Just a few weeks ago, Tom Catherall said he wanted to get back in the Atlanta restaurant scene. Now, the master chef is putting those words into action. Catherall told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution yesterday that he would be opening Tom Tom Tapas & Tequilas at 1000 Virginia Ave. NE in Virginia Highland in the space formerly occupied by Noche. He anticipates opening the restaurant by Valentine’s Day weekend.
Tom Tom Tapas & Tequilas will offer a menu of Spanish-inspired fare – think: fresh sardines and octopus – as well as Mexican bites like tacos, all with a focus on fresh.
The name, explained Catherall, hearkens back to Tom Tom, the first restaurant he owned solo and his nickname as a child. (His first restaurant, Azalea, was a venture with another partner.)
Catherall has not been a part of the local dining scene for a year. The founder and longtime face behind the Here to Serve restaurant group parted ways with the company when he transferred ownership to his ex-wife, Leigh Catherall, as part of the couple’s divorce settlement.
Here to Serve restaurants declined in 2015, with things coming to a head in early October when Leigh Catherall abruptly closed all 10 Here to Serve restaurants, leaving hundreds of employees wondering where their next paycheck was coming from. Since then, Leigh Catherall filed for bankruptcy protection for some of the restaurants and Tom Catherall looked to come back to town to start things anew.
To make Tom Tom Tapas & Tequilas a reality, Catherall assumed a 10-year lease and also formed a new umbrella corporation, Master Chefs Restaurant Inc., for what he envisions as a new family of restaurants.
Tom Tom Tapas & Tequilas is part of a bigger picture for Catherall. He hopes to open a total of three Tom Tom Tapas & Tequilas locations – the other two making their home in the Noche locations in Vinings and Brookhaven. He also has his eyes set on turning the Smash location in Brookhaven into Tom Tom Kitchen & Bar, where bourbon would swirl in the glass and refined Southern food would be served on the plate.
Catherall sees himself up to the task. “I’m 66 years young,” he said. “I will be in the kitchen. “I’m putting my chef jacket back on. I have a passion for food and service. That’s what drives me.”
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