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From Wall Street to Pig Heaven

Posted: Sep 08, 2017

Owner of There Treats ACityDiscount to His Fare

by Gary Estwick

ACityDiscount customer Bill Brown calls cooking “therapy.” Brown, the owner of There, a gastropub in the Atlanta suburb of Brookhaven, stopped by our Norcross office earlier this month to roast a pig. Of course, we obliged.
ACityDiscount customer Bill Brown calls cooking “therapy.” Brown, the owner of There, a gastropub in the Atlanta suburb of Brookhaven, stopped by our Norcross office earlier this month to roast a pig. Of course, we obliged.

ACityDiscount customer Bill Brown, owner of There, recently stopped by our showroom in the Atlanta suburb of Norcross to roast an Asian/Caribbean-inspired pig, an activity he enjoys every Saturday during the college football season.

Food is Brown’s passion. He’ll talk for hours about the many sites and smells he draws from, tastes he brings back to his gastropub in Brookhaven.

“(Cooking) is therapy,” Brown said as he prepared to feed a warehouse of ACityDiscount employees his latest pork masterpiece.  “I just enjoy creating. When I start with something, it’s a blank canvas, and this is the artwork when it’s all done.”

Brown had to wait more than five decades to create There, his restaurant utopia. Long before he roasted pork, grinded fresh burgers and created a homely atmosphere at his gastropub, Brown hunted elephants on Wall Street. But first, to the sink.

SCRUBBING FOR THE FUTURE

Brown said his father, a New Jersey restaurateur, tried to sway him away from the food industry.
“He thought if he could send me off to wash pots and pans and dishes, it would discourage me from going into the business,” Brown said. “He was wrong.”

Former chef Bernard “Bernie” McDonough (right) took a break from sales calls to help Bill Brown chop up a magnificently roasted pig.
Former chef Bernard “Bernie” McDonough (right) took a break from sales calls to help Bill Brown chop up a magnificently roasted pig.

His father certainly tried.

At age 12, Brown landed his first restaurant job – yes, age 12. He worked as a fry cook at Barnacle Bill’s, a New Jersey burger bar on the banks of the Navesink River in Rumson. He cleaned soft shell crabs, coated the crabs in flour, dipped them in egg wash and bread crumbs. Off to the deep fryer!

A year later, as a freshman in high school, Brown washed pots and pans at Harry’s Lobster House in nearby Sea Bright, N.J. After a year, he earned a promotion: he started loading the dishwasher.
In the coming years, Brown detoured away from restaurant kitchens as he started a successful career on Wall Street. Even then, he found time to graduate from the Culinary Institute of America in 1979. Wall Street, though, paid too well for him to consider a career change.
He was a chef without a kitchen.

PASSION FROM SCRATCH

That changed six years ago. Retired from Wall Street, Brown opened There, a friendly, non-pretentious neighborhood bar with a locally-sourced, chef-driven menu. Brown said customers feel equally comfortable in suits or t-shirts with flip flops.

Bill Brown roasts a pig every Saturday during the football season at There, a gastropub located in the Atlanta suburb of Brookhaven.
Bill Brown roasts a pig every Saturday during the football season at There, a gastropub located in the Atlanta suburb of Brookhaven.

Finally, he had a kitchen.

“Being an independent mom-and-pop operation, I don’t have the safety net of a franchise or a corporation,” Brown said. “I am my own safety net. And failure is never going to be an option.”

“Everything I have is from ACityDiscount – every piece of equipment. Whenever I need equipment, or I need to replace small ware – there’s no other place to go. ACityDiscount only.

“I like to come up here, walk around the showroom. It reminds me of being a little boy, running around the toy store. I see their different items and tools; you have everything here. I’ll see something and it’ll jog my memory – ‘Oh, that’s how they used to make this and this.’ It helps me create new dishes. It inspires me.” -- Bill Brown


Inspired by the great gastropubs of New York and London, Brown offers his spin on classics, like Crawfish Etouffee Over Roasted Poblano & White Cheddar Grit Cake (his version of shrimp and grits).

Nearly every ingredient is made from scratch – no processed foods. From spicy mayo and soy sauce to cured milk to create ranch dressing. The gastropub smokes pork cheek before it finds a home in another dish: Pasta Matriciana Pork Cheek Ragu in a house-made Pappardelle pasta. Vegetables are grown on an acre of land.

Krista Haynes (right) tries a helping of Bill Brown’s roasted pork.
Krista Haynes (right) tries a helping of Bill Brown’s roasted pork.

The pub’s signature burgers are grinded in-house:

  • THERE Burger: White cheddar fondue, applewood-smoked bacon, caramelized onion, remoulade, and golden raisin jam with fies.
  • Bison Burger: Roasted poblano, cheddar, avocado, red onion and spicy mayo with fries.

Moving into the fall, Brown said he plans to lean on seafood to update his revolving menu. Get ready for a seafood sausage (“white fish, lobster and scallops grinded and cased with a beautiful Beurre blanc sauce,” he explained). He’s also experimenting with a salmon burger topped with slaw.

TASTE THE DIFFERENCE

Stop by There (305 Brookhaven Ave. Suite #1200 Atlanta, GA 30319) and try out its amazing menu, including weekend brunch. Tell Bill we sent you!

Gary Estwick is a fan of hot chicken, Second Line parades, Quantum Leap reruns and digital marketing, in that order. He’s a techie until it’s time to install Wi-Fi. He’s also a copywriter