Mexican restaurant, coffee shop among tenants for Forysth County food hall

The Halcyon development in Forsyth County is starting to take shape with some tasty additions to its roster of tenants.

The mixed-use development’s Market Hall food hall will welcome Gu’s Dumplings, which also has stalls at Krog Street Market and SunTrust Park; Tocayo, a Mexican street food spot; Kilwin’s Chocolate; and Land of a Thousand Hills Coffee Company, which has several locations in metro Atlanta and the Southeast.

New restaurants will include Butcher & Brew and Never Enough Thyme, which both have existing Alpharetta locations and will serve up homemade American fare.

The eateries will join three concepts from Chef Mark Taft that were announced earlier this year: Southern farm-to-table concept CO-OP Community Table + Bar, Feed Fried Chicken + Such (which will also have a location at The Battery at SunTrust Park) and an unnamed burger concept.

Locatedat 5490 McGinnis Village Place on the border of Alpharetta, Halcyon is set to open in 2018 and will also include 500,000 square feet of retail and office space, a dine-in movie theater, two hotels, 690 residential units and 50 acres of green space.


Big Forsyth project lands food tenants including Gu's Dumplings and Butcher & Brew

A big new mixed-use project in Forsyth County has landed a host of restaurants and food concepts, including new locations of Gu’s Dumplings and Alpharetta restaurant Butcher & Brew.

Halcyon, a $370 million mixed-use village rising at Ga. 400 and McFarland Road, will include more than 500,000 square feet of retail and office space. The 135-acre project is from Atlanta-based RocaPoint Partners and New York-based The Georgetown Company.

The project is proving it can lure top food concepts, some of which will make up a Market Hall that draws upon the success of intown projects such as Krog Street Market.

The latest announcements for Halcyon’s Market Hall include a new location of Gu’s Dumplings, which was originally founded on Buford Highway and now has a stall at Krog Street Market. It offers authentic Szechuan cuisine including dumplings, cold noodles and stir-fired dishes.

“The Gu’s team knows Szechuan food because it is in our blood,” said owner Yvonne Gu Khan, daughter of its namesake chef. “We want to introduce Szechuan food to the masses and want them to enjoy it like we do because we are proud of our heritage.”

Louis Soon, a popular Alpharetta restaurateur who’s behind South Main Kitchen and Butcher & Brew, will bring a new taco stand to the Market Hall called TOCAYO.

“We’re creating a very simple, but elegant vibe that will have Bohemian-inspired decor, Mexican draft beers and margaritas,” Soon said. “Visitors will be able to grab a taco and a margarita and walk out to enjoy them on the greenspace."

Other Market Hall tenants include:

  • A new location of Land of a Thousand Hills Coffee Co., which Jonathan Goldenfounded in 2005 in Roswell. The company partners with farmers in Rwanda, Africa. The Halcyon location will be its largest coffee house to date (there are eight locations today) and will double as a music venue. It will be the company’s fourth corporate-owned location.
  • A new location of sweets shop Kilwins Chocolates, Fudge and Ice Cream. It is from franchisees Christina and Tony Abunassar. It offers goodies such as handcrafted chocolates, caramel apples, caramel corn and ice cream.
  • Two Southern-inspired concepts from Chef Marc Taft, who’s behind Chicken and the Egg in Marietta and Brine Seafood Shack at Alpharetta’s Avalon. They will be FEED Fried Chicken and a yet-named burger concept. Read more about those here.

Full-service restaurants have also been named for Halcyon.

Butcher & Brew, the concept from Soon that has its original location in downtown Alpharetta, will open its second outpost at the project. It will take 3,000 square feet and face a greenspace at the development.

Butcher & Brew is a “craft American shop, focused on quality ingredients and eclectic craft beers,” says an announcement. Its menu items range from risotto fritters to wings and sandwiches.

“We have created an environment where guests can have an upscale meal while cheering for their favorite sports team or connecting with friends over a craft beer,” Soon said. “We’re excited to bring our high-energy concept to Forsyth County.”

Never Enough Thyme, a family-owned restaurant in Alpharetta, will relocate to Halcyon. It will take about 3,500 square feet. Michele and Mike Doyle and Rob and Patric Pniewski own the restaurant that will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner.

“For 15 years, we have loved being a neighborhood gathering space known for our homemade food, and fast and friendly service,” said Michele Doyle. “Now, as the area is changing, we are excited to change with it by moving to Halcyon, where we hope to maintain our regulars and attract new guests.”

Chef Taft will also bring a full-service restaurant to the project called CO-OP Community Table + Bar, as Atlanta Business Chronicle reported in February. Read more about it here.

Halcyon will also feature two hotels and 690 residential units, including single-family homes, townhomes and apartments. Site work is now underway at the project. Greystar, the residential partner that is building 300 apartments and 160 units for those 55 years or older, is expected to go vertical in a few weeks. Vertical construction on the rest of the project should happen toward the end of the year.

Halcyon is expected to open in 2018. When complete, it will feature about 50 acres of greenspace and a 0.75-mile extension of the Big Creek Greenway.

JLL Retail is leasing the project. Wakefield Beasley and Associates is the architect.

Atlanta Business Chronicle reported in October that the project will also include metro Atlanta’s first CMX cinema. It will be a 10-screen, 38,000-square-foot cinema where patrons can dine in. Read more here.


Walking, talking, shopping priorities in new suburban communities

Some of Atlanta’s newest suburban neighborhoods are poised to become walkable urban settings that appeal to millennials, baby boomers and other buyers.

“The new urbanist movement, which is about 30 years old, is a movement to restore the best of our traditional neighborhoods where we used to live, work and play; where everything was within a 10-minute walk,” said Rob Parker, president of Pinewood Forrest, a 234-acre mixed-use community in Fayetteville located across the street from Pinewood Atlanta Studios.

