Heirloom is a family business, run by a father and daughter team, but we don’t stop there. At Heirloom, we want our staff to be like a family, as well. We encourage them to challenge themselves and one another to take ownership of our business, and work together to make our guests feel like family as well. So you can know us like your family, here are some stories and facts about some of our key people.
EMPLOYEES OF THE YEAR
Each December, we ask our non-management employees to vote anonymously for who they feel embodies the qualities that make someone a good employee, a good coworker, and a good cofriend. This peer given title is announced at our holiday party.
2015: Greg & Eric Zock
The Zock brothers, Greg and Eric, came to us almost a year ago through our sous chef at the time, Matt Needle. Greg and Matt have lived together for several years, and Matt knew that he would be a great addition to our team. He started out washing dishes and quickly grew to be one of our strongest cooks. He shows up early and stays as late as he is needed every day, never once complaining. When times get tough, he puts his head down and works through the rush, never missing anything, but when the day gets a little easier, he is right there ready to get everyone pumped up and happy. When Matt left us in December to move to Altanta, Greg was there to fill the gap, and he has just become our new sous chef.
Greg’s younger brother, Eric, came to work with us a few months after Greg came on board. While he had never worked in a commercial kitchen before, Eric caught on very quickly to how a kitchen should be run. He has pushed himself and pushed himself to be the very best at every task we offer him. He has a passion for cooking, and spends his down time experimenting with food. No matter what, he keeps a smile on his face, and does his best to help others do the same.
These two guys are a light in our kitchen. We are very lucky to have them on board and hope to keep them with us for a very long time. Here’s to you, Brothers Zock.
2014: Amie Reavis
Amie is a support network, sometimes silently helping her fellow cooks get out of the weeds when they don’t even know she is there beside them making everything fall together, sometimes being a shoulder to cry on and the one that tells you how it is and how it is going to be when you need it most. Amie has loads of experience and zero pretension. She often floats by under the radar because we never have to ask her to do anything. She just does it without us even knowing that it needs to be done. We are lucky to have her as a part of our team, and wish she could be replicated many times over.
2013: Ben Salie
Ben Salie is a ray of light. He is sweet and kind, thoughtful and thought provoking, and most of all, Ben is calm. Always calm. Washing away day after day, dealing with piles of yucky dishes, and bringing an organization to the chaos that can be dishwashing during a busy brunch–these are the ways in which Ben works hard for us. Beyond that, however, Ben keeps us sane. Each day is filled with several questions for the whole staff to ponder while they work. What would the flag of your country look like? What would you like to thank that you are not able to? What are you proud of? If you had a mutation, what would it be? Beyond the questions, there is the singing. Ben is quite musical, and you may hear him wailing in the back on occasion when his work gets really hard. Some of his favorites? Bill Callahan and the every lovable Bonnie Raitt. Let’s give ’em something to talk about.
2012: Ronnie Hilburn
How Ronnie has grown since he started working with us. If only you knew. He began working with us as a dishwasher, recommended by one of our servers when we were in a bind. He quickly became the king of the dishpit and began easing his way onto the hot line, one burger at a time. He takes great pride in his work, even the smallest joyless tasks. He works efficiently and quickly, keeping a smile on his face as a Boomhaueresque monologue narrates his moves, and we all sing along to the Alanis Morissette Pandora station he picked out. He keeps our morale up and keeps the food coming out. What else could you ask for?
2011: Marquita Maddox
Marquita began working with us very soon after we opened. We had a dishwasher call out for the second shift in a row, and we had no one to cover him so I put it out there on facebook that we needed some help that night. Marquita was our first responder. She showed up with a smile on her face and dove into the stack of dirty pots and dishes without complaining once. We hired her right away. She has moved out of the dishpit to the line for most of her shifts, and I must say that this girl makes a mean salad. To this day, the smile stays on her face even when she is exhausted, and she works through till the end as hard as she can. A single mother of three, she takes care of her kids and then comes here and takes care of all of us. Pretty soon, you will be seeing her smiling face more often, as she is going to start waiting tables any day now. If you do, stop her, and tell her how awesome she is.
