Start/Stop/Continue – Alpharetta Restaurants 2014

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

We’ve done this article five times now here on Roots, and each year my “start” picks never seem to materialize. We’ll trudge on anyway.

If you’re not familiar with this idea, I’ll explain. At the office we are finishing our yearly reviews. Many bosses perform a peer review exercise where your coworkers are asked to list things you should start doing, bad habits you should stop and activities to continue. It’s sort of a nicer way to dish on your coworkers I guess.

The idea gets adapted here at the start of the year and applied to Alpharetta’s restaurant scene. Last year I wanted to see a craft dessert or ice cream joint open up. That’s still not happening. The doughnut scene has expanded though. We’ve kicked around the fro-yo joints, but their demise was easy to predict. And many more failures are still likely.

So let’s get to it.

Start – Healthy Kids Menus

My wife will love this one. We’re trying to get our kids away from eating highly processed foods. Frozen chicken fingers and mac-n-cheese ain’t gonna cut it anymore. Restaurants put almost no attention into their kids menus. Yet surprisingly the costs seem to go up and up.

How about devoting a little culinary creativity to the little guys? Create something unique and healthy that kids will actually want to eat! If a restaurant could pull this off and get a few food and mom bloggers behind the effort, families would beat a path to your door. Restaurants, are you up for the challenge?

Stop – Pizza

It’s hard to say this because I love the pizza options we have in Alpharetta, especially New York-style. The relocated Yankees brought their pies with them and they’re outstanding. The problem is that the bar is set so high. Don’t you dare open a new pizzeria here unless you can compete with the best.

Campania pizzaAnd then there’s Neapolitan style. It’s about to go gangbusters here. 850°F Bar Pizza will open likely within the month in Crabapple. Campania, my pick for best new restaurant of 2013, is doing terrific business on North Main Street. But they’re keenly aware of the coming competition, especially Antico at Avalon. Their arrival in the ‘burbs is huge. It’ll be interesting to see how they settle into their new Alpharetta digs. It’s doubtful they can recreate the hip midtown vibe and communal dining experience at Avalon. But we’ll see.

Continue – Downtown Alpharetta

The restaurant scene here is growing organically. The city doesn’t have to build high density residential over retail to make this happen!

Hop Alley was a huge success last year, as was Salt Factory. South Main Kitchen has the potential to generate the same amount of buzz yet isn’t getting a lot of attention at this point. It’s a concept from Louis Soon, an alum of Salt Factory going independent. They will transform the boring old building across from City Hall and add a rooftop bar.

And then there’s Roswell Street. The spec restaurant built by Coro Realty has been sold. Rumor is that the Sedgwicks have bought the place. We’re anxiously awaiting news on what’s coming here.

What’s next for downtown Alpharetta’s restaurant scene? How about transforming the abandoned gas station on Main Street into a hip little restaurant?

Photo credit: Mike Murphy

13 comments on this post.
  1. Alyssa:

    Agree 100% about kids menu options. I hate that we can’t go out to dinner without my daughter eating chicken nuggets or fingers. This would be a draw for parents for sure! By the way, what are they building next to Zoe’s on Haynes Bridge?

  2. Greg:

    I never have understood your animosity towards frozen yogurt places. My family enjoys going to Yogurtini on Douglas road, even walking if the weather is nice. They’ve been a great addition to the neighborhood. Don’t get so giddy when a small family-owned business fails.

  3. Cool Papa Bell:

    Yes Alpharetta, please no more great pizza places. We would rather fit into the stereotype of PapaCeasarHutNos two-for-one coupons. The last thing Alpharetta needs is to have the best of anything.

  4. A:

    Agree about kids menus. Glad my child is older and often orders off the regular menu. I’ve seen some pathetic kids meals recently, which makes me glad we’re not dealing with that anymore. Stop the frozen chicken nugget/mac and cheese madness!

  5. malagrey:

    I too agree with the kids menus!! I’m new to this topic as my little one is only 1.5 yrs old. My guy doesn’t like mac’n cheese, pizza or fries yet (I guess I’m lucky). Plus, I make my own nuggets at home and bake them so I see no point to order of a kids menu for fried garbage and pay $8+. We have discovered ordering for him off the appetizer menu at Jerusalem Bakery works for both the little man and us. He loves falafels dipped in tahini sauce, hummus, pita bread and lentil soup. He also loves little bites of our chicken shawarma sandwiches. (I apologize for the spelling of these middle eastern gems). I figure everything at this bakery is made from scratch and fresh and chick peas and beans are something he doesn’t eat at home often and they are a good source of protein. We also like taking him to Figo as you can order small servings of unique meatballs, which make for a good kids meal.

    As for pizza places, Campagnia is good, but hard to take a child there (which is ok because I like to go when it’s just the two of us and it’s our go-to adult place). I have to give a thumbs up for the Jerusalem bakery’s pizza. I was curious and tried the spinach pizza there last week and love the middle eastern spices and twist on this American-Italian dish. For us though, the best pizza place is Whole Foods on Hembree. They have a special on Tuesdays and its cheap, fast, fresh, healthy, yummy, and I can pick up a few items that are hard to find at regular grocery chains (like kale and good salad dressings) while I wait.

    Super excited about downtown! Glad I live only 1.5 miles away. JUST BUILD SOME SIDEWALKS FOR US PLEASE!!!! We would love to walk there but have no sidewalk. We don’t need high density. WE NEED SAFE SIDEWALKS AND CROSSWALKS on Rucker and other neighboring streets that are in a 4-5 mile radius from downtown. The residents of Alpharetta are young (and young at heart), healthy, and love to be active. Let us safely get to downtown and we will come by foot and bikes! Maybe the city can even build cool trail system connecting all the surrounding neighborhoods and have them lead to downtown.

  6. Hyps:

    Definitely agree with the last person re sidewalks. YES.

    Agree with your stops and starts and until the last sentence about turning the old gas station into a restaurant. Really? Because there’s not already 50 quatrillion (yes, I known that’s not a word)and more are coming. Let’s getting something a little more interesting there…..

  7. Travis Allen:

    How about transforming the abandoned gas station on Main Street into a hip little restaurant?

    Well, parking is bad enough already. I went to Smokejack for lunch on Thursday and almost decided to go elsewhere due to the lack of parking in that area.

    Let’s add more parking before we add more restaurants.

  8. S Lee Guy:

    Travis, the city parking deck is being built right now. Will be across the street from here behind Publix.

  9. A:

    According to Lee’s Twitter, the new 850F pizza joint in Crabapple not only stole Campania’s pizza chef but is charging less for the same product. If that’s the case, we may move our wood-fired pizza business to 850! I hope it’s bigger too since Campania tends to fill up quickly on weekends.

  10. Travis Allen:

    Lee, you’re correct, I had forgotten about the future deck, but I wouldn’t want to be crossing Hwy 9

  11. W. Beck:

    If you look at the city center plans there is a new light and cross-walks at Hwy 9 and the old gas station.

  12. Stacey Mueller:

    I am so excited about Antico I cannot stand it. And another Sedgwick restaurant in Alpharetta? Yay!

  13. FoodSnob:

    I like that restaurants have burgers, nuggets, mac & cheese, grilled cheese, spaghetti, etc. on the kids menu. I know that my kids and pretty much every kid on the planet will eat them.

    Those don’t have to be “unhealthy,” either.

    Why would I ruin a pleasant meal by trying to get my kids to experiment?

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