The urban-suburban lifestyle is seeing significant growth in the metro area. Atlanta is No. 11 for walkable urbanism out of the 30 largest U.S. metropolitan areas, according to a 2016 study by the George Washington University School of Business.

With its first residents expected this fall, Pinewood Forrest will eventually have 600 single-family residences, 100 townhomes and 600 multi-family flats and an expected 3,000 residents. The two- to five-bedroom homes, with 1,214-3,880 square feet in the first phase, range from $350,000 to $1 million.

Pinewood Forrest, Halcyon in Forsyth County and metro Atlanta subdivisions by FrontDoor Communities all have similar visions of walkability built into the design of the neighborhoods, which include homes, green space and retail amenities.

A cup of sugar and more

Homes are designed to encourage socialization and interaction with neighbors that goes beyond occasional hellos or borrowing a missing ingredient when cooking dinner. Pinewood Forrest’s homes are set close to the street to facilitate “conversations on the stoop,” Parker said. Paths connecting to park space run in front of homes.

In new neighborhoods by FrontDoor Communities, homes are designed for interaction with neighbors, said CEO Terry Russell. Outdoor kitchens and living spaces, living room windows that fold open and porches with retractable screens are among home features. Homes range from $700,000 to more than $1 million at Goulding, which has three- to four-bedroom townhouses and single-family residences starting at 3,174 square feet. Inwood’s two- to five-bedroom homes, starting at 2,133 square feet, range from the mid-$300,000s to the mid-$400,000s.

Nature that nurtures

Most walkable communities are trying to incorporate trail systems, walking paths and parks for residents. Increasingly important to homebuyers is access to green space, said Patrick Leonard, principal at RocaPoint Partners, which is developing Halcyon in south Forsyth County.

Halcyon, expected to welcome its first residents in 2018, will have about 700 residences when complete. Townhouses, single-family homes and multi-family flats will range from $400,000-$700,000, joining plans for two hotels and 500,000 square feet of commercial space.

With half of the 135 total acres set aside for green space, Halcyon will have a trail connecting to the Big Creek Greenway and the Chattahoochee River. Leonard said people living in nearby communities are encouraged to bike or walk to Halcyon using the greenway.

“The reason we chose the project is it’s the trailhead for the Big Creek Greenway,” said Leonard.

Pinewood Forrest will have 15 miles of walking paths, including a boardwalk through wetlands and a connection to Peachtree City Path System. Half of the 234 total acres will be set aside for green space, including a 7-acre lake.

Putting the urban in suburban

A vibrant city center is a key element in creating an urban context. At Halcyon, visitors and residents will park in a planned screened deck to explore shops, chef-driven restaurants and a dine-in movie theater centered around green space.

A wellness center is planned in the nearly 93,000-square-foot Village Square at Pinewood Forrest, joining retail and restaurants around 3 acres of green space. The community aims to offer an urban environment for the creative minds that work in and around the film studios, Parker says. Residents can access Pinewood Studios, where they may work, via a pedestrian bridge that will accommodate golf carts. Pinewood Forrest also plans to have two hotels.

Each FrontDoor Communities project is located within walking distance to an existing suburban downtown, such as Roswell (with 40 homes in Goulding) and Woodstock (with 75 homes in Inwood), Russell said.

“The extent that you have walkability to an authentic environment, I think that has a considerable amount of appeal to buyers,” he said.


Construction of major county projects coming along

FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. — Nearly everywhere you turn in Forsyth County, there is some form of construction occurring. From shopping centers to updates to the Big Creek Greenway, the county is booming. Some of the most talked about projects are currently in the works, so we rounded up information on where they stand.


Forsyth County’s very own mixed-use development, Halcyon, broke ground last year and is steadily making progress toward its goal of opening in 2018.

Halcyon, the concept of real estate groups RocaPoint Partners and The Georgetown Company, is a $370 million development off Exit 12 on Ga. 400.

Both land development permits and building permits for the project are under review for residential components, known as Elan Halcyon and Halcyon Active Adult. Both are being developed by Greystar.

In May, RocaPoint announced details about Elan Halcyon which will be a 300-unit luxury apartment community adjacent to the restaurant village. The development will also include 11,000 square feet of ground-floor retail. Amenities include a state-of-the-art fitness studio, resort-style pool, aqua lounge and internet cafe.

Halcyon Active Adult is a 55+ active adult rental community and will include 160 residences. The community will feature 12,000 square feet of resort-inspired amenities such as a resident clubhouse, pool and spa, demonstration kitchen, game room, theater room, fitness center and golf simulator room.

In total, Halcyon will include more than 500,000 square feet of office and retail space, a high-end movie theater, two hotels and 690 residential units.


German grocery store, Lidl is making its way into the American market one store at a time.

The store has a unique approach, offering “carefully curated selections that are top-quality and best-prices,” according to its website.

Currently the chain has two stores under review for land development permits and building permits in Forsyth County. One of the proposed sites is on Buford Highway near Haw Creek Parkway and Nuckolls Road. The other is near Peachtree Parkway and Bagley Drive.

The business operates more than 10,000 stores in 27 countries, including 10 in the United States in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia. 

Beaver Toyota

In May 2016, Beaver Toyota broke ground on its new 130,000-square-foot location at 1875 Buford Highway.
Planned to open this fall, the project has already been issued a building permit, but has submitted revisions which are currently under review.

When opened, this will be the first new Toyota dealership built in the Southeast in more than five years.

In addition to the full-service center, there will be an outdoor area where customers can hang out or events can take place.

It sits along a stretch of road that is home to other car dealerships including, Kia, Honda and Nissan. 

