Archive - November, 2010

New/Closed Restaurants – November 2010 part deux

Every Friday, Roots in Alpharetta features an article on food and dining in a series called Foodie Friday.

Lots of new restaurants are in the works for Alpharetta. For several weeks I’ve ignored one of my sources for this information. As a result, I’ve missed a few joints. Here’s what I know. If you know of anything I’ve missed, leave me a comment!

One Star Ranch – Closed?

I’ve heard from two friends online that this joint might be closed. The Highway 9 barbecue corridor was saturated. Consider that Smokejack, One Star, Dickey’s, ‘Cue and Slopes all existed on one road and just a few miles from each other. Something had to give. As I said in my review of One Star over the summer, this was the most authentic-looking Q joint in town, but one of the worst tasting. While I hate to see a business close, I kinda hope a craft/boutique barbecue joint snaps up this space.

Lettuce Souprise You – Windward – Closed

Not a huge souprise surprise. This shopping center eats restaurants. But this marginal salad bar joint was sub-par from the start. In the window there is a sign that reads “Coming Soon… Saigon Café“.

Tilted Kilt – Windward

Hooters meets the Irish pub. I’ve never been to a Tilted Kilt franchise, but I certainly know their reputation. They will be opening in the space formerly home to Frontera and before that Roadhouse Grill. Again, this spot might be cursed. The building sits below the road level of Windward Parkway. It can be tough to see as you drive by. On the other hand, it is one of the very few walkable lunch destinations on Windward, especially for those who work in the old Cingular office. Other Tilted Kilt locations in the burbs are very successful. I think this one will be also.

Tifosi Gastropub – Main Street Alpharetta

They are building out the old KFC/Long John Silvers spot on Main Street, across from Hardees. I have a hard time seeing this space as a gastropub. Whenever someone converts an old fast food joint into something different, I never see past what it used to be. Maybe they can do better here. The building is also small. And what’s in the name? Someone on the 285foodies.com forum told me that “tifosi” in Italian is a fan, and the fans of cycling in Italy are called the Tifosi. Will it be a cycling joint? We’ll see.

Genghis Grill – Windward

They will open in the strip mall with Five Guys and Which Wich. They will be right at home here. This is a fast casual, build your own Mongolian stir fry kind of deal. It might be interesting, but I’m growing tired of the latest fast casual restaurant concept de jour.  I also very much dislike this strip mall, especially for lunch. It is crazy busy and hard to find parking.

Blue Agave Cantina – Old Milton

It’s been hard to find information on these guys. Seems they’ve got their eye on the old Pisces Seafood/Coquettes Steak location. I don’t know much else about them. They’ve been making the rounds with the city to get various permits to open up. That’s about it. Stay tuned.

Thanksgiving in Alpharetta

Here in the burbs we spend a lot of time and energy complaining. We gripe about traffic, cubicle life, Fulton County government, and MARTA. We complain about who gets to sit on citizen boards. We complain about people of unusual faiths trying to expand their worship facilities. Some of us even complain about what news channels the TVs are tuned to in restaurants. In Milton, a place I like to satirize on a regular basis, they complain about cell phone towers, gas stations and sewer systems.

But at the end of the day, we are extraordinarily blessed to live here. Alpharetta is a terrific place to live, with amazing opportunities for ourselves and our children. Take a moment to consider this on Thanksgiving.

Also take a moment this year to think of those less fortunate in north Fulton. Yesterday’s Appen newspaper featured an article about some homeless people who live in a small tent community… right here in Alpharetta. It’s a heartbreaking story that no one else is covering. It hit me hard to learn of this kind of thing in my community. If you feel called to do so, please support a local charity this season. I suggest North Fulton Community Charities or the Drake House (which was mentioned in this article).

And to my blog readers, have a happy Thanksgiving.

A Milton Fill-In-The-Blank Press Release

I like to poke fun at Milton. Don’t get me wrong, it is a nice place with good folks. It’s just that their city council routinely votes to ban things that I’ve come to like and enjoy. The news stories all tend to sound the same after a while. So as a service to my fellow writers out there, I’ve put together this little Milton press release template. It is kind of like those Mad Libs we used to do as kids. Just fill in the blanks or use the words or phrases I’ve suggested. If you’re the north Fulton beat writer for the AJC or maybe for Access Milton, this ought to make your job a lot easier. Just my way of giving back.

