Chef Marcus Samuelsson has garnered worldwide acclaim for opening successful restaurants in Harlem, New York City, Miami, Las Vegas, Bahamas, Canada, Finland, and Sweden.
For his latest venture, Samuelsson decided to open shop in Atlanta with Marcus B&G. Located in the Old Fourth Ward community, Marcus B&G incorporates Atlanta’s style and culture while offering dishes such as Brown Sugar Wings and Old Bay Crab Cakes.
Samuelsson recently spoke with ADW and provided insight on the opening of Marcus B&G.
So you’ve opened restaurants in Harlem, you’ve opened restaurants in the Bahamas, Montreal and other places around the world. Why choose Atlanta for your next restaurant?
As a Black chef, the culture of Atlanta has always spoke to me. From its music, entertainment, and food. And we have always looked at Atlanta. We have intentionally put our restaurants in New York, Harlem, Miami, you know, historically African American neighborhoods. We take a lot of pride in creating jobs in the hospitality space within these communities. And sometimes people don’t think about that when it comes to restaurants, but it’s not just the jobs that are in the restaurant. It’s also the purveyors who work within those communities. And being here in the Old Fourth Ward is no different. And we really feel like we got a great spot here, and we’re really excited about it.
We talked about the culture of Atlanta when people get an opportunity to experience this restaurant. What can they expect when it comes to the integration of the culture of Atlanta in this new venture?
For me, it’s really looking at Atlanta’s history, and also the creative community. So it’s really about paying homage to past and present. And, just for fun, we have the private events room where it’s all about the culture of music. Everything from OutKast, to TLC, to Usher. We also celebrate roller skating which is something that is very specific to Atlanta’s culture. I have had a great time really talking to people that are from Atlanta.
Your restaurant is located in the Old Fourth Ward, one block away from the birthplace of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and King Center. What does it mean to be in this legendary space, particularly in Atlanta?
It means everything. That is the anchor of this community. And every time we walk by the building, it gives me chills. I’ve been to South Africa and visited Nelson Mandela’s house and Desmond Tutu’s house. And it gives me that same feeling. For us to have a restaurant here and build by creating jobs and creating a warm environment, that’s really meaningful. We work in historically African American neighborhoods and it means a lot to us.
This is Women’s History Month. Why was it important for you to empower a woman as your head chef?
Coming up as a young chef, the two things I never saw in kitchens were people of color and women in leadership. With the opening Red Rooster Harlem, we were able to hire a lot of people of color in leadership positions. Our executive team are all Black women, like our executive chef and our sous chef. What comes out of that is putting women in leadership positions. Eventually they will move on and open their own places, but there’s got to be a pathway of success and pathway of management decisions that they can take.