Big Creek Greenway

The ever popular Big Creek Greenway is still in the process of being built. Phase 5 plans are complete, according to Assistant Director of Engineering Tim Allen and the county has started acquiring right of way.

Allen said the county plans to bid out the construction of Phase 5 early next year for construction.

The trail will extend from Kelly Mill Road along Johnson Road and cross Chamblee Gap Road to temporarily end at Ga. 20 near the water tank. When Ga. 20 is widened, the trail will be extended in the state right of way west to Spot Road connector.

The trail will run along the west side of Spot Road connector, turn left at Dr. Bramblett Road to the signal at Spot Road, turn right and run on the south side of Spot Road to the Sawnee Center.


More details emerge for Elan Halcyon

FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. — On May 1, RocaPoint Partners released new details surrounding its multifamily options at its Halcyon mixed-use village in Forsyth County.

Greystar brings its experience and local market knowledge to the development in two unique multifamily offerings. The Halcyon development, which is being developed by RocaPoint Partners and New York-based The Georgetown Company, is currently under construction and is expected to open in 2018.

Greystar will develop and manage a 300-unit luxury apartment community – Elan Halcyon – that will be located adjacent to the restaurant village. The new apartment development will also include 11,000 square feet of ground-floor retail.

Elan Halcyon offers on-site amenities including a state-of-the-art fitness studio, resort-style pool, aqua lounge, internet café, package concierge and Comcast’s 10-gigabit high-speed service, available across the village.

In addition, Greystar is developing a new 55+ active adult rental community at Halcyon, which will include 160 residences. The community will feature 12,000 square feet of resort-inspired amenities such as a resident clubhouse, pool and spa, demonstration kitchen, game room, theater room, fitness center and golf simulator room.

Halcyon, currently under construction, will include more than 500,000 square feet of office and retail space, a high-end movie theater in Forsyth County, two hotels and 690 residential units, once completed.


Greystar to Develop Apartment Community, Seniors Housing at $370M Halcyon Project in Metro Atlanta

Greystar plans to develop a 300-unit apartment community and a 160-unit seniors housing property within Halcyon, a $370 million mixed-use development located off exit 12 on Ga. 400 in Forsyth County. The multifamily community, known as Elan Halcyon, will feature top-of-market amenities and 11,000 square feet of ground-floor retail space. The seniors housing property will feature 12,000 square feet of resort-style amenities, including a resident clubhouse, pool and spa, demonstration kitchen, game room, theater room, fitness center and a golf simulator. RocaPoint Partners, an Atlanta-based affiliate of The Georgetown Co., is the master developer of Halcyon. Set to open in 2018, the development will include more than 500,000 square feet of office and retail space, a high-end CMX movie theater, two hotels and 690 residential units, including Greystar’s two projects.

Details released for Halcyon’s 300-unit apartment complex

New details regarding a 300-unit “luxury apartment community” within a mixed-use development under construction in south Forsyth have been released, including the name of the community, which will sit adjacent to a $370 million restaurant village on the property.

Elan Halcyon will feature “modern floor plans with top-of-market finishes and on-site amenities including a state-of-the-art fitness studio, resort-style pool, aqua lounge, internet cafe and package concierge,” announced Halcyon’s developer, RocaPoint Partners, in a news release Monday.

The development will also have 11,000 square feet of ground floor retail located below the apartments.

Greystar will develop and manage Elan Halcyon, the second the residential development company has signed on for at the site that is expected to open in spring 2018 off McFarland Parkway/Exit 12 of Ga. 400.

Greystar is already working on a 160-residence 55-and-older “active adult rental community” at Halcyon, featuring 12,000 square feet of “resort-inspired amenities,” such as a clubhouse, pool and spa, demonstration kitchen, game room, theater room, fitness center and golf simulator room for its residents.

When finished, Halcyon is expected to offer a total of 690 residential units, with more than 500,000 square feet of office and retail space, a CMX Theaters – a high-end movie theater – and two hotels.

“We understand the need for adding value through a combination of convenient on-site amenities and thoughtfully designed apartment homes complete with high-quality finishes within a live, work and play environment,” said John Roberson, senior director of development for Greystar. “At Halcyon, residents will be steps away from local restaurants, entertainment and shopping options, as well as direct access to the Big Creek Greenway.”

In November 2016, work began on a three-quarter-mile extension of the Greenway, which will ultimately weave into the development.

Patrick Leonard, principal of RocaPoint Partners, said the decision to partner with Greystar was a unique one.

“All suburban multifamily products are not the same, and that’s why we’re partnering with Greystar for Halcyon’s,” he said. “The amenities offered through Greystar apartments are unmatched, and our residents are only going to want to leave their stunning apartments to visit the restaurant and retail options in the restaurant village.”

In late January, RocaPoint Partners announced Atlanta Chef Marc Taft signed three leases to open multiple restaurants at Halcyon: CO-OP Community Table and Bar, FEED Fried Chicken + Such — a fried chicken and other Southern food joint — and a market hall burger concept.

Taft, who has been named a Georgia Grown Executive Chef by Gov. Nathan Deal and who serves on the Chef Advisory Board for Georgia Organics and Best Chefs America, said at the time the goal is to make the restaurants feel as Southern as possible, highlighting Halcyon’s concept for the development.


Retail’s Challenge

Creativity. Innovation. Reinvention. These are popular buzzwords today. And perhaps no sector has proven their value better than retail. Long beleaguered by overexpansion and beset by competition from online shopping, retailers as a group have struggled to survive, never mind thrive. This year promises to be more challenging than ever, with Credit Suisse recently predicting a sharp uptick in store closures over last year and even more than the previous high point in 2008. But some categories have performed better than others, and individual retailers have achieved success while their competitors failed. Those that have risen above the fray have rethought their strategies, incorporating omnichanneling, introducing new concepts, changing their footprints and otherwise thinking out of the proverbial box to attract customers and reignite loyalties.