Milton Votes on Controversial Ban

Milton – The City Council yesterday approved a measure to permanently ban (cell phones/gasoline/indoor plumbing) within the Milton city limits. The vote was (unanimous/contentious/split).  After the council adjourned, Milton’s mayor said of the vote, “It was important we act on this matter. In my opinion, this was necessary to preserve Milton’s (equestrian/anti-capitalistic) way of life. ”

(Dozens of/hundreds of/several) residents crowded into Milton’s city hall chamber to express their opinions. They held signs which read (“think of the horses”/”no sewer!”) while booing attorneys when they spoke. One of those attorneys, Sindey Getz of the lawfirm (Dolittle and Dalley/Howe, Dewey, Cheatem & Wynn) expressed disgust in the vote, saying “This vote is (horse <bleep>,<bleep>ing stupid,nothing but <bleeeeeep>). I will advise my client to (sue/pout/write a strongly worded letter). ”

“I don’t want people to think this is a NIMBY issue,” said Milton resident Joe Schmo. “I just don’t want that stuff next door to me.”

Also in yesterday’s meeting, the council considered a resolution to (pick a favorite color/lower the city-wide speed limit to 10 mph). The matter was postponed until next month’s meeting to allow for further discussion.

Is this Heaven? No, it’s Alpharetta

This past week a few of us had to deliver faith statements for something at church. We were encouraged to be a little creative, so I framed mine around living in the affluent burbs. What can I say, that’s just how I roll. Thought I would share my suburban faith statement here on my blog since it is very relevant.

I recently heard our preacher talk about the great ends of the church,  among those are the “exhibition of the kingdom of heaven to the world.” With apologies to an outstanding baseball movie, the first thing that went through my mind was … “Is this heaven? No, it’s Alpharetta.”

Sometimes I frame my faith against my life here in the suburbs. My faith has taught me to recognize contradictions I observe. Despite living in one of America’s most affluent suburbs, we have local charities that struggle to meet the demands of their clients. We have rising unemployment in a town of a hundred thousand high-tech cubicle jobs.

My faith teaches me to love my neighbor. We live so close to our neighbors that the acorns from their trees land on my patio furniture, yet I hardly know them. It’s life in the suburbs. Are we “exhibiting the kingdom of heaven”? Hardly. It’s embarrassing really.

My faith teaches me that I’m an imperfect man. There’s a shocker! Despite my sinful ways and failures, Christ died for me. Even though we often don’t heed even the greatest commandment, Christ reconciles us to Him. It’s powerful stuff, yet remarkably simple at the same time. Even so, it is difficult for many here in Alpharetta, myself included, to put our faith into practice, even with the vast resources we possess. So what does Alpharetta look like when we exhibit the kingdom of Heaven? I’m sure it looks a lot different. I’d imagine we don’t cut each other off on GA-400.

I’m trying to raise a young family in Alpharetta. Like most parents I want my children to be well-grounded. I hope they learn to see through the gilded opulence that exists here. I want them to be thankful for the many blessings we take for granted and to be generous givers of their talents and treasures. I’m extremely grateful to have a congregation that will play an important part in their faith journey in the coming years. Thank you and God bless.

The Corner Deli – Alpharetta

Every Friday, Roots in Alpharetta features an article on food and dining in a series I like to call Foodie Friday.

Sometimes I’m not the sharpest tool in the shed. Obvious things about Alpharetta’s restaurants sometimes don’t jump right out at me. That happened here at the Corner Deli. It took many visits to this neat little restaurant before I picked up on everything. The walls of this joint are covered in sports stuff. It’s mostly SEC and ACC football, a little bit of the NFL, some NASCAR, Braves baseball, etc. Sure, no big deal. A lot of restaurants decorate like this, right? But pay attention. That vintage poster of a football player leaping over another guy? The newspaper clippings about an Atlanta-area high school football star going to at Alabama? The old professional football contract. That’s not junk they bought off eBay. It’s Mel Siegel, the older gentleman running the cash register. Scattered amongst a hodge podge collection of sports memorabilia is a story of a local legend. It was hard for me to pick up, but it’s there. And it’s something even the AJC barely mentioned when they reviewed this place two years ago.

I appreciate the character of this joint and the family that runs it. They are super nice folks. If I find myself in downtown Alpharetta during my lunch hour, most times I’ll eat here. So let’s talk about the food. This is a restaurant after all.

To be honest, the sandwiches here are not going to win any awards. I’m not saying that to be ugly, it’s just that Alpharetta has some outstanding sandwich shops that crank out some truly inventive sandwiches. You’re not going to find that here. They make the stuff you’d make at home. The chicken salad is my go-to meal here on most days. You won’t find crazy ingredients like cranberries or walnuts. It’s straight up chicken salad with salt and pepper, maybe some garlic and finely shredded chicken. On a croissant it is terrific. I also like the brisket sandwich. They make their own brisket and serve it french dip style, with au jus for dipping. I also like the matzo ball soup on cold days. If you’re into breakfast, they serve it all day. I suggest the french toast.

