“If you could do anything, what would you do?”
NFA Burger owner and founder Billy Kramer and Grand Champion BBQ owner Robert Owens will soon unveil a new restaurant concept that attempts to answer this question, which Kramer posed to Owens just a few months ago.
The still-unnamed restaurant will incorporate ingredients and retail products from emerging local brands. Kramer and Owens are finalizing plans for the concept and expect to open by late Spring.
While NFA Burger and Grand Champion BBQ are two distinct concepts each with their own loyal fans and accolades, their respective owners have quite a bit in common.
Kramer and Owens met about a year ago and bonded over their shared business values, along with a goodwill vision for the future of Atlanta’s restaurant scene. When announcing the developing partnership to his customers via e-mail, Kramer highlighted their “similar approach to quality, customer service, and the desire to elevate others.”
At NFA Burger, Kramer often steps away from the grill to check in on the customer experience, chatting with regulars and new guests as he scans the unassuming outdoor picnic tables in his quiet rhythm of quality control.
“The hardest thing in business is to get a customer,” says Kramer. “The easiest thing is to lose a customer.” This mindset has served him well, as NFA’s smash burgers have stacked up superlatives from Food & Wine, Thrillist, Business Insider and more, in less than three years since it opened. At the new restaurant concept, Kramer intends to spend more time in the front-of-house role.
Owens, who brings 27 years of restaurant experience to the venture, is on a mission to serve the best barbecue imaginable. While his culinary skills have garnered praise from Zagat, Southern Living, Atlanta Magazine, and others, he’s worked mainly behind the scenes of his restaurant business. Grand Champion BBQ has two bustling locations in Smyrna and Milton, but the fundamentals of Owens’ meat smoking process have remained a mystery to customers, unfolding in a kitchen space out of guests’ view.
That’s all about to change.
The focal point of the restaurant that Kramer and Owens have dreamed up will be a glossy red 1,000 gallon outdoor smoker measuring close to 30’ in length. The two award-winning restaurateurs aren’t revealing the potential location of their new space just yet, but shared a few clues.
“It will more than likely be suburban,” said Kramer. “But if we find the right municipal partner and landlord, we will consider any location.” Removing the limitations of the indoor kitchen smokers and utilizing this mammoth outdoor smoker will unleash a new level of quality that has Owens fired up.
Describing the concept, Owens painted a picture of a process-forward interactive experience that makes the culinary staff accessible for conversation with curious diners. “We’re going to showcase the smoker and the process,” Owens said. “Customers will be able to talk to the person cooking”.
Both the restaurant’s design and its developing menu seem to be fueled by Kramer and Owens’ shared motivation to up the ante on what’s achievable in restaurants – both in food quality and in customer experience. Reimagining everything from the typical layout to the traditional process of bringing a new food product to market, both restaurateurs are palpably energized by their new adventure.