party show. How did that get started?
I started doing that about two years ago. Fans would show up at my birthday shows with these little gifts that were so sweet. But I thought, “What if they took that $10 or $20 that they spent and put it towards this much needed thing.”
It also made me feel better about not being able to actually volunteer in person. I was either on the road so much or working at our restaurants all of the time—I couldn’t always be a physical presence. Asking my fans to mobilize for a cause and seeing them rally was much more meaningful to me than receiving a gift.
You’re not a native Atlantan. How did you wind up here?
I actually came to be my cousin’s birth partner. The baby came early and I was still here and went to Eddie’s Attic’s open mic night. This was 20 years ago but even back then, Eddie’s Attic had a reputation outside of Georgia for being “the” place to play. I won that night and went back 2 weeks later to compete with all of the other winners in the semi-annual “shootout” and I wound up
We own a restaurant group called We Feed People. We met shortly after I got here – I was moving into the apartment that she was moving out of. She still had the key so she showed it to me. Years later, we wound up living across the street from each other and wound up spending time together. Then, we realized that we made a great team and we opened Urban Cannibals together.
It was just a little sandwich shop to get us up and running. But then, Food Network called and we started really taking off. I made the conscious decision to take a touring hiatus until we could hire other people to run it. It just never got to that point. We opened a bigger Urban Cannibals, then two more spaces came open. She’s at Madre + Mason and I’m running the Tipple + Rose Tea Room in Virginia Highlands.
Do you see yourself more as a musician or a restaurateur?
I am squarely both. I really try. When you get older, you have to make some really tough decisions.
I’ve learned a lot from my wife about that. I love the fact that I have these two things that I can do and am doing well.