The way CalaBar & Grill is designed, you would think it belongs in the heart of Atlanta instead of Stone Mountain.
Sisters Shauna and Kerry Wright opened the doors to the restaurant-lounge in June of last year. Located at 4144 Redan Road, the Stone Mountain establishment brings in a mature and sophisticated crowd to enjoy the Caribbean- and American-inspired foods and live music every Friday.
Patch sits down this week with Shauna Wright, the young co-owner who's also the executive chef of the place.
Patch: What inspired you guys to open the lounge?
Wright: Because everyone travels to downtown Atlanta to these different restaurants and a different feel, we wanted to bring that different feel down here.
Patch: So far, this is the coolest looking place I've been to in Stone Mountain. How did you design the place?
Wright: We actually did it ourselves. My sister has this thing for manly, masculine things, so that's what we kind of focused around. We had the bar stools first, and then everything else just developed around that. We know we wanted to go with dark colors, and still give it a pop, so there goes the red [around the walls].
Patch: Well, it looks amazing. The food looks good, too. How did you decide which foods would go on the menu?
Wright: I'm Jamaican and my family's Jamaican. As the executive chef, I wanted to incorporate some of that with American-style dishes, stuff Americans like to eat: mac and cheese, steak, mashed potatoes. Food like that.
Patch: What are some signature dishes on the menu?
Wright: I would have to say the jerk chicken pasta, the red snapper and my braised oxtail.
Patch: Your mom has her own restaurant. Is it a lounge, too?
Wright: No, it’s more of a mom-n-pop's restaurant, so it's completely Caribbean. Jerk chicken, in Americans' eyes, is the staple, but it's really not. She has stuff like ackee, stuff that you never would have heard before. It's a weird-looking vegetable, and it grows on a tree. You can't eat unless it opens up itself. It can be sickly to you if you open it up and cook it.
Patch: What kind of music is here on Fridays?
Wright: We have jazz, R&B, hip-hop. It's a mixture. When the bands come out, they play a different mixture of music, and it's a really good crowd. It's a mature crowd. Everyone has fun when they're out here.
Patch: How did you decide on this location for the business?
Wright: This location was kind of dropped in our lap. I have an older sister who picked this location, and things didn't work out to where we could all do the restaurant, so my sister [Kerry] and I ended up having to finish the project.
Patch: Did you always know that you wanted to go into the restaurant business?
Wright: Yes, but I can't say the same for my sister. I went to school for culinary arts. I'm not sure if I really wanted to own a restaurant. I think I wanted to do something along the culinary line, but it fell in my lap and it was an opportunity. It was like a win-win situation for me. It will give me some experience because I'm fairly young, and it would help me grow. Hopefully the business can grow along with everything going on.