In the face of so much change and uncertainty, retail property owners have likewise been challenged to alter their approach in order to fill their shopping centers, lifestyle centers and malls. Vacated department stores have given way to entertainment- and activity-centered anchors, as well as subdivided space to accommodate today’s preferred smaller restaurants and stores. Incorporation of non-traditional occupants has evolved to include such innovations as grocery stores and other necessity providers in malls. And larger trends like walking to work and live-work-play environments are creating a broader mix of uses than ever before—think apartments in lifestyle centers.

RocaPoint Partners, for instance, is developing a $350 million mixed-use village outside Atlanta and seeking tenants that will provide interactive retail, a connection to the community and “a new type of experience that other tenants aren’t offering,” outlined principal Phil Mays in a recent CPE Viewpoint.

“We’ve seen evidence that consumers everywhere want the same things: vibrant, local, unique, exciting shopping and dining experiences,” he wrote. “We’re finding that whether you’re in town or 30 miles north of Atlanta, consumers are demanding the same quality, amenities and service that are offered from retailers and restaurants in the city.”

Such perspectives, plus controlled development to match demand, are paying off for the retail property sector. Marcus & Millichap anticipates 81 million square feet of net absorption this year, which should take the national vacancy rate down to its lowest level in 16 years. Kudos to the innovators for this solid performance, for of course there are plenty of retail centers that are not performing well. In fact, investors are still largely holding off, waiting to see how the market performs, although Marcus & Millichap reported both pricing and cap rates above pre-recession levels. And indications are that more buyers are poised to snap up well-performing centers in strong locations later in the year.

The key to success, though, will be what they do with those centers once they acquire them. The gauntlet has been thrown down. The field is not likely to grow less intimidating.


Forsyth County development unveils apartments to compete with Atlanta’s intown luxury units

Thirty miles north of downtown Atlanta sits a place many diehard ITPers have likely never contemplated: Exit 12 on Ga. Highway 400.

And while it may seem a world away from the city’s bustle, the southern reaches of Forsyth County are being transformed from rolling fields into a modern mixed-use development to compete, developers say, with the amenity-laden districts of intown Atlanta.

Halcyon, as the development is being called, is destined to have a staggering amount of stuff: 7,000 residential units, more than 700 hotel rooms, 6 million square feet of offices, and plenty of commercial space.

However, the first phase, which is underway, is bringing a much more attainable 125,000 square feet of retail, 65,000 square feet of offices, a 110-room hotel, and a smattering of residential development.

Details about the multifamily residences became clearer this week when RocaPoint Partners revealed new information about Elan Halcyon—a 300-unit apartment project being developed by Greystar, the makers of Ascent Midtown, Elan Westside (now Cottonwood Westside), and more.

Like the firm’s more urban projects, the apartment building will feature an array of top-of-the-line amenities. Included are a state-of-the-art fitness studio, resort-style pool, aqua lounge (whatever that is), an Internet café, package concierge, and 10-gigabit Internet service by Comcast.

While the amenity package may be tailored to millennials, Greystar is also planning a 55+ apartment building with 160 units. Amenities at that development seek to appeal to posh tastes, with a resident clubhouse, pool and spa, demonstration kitchen, game room, theater room, fitness center, and golf simulator room.

No word yet on pricing for either development. Plans call for the apartments to open next year.


Will Sprawling Urban Developments Come Back En Vogue?

ATLANTA—The retail landscape has morphed rapidly in the past decade with the rise of online shopping. Experiential retail, or retailtainment as some call it, has been one of the only answers to the e-commerce challenge.

The bottom line: In order to draw customers back into their stores, brick and mortar retailers are pulling out the stops with extreme creativity. One of the latest examples is Halcyon, a new mixed-use village in the 400 Corridor of Forsyth County. Halycon developers are working to make sure the village has a strong tenant mix that will attract diverse demographics.

Steve Yenser, executive vice president of retail leasing and development with JLL, tells his experience in the 400 Corridor is an example of the evolution of retail. He offered some perspective on retail trends and where we may be heading next.

“In 1993 we worked with North Point Mall, a super-regional enclosed mall that established the viability of retail outside the perimeter,” Yenser says. “The project centered around department store anchors and mass retail. Entertainment was an add on, not a central theme.”

(Are indoor shopping malls going the way of the dinosaur? Here’s one perspective.)

Fast forward 15 years and Yenser worked with Avenue Forsyth, now known as Collection, an open-air lifestyle center without traditional department store anchors and a much stronger emphasis on restaurants as a collective anchor. The strategy, he explains, was much more predicated on convenience to the customer versus super-regional draw. In other words, it was more of anti-mall versus mega retail.

Today, Yenser says, mixed-use is a must. Savvy developers are looking to recreate an urban feel in the suburbs with projects that feature entertainment and food tenants as anchors. Live-work-play concepts, he says are required to capture both retailers’ and customers’ interest in a 21stCentury retail market. Showrooming is also a growing trend in retail.

“There is very little large-scale development being done anywhere that doesn’t involve mixed uses,” Yenser says. “The days of building sprawling suburban retail-only projects are few and far between.”

As everything is cyclical, Yenser predicts sprawling suburban developments will return at some point in future as Millennials form families and move back to the suburbs. But that seems to be in the distant future.


Halcyon Greenway Update by District 2 Commissioner Rick Swope

At $370 million, Halcyon is one of the largest projects in the county and certainly in D2.  Since we all see the piles of dirt being moved around, it would be nice to know what's coming out of the activity.  Here's an update related to the new greenway trailhead.

HALCYON just received its retaining wall permits, so construction has started on those.  The wall has to go in before they can grade and finish the trail.

