Archive - November, 2011

Home invasion suspects target Indian business owners

Roots in Alpharetta Exclusive

At least three recent home invasions in the northern suburbs of Atlanta have something in common – the victims were of south Asian/Indian heritage.

East Cobb – July 11, 2011 - An Indian family of four was tied up and forced into a bedroom while masked and armed bandits ransacked their home. Four men are wanted by police.

Alpharetta – September 15, 2011 - A group of three masked and armed robbers invaded a home in the Glen Abbey subdivision of Alpharetta. They bound and gagged the family and spent an hour stealing jewelry and cash. The victims were of Indian ancestry.

Alpharetta – November 23, 2011 - A group of five armed men rob a family living in the Park Glenn subdivision off Webb Bridge Road. Additional details have not been released at this time. The victims are believed to be Indians.

Alpharetta police are working to connect the city’s two recent home invasions with others in metro Atlanta involving Indian victims.

— Developing —

Park Glenn home invasion and lack of media coverage

On Wednesday evening at 8:00pm, the night before Thanksgiving, an armed home invasion occurred in the Park Glenn subdivision near Webb Bridge Middle School. Fox 5 in Atlanta first broke the story on Thanksgiving Day. Next came Bob Pepalis with the Alpharetta Patch who wrote a story on Friday interviewing neighbors. If you are a concerned resident and want more information on this violent crime, you’re out of luck. Even six days after the crime, no other media outlets have covered this story. Absolutely none.

It stands in stark contrast to a similar home invasion which occurred on September 15th in the Glen Abbey area of Alpharetta. Stories of this home invasion were all over the papers and television.

I’m sure newsrooms were thinly staffed on Thanksgiving. Friday was a different matter. Reporters were camped out at North Point Mall reporting on Black Friday shopping nonsense. Meanwhile a vitally important story continued to go unreported.

I’m thankful that no one was hurt during this crime. I’m also thankful for the Alpharetta public safety officers who worked this case and were away from their families while doing so.

I write this post in an effort to bring a bit more attention to the story and to hold the media accountable. I’m very disappointed in their inaction. I also think it is worth mentioning that Alpharetta is still a very safe city. It may not seem or feel that way given recent developments. I hope to have more to say about this and home invasions in general in future posts.

View Park Glenn Home Invasion in a larger map

Lame Duck council to approve 2030 Plan

Tonight Alpharetta’s City Council will consider the 2030 Comprehensive Land Use Plan. This important act will likely get overshadowed by another item higher up on the agenda – an update on Westside Parkway. I anticipate the city to go public with plans for opening the road, which is a great thing. However, it will divert attention away from the approval of this unfortunate land use plan.

The city should postpone the vote on this plan until January for the following reasons…

  • Nearly half the current council members are lame ducks. Mayor Letchas will not return due to term limits. Jim Paine lost his bid to become mayor and Cheryl Oakes was soundly defeated. It isn’t proper for those leaving office to cast such a vote with its longterm implications.
  • The 2030 Plan was a campaign issue! It was brought up in most or all of the candidate forums. The voters considered this issue when selecting candidates. Allow the new council members and mayor to be seated and have the influence the voters wanted!
  • David Belle Isle and Jim Gilvin campaigned on issues of density and urbanization and were elected. This plan reclassifies hundreds of acres of land in such a way as to add many more condos.

The city should table this plan until January 2012 and allow David Belle Isle, Jim Gilvin and Michael Cross to assume their roles on the council.

Alpharetta Restaurant News – November 2011

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

The best way to learn of new restaurants is to write a column about new restaurants. Inevitably I miss several that are quickly brought to my attention. So allow me a second Alpharetta Restaurant News column for this month. There’s a lot to keep up with.

Alfresco  – Main Street, Alpharetta

Look for these guys in mid-January at 131 South Main Street. They will have the end cap of the stripmall at the northwest corner of Main and Old Milton. I don’t know a lot about them at this point except they will have pizza and pasta. Their tagline will be “Love at first bite.”

Cafe Efendi – New Location

Thanks to blog reader Jimmy for this tip. It also served as a reminder that I don’t monitor Facebook as often as I should.

You’ll remember Cafe Efendi as the Mediterranean restaurant in the old house at 37 Roswell Street in downtown Alpharetta. They closed earlier this year and La Casa Italian is in this space now.

The Efendi folks mentioned on their Facebook wall that they have recently signed a lease. At one point they were looking at the space Alfresco just snagged. Instead they will occupy the old Durty Kelly’s space at 488 North Main Street in Alpharetta. This should be a cool location for Cafe Efendi. I expect they should do well once their loyal following returns.

