Coalition Food and Beverage opened for dinner in late June on Canton Street in downtown Alpharetta.
It’s the third restaurant from RO Hospitality, the team behind Table & Main and Osteria Mattone, both coincidentally located on Canton Street in Roswell.
RO founder Ryan Pernice co-owns Coalition with his brother, Daniel Pernice, who is the beverage director, and executive chef Woolery “Woody” Back, who once worked at Tom Colicchio’s Craft in Atlanta, and more recently in the kitchens at Holeman and Finch and Restaurant Eugene.
The partners’ goal was to create a lively urban atmosphere to match the burgeoning energy of the Alpharetta community. To accomplish that, they chose a corner space at Teasley Place, a new mixed-use project by River Rock Developments, where some 150 seats are split among a spacious L-shaped bar, and a variety of indoor, outdoor and private dining areas.
The open kitchen is a focal point, surrounded by stainless steel, and dramatically lit up by the flames from a custom Grillworks wood-burning grill. Other design elements include exposed brick walls, pop art prints, and abstract paintings.
Back’s menu is billed as “progressive and signature interpretations of American wood-fired classics.” That includes St. Louis-style pork ribs, sustainably sourced salmon, and a bistro steak, all served with sides.
But big, entree-size salads, a hefty Reuben with house-smoked pastrami, and the double-patty CFBurger, with griddled onions and melty American cheese, are pitched to become everyday favorites.
Like the food, the drink menu plays on the classics, with house cocktails, both old-school and local craft beers, and a wine list that leans heavily on American selections.
Recently, the Pernice brothers sat down with Back at Coalition to talk about how they envisioned the restaurant and its offerings.
“Our other two restaurants are not fine dining, but they’re certainly more fine dining than Coalition,” Ryan Pernice said. “That’s kind of the way I see the market moving. People want to have great food in not as upscale of an environment.
“People want great food and great service wherever they’re at, whether it’s a kiosk, or a food hall or fine dining restaurant. So our thought was, let’s do something that kind of speaks to that trend, plus this growing urbanism you see everywhere, including Alpharetta. So we wanted to design a space that played to that sense of energy.”
“With this, we wanted the menu more approachable than the other two restaurants,” Back said. “They are approachable, but they’re places you go for Italian or Southern. Here, it’s where you go when you just want to go and eat something, so there’s something for everyone on the menu.”
As to the space and the design, Ryan Pernice said it came together as the answer to a specific question.
“This space answers the question, What would a classic American diner look like if it was invented today?” he said. “It’s got to have a sense of excitement, and the live, work, play people want in their day-to-day now. Alpharetta is growing up as a city, so we wanted the space to very much reflect that.”
“One of the design and concept choices we made here was to highlight the bar,” Daniel Pernice said. “We want this to be a destination bar, where people can have their entire experience at the bar, drinking and dining and hanging out. And I love that.
“From the beverage perspective, that means we’ve got a bunch of interesting cocktails, but not overly complicated. We have a range of beers in a bunch of different styles, and, of course, heavily featuring local stuff. For wine, I wanted to showcase complexity and quality in a more affordable range at this restaurant, and I wanted it to be mostly domestic.”
For Back, the kitchen was not only an important part of the design, it was essential to the kind of food he wanted to feature.
“We spent a lot of money on the grill, and we wanted to show it off,” he said. “It’s a gaucho-style grill, and you can raise and lower it, depending on the kind of heat you want. It’s an American grill menu, so you’re going to have your burgers and steaks and even some sausages.”
50 Canton St., Suite 108, Alpharetta. 470-839-6725, coalitionfoodandbeverage.com.
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