Whipping Up Success with Atlanta Moms
Atlanta’s for foodies! The metro Atlanta area is a marvelous place for trying new foods and enjoying delicious dishes. These impressive restaurant-owner moms are balancing the food scene and family life. We spoke to them about how they combine their love of family and food.
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Foodie Mom: Sai Untachantr
TydeTate Kitchen has a stall at Chattahoochee Food Works and a recently opened restaurant in South Downtown. Offering a home-style comfort Thai menu with weekly specials, Sai Untachantr is the co-owner with her sibling. She is the mother of Tyde, 7; Tate, 5; and Ocean Kate, 7 months.
Atlanta is a fantastic town for foodies. Do you have any tips on how to encourage your children to try new items/cuisine? I let them experience all types of cuisines and form their own opinions, even with food I don’t particularly care for.
What advice would you give a new mom? Find the good in every moment. Be present in your parenting journey because they’ll be grown before you know it.
Who inspires you? Parenting is a momentous task. Without my mom, I would not be the mom that I am.
Foodie Mom: Maureen Meulen
Maureen Meulen is the co-owner of historic entertainment district Pullman Yards, including on-site restaurant Dailies & Sides. Pullman Yards is host to rotating exhibits, two on-site restaurants and Emory’s Science Gallery. Dailies & Sides serves sandwiches, wings, brunch specials and more. She is the mother of Dava, 10, and Sunny, 7.
Atlanta is a fantastic town for foodies. Do you have any tips on how to encourage your children to try new items/cuisine? I encourage my kids to try new food items by
making all sorts of different foods and cuisines available to them. Typically, if I enjoy something, they do, too. I am very thankful as both of my children are very adventurous eaters.
Is there a family tradition you have from growing up that you hope your children will continue? My mother is Filipino, so we make lumpia at home; lumpia is the Filipino version of an egg roll. When my lola (grandmother) was alive, my mom, my aunts, my sister and my lola would gather around the table and make lumpia together. It was a labor of love that took an hour or two. My childhood is filled with a lot of those sweet memories while making lumpia.
Foodie Mom: Marisa King
Marisa King is one of three moms who co-own Scrum-did-dly-ump-tious, a breakfast, lunch and brunch joint. The recently opened restaurant is the first Black women-owned restaurant in Historic Downtown Lawrenceville. King is the mother of Anthony, 25; Brianna, 18; and Cameron, 15, as well as the grandmother of Legend, 4, and Aspen, 5 months.
Is there a tradition you grew up with that you do like to do with your kids? I loved family dinners as a kid when everyone could get together and just share time despite busy schedules. I am the family dinner home. I love hosting and seeing everyone together, just enjoying time.
Do you have any tips for work/life balance? I believe in work/life integration because balance always seems off. We have one life, and it includes both work and play, so we must incorporate our activities on every level in our daily lives. When everything is incorporated as one, it flows seamlessly — well, as seamlessly as possible!
As a business owner, what do you hope your children learn from you? I hope they learn that anything is possible if you work hard enough to achieve it. I pray that as they have watched me, they have learned that hard work, education and perseverance truly pay off.
Foodie Mom: Jasmin Willis
Jasmin Willis is a chef, entrepreneur and co-owner of two restaurants. After working in the food scene, she opened a breakfast boutique, Gracious Plenty Bakery & Breakfast, in 2018; Cherried Mary’s Ice Cream Parlor opened in 2022. She is the mother of 3.5-year-old Charlie Mae.
Does your family life inspire your business/restaurant pursuits? Absolutely! Even before Charlie Mae was here, I always knew I didn’t want to be a chef working 60+ hours a week, missing bath time. The entire reason my husband and I went with a breakfast concept with Gracious Plenty Bakery & Breakfast was to be able to balance a family life. Our second concept, Cherried Mary’s Ice Cream Parlor, has allowed us to continue this balance while also expanding. Since having Charlie Mae, our desire to create environments and products of genuine goodness has only increased. We want a place where all parents feel safe and proud feeding their children.
What’s the best advice you received from a fellow mom about parenting? Parenting isn’t about controlling your children’s emotions; it’s about controlling yours.
What advice would you give a new mom? Your children don’t measure happiness with expensive things, schools and trips. The best thing you can give them is a happy parent. Don’t let false standards set by society turn you into a ball of stress. Make the mess. Make the memory! Mothers do not need to be a business owner to be a superhero. There is such beauty in every form of motherhood, and we need each of them.
Foodie Mom: Alessandra Noviello Hayes
Alessandra Noviello Hayes is co-owner and co-operator of Nino’s Italian Restaurant, which she runs with her father and her husband. Nino’s, which opened in 1968, is the oldest, family-owned Italian restaurant in Atlanta. Her father, Antonio Noviello, bought Nino’s in 1982. She is the mother of Eva, 9; Enzo, 7; and Eliana, 2.
Do you have any family traditions you grew up with that you hope your children continue? The family values of meals. I’m from a big Italian family, and dinner is very important, and we’d have long two-hour Italian dinners together. My mom did a really good job making sure it was a long conversation and we were enjoying each other and the food. Even last night, at the restaurant, we had the kids sit down at the table. Even when we’re working and even if we have to get up and down, we’re having dinner together.
