Eat well, do good.
By Hope S. Philbrick
Do your travel plans include a layover at the Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport? Lucky you.
Go to Concourse F, the new 40-gate international terminal. On the backside of an architectural peninsula, beyond the shopping boutiques that make it seem like you’ve wandered into a high-end mall, is a restaurant that brings the taste of the Georgia Coast to the big city via the world’s busiest airport.
The menu features Wild Georgia Shrimp—sweet and delivered fresh from the Atlantic three times a week—as well as crab, crawfish, fresh catches and other treasures plucked from salt, briny and fresh waters.
Executive Chef Jaaion Barnes, a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu who has worked in kitchens in New Orleans, lends the menu some Creole flair with his specialty, seafood gumbo. Other menu favorites include salmon scampi, shrimp & grits, fish tacos and the Jekyll Island Platter—which serves up mounds of fried shrimp, crawfish, crab cake, the catch of the day and a heap of seasoned French fries.
Eat here and you eat well. You’re also doing some good. The restaurant, which Global Concessions, Inc., launched in cooperation with the Jekyll Island Authority, Jekyll Island Foundation and the Georgia Department of Economic Development, donates a percentage of all sales to the Georgia Sea Turtle Center, the only facility in the state that can care for sick or injured sea turtles that are native to the Georgia coast and nest on the Georgia barrier island beaches.
“The Jekyll Island Seafood Company concept is meant to be entirely reflective of Georgia,” said owner Terry Harps. “The ‘right off the boat’ ingredients and coastal flavors are matched by an open air, inviting atmosphere. This restaurant is meant to be a day at a Georgia beach without the sand.”
“It’s a very cool concept that is green and sustainable,” said Harps, “which is another theme we’re invoking in the effort.” Reclaimed driftwood and recycled steel from retired fishing boats used in the design are not only earth-friendly, they give the space an authentic island feel.
You’ll most feel like a grownup at this restaurant because even though it’s in the airport, it provides real metal butter knives, not plastic—“and that practically took an act of Congress,” said the manager. (Just don’t try to leave with one, or security will be on you in nanoseconds.)
Bottom Line: This restaurant accurately represents Georgia coastal dining and also has an air of exclusivity since you can’t reach it without a boarding pass.
Jekyll Island Seafood Company is open daily from 6 a.m. until 11 p.m. For more information, call 404-209-9079 or visit jekyllislandseafoodcompany.com.
-Photo Credits: Courtesy Green Olive Media for Global Concessions, Inc.