In early June, the team will be able to get back to completing the trail, and then pavement will likely be completed this summer.  The Big Creek Greenway Extension will add approximately 0.75 miles to the trail, as well as a new paved and lit parking lot, restrooms and a trailhead

The extension of the Big Creek Greenway will tie directly into the walkable community of HALCYON. The team behind HALCYON believes Forsyth County will see a similar pattern of success to that of the Atlanta BeltLine and all the wonderful economic, community and environmental progress that has been made surrounding that effort.

Nature trails and parks connected to the BCG, which has additional phases planned to expand the trail to 15 miles. The Greenway is a natural wilderness preserve and offers an ideal setting for walking, jogging and biking. By prioritizing and funding the extension of the trailhead, HALCYON puts nature and active recreation squarely in the forefront.  It's nice to see a developer putting a priority on a community amenity like this.


5 New Eateries With Serious Flavor

1. This spring, Ladybird Grove & Mess Hall owner Michael Lennox introduces two new dining concepts in the former H. Harper Station space in Reynoldstown. Golden Eagle, a “workingman’s tavern,” will serve dinner nightly with an extensive cocktail menu, while Muchacho will bring a more casual vibe with tacos and lighter fare for breakfast and lunch.

2. The rolled ice cream craze is coming to Buckhead this spring with the opening of Philadelphia-based concept Sweet Charlie’s. Setting up shop next to Superica, expect a handmade spectacle of premium ice cream; nonfat yogurt; and even vegan offerings paired with glazed doughnuts, fresh fruit and decadent toppings. @sweetcharliesatl

3. Atlanta chef/restaurateur Marc Taft is delivering down-South goodness with the formation of Southern Fried Hospitality. The new restaurant consultancy brings together Taft’s Marietta mainstay, Chicken and the Egg; just-bowed Avalon concept Brine Seafood Shack; The Battery Atlanta’s FEED–Fried Chicken & Such; and HALCYON Development’s CO-OP Community Table + Bar under one Southern cuisine-fueled umbrella. @cheftaft

4. Unexpected Asian cuisine and hops combine at fusion restaurant/brewery Hopstix. The Chamblee brewpub provides balanced offerings of light-bodied beers that not only pair well with raw bar selects of bluefin tuna and yellowtail, but menu standouts like the sushi corn dog and 16-ounce bone-in rib-eye with shiitake mushroom wasabi butter as well. @hopstix_brewpub

5. Ever taken Fido out for some fresh air and wished there was a place to enjoy a drink while he plays? You’re in luck. Opening this fall, Fetch Park & Ice House come to life in Old Fourth Ward as a shipping container and Airstream are converted into full-service bars with TVs, beers and cocktails, Wi-Fi, and dog-washing stations at the accompanying membership-only dog park. @fetchpark


Chef Marc Taft’s Brine Seafood Shack Opens in Avalon April 13

Ahoy, Avalon diners! Brine Seafood Shack, the latest from executive chef and restaurateur Marc Taft, opens Thursday, April 13. Drop in for succulent seafood and vacation vibe -- you’ll swear you’re in that perfectly relaxed seafood spot where Cape Cod meets Santa Monica Beach. The menu, created by Taft and Brine chef de cuisine David Connolly (previously of Two Urban Licks and Tap in Atlanta and Michelin-starred Spiaggia in Chicago), includes dishes such as tuna poke with avocado, yuzu, soy and taro; crabcake with remoulade; mini clam rolls on brioche with lemon-caper tartar; lobster rolls, fish stew, clam fritters, fresh oysters and fish tacos. Seafood menus follow Monterey Bay Seafood Watch sustainable practices, and much of the catch from New England, the West Coast and the Gulf will be geo-tagged right down to the captain’s name and boat location. This “shack” is like no other, boasting a rooftop bar featuring Tiki-style craft cocktails and a retractable roof; a raw bar and classic boat cocktails; and a New England-style walk-up window for takeout, soft-serve ice cream, milkshakes and even cocktails, wine and beer to quench thirsts while strolling Avalon’s boardwalk, err, sidewalks. Brine is the latest dining concept from Southern Fried Hospitality, which provides management and development for Taft’s Chicken and the EggFEED – Fried Chicken & Such (opening late spring at The Battery Atlanta adjacent to SunTrust Park) and CO-OP Community Table + Bar (opening April 2018 in Forsyth County’s HALCYON Development).


Sustainable seafood restaurant to open at Avalon next week

The first of Chef Marc Taft’s several in-the-works projects is set to open next week.

Brine Seafood Shack will open April 13 at Alpharetta mixed-use development Avalon after the initial announcement about its opening at the end of 2016.

The menu, created by Taft and Brine chef de cuisine David Connolly, previously of Two Urban Licks and Tap in Atlanta and Michelin-starred Spiaggia in Chicago, includes dishes such as tuna poke with avocado, yuzu, soy and taro;  clam rolls on brioche with lemon-caper tartar; and grilled fish, lobster rolls, fish stew, clam fritters, fresh oysters and fish tacos.

“We’re bringing a vacation vibe to the dining experience,” says Taft. “I’ve spent a lot of time on the West Coast, where they really know how to make the most of a relaxed atmosphere and fresh, delicious seafood. That’s our model for Brine.”

Upstairs, diners will find a rooftop bar, serving tiki-style craft cocktails under a retractable roof; the downstairs space will feature a raw bar and classic boat drinks. A walk-up window inspired by New England clam shacks will offer takeout, soft serve ice cream, milkshakes and cocktails, wine and beer.

The Cape Cod-meets-Santa Monica seafood menu will follow the sustainable practices outlined by the Monterey Bay Seafood Watch, the nonprofit dedicated to helping consumers and restaurants to make choices that result in healthy oceans.  Much of the seafood from New England, the West Coast and the Gulf region will be geo-tagged so Brine chefs know where the fish was caught.

