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Atlanta Orders In: Full Commission’s owner attacks pandemic head-on

Full Commission in Grant Park offers stellar takeout. Shown here (clockwise from top left): fried catfish, jambalaya, deviled eggs, cauliflower, Jamaican beef patties and "animal-style" home fries (with bacon-onion jam and special sauce). CONTRIBUTED BY WENDELL BROCK
Full Commission in Grant Park offers stellar takeout. Shown here (clockwise from top left): fried catfish, jambalaya, deviled eggs, cauliflower, Jamaican beef patties and "animal-style" home fries (with bacon-onion jam and special sauce). CONTRIBUTED BY WENDELL BROCK

Credit: Wendell Brock

Credit: Wendell Brock

David Traxler, owner of Full Commission in Grant Park, should write a book and call it “How to Operate a Restaurant During a Pandemic and Feel Great About It.”

Based on his experiences since mid-March, Traxler could pen chapters on keeping existing staff, applying for government and private dollars, safety and health, and menu development.

“I tell my wife: ‘It’s the weirdest feeling, but my job is to know everything that everybody knows, combined, and know it so I can help any situation,’” Traxler said. The 34-year-old invested money he earned at an unfulfilling job as an information technology salesman to follow his dream of owning a “casual Southern restaurant with a fantastic cocktail program.” His restaurant’s name celebrates the fact that he previously worked on full commission.

Full Commission’s fried catfish, which comes with succotash, chowchow, spicy remoulade and hush puppies, was inspired by owner David Traxler’s Mississippi roots. CONTRIBUTED BY DAVID TRAXLER
Full Commission’s fried catfish, which comes with succotash, chowchow, spicy remoulade and hush puppies, was inspired by owner David Traxler’s Mississippi roots. CONTRIBUTED BY DAVID TRAXLER

Credit: David Traxler

Credit: David Traxler

Traxler, a Jackson, Mississippi, native who attended Ole Miss on a football scholarship, was beset with challenges before he even could open the sleek space at Larkin on Memorial in 2018. First, construction took about a year longer than planned. Then, he lost his original chef and had to scramble to hire a new person to lead the restaurant, which serves coffee and breakfast in the morning, and more ambitious fare at night.

He found his answer in Executive Chef Elodie Westover (Ratio Bakeshop, Revolution Doughnuts, Golden Eagle/Muchacho, Kimball House).

“A lot of the success we have had is due to her hard work,” Traxler said. “She’s a workhorse.”

Still, it’s not like he’s a slouch.

ExploreMore Atlanta Orders In
Full Commission’s deviled eggs travel well, and are memorably devilish. CONTRIBUTED BY DAVID TRAXLER
Full Commission’s deviled eggs travel well, and are memorably devilish. CONTRIBUTED BY DAVID TRAXLER

Credit: David Traxler

Credit: David Traxler

While most of his team was on partial unemployment, Traxler labored side by side with Westover and sous chef Bailey Tripp to produce takeout. His efforts didn’t end in the kitchen, though. His main concern was figuring out how to keep the restaurant afloat.

He stayed up late, got grant applications in early, and ended up securing a Paycheck Protection Program loan and a $15,000 grant from the James Beard Foundation. “I was hawking it,” Traxler said of his aggressive research and networking.

ExploreIntown Atlanta dining news
David Traxler is the owner of Full Commission. CONTRIBUTED BY MIA YAKEL
David Traxler is the owner of Full Commission. CONTRIBUTED BY MIA YAKEL

Though the restaurant planned to restore dine-in service July 1, “it became very clear that it wasn’t time yet,” Traxler said of skyrocketing COVID-19 cases. He postponed table service to July 21, paused dinner, and used the time to train staff.

“We did two different two-hour trainings, and all we talked about was health and COVID,” he said. “We didn’t talk about any Full Commission-related items. If it said, ‘Sanitize every 30 minutes,’ we showed them what we sanitize with, how we sanitize, and where we wipe.”

And, there’s the new menu. It evolved from the takeout effort, and often reflects Traxler’s Mississippi upbringing (fried catfish, jambalaya, greens and cornbread). But, just because the cooking is casual, that doesn’t mean it isn’t well-crafted. The kitchen makes everything from scratch: sauces and condiments, tamales and tacos, even the burger and hotdog buns.

Jambalaya is available for takeout at Full Commission. CONTRIBUTED BY WENDELL BROCK
Jambalaya is available for takeout at Full Commission. CONTRIBUTED BY WENDELL BROCK

Credit: Wendell Brock

Credit: Wendell Brock

Like many Atlanta restaurants, Full Commission seems to thrive under pressure. When I told Traxler that I’ve been jazzed by the takeout I’ve tried for these columns, he replied: “I think it’s a tribute to these entrepreneurs, these chefs, being put in corners. You have to get creative. You can’t have an ego.”

And, above all else, he said, you have to make it taste good. “You need to hit people with food that ... makes them think of good times back home, grandma’s cooking, or whatever it may be.”

Is there a restaurant you want to see featured? Send your suggestions to ligaya.figueras@ajc.com.

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FULL COMMISSION

Menu: Southern comfort food with flair

Alcohol: available to go

What I ordered: deviled eggs, Jamaican beef patties, fried cauliflower, fried catfish with “animal-style” fries, jambalaya. I was blown away.

Service options: takeout, dine-in, DoorDash delivery

Safety protocols: scrupulous about staff training; masks and social distancing strictly enforced

Address, phone: 519 Memorial Drive SE, Atlanta; 404-941-9102

Hours: 8 a.m.-1 p.m. daily; 5-9 p.m. Tuesdays-Thursdays; 5-10 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays

Website: fullcommissionatl.com