Hadermann Plans Expansion of Restaurants In and Out of Atlanta
January 9, 2015
Hadermann Plans Expansion of Restaurants In and Out of Atlanta
Atlanta Business Chronicla

For Chris Hadermann, one of the partners behind popular restaurant concepts such as Tin Lizzy's Cantina and The Big Ketch Saltwater Grill, 2014 was an ambitious year.

Hadermann and his partners last year formed a new restaurant group called Southern Proper Hospitality, which launched three new concepts: Smokebelly BBQ in the Buckhead Village, and The Southern Gentleman and Gypsy Kitchen, the only locally-owned restaurants at the upscale Buckhead Atlanta development.

Now, as the face of the company, Hadermann is charged with strengthening the group's foundation as they forge ahead with expansion plans.

"Chris is our acting CEO," said Mike Evertsen, who runs the company with Hadermann and John Piemonte. The three were fraternity brothers at Florida State University. "He is the operating partner who is really focused on the people part of the business. Chris has a really good way of building rapport."

This year, under a separate company, the partners plan to grow Tin Lizzy's outside of metro Atlanta. In 2015, the goal is to open in Greenville, S.C. and Augusta. New locations are also planned for Duluth and downtown Atlanta.

In addition, with help from new Tin Lizzy's CEO Tory Bartlett, the goal in 2016 is to start franchising the concept and add five new locations a year.

"Chris is really the barometer and the brand steward to make sure we grow at a smart pace," Bartlett said. "He's very generous with his time. I think Chris is genuine in the fact that he wants to spend time with everyone in the restaurant. He actually takes that to heart."

There are also plans this year to add a speakeasy to the back room of Smokebelly BBQ called The Blind Pig Parlour Bar, which is set to open in mid-January.

And, the partners have announced a second location of The Big Ketch will come to Roswell's historic Canton Street in 2015.

Such rapid growth in the restaurant industry has come as a bit of a surprise for Hadermann, a native of Clearwater, Fla.

"It was never an aspiration," said the 43-year-old. "I never expected to end up in the restaurant business. It was something that fate, passion, and good fortune has lead me to, and I love it."

Hadermann had wanted to practice law. But, after earning degrees in finance and marketing from Florida State University, he began his career in insurance.

In 1996, he moved to Atlanta to work with Cigna Healthcare. Four years later, Hadermann and two partners struck out on their own with Synergy Corporate Services Inc., a boutique employee benefits consulting firm.

"That gave me the flexibility to be more entrepreneurial," Hadermann said.

So "just for fun," he and his college buddies in 2002 decided to open a bar in Buckhead called East Andrews Café.

"It just really took off," Hadermann said, adding the concept was meant to be "our little version of House of Blues."

After selling the café in 2006, Hadermann and his partners decided to focus on creating concepts that centered around food, wine and conversation.

"We were getting older," Hadermann said. "The novelty had sort of worn off about owning a bar."

That same year, in 2006, the three friends launched Tin Lizzy's in Buckhead. Today, that concept has grown to seven locations around metro Atlanta. Next came Milton's Cuisine & Cocktails in 2006, an upscale restaurant located in the city of Milton. The first location of Big Ketch followed in October 2010.

"Each of Chris' restaurant concepts are different, but yet all have a welcoming feel where the customer is truly made to feel like a guest as compared to a number on a spreadsheet," said his attorney Jonathan Neville, a partner with Arnall Golden Gregory LLP. "There is a personal touch that Chris and his partners have managed to maintain that is hard to articulate, but can be seen in any of his restaurants."

In addition to his hospitality group and his role as a partner with Synergy, Hadermann is the Atlanta franchisee of Drybar, which started in southern California. Today, there are two locations: in Buckhead near the St. Regis Atlanta hotel and in Alpharetta's Avalon development. Hadermann hopes to grow to as many as four or five locations of Dry Bar in metro Atlanta.

Chris Hadermann

Age: 43

From: Clearwater, Fla.

Lives in: Buckhead

Education: Degrees in marketing and finance from Florida State University

Current Job: Co-founder and partner of Southern Proper Hospitality; partner of Tin Lizzy's Taqueria & Cantina; operating partner of Synergy Corporate Services

Previous Job: Business development for Cigna Healthcare

Hobbies: Traveling

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