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A Day in the Life of a Culinary Grad

A Day in the Life of a Culinary Grad

Margaret Karidza is the quintessential example of reinventing one’s self. After spending 15 years in corporate sales, she followed her true passion of cooking. That led her to our Culinary Apprenticeship program. After she graduated, Margaret worked in catering. Her company was called Helen Michaels which was named after her grandparents — Helen her grandmother and Michael her grandfather.

“Before I came to culinary school, I learned cooking from my grandmother,” she said. “To work in the food industry, you have to love it. It’s a lot of work. For me, I can only do it if I’m working for myself.”

Margaret’s husband, Patrick, runs an auto shop in Mableton, Georgia. One day, she noticed a restaurant space not being fully utilized in the same plaza. She became determined to take over the space and felt it was the perfect spot for her.

On April 16, 2015, her dream became a reality. Spot 364 opened its doors offering a full menu of unique and creative burgers and sandwiches.

We sat down with Margaret to learn more about her journey. Here’s what she had to say:

How did you come up with the name Spot 364?
My daughter came up with the name. We called it Spot 364. Spot so everyone would think, “I’m going to the spot,” and that’s exactly what people are saying. The name came about because 364 was the number of days we thought we would be open throughout the year. We would only be closed on Christmas Day. After careful consideration, I decided I wanted to go to church on Sundays. So we are closed on Sundays but we didn’t change the name because 364 is also my birthday — born in March 1964.

How’s business going?
We’re doing very well. I’m excited because every customer that comes in loves our food. If someone says the food is “good” we ask what was wrong. Why wasn’t it “great?” We want to know how to always make it a great experience for our customers.

What’s on the menu?
Burgers, sandwiches, wings and nachos. We specialize in burgers. Now in the city of Mableton, we are well-known for our burgers. Because I’m a chef, I’m trying to be creative with how we present our burgers. The one that I thought would be the least liked is our turkey burger. However, people love it. A lot of people complain about turkey burgers being dry, but ours is juicy.

Spot 364 BurgerOther signature burgers include:

  • Double cheeseburger
  • Lamb burger
  • Green fried tomato burger
  • Bleu cheese burger
  • Hangover burger — topped with a fried egg and bacon
  • Chili burger
  • Pork burger
  • Brisket burger

Do you serve breakfast, lunch and dinner?
We open at 10 a.m., but we do have breakfast items available such as wraps and sandwiches. Since we are still only five months old, we are making changes here and there to determine the right hours of operation and menu items. The majority of our business right now is for lunch. Our busiest hours are from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

How has our Culinary program prepared you for running your own restaurant?
My previous work background was with Delta Airlines in corporate sales. I didn’t have industrial kitchen experience. The culinary program at KSU was great because you would have class and also have hands-on experience. I went to a lot of different places including a catering company called Endive. Then I went to Villa Christina (at Perimeter Summit) and [Park 75] at Four Seasons Hotel.

The program helped by giving me hands-on experience in an industrial kitchen. It is different than a house kitchen. Having the opportunity to work with different people at different places allowed me to learn different skills from different chefs.

Even though I knew how to cook, I learned a lot of new things. As a chef, you’re learning will never stop.

Where’s the Spot?
Spot 364 is located at 4426 Floyd Road in Mableton, Ga. 30126. It’s open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. and closed on Sundays. For more information, call 678-540-2870.

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