New Ownership Takes Over at Longtime VaHi Favorite

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American Roadhouse has been a VaHi favorite since 1989. The restaurant’s commitment over the years to providing Southern comfort food made from quality ingredients and service that’s warm and friendly has made it a destination for residents and visitors alike.

But did you know that, since late last year, Virginia-Highland’s bastion of breakfasts (and so much more) has been operating under new ownership?

Emile Blau, previously managing partner at Bones and general manager at Chops, bought American Roadhouse from former owner Ed Udoff last November. Blau and Udoff have known each other for thirty years and even worked together at Bones.

Blau says his love of Virginia-Highland was a key reason he purchased the restaurant.

“I grew up in Sandy Springs – as close to a native Atlantan as you’ll find – and have always loved this neighborhood,” Blau told The Voice.  “VaHi truly is one of Atlanta’s great in-town neighborhoods and we (Blau’s wife Stacia is also involved in the business) knew this was the opportunity of a lifetime.”

Blau says his plans are to keep the restaurant fundamentally the same, but improvements have been made and there are more to come.

“Most people have seen that we’ve updated the restaurant’s look,” Blau says, “but the two biggest changes have probably been that on March 12 we started serving dinner (Tuesday – Sunday starting at 5 PM), and now we have a full bar and a reasonably priced wine list, including wine by the glass.”

Blau says the decisions to serve dinner in addition to breakfast and lunch and also to begin serving alcohol were driven both by economics and the desire to give his customers what they want.

“In this day and time we want to drive value for our customers,” Blau says. “We want to provide a place they can go for good food, a cocktail and maybe a glass of wine at a reasonable price. Doing so is no easy feat today in the face of tax increases, government oversight (permits), and rising food and fuel costs.”

Blau says feature menu items now include fresh fish, vegetarian options and Big Green Egg smoked BBQ.

Blau says the Roadhouse staff – many of whom have worked at the restaurant since it opened – was another reason that led he and his wife to make the investment in AR.

“We’re so very proud of the staff that’s here and continues to work so hard,” Blau says. “We know they’re a big reason folks come back time and again to American Roadhouse.”

One noticeable change at the restaurant that immediately caught the eye of this reporter’s ever-vigilant dog is the addition of “Hanna’s Canine Cookie Corner” just outside the front door where four-legged passers-by can enjoy a free biscuit and drink of water.

“Stacia and I are definitely dog people,” Blau says wistfully.  “Hanna was our beloved Yorkshire Terrier who’s now playing in heaven with her grandma (my mother).  She was with us for 13 years and taught us what unconditional love is all about. We love seeing the dogs walk their owners by the restaurant everyday and wanted them to be able to share a biscuit with our Hanna. The tagline on Stacia’s emails – ‘Be the person your dog thinks you are.’ – is one of the strongest guiding principles in our lives.”

Finally, Blau wants to remind everyone that parking is free in the lot adjacent to the restaurant (the posted $5 parking fee does not apply to Roadhouse customers), and that, with warm weather approaching, their patio opening is right around the corner.

If you haven’t been by in a while, stop in and check out the new and improved American Roadhouse. And if you’re out and about with your canine friend, stop by and share a biscuit with Hanna.

American Roadhouse

842 N. Highland Ave.


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