Brine is the latest concept from Taft’s Southern Fried Hospitality restaurant group. In addition to farm-to-table restaurant Chicken and the Egg, which he opened in Marietta in 2011, Taft is also set to open FEED – Fried Chicken & Such at The Battery Atlanta adjacent to SunTrust Park in May and CO-OP Community Table + Bar, FEED and an unnamed burger concept scheduled to open April 2018 in Forsyth County’s HALCYON Development. The company also plans to expand its consulting services to both restaurants and hotel food and beverage operations.

Barleygarden Kitchen & Craft Bar is also scheduled to open in Avalon on April 13 as part of the development’s second phase expansion, in addition to Jeni’s Splendid Ice CreamMF Bar and Rumi’s Kitchen.

Avalon’s Phase I openings including Farm to Ladle, which also has a Ponce City Market location and Cafe Intermezzo, which has locations in Dunwoody and Midtown Atlanta.



The Southern California-inspired eatery will feature a rooftop Tiki Bar, soft serve ice cream, and walk-up window.

Executive Chef and Restaurateur Marc Taft will open Brine Seafood Shack April 13 as part of Avalon's Phase II, according to a press release Friday.

Brine Seafood Shack was first announced late-2016.

“When we looked at expanding outside the Perimeter, Avalon was a home run for us because it’s centrally located and such a great destination for shopping and dining,” Taft said.

“The space is just a gorgeous jewel box.”

The menu, created by Taft and Brine Chef de Cuisine David Connolly, previously of Two Urban Licks and Tap in Atlanta and Michelin-starred Spiaggia in Chicago, includes dishes such as Tuna Poke with Avocado, Yuzu, Soy and Taro; Clam Rolls on Brioche with Lemon-Caper Tartar; Grilled Fish, Lobster Rolls, Fish Stew, Clam Fritters, Oysters and Fish Tacos.

“We’re bringing a vacation vibe to the dining experience,” Taft said.

“I’ve spent a lot of time on the West Coast, where they really know how to make the most of a relaxed atmosphere and fresh, delicious seafood. That’s our model for Brine.”

The 150-seat Brine Seafood Shack includes a rooftop bar with a retractable roof that will serve tiki-style craft cocktails.

Downstairs, a raw bar and "classic boat drinks" are on the menu.

For diners on the go, there’s a walk-up window inspired by New England clam shacks where you can grab takeout, soft serve ice cream, milkshakes and even cocktails, wine and beer to enjoy while strolling through Avalon.

Brine Seafood Shack is the latest dining concept from Southern Fried Hospitality, which provides management and development for Taft’s four restaurants: Chicken and the Egg, Brine Seafood Shack, FEED – Fried Chicken & Such (scheduled to open late spring in The Battery Atlanta adjacent to SunTrust Park) and CO-OP Community Table + Bar (scheduled to open April 2018 in Forsyth County’s HALCYON Development).

The company also plans to expand its consulting services to both restaurants and hotel F&B operations.


Check out the menu for Marc Taft’s Brine Seafood Shack

When Avalon’s phase two, Boulevard East, opens in Alpharetta next week, there will be a new place to enjoy fresh seafood without heading to the coast. Marc Taft, owner of Marietta’s Chicken and the Egg, is opening Brine Seafood Shack on April 13. “I’ve spent a lot of time on the West Coast, where they really know how to make the most of a relaxed atmosphere and fresh, delicious seafood. That’s our model for Brine,” he said in a press release.

Taft will serve as executive chef, working with chef de cuisine David Connolly (formerly of TWO Urban Licks and TAP). “I really like the tuna poke with avocado and soy mustard sauce, and you can’t go wrong with our clam roll,” Taft said.

Bar manager Corey Phillips created a drink menu full of tiki-style cocktails, classic “boat drinks,” wine, and local and coastal beers. “As for the cocktails, we’re are doing some cool new takes on old school classics like the mai tai and pina colada. The best part is you can take the drinks with you and enjoy as you stroll through Avalon,” said Taft, who is also opening FEED Fried Chicken & Such at the Battery at SunTrust Park this spring and CO-OP Community Table + Bar at Halcyon next year.

Brine has a rooftop bar with a retractable roof, a walk-up window for purchasing milkshakes and cocktails on-the-go, and a raw bar downstairs.


Exceeding Expectations by Phil Mays

No matter where the project is being built, developers in the rapidly changing retail industry need to always be thinking about what they can bring to the surrounding community to keep them engaged, notes Phil Mays, principal of RocaPoint Partners.

The retail landscape has shifted dramatically over the past decade and is sure to do so even more in coming years. Not long ago, many predicted brick-and-mortar retail would completely disappear due to e-commerce’s dominance in the industry. But that hasn’t happened, and isn’t likely to do so.

Consumers are demanding more from retailers, and massive department stores and dreary malls no longer cut it. Shoppers can purchase pretty much anything online, but what they really want are omni-channel options. Consumers want a high-quality experience when shopping at brick-and-mortar locations, and retail has had to be more creative by asking, ‘How can we make traditional shopping experiences more personalized and appealing?’

Entertainment and connection are two words that come to mind when describing today’s retail trends. Shoppers don’t want to just walk in, pick up their merchandise and leave. They want to be able to create memories, while having a seamless shopping experience and seek interesting, authentic, hands-on brand encounters. From free samples to community workshops to excellent customer service, retailers have to carefully craft their store experience to be more interactive for customers.