They have a nice outdoor seating area that feels like a European street side eatery. Yet Corner Deli’s outdoor eating has gone to the dogs! They are very dog friendly here. They’ve got water dishes for Rover and free dog biscuits. This is by far the most dog friendly restaurant in Alpharetta.

If you haven’t tried this friendly little family-run sandwich joint, you owe it to yourself to visit. If you’re an Alabama Crimson Tide fan, they have an entire corner for you to sit and worship.

Corner Deli on Urbanspoon

Attracting and Retaining Relos in Alpharetta

This is the fifth article in a series about Alpharetta’s ten year plan survey.

We’re nearing the end of my little series on the ten year plan survey. If there is a topic I keep coming back to it is that of jobs. There is no way to talk about attracting or retaining the residents of this area without talking about jobs. And more so than that, you have to frame this discussion against the context of Alpharetta being America’s #1 Relo-ville destination. I can’t take credit for that designation, Forbes Magazine bestowed that honor on us last year.

What attracts people to Alpharetta? Many times it goes like this…

Boss: “There is a new opportunity for you in our Alpharetta office.”

Soon-to-be-Relo: “Alpha what? I like living here in Peoria.”

Boss: “You’ll move to Alpharetta or you’re fired.”

Relo: “Um, okay. What’s there to do in Alpha..eat..ah?”

Boss: “Tennis. Oh, and you’re gonna need an SUV… a big one.”

The single best way Alpharetta can attract and retain residents is to maintain our position as the king of the relovilles. It is just about that simple, yes. Thanks for reading… goodnight.

Okay, perhaps not. We also get folks from other parts of metro Atlanta that want to move here. So let’s look at some of the survey’s questions on this issue…

Please rank the top ten (10) challenges Alpharetta faces in attracting and/or retaining residents with one (1) being the most important challenge.

And here is my list in ranked order…

  1. Creating more quality jobs
  2. Traffic congestion
  3. Infrastructure quality
  4. K-12 capacity, financing, and quality
  5. Quality development, planning, and land use
  6. A more vital Downtown
  7. More entertainment and recreation amenities
  8. Appearance of the city
  9. Cost of living
  10. More diverse housing stock (i.e., apartments, more choices of single-family homes)

Jobs of course, followed by traffic/infrastructure, schools, stuff to do, etc. I’ve beat the jobs issue to death. Let’s talk traffic. Over the long haul, the city needs to be careful not to turn Alpharetta into the perimeter area. The surface streets there are a clogged mess. Alpharetta’s GA-400 feeder streets need to be able to handle the longterm demands of cubicle dwellers coming and going. Beyond that, east-west commutes continue to be trouble for many working here. Much of this is beyond Alpharetta’s control.

Alpharetta also need to be careful not to sacrifice traffic flow for the sake of appearance and beautification. I’m thinking about their plans for Main Street and Milton’s thought on GA-9. But this is a topic for another article.

So I’ll turn the question to my readers… As a resident of Alpharetta, what can the city do to retain you as a resident? What can the city not do that might cause you to move?

Alpharetta Jobs – November 2010

Around the middle of each month I survey the career websites of Alpharetta’s largest employers. I count the number of openings and tally them up here, trending the numbers month to month.

November shows an impressive spike in the number of openings. Nearly all of Alpharetta’s largest employers added openings since this time last month. The biggest gains were at HP, who went from 73 openings to 105. ADP and Verizon both have the largest number of openings in their Alpharetta offices since I’ve been tracking this metric (which has been for eleven months now). If you’re an IT professional looking for work in Alpharetta, I’d be networking with folks these companies right about now.

I’d love to hear from anyone actively seeking IT employment in Alpharetta. No, sorry, I don’t have a job for you. I’m interested to hear of your experience in the job hunt. E-mail me at lee@rootsinalpharetta.com or find me on twitter at http://twitter.com/rootsalpharetta

Alpharetta Jobs November 2010

Company Number of Jobs
McKesson 81
LexisNexis/Choicepoint 43
ADP 75
E-Trade 12
Equifax 35
AT&T 10
Verizon 27
Radiant 14
HP 105
Infor 5
Phillips 6
Alcatel-Lucent 2
UPS 12
Total 427

Will Young Professionals Move to Alpharetta? OMG! Like, No Way!

This is the fourth article in a series about Alpharetta’s ten year plan survey.

I moved to Atlanta when I was 25 years old, very much a young professional. I had a nice cubicle job in the Peachtree Corners area, a decent income, a girlfriend but certainly no family. Where did I choose to live? Vinings. It was a terrific spot, close enough to 285 for my east/west commute yet right on I-75. I could be in Buckhead in just a few minutes. And oh did we go to Buckhead (it was a different place back then). All in all, this young professional was living it up in Vinings.

