During the “snowpocalypse” last Tuesday afternoon, several Atlanta businesses shut down, causing a mass exodus on the roadways. We share the story of Farm Burger in Buckhead, where four employees voluntarily decided to spend the night in the restaurant instead of dealing with traffic. The result? According to owner George Frangos, their sales were 30% higher than an average Tuesday night and Wednesday lunch/dinner shift.
The Managers: Nick Hardin (NH) and Mishma Slaughter (MS)
The other two employees: T Lee and Salil
Nick, you were going to have the employees stay at your apartment in Brookhaven, but what changed your mind?
NH: When I discovered I parked on the top level of the parking deck, I didn’t want to chance driving my car down the ramp under those conditions. Our logic was: why not stay here? Everyone that was stuck at the restaurant was due to work the next morning anyway, and we figured there wouldn’t be many restaurants open.
Mishma, you said you abandoned your car due to traffic?
MS: I was due to take over for Nick at 4 p.m., but after sitting in the car for three hours I decided to walk. I left my car at Red Pepper Taqueria on Piedmont and walked the half-mile to work.
What made you decide not to just turn around and go home?
MS: I just thought about Nick and the team who had already been there since 8:30 a.m. and I wanted to be there for them. We work together, so we can handle some snow and hungry diners together.
Were you really 30% busier than a usual Tuesday night?
NH: We were slammed. We never turned anyone away even once we were supposed to close. At 10:15 p.m. we stopped serving food but people kept coming in, so we ended up serving beer until 11:30 p.m.
How was the crowd?
NH: Everyone was in really good spirits. There were a lot of out-of-towners from the hotels. I met people from Pittsburg, Orlando, a group of French people and a few Russian gentlemen who said they loved our burgers.
MS: I delivered a plate of food to a lady at a table who just looked at me and said, “Thank you.” It caught me off guard to realize how much people appreciated us being open. An out-of-towner said that people in Atlanta were lucky to be able to eat at Farm Burger every day because they thought the food and service were great.
Any crazy stories?
NH: One guy was offered $350 for his hotel room, another guy took seven hours to drive five miles.
Once you closed, what did you do?
MS: Nothing too crazy. We drank a few beers to mellow out, listened to Outkast over the speakers and ate hummus for dinner. T Lee made a snow angel outside.
How did the sleeping arrangements work out?
NH: Salil slept in a couple of chairs in the dining room, T Lee slept on a picnic table. I was fixing up the schedule for work and passed out at the office computer.
MS: I slept on one of our benches. We didn’t realize how cold it was in the restaurant after all the people left, so we had to play with the thermostat to warm up. The next morning I couldn’t find Nick but when I walked in the office he was using the keyboard as a pillow!
Sounds like quite the evening.
NH: The next day we didn’t have to open but we were glad we did. We were one of the few places open so it was packed. We even had people come back that had eaten here the night before.
MS: I’ve been working at the Buckhead Farm Burger since it opened. I felt like the managers before me helped to prepare me for this kind of experience.
-By Alexa Lampasona for the Food & More blog