Staplehouse's sleek and industrial interior (©Andrew Thomas Lee)
Staplehouse boasts a 2016 James Beard Award nomination for Best New Restaurant within just five months of opening. Inside, you’ll find a 40-seat dining room, an eight-seat bar and a simple, industrial atmosphere. This magnificent culinary gem also happens to be a family restaurant with a heart-wrenching backstory.
Co-owner Jen Hidinger and her husband, Ryan Hidinger, dreamt up Staplehouse years ago after hosting wildly successful pop-up dinners in their home. Buzz about Ryan Hidinger’s culinary talent was building rapid momentum until he was diagnosed with stage four gallbladder cancer in late 2012. He passed away a year later, but not without leaving an indelible legacy. Between December 2012 and January 2014, the Hidingers set out to build a reimagined dream. Staplehouse would now be a vehicle for helping the hospitality community in times of dire need through The Giving Kitchen, a non-profit organization founded in Ryan’s memory in 2014.
With overwhelming support from the community and unfaltering support from their hospitality industry peers, the Hidingers made their wildest dreams a reality. Ryan Hidinger passed away in January 2014, but his courage, selflessness and desire to fill people’s hearts by filling their stomachs lives on with each Staplehouse dinner service. In fact, all of the restaurant’s after-tax profits benefit The Giving Kitchen, which provides grants to restaurant workers in Metro Atlanta who face crises that leave them abruptly unemployed and without benefits.
Perhaps it’s this mission that motivates Executive Chef Ryan Smith to create so boldly in the kitchen. Smith’s menu is a showhouse of creative dishes that borderline on molecular gastronomy. The menu is ever-changing, with American ingredients and recipes are transformed with modern techniques, interesting flavor combinations and masterful presentation.
The bar program could merit its own article. Here, knockout cocktails combine meticulous preparation with skilled mixology to yield complex beverages nearly on par with the masterpieces flowing freely from the kitchen.