It’s clear that the authors of Alpharetta’s ten year plan survey have young professionals on their minds. I counted six questions on this topic. Here are a few…

Is Alpharetta an attractive and desirable place to live for young professionals? Would you recommend Alpharetta to single young professionals looking for a place to live in Metro Atlanta?

The answer to both questions is a resounding no! Don’t get me wrong, I like Alpharetta and I encourage people to move here. But let’s not kid ourselves, there is little to nothing to excite young professionals in the burbs. It is the reason I didn’t live in Gwinnett County when I moved to Atlanta. There are no hot clubs, no concert venues (save Encore Park), few trendy eateries, etc. And as much as I like my minivan today (indeed I do), our modes of transportation are ridiculed and scorned by Gen-Y types.

Young professionals desire urban environments. Were Alpharetta to want to attract this demographic, we would need to make dramatic transformations. We would need more mixed-use developments, more high-rise condos, more late night bars, etc. They’re not exactly politically popular things for city councilmen to consider. On top of that, the northern burbs don’t have a great track record when it comes to stuff like this. And even were we to be successful in creating a desirable environment for young professionals, what’s to say they will take the bait and move here? We’re competing against trendy Atlanta neighborhoods.

Young professionals will move here, eventually. They’ll move here once they get a bit older and grow tired of the commute up GA-400. They’ll move here once they have kids and realize that the Atlanta schools suck. Alpharetta has no problem whatsoever in attracting 30-something families. So who cares that we can’t attract young professionals?

The survey touches on another similar issue with this question:

Do you feel there will be job opportunities available to your children locally upon graduation?

Of course. Alpharetta’s largest employers will continue to seek skilled employees, many directly from college recruiting drives. Is it important to me that my children return to Alpharetta after they finish school? Again, let’s be realistic. Our kids aren’t gonna live here and that’s fine. This town was build on corporate relos. I don’t know if being a relo is hereditary, but I’ll bet that our kids will move around just as much as we do.

So let’s review… If you’re a young professional, Alpharetta is a total snoozer. This is not a problem. The city shouldn’t waste energy or money trying to change this. 20-somethings will move here once their tricycle motors get older and start school. Relos beget relos.

Five of Everything

Six years ago there were just two cities in north Fulton; Alpharetta and Roswell (we’ll ignore Mountain Park). They happily existed for a century, slowly annexing land from unincorporated Fulton from time to time.

Yet even though this area is politically conservative and embraces concepts of limited government, we decided to create three new governments out of thin air… and if we had our way, we’d make a forth (Milton County). So if you’re keeping score at home, that’s five cities… five mayors, five city councils, five city managers, five police departments, five fire departments, five zoning boards, five HR managers, five public works departments… you get the idea. Oh but wait, there’s only four IT departments. Congratulations, we’ve saved some money.

There are a handful of agreements between the various cities to share services. Johns Creek and Milton made a bit of news this week when they announced an agreement to share some IT staff. Don’t get me wrong, this is a positive thing and should be encouraged. I just can’t pass up the chance to point out the irony. The AJC’s journalist also couldn’t resist, mentioning it in her article’s very first sentence.

Allow me to wear my hindsight goggles and peer back in time to 2005. Rather than incorporate Sandy Springs, Milton and Johns Creek, why not just allow Roswell and Alpharetta to annex the rest of north Fulton? Sure, Milton and Johns Creek residents wouldn’t have their new identities. On the flip side, the cost savings would have been tremendous. Economies of scale are a beautiful thing.

Before my readers label me as a hater… let me say that I fully supported the political reasons behind the creation of the new cities. I also support the succession plans to create a new Milton County. I just want to point out our own contradiction. We want more cities AND limited government. We’re good at wanting it both ways.

Mountain Park and the Lake Silt Poker Game

I recently played poker with some buddies from work… can’t get the poker analogies out of my head.

Mountain Park, population 500, has a little lake silt problem. Maybe they’ve got a hand to play against the builders next door so here comes the lawsuit. This probably should have ended here with a settlement out of court. But oh no. The betting continues on both sides, with everyone re-raising each other. Before long, Mountain Park has two million bucks in the pot. Let’s see the flop.

Doh, the cards didn’t do their way. Turns out Mountain Park is holding a poor hand. They’re faced with a poker player’s dilemma. Some would say they are pot committed. There’s too much money already in the game for them not to keep calling, spending more and more until the end of the game. On the other hand, you could say their two million is a sunk cost. Any decision to continue from this point on should not take into account the funds already lost. My advice? Fold this hand.

Okay, my poker analogy might not be a good one, but you get the idea. This case has gone on way too long. If Mountain Park continues, they will almost be making an all-in wager against an opponent who is virtually bankrupt (and perhaps judgment-proof). This case is beyond stupid. Not only is this lawsuit absurd, it calls into question this town’s entire reason for being.

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