As a family-owned restaurant, do you hope to pass it onto your children? I started working 17 years ago, and it was my dream to carry it on after my dad retired. My kids are showing a lot of interest. My 9-year-old wants to work; she’s asking if she can hostess or pour water. My parents never pushed it on us and, of my sisters, I was the only one who fell in love with the food industry. I don’t want to push it on them, but it would be wonderful to have them carry it on.
What advice would you give other moms? As moms, we’re all really busy, and we have to pack in all of our activities. We work 80 hours a week, and with taking the kids everywhere, we’re crazy busy. Remember to take a beat and slow down and make conversation with your kids, especially the young ones. Make eye contact and learn about their favorite hobbies; ask about their day. Kids can change within a week, and we have to make sure we’re really connecting and not missing it.
Foodie Mom: Pinky Cole
Pinky Cole is the founder and CEO of Atlanta-based chain Slutty Vegan, which is a vegan restaurant featuring a menu of delicious burgers, sandwiches and more. She is the mom of D Ella Hayes, 20 months, and Derrick Jermaine Hayes Jr., 9 months.
Do you have a hard time convincing your children to eat plant-based? When I try to give my daughter vegan pizza, if she sees cheese pizza, she looks at it like she wants it. So, I improvise by removing the cheese and allowing her to eat the dough. It’s challenging sometimes, but she likes fruits, and that saves me because I like to eat fruit, and she eats a lot of what I eat.
Do you have any tips on how to encourage your children to try new items/cuisine? I’ve learned what they like and don’t like based on the things they eat. My daughter loves avocados, so I know if she doesn’t want anything else, I lean into that. My son basically eats anything.
What do you hope your children learn from you based on your business/entrepreneurship? Be confident in all things that you do and own your space. Don’t allow anyone else to define how you choose to show up.
Foodie Mom: Sarah Davies
Sarah Davies is the co-owner of Biggerstaff Brewing, and she is the stepmother of Cole, 27, and mother of Logan, 19. Opened in 2021, Biggerstaff Brewing offers New American cuisine with an emphasis on locally-sourced ingredients and slow-smoked food, modern, traditional and unconventional beers and a coffee bar.
How do you maintain a family-friendly environment in a brewery? It’s the atmosphere we’ve created. We have a table of board games; our highchairs are visible; we have family bathrooms and changing tables. The staff enjoy children and interacting with them. It’s word-of-mouth that we’re family-friendly, and I think we get more families than anything right now. We have comedy on the second Friday of every month, and we moved it from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. because some comedians’ language is a little rough around the edges, so to stay family friendly, we changed the time. We’re starting a Taco Tuesday menu in a couple of weeks, which I think families will enjoy.
As a family-owned business, do you hope that legacy passes onto your children? The name Biggerstaff is a family name; it comes from my mom’s side, and my mom is a business owner as well. She runs a chain of hair salons. I remember a time when she told me, I don’t want you to feel like you have to take over this business. It was nice to hear. What I would say to my kids: It’s yours if you want it; we’re happy to leave it to you, but chase your own dream. I hope the most important thing that they would learn from this is that if you have an idea or a dream, and you don’t ever give up on it, you can make it happen. That’s a more important lesson than taking over one day.
Foodie Mom: Allisha Kelly
Allisha Kelly is the co-owner of Cosmo’s Pizza + Social. Opened in 2001, when the original owners retired, Kelly and fellow co-owner Dana Martin purchased the restaurant to keep the gem from closing its doors. In addition to Cosmo’s Pizza, they opened Social in 2021, a full-service bar. She is the mother of two sons, ages 22 and 20.
What has the food industry taught you? Being a woman in the restaurant business is not for the weak. It’s hard work and dedication and constantly proving you will not fail. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
Do you have any tips for work/life balance? There is nothing wrong with working hard for what you want, but do take time to enjoy, even if it’s one day every two weeks.
As a business owner, what do you hope your children learn from you? Responsibility and that nothing comes easy. Challenges are always present and being able to change directions is part of life.
Foodie Mom: DeeDee Niyomkul
Chef DeeDee Niyomkul is the daughter of Charlie and Nan Niyomkul of The Tamarind Group, which includes Nan Thai Fine Dining. In 2010, Niyomkul opened Tuk Tuk Thai Food Loft, and in 2018, she opened Chai Yo Modern Thai. She is the mother of Deklan, 7.
What advice would you give other women interested in the food industry? It’s not an industry recommended for people who want to have families. Growing up, I never really saw my mom and dad since they were also in this industry. It’s time consuming and soul sucking, but if you can figure out the balance, it can work for some. I’m lucky to have an amazing team that I do get time for my family and myself. Without their support and hard work, I wouldn’t be able to enjoy those times. Also, I consider my restaurant family as family.
Is there another family tradition you grew up with that you do with your own family? Cooking would be something I would love to do with my family, but this generation doesn’t seem to have a passion for it anymore. Everyone’s into tech and social media. I myself am not very involved in that world. I miss the old traditions of family just spending time together eating and cooking.
Do you have any tips for work/life balance? The food industry is very challenging without kids. It makes it even more challenging having a family and trying to spend time with them. The times you can spend, you’re exhausted and not 100% there mentally and physically. There’s no real day off. There’s always something happening—something breaks, someone doesn’t show, HVAC issues.