officer Abe Ruiz Takes Restaurant Group Back to its Roots

For more information:
Morgan Lanier or Olivia Mayes
Melissa Libby & Associates

Spanish-Meets-Southern Style Tapas Restaurant Ensures Smart Expansion with Small Kitchen Footprint, Community Connection and Local Market Approach

ATLANTA (April 19, 2018) – Babalu Tapas & Tacos® is keeping an eye on its past while looking to its promising future. The Spanish-meets-Southern-style tapas restaurant is poised for continued expansion, but much like the revival of the historic neighborhoods where Babalu restaurants are located, the company is experiencing its own rebirth this year with responsible growth strategies that harken back to what originally made this casual dining concept take the Southeast by storm back in 2010.  

“We look internally first; the way we are building and designing restaurants has to make sense for our brand and today’s labor market,” says chief operating officer Abe Ruiz, who oversees the organization’s daily operations and currently drives the restaurant’s growth across the Southeast and Midwest.

Ruiz’s career has included executive level operations and marketing roles at Famous Dave’s of America, Colon Gerena Restaurant Group and Il Mulino NYC. Now at Babalu, he has been focused on making the company operationally centric and ensuring the restaurants’ design is catering to all five senses.

“What made our first restaurants in Jackson, Memphis and Birmingham so successful was that the bar was an extension of the kitchen itself,” says Ruiz. “We’re going back to our roots and making sure all our restaurants are small, tight units where guests can experience the energy of the kitchen and feel invigorated. This trickles down to our staff and the entire atmosphere of Babalu.” 

Babalu opened five units between 2010 and 2016 before undergoing an aggressive growth spurt in 2017 with the opening of four units in one year. Concerned that the company was taking its eye off operations during this rapid expansion, Ruiz hit the reset button. After refocusing on strengthening the company’s foundation and circling back to what made the concept successful in the first place, Ruiz is leading the opening of three new locations in 2018/19 and has plans to open 10 to 15 additional units in the next five years.

When choosing these future restaurant sites, Ruiz and his team believe in the restoration of older neighborhoods that cater to young families rather than focusing solely on growing metropolitan areas. The company looks to refurbished buildings with a historical past such as the abandoned JC Penney building where Babalu’s Knoxville, TN restaurant is now located. “We want to be part of the DNA of the community and believe in giving back to the neighborhood,” he says.

This community support is part of Babalu’s local market approach, and although each restaurant’s menu reflects the use of local farmers and producers, this approach extends far beyond the food. The restaurant company also utilizes local construction teams, designers and artists in an effort to help the area’s local businesses thrive. 

Ruiz is confident that Babalu will be ready for nationwide expansion once the restaurants reach a total of 15 units. The company is currently eyeing Tennessee, Georgia and Florida for future locations.

About Babalu
Babalu Tapas & Tacos® is a fun, one-of-a-kind, sharing-style dining experience. Founded in 2010, in Jackson, Mississippi, the restaurant has quickly taken the Southeast by storm. The Latin-inspired dishes -- each with a unique Southern flair -- are sure to bring people together. Babalu is proud to use hyper-local produce and products for its made-from-scratch dishes and handcrafted cocktails. Babalu is a wholly owned subsidiary of Eat Here Brands. For more information, visit

About Eat Here Brands
In early 2012, Bill Latham and Al Roberts teamed up to establish Eat Here Brands, LLC. Headquartered in Atlanta, Eat Here Brands is the restaurant holding company for Babalu Tacos & Tapas® and Table 100. For more information on Eat Here Brands, visit


Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Delicious Ways to Spend Mother’s Day

For more information:
Morgan Lanier or Olivia Mayes
Melissa Libby & Associates

Atlanta Restaurants Serve Up Specials to Please Mom’s Palate

ATLANTA (April 17, 2018) – There’s no better time to treat mom to a luxurious meal than on Mother’s Day, and it’s time to reserve that relaxing day or evening for the special women in our lives. Luckily, Atlanta-area restaurants are making it easy to keep her out of the kitchen on Sunday, May 13 with special menus and events all around town.

