On a mission to survive

‘We were on such roll,’ says owner of restaurant in Buckhead’s financial district

I’ve been following Ian Winslade since 2016, when I awarded Murphy’s three stars. At the time, he was the executive chef at the popular Virginia-Highland restaurant. He became a first-time chef-owner when he opened Mission and Market two years ago.

Situated in the heart of Buckhead, the restaurant mainly has a business clientele. But, companies in those high-rise buildings and office complexes are quiet now, because of the COVID-19 pandemic. So, Winslade is having to figure out a way to keep Mission and Market alive while not losing heart himself.

“We were on such a roll,” he said. “January and February were great. We’d grown 20% over last year. To go from that to losing 90% of the business is hard. I try not to think about it too much.”

The goal right now is survival, and, with only four people remaining from a staff of 60, his crew is cooking food for takeout and delivery six days a week.

As with many small-business owners, the disappointments for Winslade have been mounting. Mission and Market sourced much of its product from local and regional producers. Winslade said he is seeing reluctance among some distributors to give him product, and the quality has declined. “It’s kind of sad that the general quality of product at the moment is inferior to what one would expect,” he said. “There’s waste all the way through the supply chain, which is really a shame.”

Also, Mission and Market’s Paycheck Protection Program loan application is in limbo. His bank had 10,000 applications the first day, he said, and the money ran out. “It’s really discouraging for all single-unit or small-group restaurant owners. The big chains have already got millions of dollars,” Winslade said. “The whole idea of the PPP was to stimulate small businesses, but, unless they figure out how to do that to make it fair, it’s going to be brutal for so many people.”

Despite his financial worries, Winslade and his team are trying to lessen the food worries of others in need. For the past four weeks, they have provided free boxed meals each Thursday that include a salad, fruit, entrée and a dessert. Besides bottled water, adults receive an adult beverage, thanks to liquor companies who have donated product. In total, they have given away more than 700 of these care packages, which, Winslade said, “proves that people still need a lot of help.”

Mission and Market also has partnered with Go Long for Luke, a nonprofit that raises autism awareness and research; the restaurant is providing meals to caregivers in autistic homes around Georgia.

And, they still are feeding customers with an abbreviated menu of fine-dining, dinner-focused appetizers, salads and entrees. My favorite dish on Winslade’s new American menu is the grilled octopus with romesco sauce. The octopus always is tender. The romesco holds a moderate heat level. The garnish of raw veggies is colorful and crunchy. The dish is comfort food to me.

Of course, I ordered it the day I went to pick up takeout there.

General Manager Stephen Racheff was there to deliver it curbside. Winslade came out to give a wave. It was a rare sign of life these days in the formerly crowded Alliance Center complex.

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Menu: abbreviated menu of new American, dinner-focused crudo, shared plates, salads, sides, pizzas and entrees

What's new: free meals for those in need. Sign up Wednesdays by 9 p.m. via the restaurant's Instagram page (@missionandmkt) or Facebook page (missionandmkt), or email Ian@missionandmarketatl.com. Pickup is 4-6 p.m. Thursdays.

Alcohol: canned beer, wine, cocktails

What I ordered: grilled Spanish octopus, warm quinoa and brown rice (bowl with peanut agrodolce and spring vegetables), seared black sea bass (with beet raita, roasted vegetables and shaved fennel), oven-roasted salmon (with pea-scented rice grits and asparagus), mixed six-pack of Wicked Weed beer, Nino Negri Quadrio Valtellina Superiore. The octopus was fork tender, the hazelnut romesco held warm heat, and the shaved vegetables added springtime cheer; it was as good as when I enjoy this appetizer at the Mission and Market bar. The grain bowl was a hearty, healthy portion. It traveled well, and leftovers easily were reheated. I ordered the sea bass and the salmon because Mission and Market usually executes fish quite well. In both instances, the fish was fresh, flaky and not overcooked, despite there being 20 minutes between pickup and sitting down to dinner. The grain and/or veggie accompaniments for both these entrees make the portion size enough to feed two moderately hungry people.Service options: no-contact curbside pickup or delivery via DoorDash, GrubHub and Uber Eats.

Safety protocols: kitchen and staff adhering to COVID-19 health and safety precautions, no-contact curbside pickup, all payments taken prior to pickup.

Address, phone: 3550 Lenox Road NE, Atlanta, 404-948-2927

Hours: noon-7:30 p.m. Mondays-Fridays, 4-8 p.m. Saturdays



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