Tom Catherall has been one of the defining and influential forces of the Atlanta restaurant scene for nearly three decades.
A certified master chef, Catherall’s Here to Serve Restaurants group was the successful hospitality umbrella for 12 unique restaurant concepts, from steak, seafood and sushi to Spanish tapas, with 15 locations in the Atlanta area until he sold the group in October 2014.
After a brief retirement, Catherall opened his latest restaurant in February 2016 calling it TomTom-his childhood nickname and the name of his first solo endeavor- in the Virginia- Highland neighborhood where he first introduced Atlanta to the small plates/tapas idea of eating.
Catherall was the oldest of ten children, growing up in the industrial town of Newcastle upon Tyne in northeast England. He began his life as a chef apprenticing as a cook at the age of fourteen at the Royal Turks Head Hotel, and worked at many luxury Caribbean resorts before moving to the United States in 1981. He began his tenured Atlanta career as the executive chef of the Cherokee Town & Country Club from 1983 to 1990, leaving that position to open Buckhead’s critically acclaimed Azalea, then TomTom, both of which were instrumental in launching Atlanta’s fascination with fusion cuisine in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, as well as the city’s small plates trend, before closing in 2000.
In 1996, Catherall’s entrepreneurial spirit inspired him to establish Here to Serve Restaurants, a popular, innovative Atlanta hospitality company that established the chef’s reputation as a pace setter among the area’s restaurateurs.
Among the 10 concepts within the H2SR family, Prime, which opened in 1996, was the group’s highly successful flagship restaurant at Lenox Square. An upscale steak house, the menu boasted Prime steaks, seafood and sushi. Noche, the company’s venture into Spanish tapas, was introduced to Atlanta in 1998 before branching out to three locations across the city. On the coattails of Noche’s success, Goldfish, the first suburban location for the group opened in Perimeter Mall, and featured casual seafood, sushi and steaks with an edgy, hip décor.
Catherall presented Twist! to Atlanta diners in 2003, serving International fare, sushi and tapas. Located in Phipps Plaza, Twist! was among the first restaurants in the city to offer a curated cocktail list specializing in modern martinis. In early 2005, H2SR embraced the heart of Midtown Atlanta with a multi-level, upscale concept, Shout. Shout’s cuisine highlighted flavors from all over the world and hosted a large rooftop deck for Atlanta’s finest to socialize under the stars. Strip was introduced in early 2006 in Atlantic Station, and in 2008 H2SR opened Aja, a modern Asian kitchen in the heart of Buckhead. Coast Seafood and Raw Bar followed in 2009, and served a variety of the some of the freshest fish in Atlanta. Cantina, a casual Mexican concept, opened in 2009 and offered an eclectic mix of authentic and modern Mexican cuisine. In 2013, H2SR opened Shucks, an upscale raw bar concept with champagne and wine pairings perfectly matched to the curated oysters from around the globe as well as custom grilled cheese sandwiches and craft beer. Smash, Catherall’s foray into the modern, casual American kitchen offered his smash hits from his previous concepts including Cherokee Fried Chicken, Azalea’s Catfish and the SMASH potato.
Catherall has been the recipient of numerous awards over the years, including a gold medal with a perfect score citation from the 1988 Culinary Olympics in Frankfurt, Germany, and his 1985 Master Chef Certification by the American Culinary Federation and the Culinary Institute of America, among many others. In 1990, he came in first out of 50 chefs from 50 states in the American Seafood Challenge in New Orleans. He was nominated in 2013 for a Rice Award (Rising in Community Excellence), given to individuals who exemplify professional excellence while edifying the community.
He continues to add value to the community by opening restaurants that are classic Catherall with chef inspired menus that are both innovative and always fresh.