Reprinted from 7/22/2011 Atlanta Business Chronicle “Restaurants & Hospitality” column.
“Fifth Group Restaurants hires chef for Mexican restaurant” by Lisa R. Schoolcraft
Fifth Group Restaurants’ new downtown Mexican restaurant now has a name and a chef. Fifth Group Restaurants, which earlier this year snapped up the lease of the former Il Mulino space at One Ninety One Peachtree tower downtown to open a chef-driven Mexican restaurant, has named it Alma Cocina, which stands for “soul kitchen.”
The restaurant is expected to open in November but already the original plan of a traditional Mexican restaurant “has evolved a little bit,” said Robby Kukler, a partner at Fifth Group Restaurants, which has several restaurants in metro Atlanta, including South City Kitchen in Midtown and La Tavola in Virginia-Highland. “It is still Mexican, but more modern Mexican, with some Latin influences, as well.”
Atlanta-based Fifth Group Restaurants hired Chad Clevenger from Denver to be the executive chef at Alma Cocina, Kukler said.
Clevenger’s career experience includes being a private chef in France and the executive chef at Coyote Café in Santa Fe, N.M., where he was responsible for menu development, purchasing and operating three separate Southwestern restaurants.
He also has owned his own restaurants, including Agave Grill and Mel’s Bar & Grill in Denver.
Prior to joining Fifth Group Restaurants, Clevenger served as a chef consultant for the Latin-themed raw bar at LOLA Coastal Mexican Cuisine and as chef/owner of The Porker Street Food Cart, a street food cart.
“With his passion for and background in Latin flavors, and his posole and tamale recipes that have been voted the best in Denver, Clevenger is a natural fit for the Latin flavors and spirited atmosphere of Alma Cocina,” Kukler said.
Alma Cocina will also feature a “large and unique tequila selection, as well as a host of innovative Latin influenced cocktails beyond just superior margaritas,” he added. “We’re working on bringing in tequila from Mexico that is solely ours.”
The 5,500-square-foot restaurant will also expand out into the atrium of the One Ninety One building with a bar and seating, Kukler said.