Woody’s BBQ – Closed

A poor location and horrendously bad barbecue did this place in. I’m surprised it took this long.

Boga Taqueria – Soft Opening

Boga is in a soft opening period right now. I don’t like to say too much when a restaurant is in this phase but I’ll bend the rule somewhat. They’re going for a hip vibe with modern and minimalist decor. Menu has tacos, tortas, a few burritos and no Speedy Gonzalez! That alone is worth a visit or two.

Pampas Steakhouse – Open for Lunch

Starting next week this steakhouse in Johns Creek will offer lunch hours. If you’ve got a hankering for a cinderblock-sized piece of meat in the middle of the day, Pampas is your place.

Old Mama’s Taqueria – South Main Street

I hesitate to mention this as my information at this point is shaky at best. But I believe someone has plans to open in the tiny little building that used to house Mama’s Taqueria on South Main in Alpharetta. I don’t even know a name at this point.

Coming Soon

Dulce Chocolat - Gourmet chocolate shop coming to Old Milton Parkway.
Twisted Taco Express – Windward and North Point next to Wildflour.
Saigon Café – Windward next to Smashburger.
El Molcajete Mexican - Coming soon to the old Zola Bistro location on Highway 9 in Milton.
Boga Taqueria - Highway 9 in Milton across from Walmart.


A Microcosm of Alpharetta

This year I’ve served on my church’s membership committee. Part of that responsibility was helping with several new member classes throughout the year. I underestimated how cool an experience this would be. I’m also surprised I haven’t written about this before. Perhaps Thanksgiving is a decent time reflect on it all.

If you could represent Alpharetta around one conference room table, a church new member class would be it. Sit back and listen as everyone breaks the ice. Hear the stories of how these families came to Alpharetta. Listen to their varied faith backgrounds. Here are a few stories I remember, with details obfuscated somewhat…

As would be expected in America’s #1 Reloville, nearly every family that joined isn’t from this area. I was perhaps most amazed with a couple in their late twenties. Alpharetta was their fourth destination in the reloville lottery, surprising for a career that still seemed new.

I met a grandmother who moved to Alpharetta to follow the relocated grandkids. There were road warrior sales guys with impressive Sky Miles balances. We had doctors, lawyers, architects, teachers and software geeks like yours truly.

A lot of couples were newlyweds. Several were also couples of either mixed race or nationality. Most had young children and mentioned schools as being a draw to Alpharetta. We had folks raised in nearly every mainline Christian denomination – Baptist, Methodist, Catholic and Presbyterian to name a few.

But at the end of each story, one theme seemed to cut through. Many were ready to lay down roots here in Alpharetta. Church membership is a great first step towards that goal.

I’m grateful to have participated in this process and I’m fortunate to have met several families who are setting tender new roots in this awesome community. Be thankful you live in Alpharetta.

BW Tavern – South Forsyth

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

BW Tavern isn’t afraid of taking chances. You don’t have to look very far to see new and creative thinking in south Forsyth’s latest concept restaurant. Their former self, Mulligan’s, was a dive bar that had a loyal following. They took a chance when they flipped this somewhat successful, yet cigarette smoke-filled restaurant on its head.

Alex King, left, with Chef David Smith

The name “BW” pays homage to Benchwarmers, an Atlanta sports bar in this same family of restaurants. It was this original owner who took a chance bringing in a new partner – Alex King. This young man with spiky hair brings youthful energy and confidence to BW Tavern. It’s hard to miss his presence both in the restaurant and in their already active social media campaigns.

BW is taking chances with their menu. It would be easy to follow the Mulligan’s model of burgers, chicken fingers and tater tots. Fear not as these items are still around, just a little jazzed up. The burger now has a pretzel bun and the fingers are hand-tossed in panko breadcrumbs. The menu relegates these guys to a lonely corner, a space called “the staples.” Far more adventurous cuisine awaits on the rest of the menu.

Thanksgiving Spring Rolls

BW’s Thanksgiving spring rolls may put these guys on the map. They start with tender morsels of fried turkey made in-house. It’s rolled and fried in a spring roll wrapper and served with a cranberry sauce for dipping. The sauce is more sweet than tart and contrasts with the peppery dressing inside the roll. Don’t dare come here without ordering this appetizer, in November or any month.

The menu has three entrees offered as bowls. They all are stick-to-your-ribs, manly choices. The Asian chicken bowl ($11) is an eclectic mix of braised chicken thighs, Asian-flavored black beans and collard greens. Each ingredient is great on its own, but they didn’t mesh well together.  The rasta bowl ($11) is a creamy and spicy mix of sausage, shrimp, bay scallops, beans, rice and veggies. It’s a playful and delicious take on jambalaya.

