Washing dishes and bussing tables. It’s how many in the restaurant industry get their start. Right?
That’s where it all began for Liam’s Restaurant owners Rhonda and Scott Foster.
The two got their first taste of the restaurant industry as teenagers. Rhonda worked in the industry for years, as did Scott, who also studied under German chef Heinz Schellenberger. After years of hard work and a drive for the same passion, they got married and began their journey to open a restaurant together.
Over the course of this journey, Rhonda and Scott took their time on what to name the restaurant. Years, in fact. It was a serious decision–one they knew would be with the business for years to come. One of the names that kept coming up was “Liam,” their now 16-year-old son’s name.
“It naturally came to fruition because it is his name,” Rhonda said. “We understood the seriousness of putting a name on a building. We were conscious of that.”
So in 2002, Liam’s Restaurant was born.
Rhonda and Scott are passionate about using the freshest in season ingredients for their customers. While the term “going local” may seem like a trend, it is actually a very cost effective way to make customers happy. Why? Because the food tastes better and the costs are low.
The menu at Liam’s Restaurant changes frequently to accommodate fruits and vegetables that are in season and meat prices that are lower. When ordering food, they don’t give a list of foods they want. They ask what is the best food available right now and work their menu around that.
“There was one part of the year a few years ago where we stopped using tomatoes because they were bad due to the rain,” Rhonda said. “We weren’t going to buy a gassed one.”
Customers asked why the tomatoes were gone and they were completely transparent to the fact that they didn’t want to serve food they didn’t believe in, and that would cost the customer more money. They did something similar when meat prices skyrocketed and had temporarily taken burgers off the menu. The goal at Liam’s Restaurant is not to provide just any product, but the best menu items for the taste and the value to the customer.
“We support small farms from wherever,” Rhonda said. “It’s good to build relationships with them, especially because they only see the vegetables in their raw state.”
She explained they love to keep conversations with local farmers and show them the final outcome of the farmer’s hard work.
They also try to make their entire menu local as possible–even by making their own syrups, tonic grenadine and more for their bar and garnishes that can be eaten.
If you work in the restaurant or foodservice industry, you know it is full of long, hard hours. So, being married and owning a restaurant together could seem like a challenge, but one that this couple was up for.
It works great for Rhonda and Scott because they are on the same page, and have been for the last 24 years. She explained often times only one person in a marriage works in the industry and it is difficult because the other doesn’t understand the demands and hours.
To keep it balanced, Rhonda and Scott try to keep things separate. Scott handles the back of the house and Rhonda handles the front.
“Sometimes it overlaps, and if we get frustrated, we just treat it as business.”
The two do a great job of being able to put emotions aside and make good business decisions together.
Vibe and Customers
Whether you are a regular or first time customer, Liam’s Restaurant strives to make sure you feel special and have a great experience. While the restaurant may have a cool atmosphere that may come off as fine dining and exclusive, Rhonda does not want people to feel that way at all.
“We put fine food and good wholesome seasonal food on a plate,” she said. “It’s beautiful!”
Most importantly, if their guests are comfortable, then they are comfortable.
They absolutely love their relationship with their customers, which makes everything that much more special.
Liam’s Restaurant has an open kitchen to give their customers a chance to walk up to the line, talk with the cooks and see what’s happening with the food.
“We’ve kept an open kitchen since we have been open and keep it on purpose so customers can come up and say hey!” Rhonda said.
She added that many of their customers take advantage of this opportunity to see what’s going on and let the chefs know how their experience was.
Liam’s Restaurant has been working with Central for their equipment needs since 2006.
“We’ve worked with Blair (Dovidas) since the beginning,” Rhonda said. “He’s so proficient. He goes above and beyond–it is not unusual that he gets us stuff fast.”
In a kitchen where food is made to order, and has to be done as quickly and efficiently as possible, the equipment is important.
One of the favorite pieces of equipment Liam’s Restaurant purchased from Central are their chrome flat top grills. Restaurants are often hard to keep cool and because of these grills’ mirror-like surface, they do not radiate heat which helps keep the kitchen cooler.
They also love using sous vide. They use a vacuum seal to push butter through the membrane of fish and to cook tenderloins because it cooks from side to side evenly.
Another item the love are their John Boos worktops. They have one in their cheese butcher block section and in their kitchen for food prep.
When it comes to fried foods, they do not fry them often, but Liam’s does have a small fryer from Central and only use pork and duck fat to fry–not peanut oil. They’ve even made donuts using pork fat which she said were so good!
Last, they recently installed a new bar and put in a three compartment Krowne Metal bartender station with step ups and wells to make bartending much more proficient.
Where to Find Liam’s
The next time you find yourself in Georgia, you must stop in and see everyone at Liam’s Restaurant! Whether you’re in jeans or a suit/dress, they want you to come in, eat great food and have a good time.
Images used from the Liam’s Restaurant Facebook page