Jessica Rothacker grew up going to company picnics for her father’s family business, barbecues at her grandparents’ house and grand holiday meals. Her mother had an extensive family garden that taught her how to eat the best the season had to offer. She went to college at UGA, where she studied English. After college, she went to the Art Institute of Atlanta where she studied Culinary Arts. She learned a great respect for high quality food and service working at Muss & Turner’s in Smyrna, which prides itself on serving the highest quality food with the highest quality service in a casual atmosphere. In 2007, she followed chef David Sturgis when he moved to Athens to work at Farm 255, where she developed a love for seasonal and sustainable cooking. After a stint as sous chef at Farm 255, she left to focus on vamping up her pastry skills at Ike & Jane, where she loved working for such a community focused business. Jessica was on the board of the non-profit PLACE, whose mission is to promote a strong, accessible local food culture in the Athens area for 4 years, and served as secretary for 2 of those years.
Jessica is very excited to be striking out on her own with Heirloom. Heirloom brings together all of the values that she finds most important—great food, service and community. She likes to say that her favorite part of her job is the relationships she gets to form with the farmers, the guests and the employees. Oh, and her other favorite part is putting all the delicious local ingredients together to make food that makes the guests happy. Oh, and her other favorite part….
Successful family businesses can also be heirlooms, passed from generation to generation. Travis Burch grew up in a family business, Burch-Lowe, Inc., founded by his father, Bill Burch, in Atlanta in 1952. When Bill Burch passed away in 1990, Travis and his brother assumed leadership of the business and with the help and commitment of a dedicated group of co-workers, grew the business in new directions and to new levels of sales and income. When not at work, Travis was at home behind the tiller, shovel and hoe as his wife, Susie, created a vegetable garden that fed the family and the neighborhood and planted the seed of a passion for fresh, seasonal food in their daughter, Jessica.
One of Travis’s proudest moments at Burch-Lowe, was when the company was named Georgia Family Business of the Year in 1996 in recognition for its efforts to create an environment where co-workers could be fully engaged in the mission of the company and be recognized for the results they created. The family business was sold over 10 years ago and, since then, Travis has been a serial entrepreneur, with successful projects in consulting, residential and commercial real estate. Now Travis is joining with Jessica Burch Rothacker to create Heirloom Café & Fresh Market in the Historic Boulevard Neighborhood in Athens.
Joel Penn-Head Chef
Joel Penn began leading Heirloom’s culinary team in May of 2015, coming to us from The National where he worked as a sous chef under Peter Dale, and previously from East West Bistro where he was sous chef under BJ Bracewell (now a part of the Pauley’s and Branded Butcher team). Penn also partners with his girlfriend, Amanda Newsom, to bring a handful of very lucky diners periodic culinary feasts with The Tasty Beast Supper Club.
To say that Joel Penn is passionate about food is an understatement. As a journalism student, Penn began working his way through college in the kitchens of Athens, and when he decided that working with food would be his true career, he took the research and journalistic background to the line with him. He loves to experiment with flavors, to research the integration of cultural foodways, and to push himself in the realms of preservation, fermentation, and snout to tail cookery. On the menu at Heirloom, he explores the cultivation of a new Southern cuisine, one that is just as comfortable with kimchi as it is with fried chicken, and just as versed in varieties of chili peppers as it is barbecue styles. He recognizes that the South is expanding its cultural identity to include the food that speaks to all of its residents, no matter where their family originally called home, and seeks to translate that to the plate.
Nicholle Bath-Pastry Chef
Nicholle moved to Athens from sunny California last year to try out a different pace of life. She began working with us as a server, bringing her expert wine knowledge and front of house skills to Heirloom, but she left after a few months to pursue a passion for baking. We were lucky enough to get her to rejoin our team when we had an opening for pastry chef, and we couldn’t be happier. Nicholle’s pastries have roots in classical French cuisine, but she likes to play with flavors and seasonal produce when she plans her menus. When she isn’t baking here at Heirloom, you might find her reading Harry Potter books, rooting for the Lakers, or hanging out with her two cats, Scout and Tallulah.
