The older I get, the less I believe that things happen by happenstance. Life events that seem to come about serendipitously, in hindsight all have an order – a larger purpose. Such has been my experience with the first Charm Etiquette restaurant partnership: The Hungry Peach Café. I’m not certain what lead me to The Peach beyond random Google search results of a restaurant I’d not yet tried, but I was compelled to head over. Located within the Atlanta Decorative Arts Center (a space I’d never before visited) I stopped by, unannounced, and spoke with owner Conor Hubbard. During the first proposal of many, Conor unknowingly taught me the “it” factor that I’d seek when choosing future partnerships, while giving me the assurance of knowing my modern approach to teaching social skills was both a viable and welcomed one. But enough about me, let’s explore the “happenstance” of how a little café in Buckhead came to be.
It was in chemistry class that The Hungry Peach owners Conor and Suzanne Vizethann would become friends. The two were Juniors at Riverwood High School in the Atlanta suburb of Sandy Springs. Suzanne, in fact, had just transferred to Riverwood from another school. Their passions would lead them in different directions, then as now. I spoke to Conor recently from her part-time home in Boston. She shed light on the beginnings of The Hungry Peach.
After high school, Conor attended Georgia Southern University, receiving her BS in Public Relations. She segued those skills into shaping the Wedding Design Team for The Cloister on Sea Island. She learned much about intuitive service working at the resort, but with no days off and the expired thrill of island life, (things get very small, very quickly) Conor moved back to Atlanta and began her time with Added Touch Catering.
“Sandra Banks was one of those people that oozes creativity in such an easy way, “ Conor says of the owner of Added Touch. Though she’d left a position with over 2000 employees to join the boutique catering company of 5, Added Touch enhanced Conor’s portfolio with the finesse of event planning – artistic food and hospitality. Ingredients that would come to make all the difference.
Where was Suzanne during all of this? Oh, she was Conor’s Atlanta roommate! Suzanne (now a certified Personal Chef and Certified Culinarian) and Conor would lay around on Sunday nights and kick around ideas for a business of their own. They needed a tangible product, however, so the brainstorming continued for a year until a friend happened to mentioned to Conor that the café at ADAC was closing and suggested a visit. Conor toured the space and knew right away that it was a perfect fit!
The two wanted a name that was local and incorporated Georgia, so the café was christened The Hungry Peach. They first saw the space in June. Within 1-2 weeks, their business plan was approved by ADAC, beating out three other would-be takers. Conor cashed in her 401k for start up money; family and friends pitched in to pull the space together, and the cafe opened its doors on August 3, 2009. “We didn’t have time to think – it was pure adrenaline!”
Chef Suzanne created the menu for the Café. It was during a conversation with dear friends who frequented the Masters, that the suggestion to include pimento cheese sandwiches on the menu was made. Through trial and error, Chef Suzanne created the infamous Mastered Pimento Cheese. In fact, The Peach was the first to offer pimento cheese stuffed eggs.
Added exposure from Chef Suzanne’s win on Food Network’s Chopped brought in business from the local community. The Hungry Peach has a very popular following for catering. Whether hosting dinner parties for 6 guests or corporate events of 100 guests within many Fortune 500 corporations in Atlanta, clients are drawn to the consistency of their presentation, quality of food, and punctuality; their delivery process and on-site set up is phenomenal. The Peach is known for going one step further with their customer service, drawing on Conor’s experiences on Sea Island and with Added Touch. “Food has nothing to do with the purpose of the [event], but sure can add a lot of stress if it’s not right,” explains Conor.
In fact, you can take a break from the kitchen this holiday season by taking advantage of the a la carte menu offered by The Hungry Peach. The menu allows for flexibility of items to either bring to a potluck dinner or to create a full holiday spread. Though the taste is over the top, the offerings are familiar. Says Conor, “You just don’t mess with the holidays – stick with classics, make it really delicious and build it to fit the need.”
So, back to passions leading these two in different directions: Conor will be tying the knot this summer and relocating permanently to Boston, while Chef Suzanne has over a year under her belt at her popular restaurant, Buttermilk Kitchen (also a Charm partner). With Conor miles away, it lead me to the question of what will come of the Café? “We are personally and emotionally attached to The Hungry Peach, but also want to make a sound financial decision, with no regrets,” she explains. Certainly, this is a personal chapter for the two, and so their story is to be continued. Whether they choose to expand the catering business or the Café, I’m certain that what happens next will be wonderful and just as it is supposed to be. Fortunately, we’ll have their yummy pimento cheese to nosh on their while awaiting the details of their next chapter!