Mike began his career in the restaurant business at 15 as a server assistant at a restaurant outside of Philadelphia where his two older brothers worked. The hard work, fast pace and social atmosphere were quite to his liking. Over the next 8 years he worked primarily only in the restaurant business through high school in college.
A stint as a prep cook, waiting tables and bartending were all fun and helped pay for schooling. A particular memorable time was at North Hampton Valley Country Club where Mike was a server, his brother’s Matt and John were bartenders and brother Ryan was a dishwasher. It was a great time and very formative in so many ways.
A transfer of colleges to UGA followed and Mike took a position waiting tables at a restaurant where he would meet his future business partners Tom Moore and Dave Blanchard. He left his position as General Manager in the Fall of 1996 to begin work on a Pub in Decatur, GA. After living on his brother’s couch for a few months and even donating his car to the cause the fellas signed a loan for what would become Brick Store Pub. A mutual love of good beer, food and service brought together a great opening staff and Decatur became a welcoming home. The three went on to open up JAVAMONKEY in 2001 and subsequently sold it to search for their next venture. Ryan Gallagher and Eric Ottensmeyer were hired on to be GM and Chef respectively. The building at the corner of Church St. and Ponce came available and LEONs Full Service was born. The space was originally a Full Service gas station and they wanted to be the restaurant version of that type of service. It opened in February of 2009. Beer and Wine would eventually take a back seat to cocktails and the food has received much acclaim under the hands of Eric and Robert Lupo as Chef and Sous Chef. It was a proud moment for an older brother when Ryan was officially made equal partner with the three BSP guys at LEONs Full Service.
In the fall of 2013 Kimball House opened. Mike, Dave and Tom partnered with longtime employees and friends Bryan Rackley, Miles Macquarrie, Matt Christison and Jesse Smith. Kimball House would have Miles at the helm of the bar, Chefs Jeff Wall and Philip Meeker in the kitchen, Bryan tending to the Oyster/Raw Bar and Matt and Jesse leading the dining room. A great sense of pride for the original BSP guys as they helped achieve this dream while assisting with all the pitfalls that can plague a young start up.
Brick Store Pub has consistently been rated top 10 Beer Bars in the country and even the world. LEONs Full Service has been named top 50 Bars in the country by Food and Wine magazine. Many local accolades have been bestowed upon both for food, drink and service. The owners are grateful and proud. The path to provide a high level of hospitality and be a positive force in their chosen community of Decatur through great food and drink has been fruitful and Mike will tell you it’s just the beginning of the journey.