Fine Dining at Buckhead

Pizza restaurant concepts are usually connected with creativity. In the minds of Sam Abdullah, a veteran in the pizza business and Sean Kelly, a leading figure in exquisite dining, combining their expertise would bring a whole new dimension in eating ones favorite dish in pizzas and the sophisticated dining experience of a fine dining restaurant.

Mixing pizza and fine dining, Buckhead Pizza Company was born.  The Atlanta-based company generated $4 million in annual sales from its first 3 locations with its fine dining, no order by the slice concept.

The Buckhead location of the pizza company is situated in an urban area surrounded by buildings, hotels and condominiums. Its interior speaks well of a fine dining restaurant from the waiting area towards the dining area which could sit 130 guests. The bar area is adorned with dark stone tiles and high tables. It offers a wide range of wines and bartenders can suggest wines to fit to customers taste and satisfaction. The restaurant also boasts a patio which is open all year and can sit up to 50 guests. The private area of the restaurant was created out of a curved wall that was originally a part of the parking deck. Its clever design created the room that could sit 30 and has A/V equipment inside.

The store’s first location opened in February 2008 at Buford. It is currently a licensed store. Six months after opening its first location, it opened its 2nd location along Peachtree Parkway in Cummings. The Buckhead location opened March of 2009. Sean Kelly narrated the carefully laid out plan when they opened the three locations in a span of 2 years. The leases on the three locations were signed at the same time and the openings were staged to have each location filled with a trained staff. A fourth location opened June of 2011 at the Galleria district.

Buckhead takes pride of its pizza offerings with some of the 15 specialty pizzas named after Atlanta’s famous landmarks like the Piedmont Park which is laden with eggplant, zucchini, broccoli, squash and tomatoes. Another pizza named after an Atlanta theater, the Chastain is topped with roasted chicken, onions, capers, light cream sauce and ricotta cheese. Aside from the usual regular dough, Buckhead offers wheat and gluten-free dough for healthier options among guests. These dough options are also available for flatbreads and calzones. The restaurant produces 500 pounds of dough everyday that makes its signature thin crust available in regular and wheat dough. The crust is laden with semolina for that added sturdiness after baking and elastic when being hand tossed. Sauces and sausages are made in-house and vegetables are sautéed, baked or roasted prior to being topped on a pizza.

Aside from its pizzas, Buckhead also offers a categorized set of appetizers. There are two categories for appetizers, small and full. Small appetizers like the hummus and mozzarella sticks are priced at $5 or less and full appetizers like calamari and chicken wings are ranged between $6.50 and $14.95. This categorized menu allows the menu to be tweaked during promotions. Like its $5 lunch menu where the salads, proteins and extra pizza toppings serve as add-ons which on average totaled $10.89 per person.

The restaurant also offers catering services to nearby business establishments. Having a third of its sales coming from catering services, Buckhead does not say no to any request of people adding some concepts of their own on the menu. Once a Caribbean-themed party led them to making a Jerk Pork Pizza and is made a special on its menu afterwards. They also hold events on their restaurants like cocktail parties and special gatherings. The business location of the restaurants makes them primed to take advantage of what they can offer to the district.

Buckhead also draws wide appeal to both kids and adults with its pizza making class. Every Buckhead restaurant offers two pizza making classes. The Allegro consists of hors d’oevres, pizza-making instructions and ample toppings of guests’ choice. The Allegro is priced at $25 and additional charges are included for beverages. The Maestro, priced at $35 per person includes hors d’oevres, pizza-making instructions, ample toppings of guests’ choice, dessert making instructions and tasting of three different wines.

Business meetings held at Buckhead also gets to sign up at these classes adding more knowledge and camaraderie among workers at an office.

Marketing their brand of pizza and fine dining experience, Sean Kelly is heavily dependent on Buckhead’s loyal customer in boosting their sales and maintaining a successful brand in the Atlanta area. Promo for each location like the family-heavy Cummins location has kid’s night on Tuesdays.

Spending on mailers, billboards and radio commercials requires a hefty sum but managing partner Sean Kelly says its all part of the process to make Buckhead as a leading restaurant brand among the Atlanta residents.

Buckhead also market its brand to nearby hotels by giving them $5 gift cards when they order for delivery and adds coupons for small appetizers to be distributed to hotel guests. The same marketing drive is also implemented among cab drivers, limo and shuttle services, pharmaceutical representatives and meeting planners.

The approach is simple and unusual but it is credited to the restaurant’s success as Kelly narrates further.

Expansion plans are in the works by adding another store in Atlanta and one outside the state of Georgia within the next two years as the course to grow the company continues.

Posted by Diane Araga, on September 9, 2013 at 11:00 AM