|By Leon Stafford, The Atlanta
Journal-ConstitutionMcClatchy-Tribune Business News
Jan. 31, 2007 - Atlanta restaurant developer Bob Amick and condo/hotel builder Novare Group are making their partnership official.
Novare has tapped Amick -- creator of such popular intown eateries as Two Urban Licks, Piebar and Trois -- to develop all the restaurants for Twelve Hotels, the builder's burgeoning boutique hotel chain.
The deal is a result of the success of Lobby, the hip, contemporary restaurant Amick opened at the end of 2005 at Twelve's first property, Twelve Atlantic Station.
Financial details of the deal were not disclosed.
Jim Veil, president of Twelve Hotels, said Amick made Lobby a destination, not just a hotel restaurant, and that made it easy to strike the partnership.
"I guess it comes down to the fact that when you're doing something like this, you obviously want someone you know, someone you can work with and someone you respect," Veil said.
Others said the deal seems like the perfect union.
"People have said to me that it's like they [Novare and Amick] were dating, but now they are going to go ahead and get married," said Sue Rodman, a spokeswoman for Novare.
Amick said Novare is a perfect fit because the company's officials are looking for restaurants that are creative and unique, not cookie-cutter repetition.
"The challenge for me is to develop multiple concepts for Novare," he said. "They want each property to have a distinctiveness, an individuality."
Amick, whose company Concentrics Hospitality also operates One Midtown Kitchen and Murphy's in Atlanta and Luma in Florida, will open his first new restaurant under the deal in August when the 102-room Twelve Centennial Park opens downtown. Neither he nor Veil would offer details on the restaurant, including its name or style of cuisine.
Novare has announced the construction of two other Twelve projects -- one each in Charlotte and Tampa -- to begin sometime in 2008. Veil said the company has plans for two additional properties but would not divulge whether either is planned for the Atlanta market.
The deal with Amick comes at a time when hotels are renovating their restaurants to make them culinary destinations instead of places of dining convenience. The Marriott Marquis, the city's largest hotel, is giving its restaurants a makeover to make them appeal to guests and nonguests alike, while other major hotels in the city are offering everything from wine tastings to improved menus to bring in new customers.
Amick said the resurrection of interest in hotel dining is due, in part, to Las Vegas. For years, the gambling/entertainment mecca was home to buffets designed to get people to eat quickly and return to the poker tables and slot machines.
That changed about five years ago when the city started opening high-end restaurants to drive business for those who wanted a more memorable culinary experience.
"Vegas certainly has led the charge in this to some degree," Amick said.
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