Brickery owners Bruce and Sally Alterman are looking for alternate locations for the restaurant they own in Sandy Springs, just in case. The property they lease in the Hilderbrand Court shopping plaza off Roswell Road is under contract, they say, so a move might be in their future.
“At this point, we know the shopping center is under contract,” Bruce Alterman said while sitting in the back of his Sandy Springs restaurant. “But there’s a big difference between ‘being under contract’ and money transferring hands, and that hasn’t happened yet.”
For that to happen, the interested developer, Mill Creek, will have to obtain rezoning rights from the city to build a mixed-used development.
The Brickery opened in that spot in 1992, after the Altermans closed a restaurant they had opened in Peachtree Corners in 1988. “Morrison’s Restaurants (Ruby Tuesday’s) wanted the location,” Alterman said. “They called, and I said ‘thanks for the call, but we’re not interested.’ Then he called back, and I said ‘thanks for the call, we’re not interested,’ and I hung up the phone and looked at Sally. I said ‘if he calls one more time,’ and he did.”
The Altermans decided to find a new location in Sandy Springs, where they have lived since 1972.
“Ironically, 23 years later we’re right back in the same spot [looking for a location],” Alterman said.
Right now, Alterman says, they are open to all options, including finding a business partner.
“If somebody wants to be part of this we wouldn’t tell them ‘no,’” he said. “We are 64 years old, and have to think ahead. One great thing about the Brickery and feeding this community that has come in year after year – I’ve clearly seen the difference between 65 and 75. I know what 75 looks like, so we really have to ask ourselves the question, ‘are we fit and functional for another long-term
Sally Alterman thinks that they are. “We are still motivated, energized and very much on a daily basis intrigued by still being in this business.”
Or, the Altermans might be able to remain in the same spot, once it’s redeveloped.
“The developer has shown some interest in us, but there’s some logistical issues with that,” Bruce Alterman said. “They would need the building back [to redevelop the space] and it could take a year before we end up with a new space. I don’t know if that’s realistic.”
But Bruce Alterman says one thing is certain – they are aggressively looking at Sandy Springs locations. “Sandy Springs is our home,” Sally Alterman said. “This is where our base is.”
The Altermans attribute the Brickery’s longevity to the Sandy Springs community, the made-from-scratch food and their business know-how.
“How does an independent restaurant compete against the size of the chains? We outsmall them,” Bruce Alterman said. “Our salad dressings don’t come out of a bucket, they start with a knife and a recipe.”
He said that customer service and knowing how to run a business are also major factors. “If you put a plan in the right environment, it grows,” he said. “We have the right procedures in place. Our product happens to be great food.”
Sally Alterman added, “When we opened, we gave [the community] a space, gave them great food. But the customers made it what it is. All the people that go to the United Methodist Church, they think it’s their place because they come in and see their neighbors. All the parents from North Springs High School, the City Council, all of those people think it’s their place. They really gave the personality to the restaurant.”
The Altermans say that if they move, there will be some tweaks. For example, they’d like to add private rooms for events such as wedding rehearsals and Shabbat dinners.
“On a weekly basis, we have to turn down large parties,” said Sally Alterman, who runs the catering side of the business, and says that is where the business has expanded, rather than an attempt at running more than one restaurant simultaneously.
“Catering was not part of the business plan,” she said. “It just sort of evolved. It started with phone calls, ‘will you’ and ‘can you.’ It’s been a great adjunct. ‘You can do the second restaurant with the second wife,’ I tell Bruce. The catering has been the vehicle for growth as opposed to the second landlord, the second location.”
And, the couple maintains that whatever happens, they will never get too comfortable.
“We never think we’ve made it; we never look back and say ‘look how great’ because then you lose your focus,” Sally Alterman said.
“We never take it for granted,” Bruce Alterman said.