Treat mom to a lavish brunch from 12:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. at American Cut, featuring spicy crab toast with avocado, lobster cake Benedict, Nutella-stuffed French toast and steak huevos rancheros. $65 per person, excluding tax and gratuity. Or opt for the restaurant’s new à la carte dinner menu filled with hot and cold appetizers, steaks, specialty cuts, seafood dishes and sides from 3:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.  770-415-9766, Upstairs, The Regent Cocktail Club offers drink specials including mimosas and bloody Marys along with a bar snack menu. 770-415-9961,

Tell that special lady just how much she’s cared for by treating her to chef Gerry Klaskala’s contemporary American cuisine at Aria. This classic Buckhead hotspot is normally closed on Sundays; however, the restaurant is opening its doors on May 13 for an unforgettable Mother’s Day dinner from 4:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. 404-233-7673,

Mom will jump at the chance to experience the essence of Southern Brazil at Chama Gaucha. For $44.50 per person, guests receive unlimited salad bar items, side dishes and 12 cuts of meat served by swift-moving gauchos. The restaurant offers brunch from 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. and dinner from 4 p.m. to
9 p.m. In honor of Mother's Day, the Brazilian steakhouse is giving all moms a complimentary dinner for one voucher for a return visit. 404-842-0011,

Food 101 shows some love to all the moms out there with a special Mother’s Day brunch menu. Sip on the 101 Bloody Mary and enjoy brunch specialties from chef Ron Eyester like crab cake benedict, smoked turkey and mushroom omelet, steak and eggs and more. 404-497-9700,

The leading lady of the family is worthy of an epic Mother’s Day joint brunch buffet at Gypsy Kitchen (404-939-9840) and The Southern Gentleman (404-939-9845). The event combines Gypsy Kitchen’s tour of the culinary traditions of Spain and The Southern Gentleman’s sophisticated take on Southern cuisine. Both restaurants are open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Cost is $58 per person for adults and $24 for kids 12 and under.

Mom can feast her eyes on the city skyline while enjoying a scrumptious brunch buffet at 5Church Atlanta from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Cost is $40 for adults and $18 for children 12 and under (tax and gratuity not included). A limited menu will be offered for dinner service from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. 404-400-3669;

Livingston Restaurant + Bar in the Georgian Terrace Hotel is serving an extravagant Mother’s Day brunch buffet from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. featuring a selection of breads and pastries, omelet and carving stations, a cold buffet with fruits and salads, a hot buffet, a children’s buffet and a dessert station. Price is $38 for adults and $15 for children ages 6 to 12 (children ages 5 and under are complimentary). In addition to the restaurant, The Grand Ballroom is also open for Sunday brunch. Three-hour parking is complimentary. 404-897-5000;

Drift Fish House & Oyster Bar is opening its doors early on May 13 for a special pop-up Mother’s Day brunch served from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. 770-635-7641;

North Fulton
For a seed-to-fork dining experience like none other, bring mom to Milton’s Cuisine & Cocktails for a three-course prix fixe dinner for $40 per person that features items such as pickled Royal Red shrimp toast, Southern fried chicken breast, grilled wagyu sirloin and blueberry-lavender panna cotta. Dinner is served from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. 770-817-0161;

Treat mom to a trip to the beach this Mother’s Day. The Big Ketch Canton Street is serving up a bountiful brunch from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Priced at $34.95 for adults and $19.95 for kids 12 and under, wow mom with brunch specialties like blue crab mac & cheese, New Orleans jambalaya, two carving stations and more. Regular dinner will be served alongside chef specialties from 4-9 p.m. 770-993-5749;

Sweets and Treats
Make sure to get mom something as sweet as she is from one of the three locations of Henri’s Bakery & Café. With special cakes, cupcakes, cookies and more, this iconic bakery and deli knows how to make mom feel adored. But be sure to plan ahead – Henri’s is closed on Sundays, so treats must be picked up by Saturday, May 12. Bakery orders require a minimum 48 hours’ notice. Buckhead: 404-237-0202, Upper Westside: 404-968-9412, Sandy Springs: 404-256-7934.

Gift mom with breakfast in bed or make her dinner by purchasing items from the retail section of Storico Fresco Alimentari e Ristorante by Saturday, May 12 (the restaurant and market are closed on Sundays). Lasagnas, platters and salads are available for easy pick up for those who aren’t too handy in the kitchen. Or appeal to the frugal side of mom and take her out for half-priced wine night and dinner at the Buckhead eatery on Monday. 404-500-2181,

The following Atlanta-area dining spots are offering their regular menus to show mom a wonderful time on Mother's Day or any other Sunday:

·        ATL Taco, the new Lenox Square taqueria from chefs Shaun Doty and Lance Gummere, serves a mom-approved brunch menu that the family matriarch can enjoy before or after a day of shopping. Brunch is served from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. 404-841-7559;

·        The brunch menu at newcomer The Alden (in Chamblee’s Parkview on Peachtree) features a modern twist on Southern classics and other culturally influenced mainstays. Sunday brunch is served 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. 678-395-6982;

