EXCLUSIVE: Tom Catherall is back in the Atlanta restaurant business

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Tom Catherall is back to serve.

Just a bit under two months after his Here to Serve restaurant empire suddenly crumbled, the certified master chef has announced a return to Atlanta’s dining scene. He plans to open Tom Tom Tapas & Tequilas at 1000 Virginia Avenue, NE in the space formally occupied by former Here to Serve brand Noche in Virginia Highland.

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AJC file photo

AJC file photo

“Catherall signed the 10-year lease today with The Meddin Company and plans to open the upscale-casual restaurant in February in time for Valentine’s weekend,” his representative said in a statement. “Tom Tom Tapas & Tequilas will be classic Catherall with a Spanish-inspired menu that is both innovative and always fresh.” 

In a statement, Catherall himself added: “For the last 25 years I have been a trendsetter in Atlanta’s dining scene, so I decided to come full circle with Tom Tom Tapas & Tequilas. As always I will be serving high quality food and drinks that offer value for the money.”

Catherall had just returned from a trip abroad in October when he learned that Here to Serve, which had operated a slew of restaurants including Prime, Shucks, Smash, Strip, Twist, three Noche locations, two Coast locations and Aja, was gone. Shortly after the abrupt move a statement appeared on the Here To Serve site suggesting a possible reboot:

“We apologize for the inconvenience, we are working on reorganization. Hopefully we will be Here to Serve you again soon.” 

Weeks later, the announcement is still up on the site with no update. The Here to Serve Facebook page hasn’t been updated since an Oct. 1 bulletin promoting half-price tapas at Twist.

The final update from Noche’s Vinings location, posted Oct. 5, is rather bleak:

Catherall had not been part of the company for the past year, having transferred ownership to ex-wife Leigh Catherall as part of the couple’s divorce settlement.

A former Prime server now working at a Buckhead steakhouse told us recently that the mass closings put hundreds of people out of work in one fell swoop. Catherall was despondent at the news of so many of his former employees being unexpectedly unemployed and is looking forward to his return.

 “So many people reached out to me asking me to come back to Atlanta and open a new restaurant,” he said. “I was truly humbled by the response I received.”

For more stories like this, visit the Atlanta Restaurant Scene blog