David Abes, a familiar face on the restaurant scene, left Here to Serve Restaurants (Coast, Prime, Twist, Strip, Shucks) after 14 years to become the regional director of operations for LDV Hospitality.
All three of Abes’ new concepts are in the Rodeo Drive-type development called Buckhead Atlanta.
Abes, son of Stephanie and Dr. Marshall Abes, attended Riverwood High School, got his degree in industrial
psychology and business management from Arizona State, and says he has “been training every day for the last 25 years.”
Deep down, many of us — movie stars, medical professionals, sports figures — dream of running a restaurant, but the price of that dream often is a financial loss). George Bernard Shaw said, “There is no love more sincere than the love of food.”
See how Abes lives the dream and his journey along the way.
Jaffe: How did you get the food bug growing up?
Abes: My parents took my sister and me out to dinner to nice places like Avanti, Papa Piroshki’s and Coach N Six, of course. I was always in awe of the energy and excitement in restaurants. Mom was a great cook, and I was a picky eater. She made me try adventurous dishes nightly.
Jaffe: Has working long hours affected your family life?
Abes: This is all I have ever done, and the hours don’t bother me. I love what I do. My wife, Julie, and kids have been very understanding with my crazy schedule for the last 22 years. We make Sunday nights our Saturday nights.
Jaffe: Describe you first concept, Corso Coffee (opened in 2014).
Abes: Corso is an amazing Italian coffee cafe that takes you away from Atlanta. We serve breakfast items, sandwiches and refreshing salads. We have a full bar, so guests can enjoy a Negroni or glass of Prosecco for happy hour.
Abes: Dolce has been exciting to open. It’s an upscale Italian restaurant with a 125-bottle wine list. My service team’s hospitality will wow with our philosophy of la dolce vita. We have a 150-seat dining room with Mid-Century furniture and art and a 50-foot wrap-around terrace.
Dolce won best new restaurant on Bravo TV for our Miami location. Even though our company is based out of NYC, we are local. My entire team has been working in Atlanta restaurants for years. All the pasta is made in house. Chef Paolo’s best dishes are Dolce meatballs and the whole-roasted branzino.
Our next restaurant is American Cut. It’s an upscale, modern steakhouse. Meat never goes out of style. Plus we are opening Regent Cocktail Club on the roof of American Cut.
Jaffe: What kind of customers do you see at Buckhead Atlanta? Local pedestrian workers? Tourists? How many people buy Hermes scarves in repeat fashion to establish a loyal base?
Abes: Our clientele has been perfect — businessmen, ladies who lunch. There is a lot of people watching going on with the locals and tourists alike.
Jaffe: When you eat out, where do you like to go?
Abes: Love eating on Buford Highway, but for special occasions we are on a Gunshow kick. Never the same menu twice.
Jaffe: What’s the thing you like most and least about your job?
Abes: I love the people the most. Every person you meet has a story, and I love throwing a party. Probably working weekends is the least favorable because I have missed some events over time.
Jaffe: What knowledge can we glean from you as a food experience expert?
Abes: Always live by the answer is “yes”; what’s the question? Treat everyone like they are the king and queen of the restaurant. Create the “Cheers” philosophy.
Jaffe: What are the most memorable experiences you’ve had?
Abes: My favorite two stories are hosting Michael Jordan, my basketball hero. He invited me to Charlotte to sit courtside with him to watch LeBron James play. And the president of Poland. Never seen so much security.
Jaffe: What do you think our readers would be surprised to find that happens behind the scenes in a professional kitchen?
Abes: Guests would be shocked to see what happens in the kitchen. The prep that is involved. … As my wife’s grandmother used to say, “The restaurant business is a HARD business.”
Jaffe: Do you think that today’s customers are too picky about changing things around and substituting what’s on the menu? “No butter, no salt, no chicken stock, no mayo” is how I start.
Abes: This past Saturday at Dolce it looked like break the fast after High Holiday services. We were laughing that we didn’t even need to print a menu because everything was special-ordered dishes.
Jaffe: Enough said about that!