·        Make mom feel like she’s at the beach by taking her to The Big Ketch Buckhead for seafood favorites and live music. The Buckhead beach house will be serving their regular menu with chef specials starting at 11 a.m. 404-474-9508,

·        Another new Mexican dining option in Buckhead that is sure to make mom feel festive is Chido & Padre’s. The restaurant celebrates Baja Mexico’s fresh, coastal cuisine in a super fun atmosphere and serves brunch from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. 404-848-9100,

·        Midtown’s The Federal serves Sunday brunch from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and dinner from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. so mom can experience French cuisine and traditional American steakhouse favorites in one elegant meal. 404-343-3857,

·        Both the Brookhaven (404-464-8971) and Midtown (404-968-2288) locations of HOBNOB Neighborhood Tavern are serving their regular brunch menus from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Mother’s Day. Get mom to groove with $17 bottomless mimosas and live music from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

·        If mom likes traditional Southern dishes like grandma used to make, Chef Kevin Gillespie’s Revival in Decatur is the place. The eatery is open for Sunday brunch from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and dinner from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. 470-225-6770,

·        Visit Seed Kitchen & Bar for the brunch menu (think house-smoked brisket hash, smoked salmon and potato pancakes, Gulf shrimp and grits and strawberry mascarpone French toast) along with several Mother’s Day specials from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The restaurant is also open for dinner from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. 678-214-6888,


Tuesday, April 10, 2018

The Alden in Chamblee’s Parkview on Peachtree Now Open

For more information:
Morgan Lanier or Olivia Mayes
Melissa Libby & Associates

Chef Jared Hucks Pairs Comfort and Quality with New Neighborhood Restaurant  

ATLANTA (April 10, 2018) – Chef Jared Alden Hucks opens the doors of The Alden in Chamblee’s Parkview on Peachtree mixed-use development today, April 10. Combining over 20 years of experience working in some of the world’s most prestigious restaurants with research gathered as a consumer and operator of local supper club Dogwood Table, Hucks cultivates a dining experience focused on seasonal ingredients, accommodating service and a sense of culinary celebration.

“The Alden is about nurturing our guests,” says Hucks, a native Atlantan who grew up less than five miles from the restaurant, but career took him to Australia, Thailand, Spain and Denmark. “While there is an emphasis on fine food, this is truly a neighborhood restaurant with a comfortable, casual ambiance where diners can feel at home.”

Hucks is serving his hometown community with healthy, seasonal American cuisine, and his dinner and brunch menus feature a modern twist on Southern classics and other culturally influenced mainstays. Dinner options are divided into smaller dishes ($7-$21) and larger dishes ($23-$38), and include the following: 

  • The pan Asian egg – soft coddled farm egg, bok choy, ginger, rice cracker ($15)
  • Maine sea scallops – allium, chorizo picante, kale, preserved lime ($18)
  • Florida grouper – pepperoni arrosto, black olive oil, pine nuts, caper berry ($31)
  • Border Springs rack of lamb with rosemary – parsley root, glazed turnips, plum, mint jus ($38)

Brunch is equally as expressive of Hucks’ personal and professional experiences, featuring such items as:

  • Turkey and sweet potato hash – red jasmine rice, peppers, crispy shallots, basted egg and prik nam pla ($14)
  • Grilled steak and eggs benedict – black onion jam, red wine jelly, béarnaise, brioche and watercress ($18)

The Alden features 11 counter seats where diners are treated to an up close and personal view of the kitchen. A tasting menu with optional pairings is available to those who want to experience the action first-hand.

Complementing Hucks’ menu is a dynamic, high-quality beverage program that also serves as an attraction unto itself. The cutting-edge cocktail menu focuses on fresh, light, botanical-driven drinks and showcases seasonal juices, sodas, bitters, vermouth and tonics that are all made in house. Adam Fox, vice president of sales for Domaine Select Wine and Spirits and Hucks’ partner in former pop-up supper club Dogwood Table, has curated a thoughtful wine list that highlights natural wine producers from independently owned farms practicing biodynamic wine making. The beer selection centers on domestic craft producers creating old-world style beers.

The restaurant’s sleek design is rooted by its open, custom-designed kitchen that allows Hucks and his staff to communicate openly with guests and contributes to the convivial atmosphere. The intimate space also features soaring ceilings, natural materials and a palette of earth tones. Light fixtures and art installations from renowned glass blower Rob Stern provide a crisp elegance to continue the balance of earth elements found throughout the restaurant.

The Alden is located in Parkview on Peachtree at 5070 Peachtree Boulevard in Chamblee. The restaurant is open for dinner from 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday and 5:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Sunday brunch is served from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. For reservations, call 678.395.6982 or visit