RocaPoint Partners is currently developing HALCYON, a $350 million mixed-use village, in the suburbs of Atlanta. Through our substantial research of the surrounding community, we’ve seen evidence that consumers everywhere want the same things: vibrant, local, unique, exciting shopping and dining experiences. We’re finding that whether you’re in town or 30 miles north of Atlanta, consumers are demanding the same quality, amenities and service that are offered from retailers and restaurants in the city.

The high-quality experiences consumers are demanding aren’t possible without careful planning and placemaking, with thoughtful consideration about the right mix of tenants by retail brokers and developers. We are searching for tenants that will have a connection with the surrounding community and offer outstanding customer service. We are offering tenants flexible floor plates to best serve both the tenant and their customers. Through our search for interactive retail, we decided a food hall, as part of our restaurant village, would best suit our customer base. We’re looking for tenants who offer a new type of experience that other tenants aren’t offering, therefore creating variety. We’re also asking the question: what flexible space is available for programming like pop-ups or community gatherings? Developments don’t become a “destination” without this kind of meticulous planning and thoughtful consideration.

Along with tenant mix, store size and layout, lighting, sidewalk width, landscaping and much more should be considered. Will you host community events and weekly programming to engage with your consumers? Will you play music throughout the development? If so, what kind? Mixed-use developments with strong centers are in demand across the country, but without interesting elements injected into these developments, consumers aren’t likely to visit more than once. No matter where mixed-use projects are being developed, we, as developers, have to keep considering what we can bring to our communities to keep them engaged.

Studies have confirmed that appealing to the five senses enhances shoppers’ experience. It’s obvious that sight and touch have significant impact on purchasing decisions, but smell, sound and taste should not be ignored. Sensory engagement can drive purchasing decisions and create a more memorable experience. Developers should strive to surprise and delight consumers during each visit to ensure they continue to return.

Retail destinations should focus on creating a gathering place that presents opportunities to engage with friends, family and the community as a whole. Retailers and developers must broaden and rethink their approaches to connecting with customers, drawing them in and getting them to return. Don’t aim to meet expectations; aim to exceed them, thereby creating a strong customer loyalty and a stronger development community.


Chef, CEO Marc Taft expands his culinary talents to feed the cravings of a hungry audience

For five-and-a-half years, Marc Taft has been serving Southern fried goodness at the well-known Marietta restaurant Chicken and the Egg. But, by the end of 2018, Taft will go from being the executive chef of one restaurant to eight under his newly-formed Southern Fried Hospitality restaurant group.

“We were one of the first chef-driven restaurants to come outside of the perimeter and do something in west Cobb,” Taft said of Chicken and the Egg, located at 800 Whitlock Ave. in Marietta. “There were plenty of chains to choose from but not a lot of chef-driven ones. We took a chance on the west Cobb community and they took a chance on me.”

Fortunately for Taft and Cobb County foodies, the risk paid off. Taft said he has tweaked and tailored the menu in response to much-acknowledged customer feedback. As a result, the restaurant, with its traditional Southern, farm-to-table fare, stays busy. Taft is taking his love for Southern food and multiplying it with Brine Seafood Shack (debuting spring 2017 in Alpharetta’s Avalon), FEED — Fried Chicken & Such (scheduled to open late spring in The Battery Atlanta adjacent to SunTrust Park), CO-OP Community Table + Bar (scheduled to open April 2018 in Forsyth County’s HALCYON development) as well as a burger joint and a food hall version of FEED, also set to open in the HALCYON development by the end of 2018.

“I think if we were opening a bunch of chef-driven restaurants, opening all of these would be extremely fast, but these are concepts so we looked at scalable concepts we could easily multiply,” Taft said. “So we already have menus that have been tested and approved, some of them have a small footprint, and most are relatively casual. The trend we’re seeing is people are enjoying fast casual right now, whether it’s due to ease or price point. I’m still a chef at heart so CO-OP is probably our best opportunity to build on the Chicken and the Egg as it will be a little more hyper-local and upscale. The time is right — there’s recovery in the economy and people are willing to spend money to go out and eat, so we want to figure out how to grow smartly and build something that people see as a worthy value.”

Taft’s spot in the Battery came after Fuqua executives (developers of the Battery) put the word out they would like to have a fried chicken restaurant in the entertainment district. Taft said the team was presented with six or seven options and Taft’s chicken and concept was chosen.

“The minute they announced the Braves were coming to Cobb County, that interested me. Initially, they said there weren’t going to be many restaurants in there but that grew. For people young and old and from all backgrounds, fried chicken becomes a common language. And it’s perfect for ballgames. I think it’s good that the Fuqua people were willing to go with a local business instead people from out of town or a corporation,” Taft said of the 3,000-square-foot FEED restaurant, which will also serve side dishes and appetizers, such as braised collard greens, macaroni and cheese, salads and coleslaw.

Taft, a Montgomery, Alabama, native, started his culinary career while in high school, working at a local Chick-fil-A restaurant. When he was a college student at the University of Alabama, his goal was to work for the FBI — a long way from testing spice combinations in fried chicken.

“But when I was in college, there were hiring freezes for federal government jobs, so there wasn’t an easy way to get into the FBI. So I stayed in restaurants and stuck it out there. I think it was a lucky break,” Taft said.

Taft moved to Marietta from Nashville, Tennessee, in 2008, to open Pacci Ristorante in Atlanta. After a good run and several accolades, Pacci closed in March 2011 and Taft worked as the director of operations for the Southeast region of Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants, where he was responsible for overseeing several restaurants, including renowned Area 31 in Miami and Central 214 in Dallas.

Taft said his Southern upbringing has influenced his approaches to both business as well as the art of creating great food.

“There’s natural Southern hospitality in Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee. People still talk to each other on the street and care about each other. I use that and take a simple approach to business,” Taft said. “It’s about making connections to people and a handshake still means something to me. If I’m talking to someone and say I’m going to do something, I’m going to do it and I expect the same from them as well.”