BW makes their own ciabatta bread for half a dozen different sandwiches. Try the bayou gobbler ($9). They start with the same smoked turkey from the Thanksgiving spring roll and slice it deli thin. It’s moist and delicious all by itself. Crawfish tails give the sandwich a bayou influence, but the flavor of these mudbugs gets lost in the pepperjack cheese and mayo. It’s still a very solid turkey sandwich.

BW Tavern isn’t afraid of taking chances with local vendors. While a lot of restaurants talk of sourcing product locally, it’s rare to see it taken to this degree. For example, sausage for their Brunswick stew comes from Woody’s Meat and Sausage just down the street. Partner Alex King liked the arrangement so much he starting buying just about all his meat products from Woody’s. “Anything with a hoof we buy from Woody’s,” said King. You’ll also find a boiled peanut appetizer on the menu from D’s Nuts. You might remember these guys from their road-side peanut stands in Forsyth County.

King even sources his music locally. You’ll find live music on weekends, which certainly isn’t out of the ordinary. What’s unique is that BW will pipe in tunes from these local musicians during the week. It’s refreshing to see this restaurant’s honest and sincere desire to keep their business local.

Any restaurateur takes a chance when they open in this extremely competitive market. BW Tavern is upping the ante when it comes to dining in the Midway community of south Forsyth. You’ve gotta like their chances.

Photo Credit: Robyn Guy Photography

Disclosure: I received free food from this restaurant. You can read my disclosure policy on my about page.
BW Tavern on Urbanspoon

Alpharetta Jobs – November 2011

Around the middle of each month the career websites of Alpharetta’s largest employers are queried. The number of jobs advertised are tallied and trended month-to-month. The results are published to the Roots in Alpharetta blog and used by permission in the Appen Newspapers. This month’s numbers were tabulated on November 14th. All attempts were made to maintain accuracy but some errors are possible.

I usually fill this space by commenting on trends month-to-month. That won’t be possible as I missed printing this column in October. My apologies. However it appears that the number of advertised positions in my list of companies is holding steady at over 700. McKesson, Siemens, HP and ADP all have the most cubicles to fill. Dust off your resume!

Largest Employers in Alpharetta - November 2011

Company Number of Jobs
McKesson 150
LexisNexis/Choicepoint 22
ADP 67
E-Trade 31
Equifax 48
AT&T 5
Verizon 52
Radiant 21
HP 61
Alcatel-Lucent 1
UPS 11
Siemens 106
Traveler's 12
T-SYS 18
Metlife 9
Total 614

Mid-Sized Employers in Alpharetta - November 2011

Company Number of Jobs
Research in Motion 6
Ciena 7
RedPrairie 13
Exide Technologies not available
Ryder 8
Phillips 20
Outcomes Health 5
New York Life 0
GXS/Inovis 4
Infor 16
Hanjin Shipping 3
Scientific Games 22
VeriFone 5
Farmer's Insurance 0
LaFarge 3
Crown Castle 0
Amdocs 4
Total 116

Photo Credit: bjmccray (creative commons)

Alpharetta Restaurant News – November 2011

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

For the small price of fixing a window an Alpharetta restaurant got itself a viral marketing campaign. Even the best social media expert couldn’t have produced this much nation-wide publicity.

I’m talking of course about the deer at the Windward Taco Mac. And unless you’ve been living under a rock, you saw the story this week. Here’s the video in case you missed it.

This deer wasted little time leaving Taco Mac. I suggest you do the same if you ever consider eating here. Instead try one of these fabulous new restaurants.

Boga Taqueria – Milton

You’ll find these guys building out in the old Meyer’s Deli location on Highway 9 in Milton. Getting in and out of this stripmall can be treacherous. I don’t see much thriving here except Scratch. Nevertheless this is a decent endcap store that should have a healthy restaurant. I know practically nothing about Boga at this point. More to come.

Chepe’s – Johns Creek

This will be the fifth location for this fairly new Mexican chain. Look for them on Old Alabama near Haynes Bridge. I’ve tried their two locations in south Forsyth and have never been impressed. While the service is usually very good, the food has never distinguished itself from the dozens of other ubiquitous Mexican joints around here.

Scootz – Closed

The folks just quit comin’. I think locals gave these guys a try and didn’t return for more. Scootz had a lot of potential. I hate this for them.

Wildflour – Dinner Hours

Alpharetta’s sandwich king is experimenting with dinner hours. They’ll offer a menu pretty close to what you’d expect at lunch plus a dinner special. There’s a lot of locals who never get to enjoy this gem of a restaurant because they work elsewhere. If that’s you, here’s your chance. Don’t miss it!

