In this series we are highlighting couples that own and run restaurants in Atlanta. We’ll talk about what it’s like to work together as a couple among other personal aspects. This week’s features is Justin and Laura Caldarella owner’s of Midtown’s Eclectic Bar & Bistro
1.)How did you meet?
In early 2012, Laura & Justin both worked at the same company in Norcross, Laura as a Project Manager, and Justin an IT Analyst. They literally crossed paths for over 2 years with little more than a “Hello…” to each other. One day, out of the blue, Justin mustered up the courage to ask Laura out to lunch. After the first date, there was quickly a second, and so on.
2.)What is the first meal your spouse (the chef) cooked for you?
It was a summer night. Justin, was trying to impress his new girlfriend with his culinary prowess. Laura’s favorite dish was Mussels from a local restaurant she frequented. Justin boasted he could make a much better tasting mussel dish. Laura didn’t know that Justin had never once cooked mussels, he even had to Google how to clean them! He prepared a very large pot of mussels for the 2 of them, grabbed a bottle of wine, and ate them outside on the patio. That exact dish has been an unchanged shining star on the Eclectic menu since it opened.
3.) How did you decide to run a restaurant together?
Roughly a month after dating, on a walk in Piedmont Park, Laura informed Justin of her plans to quit her corporate job and open a restaurant. Little did Justin know, Laura had already found and secured a location and was finalizing her business plan. Little did Laura know, Justin had over 15 years in the restaurant industry, and had always dreamt of being a Chef. Laura was very surprised to hear Justin was unhappy with his corporate job, complaining he had no creative outlet, which was very important to him. It was easy to see, that this was a match made in heaven. By the end of 2012, Laura and Justin had built the restaurant from ground zero, opened our doors, and were happily married.
4.)If you didn’t run a restaurant, what other business would you see yourselves doing?
Justin would like to run car restore and customization shop. Laura would like to get into real estate, renovate and rent houses. They both strongly agree that owning a small business and being their own bosses is very important.
5) Obviously the restaurant industry is very demanding. How do you find time to just be a regular married couple and not business partners?
We are not your typical married couple. We spend the majority of our time talking about the business and how we can improve it. We spend our days off checking on the restaurant. The restaurant became part of our growing family and we see it as more than just a business. It’s part of who we are and we are ok with it.
6.) When you are not running your restaurant, what is your favorite thing to do?
We spend time with our son at the Zoo, Aquarium, Piedmont Park, Children’s Museum, and try to go on mini excursions out of town every chance we get. It is extremely hard to completely forget about the restaurant, as it is one of the most important things in our life.
Do you now a husband and wife restaurant run restaurant I should feature? Send a note to malika(at)Atlanta-RestaurantBlog.com and let me know!