Coveted MICHELIN restaurant guide expands to Atlanta – the Southerner Online

MICHELIN Star recipient Lazy Betty
does not have a regular menu, but instead offers guests a seven course tasting menu, with add-ons available. (Andrew Thomas Lee)

The MICHELIN Guide leaves a lasting effect on all restaurants that it recognizes as these restaurants gain popularity and appreciation. According to the guide, MICHELIN restaurants often see a rise in customers as the restaurants become globally recognized. 

Executive Chef and Co-owner of one of the MICHELIN Star restaurants Lazy Betty, Aaron Phillips said that gaining the MICHELIN Star felt validating for him and the rest of the restaurant. 

“It feels good to get the recognition and especially feels good for the staff, the Lazy Betty family, who just work so hard there every day,” Phillips said. “To see the joy that it brought to the team was an incredible experience. I can’t imagine anything greater than that.”

In terms of people visiting the restaurant, Phillips said that the hope for those who dine at Lazy Betty is to feel taken care of.

“We don’t have a dress code and there is no white tablecloth,” Phillips said. “We want to serve the best food and the best drinks but we don’t want to appear necessarily stuffy or pretentious. We focus on the quality of the ingredients and flavors, the execution of dishes and impeccable service that is warm and friendly and we want people to not necessarily feel like they need to be driving the boat anymore, we sort of steer for them, and take them on a wild ride.”

Owner and Executive Chef of Michelin-star restaurant Bacchanalia, Anne Quatrano, started the restaurant in 1993 alongside her husband. After 30 years of being open, Quatrano says that the restaurant staff’s hard work has finally paid off. 

“It feels great to be recognized by the MICHELIN Guide,” Quatrano said. “I think we’ve–the restaurant staff and I–have done the hard work for a long time.”

Midtown senior Greyson Forster works as a line cook at XIAN Gourmet House, which was recognized by the Atlanta MICHELIN Guide. Although it did not receive a star, it was recommended by the guide, which has brought a great amount of attention to the restaurant. 

“Getting recognized has been huge,” Forster said. “Revenue has doubled or tripled compared to the weeks before the announcement, and we have been consistently more busy.”

Katy Reese, who works as a general manager at single-starred Mujo, agrees the impact of receiving the award has been huge, and even goes past an increase in revenue.

“The fact that MICHELIN is a worldwide company is so significant,” Reese said. “It’s not just like you get the best reviews on Yelp in your city. Now, you’re amongst the conversation for some of the best restaurants in the entire world.”

Forster feels as though XIAN Gourmet House deserved the recognition and is glad it was mentioned.

“We have a combination of good service, ambience and tasty food that was at a benchmark high enough to get recommended,” Forster said. “Even though we didn’t get a star, it’s nothing to scoff at.”

Phillips said that Lazy Betty has a synergy between the restaurant team and staff that allowed it to receive such high-esteemed recognition. 

“I believe that [the synergy] breeds a sort of essence of character into the building that you can’t necessarily see it, touch it or taste it, but it’s definitely there, and it comes from how everybody works together as a team,” Phillips said. 

Receiving this award showed Forster the public’s appreciation for their restaurant and pushed him to work even harder. 

“We’re really proud,” Forster said. “It’s a recognition of the hard work we put into the restaurant. Now, I come in with a more serious mindset than before, and I pay even better attention to detail.”

Receiving a MICHELIN Star has pushed restaurants like Mujo to continue to execute at a very high level.

“There’s a lot of stress and a lot of expectation to deliver when you’re hosting guests that have such high expectations,” Reese said. “You want to make sure you succeed 100% of the time with a restaurant like this.”

The MICHELIN Guide provides incentives for restaurants to execute at a higher quality and improve their quality of service. Reese agrees and says that after receiving the award, the restaurant is working harder than before. 

“The biggest impact that MICHELIN has is to make every restaurant seek to be better,” Reese said. “We got one star, but now we want to get two stars. The biggest thing is that it will elevate the desire of the Atlanta restaurant community to do better. Our goal is to continue to do what we do, but get a little bit better every day. I want this restaurant to continue to provide a really amazing experience for the guests that dine here.”

Similar to Mujo, Phillips said that getting the MICHELIN star will impact the restaurant community positively as it may attract more talent to Atlanta.

“If we have other chefs coming here [to Atlanta] and culinary students graduating and coming here, it sort of changes the landscape of who we get to work with and what we get to work with in terms of ingredients that come through, and everything becomes elevated due to the MICHELIN Guide being here,” Phillips said. 

While Reese felt receiving a MICHELIN star was a large accomplishment for Mujo, she said that the bigger goal at hand is providing an excellent experience for all customers.

“It’s definitely an honor to be a part of a project that has received such an important accolade, but at the end of the day, that’s not necessarily why we do it,” Reese said. “We do it to create an incredible guest experience.”

The MICHELIN Guide draws attention to high-quality restaurants and the significance of the food industry. Reese agrees the guide has brought awareness to the importance of restaurants in Atlanta.

“I think something interesting about the restaurant industry is that people didn’t necessarily see it as a career,” Reese said. “But it’s a very legitimate industry and there’s a lot of things that are important about restaurants and how they affect your community. They not only feed your community, but it’s like a mini vacation when you go out for a nice meal.”

Similarly, Phillips said that with the MICHELIN Guide reaching Atlanta, the city is gaining its own credibility as an up-and-coming city. 

“It puts Atlanta on the radar internationally to other cities to be taken seriously,” Phillips said. “I think the MICHELIN Guide is definitely another notch in the belt as far as that goes so, congrats to Atlanta.”

Reese said maintaining environmentally friendly habits is something Mujo will strive towards in order to ensure a cleaner future.  

“I would like to focus more on sustainability; I think it’s really important,” Reese said. “I’m really glad that MICHELIN has made sustainability such a focus, and I think that a lot of restaurants can continue to find ways to be more sustainable. As a responsible hospitality group, it’s something that can always be improved on.”

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