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.
2017: Chris Shaw
Chris Shaw began working with us while going to school for a biology degree and working at the State Botanical Gardens. He began his time with us as a dishwasher, and continues to create a zen space in our dish area that rubs off on anyone passing through it. He is always positive and calm, and keeps everyone else in line by setting a positive example. While other dishwashers usually listen to hip hop or hard rock while working, Chris can be found listening to Native American flutes or sounds of nature over the bluetooth speakers. He has begun picking up biscuit and scone making shifts and is pushing himself to learn more about baking every day. His work ethic is strong. He never balks at being asked to do something and he does it with a smiling face.
2016: Seth Martin
Seth Martin came to work at Heirloom after a summer spent working in the wilds of Alaska. Long hair in a pony tail, and Southern drawl telling you stories and jokes while you work, Seth is the embodiment of cool. With hopes of pursuing a career in music, Seth began the band The Georgia Dish Boys. You can find them playing at breweries and bars around downtown on any given week. As you may imagine, the band is composed of several former or current dishwashers at some of Athens’ finest establishments. Seth’s most notable accomplishment while working at Heirloom was the concept of FOOD PHONE. If you want to know more, I’m told you must ask him directly.
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. She was the food editor for the now defunct online magazine, Broad Collective, and she serves on the board of directors for the Georgia Restaurant Association. When she isn’t at Heirloom, Jessica spends most of her time with her family: her husband, Jordan, her son, Fox, her dogs, Lily & Levi, and her cat, Whiskey, a stray she adopted out of the trash area here at Heirloom.
Jessica is very excited to strike 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.
Rose Harris-General Manager
Rose Harris is a treasure. She grew up here in Athens, something that most people who call our town home can’t claim. She has deep roots in this place, and although she has spent time living in Florida and in Colorado in the past few years, trying to make a home in a place that was new to her, we convinced her to come back to Athens and make her home with us, to help us craft the sense of place that we want to surround ourselves with and that would help make it a true home for her.
Rose studied Sociology at UGA, and while she hasn’t put her degree to use in a traditional way, she uses her knowledge to help our staff interact with one another and our guests in the best way possible, and she uses it to help us be responsible to our community in the best way we can. While living in Colorado just prior to coming on to manage Heirloom in 2017, Rose studied Conflict Resolution, and received a massage therapy certification, all while managing a popular pub, and volunteering regularly at a pay as you can restaurant. If nothing else (but she is so much else), Rose is full of empathy, and acts as a rock to our entire staff. She listens, she hugs, she finds solutions, she makes people laugh, she makes hard choices, and she makes sure we all have everything we need to do our jobs to the best of our ability. She finds joy in the little things, and helps us to see that joy alongside her.
When not at Heirloom, you can find her digging in the garden at her house, snuggling with her dog Lucy, going for long drives and wishing she was a race car driver, or spreading joy with her bright smile to those people lucky enough to call her a friend.
Garrett MacFalda-Head Chef
Garrett MacFalda reached a love of food through community. He was raised in a family that would rather order take out or microwave a meal than spend hours planning a dinner party, but in his early twenties, when Garrett was working laying granite he experienced food as an act of love and togetherness for the first time. His co-workers were primarily Michoacán, and for lunch every day, each member of the crew would bring an element of the meal. One would bring homemade tortillas, one would bring some braised meat, one would bring a sauce, one would bring vegetables, etc., etc., and then they would all prepare the meal together and sit around the site eating the fruits of their labor. This experience was a game changer for Garrett, and he knew he wanted to learn to cook in this collaborative way. While he continued to work outside of the kitchen for a few years, taking a job as a traveling electrician, when he came to Athens, he found his new calling in kitchens. His first love for cuisine was based in pub food, and he even thought that one day he might open a gastropub, but something in him kept bringing him back to those Mexican flavors. While working his way through the ranks in some of Athens finest kitchens (most recently Garrett worked the line at 5 & 10 and then took a job at home.made, becoming Mimi’s right hand man as dinner service gained traction), Garrett continued teaching himself about food, reading everything he could and spending all of his spare time experimenting with flavor and technique, preparing for the day when he would run his own kitchen and make his own menus. His food pays homage to those Michoacán co-workers that taught him to love food, and is also firmly rooted in the cuisine of the south. He sees Athens’ latino community as an integral part of who we are as a city, and hopes to combine their flavors with those more traditionally thought to be identified with the smaller town South. He strives to have Heirloom’s food be indicative of our location at Chase St. and Boulevard: Chase St.: an industrial corridor with factories employing multitudes of Latinos, crossing at Boulevard: a gentrifying residential street of historic and stately southern homes, currently one of the most sought after places to live in Athens, but still a combination of people from different incomes brackets and backgrounds.
Nick Haddad-Sous Chef
Nick Haddad fell in love with cooking at 8 years old, through binge watching Iron Chef Japan. His inspiration led him to a career in food starting later on when he was 19, working his way through college. A veteran of some of Athens’ toughest kitchens, Nick came to us from The World Famous, but don’t think that means his palate is limited to fun pub cuisine. His love for food is extremely diverse. You might find him whipping up traditional Lebanese food for family meal, paying attention to every last detail of our Saturday vegan special, finishing off a perfect French sauce, or flipping omelets on our egg station at brunch, but he will always have a smile for you because he gets to do what he loves when he comes to work each day. Punk music and ska fill the kitchen when he works, keeping him up and fueled as he pushes food out during the rush. If he isn’t logging all the hours at Heirloom, you may find Nick throwing back a few cold ones and playing old school video games at Wonderbar or at home in the midst of an epic Street Fighter battle, but either way he’ll be keeping it chill.
Brian Winters-Bar & Night 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.
John Swint-Day Manager
John Swint is Heirloom’s longest running employee. He came on after our first summer with zero previous restaurant experience, but he has stuck it out over the years, improving every step of the way. He is kind, and thoughtful, and easy to talk to. He is an excellent drummer (you may have seen him rock it out with his band(s) Luxury Vehicle, Easter Island, and Yip Deceiver. He is also an excellent DJ, known as DJ Quincy to those in the know, and has entertained the Heirloom staff with his skills and his air horn function at many the holiday party. While not on tour, he keeps our lunch staff in line, keeps our in house music up and happy, keeps the drinks flowing from behind the bar, and keeps everyone who comes in contact with him happy. In his previous lives, Swint has owned a pet sitting business, toured with national acts as drummer to the now defunct band Modern Skirts, and worked with special needs children while studying Psychology at UGA. His prized possession is a solid gold ring that he found while bussing a table one day. (If you see him wearing it and it’s yours he will give it back, although reluctantly. He loves that thing so darn much.)
Madison Brackett-Brunch Manager
Madison Brackett is quick with a smile and calm in times of stress. She is the newest addition to our management team, but she acts like a seasoned leader. Cycling into the brunch host and manager roll with Rose & Jessica, she leads the staff to success on the busiest shifts of our week, keeping the flow of the restaurant in line and presenting the first face our guests see when they walk in the doors. Madison is also instrumental in crafting our beer list selections. She came to us from Terrapin Beer Co., and is versed in the world of craft beer, both local and global. Not only can she pick out a beer for you, but she can handle her own in the back woods, as well. Madison recently graduated with a degree in biology and wildlife management from Warnell College at UGA and is off wrangling bats during the week this summer. She is hoping to continue on to graduate school at UGA so we hope to have her with us as her side hustle for quite a while. If she is not at Heirloom, Madison is most likely to be outside, be it chillin’ with her dog, listening to music, and drinking beer, or more likely, hiking or camping in the Georgia mountains. If you pass her on the trail say “Hi.”