Smith shut the restaurant down in mid-March. “Let’s stop everything and take a look,” he told his wife, Amy. “Why don’t we just close the restaurant for dine-in ahead of the curve, so none of our staff gets sick, and offer $10 to-go meals?”
The Nashville hot fried chicken is the most popular sandwich on the Curious Pig menu. Courtesy of the Curious Pig
They did. And, it worked, with the Curious Pig selling upward of 600 meals some days. Curious Meals to Go — a concise, weekly menu of $10 ready-to-reheat dinners, pre-ordered by Friday evenings for Tuesday pickup — continues to attract busy households looking for a value-driven, homestyle meal, made with high-quality ingredients.
Smith’s style of running his operation during the four months that the dining room remained shut did more than attract a public hungry for country-fried pork steak and airline chicken made with Springer Mountain poultry. It also kept all of his staff employed, even though the dining room continues to seat far below capacity.
Scott Smith is the owner of the Curious Pig, where none of his full-time employees has a second job. “I want the people who work here to be happy,” he said. Ligaya Figuerasfirstname.lastname@example.org
I first met Smith in the fall of 2019, when I visited him and his staff to learn about his approach to restaurant management, which prioritizes a nurturing workplace. Besides paying fair wages, Smith thinks that the reason he has retained his staff during the public health crisis is due to empathy. “Every night, after we closed down and cleaned, we did family meal. We would all sit down and have dinner. We did that for months.”
Smith thinks that practice was especially impactful, because of the social isolation everyone was feeling. “That kind of family environment that we have — people don’t want to go anywhere,” he said.
He recognizes that none of it would have been possible without customers. “The community support was a very amazing security blanket for us,” he said.
The crowd-pleasing pimento cheese plate at the Curious Pig includes house pickles, bacon jam and crostini. Courtesy of the Curious Pig
Those successes enabled Smith to make another curious move in a curious year: opening a second restaurant. His impetus: “COVID made me realize how fortunate we were, and I wanted to make sure, if there was an opportunity to offer more employment to locals, we could do that.”
Curious Kitchen & Bar debuted in downtown Senoia in December, feeding the flow of visiting “Walking Dead” fans, as well as Curious Pig regulars who want a more bar-focused experience, a change of scenery and a different menu that still offers Southern comforts.
The House-made Tots with warm beer cheese, jalapeno and Beeler’s bacon is a popular appetizer at the Curious Pig. /
Courtesy of the Curious Pig
Back home at the Curious Pig, the kitchen still is serving up crowd favorites, like tater tots with beer cheese, a pimento cheese plate with all manner of pickled produce, and the Nashville hot chicken sandwich. But, with spring in the air, an arugula salad, crab cakes and crispy trout over creamed corn risotto shake up the cooking routine.
Smith assessed the overall performance of his business in the past year: “We took a wide-based approach,” he said. “It wasn’t easy. We had to make a lot of changes to everyday operations.”
But, he concluded, “the Curious Pig weathered COVID pretty gracefully.”
THE CURIOUS PIG
Menu: Southern gastropub
Alcohol: full bar on-premises; beer and wine to go
What I ordered: house-made tots ($9); pimento cheese ($9); crab cakes ($12); arugula salad ($8); Nashville hot fried chicken ($12); cornbread crusted trout ($19)
Service options: dine-in or carryout; order in person or via phone; curbside available
Outdoor dining: expansive lawn with umbrella tables; currently undergoing upgrade to add more tables and fire pits, with lounge seating
Mask policy: required for all front-of-house employees; not required of guests
Address, phone: 114 Huddleston Road, Peachtree City; 678-545-6327
Hours: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Tuesdays-Thursdays, 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays
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