Exclusive: Chef Marc Taft to open three restaurants in Forsyth’s Halcyon next year

Halcyon, a mixed-use development coming to Forsyth County in April 2018, announced that it will feature three different eateries designed by Chicken and the Egg chef Marc Taft. CO-OP Community Table + Bar will be a full-service restaurant focused on sustainable fare, while FEED Fried Chicken + Such and a yet-unnamed burger joint will be stalls in Halcyon’s food hall.

“We had to look for the right spots and the right time. I’m a big fan of OTP, and it’s not serviced by as many chefs,” says Taft, who is also opening Brine Seafood Shack at Avalon this April. Here’s what to expect at each eatery:

CO-OP Community Table + Bar
He describes CO-OP as “a more upscale version of farm to table that we already do [at Chicken and the Egg].” Diners can expect “hyper local, really responsibly sourced product” for lunch, dinner, and weekend brunch. The food will be simple with vegetables taking center plate. Chef David Connolly, of Brine, is working with Taft on the menu, which may include braised pork shoulder and short rib, as well as some wood-fired pizzas and pasta.

The 5,000-square-foot space will feature bi-level patios and bars, an open kitchen, and a gray and white color scheme. The beverage program boasts craft cocktails, barrel aging, and “stuff that has Southern roots,” Taft says.

FEED Fried Chicken + Such
The food stall (which is also opening at the Battery at SunTrust Park) will serve fried chicken using a similar recipe to that at Chicken and the Egg (double brined Springer Mountain Farms chicken), along with hot chicken. There may be a gluten-free option, in addition to “guest appearances” by items like North Carolina catfish and chicken fried steak. Featured sides include mac ‘n’ cheese, green beans, braised greens, biscuits, and black-eyed peas.

There will be a full bar centered on Southern liquors like bourbon, vodka, and gin, but the focus will be beer. Expect ten local brews on tap, plus 8-10 by the bottle. Wine will be available, too. There will be an indoor/outdoor bar, as well as a takeout window. Taft says this is a concept he plans to expand. “We have our eye on the Southeast as a whole,” he says.

Unnamed burger spot
Though the name is still TBD, Taft also has plans for a food hall burger joint. The meat will be ground throughout the day, with the recipe based on the burger at Chicken and the Egg (house-made pickles on a brioche bun). Turkey and veggie burger options are under consideration.

“I want it to be super simple, approachable, and affordable,” Taft says. “It’s a place you can get a great burger, fries, and a milkshake, and we’ll have beer and wine.”

He says he’s looking to replicate the burger concept as well.


Halcyon names first restaurants

FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. — Halcyon, Forsyth County’s mixed-use development off Exit 12 on Ga. 400, will be getting a taste of Southern food.

Three leases were signed in January with Atlanta chef Marc Taft who plans to bring three restaurant concepts, including Co-Op Community Table and Bar, Feed - Fried Chicken and Such and a market hall burger concept. The restaurants are set to open in spring 2018.

"Being raised on Southern food inspired the vision behind the concepts going into Halcyon,” Taft said. “I've worked hard to create these concepts and to find the perfect place for them to operate. Halcyon is such a unique, exciting development that I think will enrich these restaurants. I expect all three to do very well in Forsyth County."

Co-op Community Table and Bar will be a full-service, farm-to-table concept with a Southern ingredient focus. Co-op is planned to be a neighborhood gathering place that will provide effusive Southern hospitality while emphasizing the importance of sustainability.

Feed - Fried Chicken and Such is a fast-casual concept that was inspired by Southern roadside restaurants Taft ate at with his family while traveling from Alabama to East Tennessee to see his grandmother. Feed’s first location will open at the Battery Atlanta, the new home of SunTrust Park and the Atlanta Braves baseball team.

For the third restaurant, Taft’s team is currently crafting more details about the burger concept.

“Chef Taft has an impressive resume and a spectacular vision for these concepts,” said Patrick Leonard, principal of RocaPoint Partners, the developers behind Halcyon. “The three new restaurants will fit in effortlessly with the overall tenant mix we have in mind for Halcyon and will be a fresh, exciting addition to the Forsyth County restaurant scene. Residents and visitors will soon be able to walk from the Big Creek Greenway into our food hall or restaurants, and we believe Taft is setting the perfect tone for the concepts we’re bringing to the area.”

Opening restaurants in metro Atlanta is not new for Taft. He said he appreciates the “lack of chef-driven concepts in the suburbs and wanted to offer diners an alternative to chain restaurants.”

He currently owns and operates Chicken and the Egg in Marietta, which opened in August 2011 and has been well received, he said.

He also recently announced a concept for Avalon, Brine Seafood Shack, a “Cape Cod meets Santa Monica”-inspired eatery, which will offer lobster rolls, tuna poke, fresh oysters and more, along with a roof-top bar. It is set to open this spring.

“Brine and Feed are two brands that we plan to grow, so it’s important to make sure guests know what they represent,” Taft said. “I firmly believe that having solid teams in place to lead these restaurants, taking care of guests and evaluating how diners respond will determine our long-term objectives. Our restaurants reflect the experiences I have had throughout my career. Although guests will see the majority of our brands heavily influenced by Southern heritage, we will be branching out with other unique concepts.”

But Taft doesn’t just do business in Georgia. He has led restaurants in New York, Chicago, Boston, Washington, D.C., Miami, Nashville and Dallas. In total, he’s overseen the opening of 41 new restaurants.

Halcyon is set to include more than 480,000 square feet of office and retail, two hotels and 690 residential units once completed.

In November 2016, the first tenant was named. CMX, a state-of-the-art cinema venue, will anchor the development. The theater will have 10 screens, 500 seats, 38,000 square feet and is slated to open April 2018.