Chef Winnie’s makes a comeback in Clarkston with similar menu, new location

One of the new items on the menu at Chef Winnie's in Clarkston is the pan-roasted blackened mahi-mahi with potato cake and asparagus topped with chimichurri sauce. / Courtesy of Chef Winnie's

Credit: Courtesy of Chef Winnie's

Credit: Courtesy of Chef Winnie's

One of the new items on the menu at Chef Winnie's in Clarkston is the pan-roasted blackened mahi-mahi with potato cake and asparagus topped with chimichurri sauce. / Courtesy of Chef Winnie's

Chef Winnie’s, which closed in 2021 after two years in Clarkston, is set to make its return this week in a larger space but with many of the same dishes that put the restaurant on the map years ago.

Located at 980 Rowland St., Chef Winnie’s is the first of several restaurants slated to open in the Clarkston Market building. Woinshet Legesse Emory, who opened the first iteration of her eatery in 2019 in a 625-square-foot space, said the new 4,000-square-foot location will provide her with room to expand her menu, while still serving the dishes that gained her a loyal following.

Emory, a native of Ethiopia and a 35-year veteran of the food and beverage industry, spent the past few years serving as a food and beverage consultant for hotels while also driving Uber and Lyft. She missed cooking and her customers, and jumped at the chance to re-open her restaurant when the space became available.

Woinshet Legesse Emory owns Chef Winnie's in Clarkston. (Olivia Bowdoin for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution).

Credit: Olivia Bowdoin

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Credit: Olivia Bowdoin

“I called my last restaurant the Ritz-Carlton of Clarkston,” she said. “This is Ritz-Carlton 2.0! It’s not about having my own restaurant. It’s more about serving people and serving the community.”

Several of Emory’s dishes use Ethiopian ingredients as their base, though many would be described as fusion items, including a quesadilla on a red tortilla with grilled chicken, sauteed veggies, shredded Swiss and Ethiopian spices; Ethiopian-style chicken wings; and curry tibs that use herbs like basil that aren’t normally found in Ethiopian cuisine.

She also offers some traditional dishes, including awaze tibs and shiro (chickpea stew), alongside Southern, Italian and American items like shrimp and grits, pasta with sauce and veggie paninis, as well as a sprinkling of vegan offerings.

Chef Winnie’s Kitchen makes an Ethiopian-style chicken quesadilla. 
Wendell Brock for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Wendell Brock

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Credit: Wendell Brock

Emory said her recipe development boils down to whichever ingredients she think will work well together.

“When I was working in hotels, I’d tell people, ‘Why don’t you just make something out of nothing? Just create something,’” she said. “I’m just naturally artistic and fast at putting things together.”

The bright space seats 75 guests, with mint green chairs, hunter green walls and white tables, and bar-style seating at a counter facing a set of windows. Servers dole out food from a buffet setup near the kitchen.

Chef Winnie’s opening hours are 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Tuesdays-Sundays. In addition to lunch and dinner, Emory plans to open soon for breakfast, Sunday brunch and afternoon tea.

“I’m getting old, but for the period of time God allows me, I’m going to do the best for my customers,” she said.

980 Rowland St., Clarkston. instagram.com/chefwinnie_kitchen

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