Greg Zock-Sous Chef
Greg Zock continues our tradition of young, energetic sous chefs. He takes the place of his former roommate, Matt Needle, and like Matt is a full time student, working on his B.S. in Environmental Chemistry. Full of positive energy and new ideas, Greg has brought innovative ideas regarding sustainability to Heirloom, encouraging us to revamp our composting and recycling programs, and helping us to reduce food waste by using our products in fresh new ways. Greg has embraced this job with full force, constantly pushing himself and those around him to improve. Greg’s weekends are spent heading up our brunch services, but when he can get away, he spends his time gardening, hiking, or reading.
Brian Winters-Bar Manager
You may recognize Brian from the many years he has worked in Athens restaurants and bars as a bartender, waiter, and manager. He came to Georgia after graduating from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY where he received his Bachelors in Architecture and Art & Design Education. He has taught in the Interior Design Department at UGA’s Lamar Dodd School of Art and currently in the Interior Design Department at Athens Technical College.
His father was an Airline Chef and his mother is a Travel Agent and Artist. He attributes his interest in food, drink, art, design and travel to their influence. He grew up in a home that valued cooking from scratch using recipes passed down generations from both the Irish and Italian sides of the family. In 1854 his paternal great, great, great grandfather John McSorley opened up McSorley’s Old Ale House the longest standing bar in New York City. His father continued the tradition by building a full bar in their basement, the same size as the one here at Heirloom. It was behind that bar that Brian began his training as a bartender. His parents entertained often and it was their sons who made and served their guests’ beverage of choice. It was expected that whole family take part in the planning, preparation and creation of many big parties and celebrations. Working at Heirloom is a welcome continuation of the style and group effort similar to one he grew up around.
In 2006 Brian met his wife Rachel in Cortona, Italy where they lived for two years before returning to Athens. They are both still connected to the pace and quality of life they enjoyed in Tuscany, buying local and supporting family businesses. They live in town with their daughter Violet and are enjoying the lifestyle they chose to come back to Athens for.
Sarah Guerin-Front of the House Manager
Sarah Guerin is a born and raised Athenian, although she did spend a good chunk of time in San Francisco working for a software company, an advertising agency, and even Dolby, before she realized that she missed home and that she really wanted to devote her life to food. She has managed catering companies, worked with Top Chef contestants, and more recently was the general manager at Cine and a bartender at The World Famous. She started a food themed book club, and is a self taught encyclopedia of food related information. These days, you can find her here at Heirloom running the front of house during the day, and maybe drinking a glass of bubbly by the bocce court come evening. Her real career aspiration is to be a unicorn hunter, but finds herself constantly failing at that goal.
Paddy Nolan-Front of the House Manager
Patrick “Paddy” Nolan loves to serve people. There is something about getting to meet new people every day, connect with them, help them find the perfect wine, teach them about sustainable and local food, and provide them with a fun dining experience that really hits home for Paddy. Paddy grew up on a cattle ranch in Wyoming that also raised sheep and ostrich. He moved to Athens in 2012 after managing the front of house for the governor’s mansion in Wyoming for 8 years and working for the Omni Hotel Group in Texas for 2 years. In his time in Athens he has managed Echo and Etienne, and spent time behind the bar at The World Famous. He has extensive training toward being a certified sommelier, and trust us, he will point you in the right direction with wine. Essentially, Paddy has devoted his life to serving you so come on in and say hello. You will be happy you did.
Andy Dixon-Front of the House Manager
You might know Andy Dixon from his 10 year tenure at The Daily Grocery Co-op, where he managed operations prior to finding a home with us at Heirloom. He cares a lot about food, about where it comes from and how it got to you. He doesn’t just care about food though. He used to be a sports writer for a newspaper, and now he leads the rock and roll band, Gumshoe. Andy is one of the most grounded people we know, and one of the funniest, too. If you see him, make sure to ask him to tell you a joke.