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#FGRFamily Spotlight | Jay Wilfore

April 12, 2019

#FGRFamily Spotlight | Jay Wilfore

Where are you from?

Upstate New York

What brought you to ATL?

The restaurant business. Plus, my brother lives here and my parents are in Hilton Head, so it’s nice to be closer to family.

How long have you been with Fifth Group?

About 2.5 years – I started at South City Kitchen Vinings and moved here to Ecco Midtown, where I’ve been for just over a year.

So you’re one of Ecco Midtown’s bartenders—do you have any favorite drinks to make?

I love making cocktails in general, especially more classic cocktails like Aviations, Paper Planes, Manhattans, and Old Fashioneds. I also love our signature cocktails like the ‘Long Live the Queen’ – it’s easy to recommend, fresh, fun and a great way to start your evening.

What about favorite things to drink?

I love making cocktails but when it comes to drinking, I’m a wine and beer guy.

What is your favorite part about being part of the Fifth Group family?

Opportunity, for one – for example, I worked at South City Kitchen Vinings and expressed my interest in coming over to Ecco and was given the opportunity to do that. I’ve also been able to help open SCK Avalon and Ecco Buckhead, and I’ve loved having the opportunity to learn how to execute a successful restaurant opening. And on top of that, the constant education and encouragement teammates receive from management and owners is hard to beat.

How did your career in hospitality begin?

I used to be a singer in a past life and one day in 1997, my dad was driving around at lunchtime and saw a billboard that said “now hiring servers, hosts, and singers” – at Romano’s Macaroni Grill. I had no experience in the restaurant business but I went in and they hired me as a singer and a host. Eight months later, I wanted to be server and that’s where my career in hospitality began. Now I’ve been in the industry for about 15 years.

Where in ATL do you live?

The Smyrna-Vinings area

Any favorite spots in that area?

Rev Coffee – I hang out there all the time.

What’s your favorite Fifth Group Restaurants dish?

I love everything here at Ecco, but my favorite dish I’ve had at any FGR restaurant is the four cheese agnolotti at La Tavola.

Favorite band?

I have many favorite bands, but 1A & 1B are pretty neck-and-neck – 1A would be Pearl Jam and 1B would be Phish.

What’s your favorite thing about Atlanta?

I love that it’s kind of like where I come from in New York – that there are all these little towns and cities that make up the area. Whether it’s Decatur, West Midtown, Virginia-Highland, Smyrna, Vinings, there are so many great things to do. I also love the city’s diversity and opportunity.

Favorite celebrity chef?

Michael Symon – he’s a beast on Iron Chef. I love that he gets down and dirty with soul food and barbecue, but in an elevated way. He’s very skillful but also incredibly knowledgeable.

What are three adjectives that best describe you?

Professional, passionate, and inquisitive.

Who inspires you most in your career?

My parents. Seeing their work ethic, passion and drive get them to where they are in life is so inspiring. 

If you could invite one person, living or dead to dinner at a Fifth Group Restaurant, where would you take them and why?

It would be Anthony Bourdain and I’d take him to El Taco – we’d have tacos and beer and talk shop.