Georgia Aquarium Announces Ballroom, Catering and Restaurant Partners
Legendary Chef Wolfgang Puck Headlines Dining "Dream Team"
Atlanta, GA (October 12, 2005) – Bernie Marcus, benefactor of the Georgia Aquarium, opening November 23, 2005, today announced the culinary team that will direct guest dining experiences at the Georgia Aquarium, including ballroom special events, catering and guest restaurants. Wolfgang Puck, a name synonymous with exciting restaurant concepts and high quality foodservice, headlines the team that includes Restaurant Associates, renowned as the leader in cultural dining across the U.S., and famed Atlanta restaurateur Pano Karatassos of the Buckhead Life Restaurant Group. "I have always promised that this Aquarium will be unlike any other in the world," Marcus said. "Now we have assembled what I call the `Dining Dream Team' to ensure that those who hold special events here, or just grab a bite to eat as part of their day with us, have a food experience on par with their Aquarium experience." "I am so excited to bring my passion of the culinary arts to what is bound to be the best destination of Atlanta's new downtown. I know I am going to have to work hard to match the expertise of aquatic life Mr. Marcus has brought to this unique venue, but I am more than ready for the challenge," said Chef Puck. Wolfgang Puck Catering (WPC) will operate exclusive special event catering services at the Aquarium, allowing visitors to enjoy customized menus and professional event staff paired with the extraordinary setting. Chef Puck will have his talented staff participate in the Seafood Watch, a program pioneered by the Monterey Bay Aquarium to raise consumer awareness about the importance of buying seafood from sustainable sources. The program recommends which seafood to buy or avoid, helping consumers and chefs to become advocates for environmentally-friendly seafood. Additionally, the Seafood Watch pocket guide will be available to consumers upon request. Large viewing windows into the Aquarium's aquatic habitats are found in the 16,400 sq. ft. Aquarium ballroom, which anchors the Aquarium event space. The ballroom can service 1,100 for a seated dinner and up to 1,800 for a reception. More intimate spaces are available for private gatherings, and the entire Aquarium accommodates up to 10,000 for larger events. WPC will maintain a full-service catering operation, including a kosher kitchen on site. -more- Chuck Banicki, formerly General Manager of the American Museum of Natural History for Restaurant Associates, will oversee the 330-seat Café Aquaria, located on the Aquarium's atrium level. According to Banicki, Café Aquaria will have a selection of "Best in Class" café stations featuring local and national favorites and appealing to a broad range of tastes. "Each food station will have a signature item, kid's meals will be served in fun Café Aquaria bags and guests will enjoy an open kitchen at each station," Banicki said. The food area will include: The Grill, featuring hamburgers and chicken quesadillas Naples Pizza and Pasta, with signature pizza and pastas Buckhead Bread, Buckhead Life Restaurant Group's spinoff of its popular Buckhead Bread Company concept, featuring soups, salads and sandwiches crafted on fresh baked bread Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream, including a signature "Deepo" cookie honoring the Aquarium's lovable mascot. Pano Karatassos, founder and president, Buckhead Life Restaurant Group, added, "The Aquarium's promise for the city in terms of tourism and value to residents will be tremendous. I'm honored to be among the esteemed company of Bernie Marcus, Restaurant Associates, Wolfgang Puck and so many others involved with the attraction's foodservice aspect." To enhance local community ties Guy Thomson of Proof of the Pudding will work in conjunction with the Aquarium food service team. For information contact: Donna Fleishman Georgia Aquarium 404-720-8149 (office) 770-241-8252 (cell) ABOUT THE GEORGIA AQUARIUM The Georgia Aquarium will open in Atlanta, Georgia on November 23, 2005, as one of the world's largest aquarium facilities. With more than 5 million gallons of marine and fresh water, and 100,000 - 120,000 animals of 500 different species, the Georgia Aquarium is a $200 million gift to the people of Georgia from Bernie Marcus, co-founder of The Home Depot, and his wife Billi, through the Marcus Foundation. The Aquarium will be overseen by a nonprofit corporation run by a board of directors. The mission of the Georgia Aquarium is to be an entertaining, educational and scientific institution featuring exhibitions and programs of the highest standards, offering engaging and entertaining visitors' experiences, and promoting the conservation of aquatic biodiversity throughout the world. It is the goal of the Georgia Aquarium to educate audiences of all ages, while promoting a fun and entertaining learning experience that inspires guests to appreciate the world's aquatic biodiversity and to take conservation action. Additional information on the Georgia Aquarium can be found at www.georgiaaquarium.org. ABOUT WOLFGANG PUCK Perhaps no other chef-restaurateur in the last quarter century has been as influential to the American dining experience as Wolfgang Puck. Wolfgang has been catering since he first opened Spago Hollywood in 1982. He and Carl Schuster began developing the Wolfgang Puck Catering brand and services together in 1998. Currently, WPC operates restaurants and catering services at many event venues and cultural centers in major markets in the U.S. including Seattle's Benaroya Hall, Minneapolis' Walker Art Center, Indianapolis Museum of Art,Chicago , St. Louis and Los Angeles. Delivering such legendary events as the Academy Awardsr Governors Ball, The Annual Lincoln Park Zoo Gala, AFI Awards, BET Awards, The ESPY's and The Millennium Park Grand Opening Gala. Wolfgang Puck Catering will be opening soon in San Francisco's DeYoung Museum, and at Freedom Forum Newseum in Washington, D.C. For additional information: www.wolfgangpuck.com. ABOUT RESTAURANT ASSOCIATES The Managed Services division of Restaurant Associates (RA) includes corporate dining, educational facilities, museums, performing arts centers, and off-premise catering events. This division is aligned with Compass Group's B&I Division. Restaurant Associates' Managed Services Division, based in New York, provides premium food services to some of Manhattan's most elite corporations including Condé Nast Publications, Lehman Brothers and Time Warner. It also serves some of the most world-renowned museums and performing arts centers, such as The Woodruff Arts Center, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Carnegie Hall, The Kennedy Center and the Metropolitan Opera. For additional information: www.restaurantassociates.com. ABOUT BUCKHEAD LIFE RESTAURANT GROUP Buckhead Life Restaurant Group is a privately owned Atlanta-based company which owns and operates Pano's & Paul's, 103 West, Buckhead Diner, Chops / Lobster Bar, Pricci, Veni Vidi Vici, Atlanta Fish Market, Corner Café, Buckhead Bread Company, Nava, Bluepointe and Kyma. Buckhead Life also operates a commercial bakery and a wholesale seafood company which supplies seafood exclusively for its restaurants. In partnership with Levy Restaurants of Chicago, the company has satellite locations of Atlanta Fish Market, Nava, Pricci and Buckhead Diner in Philips Arena's Club level. The company is led by Pano Karatassos, who has earned great acclaim as a leading restaurateur since opening Pano's & Paul's, in 1979. Additional information is available at www.buckheadrestaurants.com.