Hospitality guru David Abes, a longstanding restaurateur and consultant, is making headlines with elaborate plans to set up and run a dining-focused town center in the heart of Dunwoody. The Village in Dunwoody proposal includes a communal courtyard with a live music stage, four cleverly themed restaurants and a snazzy bar.
Abes, head of DASH Hospitality Group and a Dunwoody resident, is working with city authorities, investors and developers to make it a reality. “This will literally be my baby. I have several planned stages and am excited to contribute to Dunwoody’s public benefit, jumpstarting walkability and all kinds of fun stuff. Think of wine festivals, parades, fashion shows, tailgating, concerts, sports viewings, farmer’s market, children’s programming, and movies, in addition to the new restaurants.”
Consider how areas like Sandy Springs, Alpharetta, Woodstock and Roswell all have a central place for residents to gather and share experiences. Abes notes that the Dunwoody 4th of July Parade involves 35,000 people who end up on Mount Vernon and could ultimately flow into his new space. According to the 2010 census, Dunwoody is 13 square miles and has a population of almost 50,000.
Abes, in striving to be the new heart of Dunwoody, has a memorandum of understanding in getting all the components a green light by working with Dunwoody City Council, City of Dunwoody officials and Regency Centers.
The cost of the development is projected at $3 million. Abes would own and operate the restaurants. The space could be rented out for corporate events and private parties.
He outlined the phases, starting with outdoor furniture, wide screen and speakers.
“Since the restaurants won’t have rolled out, initially we will have food trucks for Morty’s and Cuco’s.” He was referring to Morty’s Meat & Supply and Cuco’s Cantina, two of five businesses around the courtyard are planned in stages:
Morty’s Meat & Supply is named for Abes’ grandfather Morton Engel. It is where North meets South barbecue, eclectic sauces, smoked meats, classic sides, local craft beer and sweet teas.
Cuco’s Cantina serves Mexican street food and hand-processed tortillas with authentic margaritas. “In Mexico there is a tradition where the donkey follows the tequila drinker, so here we may have a live donkey on occasions like Cinco de Mayo.”
Bar(n) is so named because the old building resembles a barn. Abes’ wife Julie came up with the name. Indoor/outdoor seating with a covered awning will serve small plates and lite bites. On weekends, there will be pastries and coffee during daytime hours. The planned opening is late 2021.
Yoffi means “way to go” or “beauty” in Hebrew. Actually there are several translations. It will offer Mediterranean street food, falafel, shawarma, salads, and tahini milkshakes.
Message in a Bottle is fresh upscale seafood and wine by the glass with a lively bar.
Leslie Mintz, senior leasing agent for Regency Centers, said of the venture, “We’re excited to find the right opportunity to help enhance the center, as well as the community that surrounds it. The energy behind this project is obvious, and we look forward to discovering the possibilities to help the area become even greater. It will be wonderful to gather with friends and Dunwoody residents when David’s restaurants open.”
Can multi-talented Abes pull it off? Just have a look at his resume to see how his focus and organizational abilities have stood the test of taste and time. He was general manager for the Atlanta Fish Market, chief operating officer for Buckhead Life Restaurant Group, director of operations for Here To Serve, and regional director for LDV Hospitality.
When asked about his giving up nights and weekends, Abes replied, “It’s exactly what I was meant to do; it’s what I enjoy, the night life. I gotta be there to make it happen and pay the bills, minding the business. Above all, I love the guests and taking care of them. Just think, we could have MJCC events [the Marcus Jewish Community Center is located in Dunwoody] and even a menorah lighting.”