New York Butcher Shoppe – Closed

They shut down their McGinnis Ferry location. One other metro-Atlanta location remains in Sandy Springs.

Yamato – Closed

I suppose the onion volcano doesn’t impress us anymore. Yamato has flung their last airborne shrimp. I doubt you’ll see a new occupant in this space for a while. It’s a fairly large restaurant and I don’t see new eateries of this size opening these days.

Coming Soon

Dulce Chocolat – Gourmet chocolate shop coming to Old Milton Parkway.
Twisted Taco Express - The buildout continues. I spied some of their decor after a visit to Wildflour. Looks kinda cheesy.
Fire Fly - They are in a soft opening period with a grand opening planned next week. The lunch menu is a little small right now with mainly burgers and sandwiches. This weekend they’ll bring in some live music. They’re fighting an uphill battle to get folks there after lunch. Maybe this will do it.
Saigon Café - Looks like they are getting closer to an opening on Windward, pho sure.
El Molcajete Mexican - Coming soon to the old Zola Bistro location on Highway 9 in Milton.

Alpharetta/Milton Election Results

Last night’s election results were somewhat predictable with a few nail biters to keep things interesting. I tried my best to keep my personal opinions out of print during the campaign and think I was successful. Now that it’s all over, here’s my thoughts…

Cross and Mitchell

No surprise here at all. Ron Carter ran a weak campaign and tried to claim credit for the Westside Parkway/GA-9 reroute idea. In the end, he drew fewer votes than even Hans Appen.

As far as Appen, he was up against a very serious candidate in Michael Cross. I give Hans credit for giving it the old college try (no pun intended). I hope he stays active in local politics. He has some credible ideas to bring to the table. I thought Cross’ late-inning direct mail piece against Appen was unfortunate and certainly wasn’t necessary.

Mayor’s Race

I knew DeRito would finish third, I just figured he would have at least broken 20%. But congratulations to David Belle Isle! I would have put money on Paine to win this race given his deep roots and convincing victory over John Monson not long ago. It makes you wonder if Mayor Letchas’ direct mail piece might have backfired. In the end, I hope Belle Isle’s pledge to limit density was sincere. This blogger will hold him to it!

Jimmy Gilvin

It’s no secret that Jimmy and I agree on a lot. I like the idea of him being on Council because it provides balance. Most city and county governments in the suburbs have a mix of business and homeowner interests in politics. I don’t believe Alpharetta followed that model – until now.

Cheryl Oakes’ campaign followed a strategy that I like to call the reverse attack. Late in the game she claimed to be the victim of negative campaigning and smear attacks. Nothing could have been further from the truth. Gilvin only challenged her on issues, pressing her after misstating that she didn’t vote on Windward Mill (in fact she voted for it).

Ticketgate and the Paul Oakes incident were certainly distractions to her campaign. It’s ludicrous to think that Gilvin’s campaign had anything to do with these issues. I reported on the Paul Oakes incident (without commentary) and researched the accuser as best I could. I found nothing that would link her to Alpharetta politics. She’s just a mom who seems to be really ticked off and is willing to do something about it. That’s my take anyway. To suggest that Gilvin or his supporters could influence the AJC/WSB newsroom is to give them way too much credit.


I’m surprised incumbents Alan Tart and Julie Zahner Bailey were defeated. Milton voters usually have a nose for sniffing out business and developer interests in their elections. At the same time, if Alpharetta needs homeowner interests in politics, Milton may need to go the other way. Their tax base is indeed tilted too far towards homeowners. They need to expand the business base, I just don’t think Lance Large and Matt Kunz are the best choices to do that.

In the end… Folks are ready for the robocalls to be over and the campaign signs to disappear. I’m ready to write about something other than politics for a change!

Photo Credit: The Suss-Man (Mike) (creative commons)

North American Properties contributes to Paine Campaign

Executives and employees at North American Properties, owners of the former Prospect Park development, have made campaign contributions to Alpharetta mayoral candidate Jim Paine. According to his October 25th campaign contribution report, Paine’s campaign accepted nine contributions from NAP employees totaling $1,800. No other candidates for mayor or council have reported contributions from NAP.

North American Properties has plans to begin construction on the Avalon project (formally Prospect Park) in August 2012 with a planned opening in late 2013. With such aggressive construction schedules, NAP would have to submit revised plans and a new site plan to Alpharetta pretty soon.

I do not believe it is appropriate for NAP to make contributions to candidates with such a large project looming before the city. Furthermore I’m disappointed that a candidate would accept such contributions. Jim Paine should refund the contributions and NAP should refrain from making political contributions this season. Do the right thing, guys.

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