The Expat and Slaters | Jerry Slater

Local Business Spotlight | Athens, GA

At 5Market Realty, one of our company’s core values is community. Therefore, we thought it would be a great idea to showcase other local businesses here in Athens. This month, we are spotlighting Jerry Slater, the owner of The Expat, The Lark Wine space, and the newly opened Slater’s steak house which is located just down the street from The Expat on Lumpkin in the heart of 5 Points. Offering an Italian focused menu, high end cocktails, and a superb wine selection, The Expat has quickly become one of Athens’ most popular restaurants, and Slater’s steak house is an exciting addition to the neighborhood as well.  We asked Jerry some questions to learn more about him and these great local businesses. 

What brought you and your business into the neighborhood? 

My parents have lived in Morgan County for over 30 years. So, I had been visiting and enjoying Athens for three decades. When we closed our Atlanta restaurant, I wanted to be closer to my mom before she passed two years ago. Athens was the size and cultural town my wife and I wanted to live in. Opening a business here helped us reach that goal.

What made you want to be in the restaurant business?

My mom was a restaurant person. She was a ‘fixer’ for a corporate chain. If the store was performing badly, they sent her in. I once washed dishes at 5 years old standing on a milk crate. Restaurants were there for me through high school and college. After my Bachelors, I chose restaurants over further academia.

Your location was previously a coffee house.  What can you share with us about the renovation process? 

1680 S Lumpkin has a long history. It has been a residence, beauty shop, a bookstore, a coffee house, and now an Italian bistro. Just like with our other businesses, The Lark Winespace, and the forthcoming Slater’s Steakhouse, my wife and I like to strip back the spaces to reveal their original character and beauty.

Covid presented numerous challenges to restaurant owners.  What can you share about your experience? For example, what was the hardest thing to manage and what is different for your business today?

Covid was a scary time for small businesses. We closed Sunday night, March 15, and by Tuesday we were selling the contents of the wine cellar to make payroll. We made take away meal kits. We did cocktail classes and virtual wine tastings over Zoom. We tried to take care of our staff from afar, and the neighborhood took care of us and the business by participating in all of our crazy pivots.

Do you have anything new planned for the restaurant or in the area?

At The Expat we will be doing the Miracle Pop-Up Bar again this December. It is an over the top Christmas and holiday theme extravaganza. Across the street, we are opening Slater’s Steakhouse. We want it to be the old school steakhouse we all want. Cold martinis, wedge salads, great steaks from regional farms, jazz playing in the background, and hospitable service. In 2023, Look for Nighthawks Cocktail Lounge and Pretty Boy Vietnamese restaurant.

What do you love about Athens?  What are the best parts of being a business owner in the neighborhood?

My wife and I love the walkability of Athens. Our Mondays off might include a visit to the Georgia Museum of Art and lunch at The Royal Peasant, or an early movie at Ciné and dinner at The National. We love getting to know our neighbors. We just ran the Ath Half marathon, and it was so humbling and exciting to be recognized and cheered on by the people you were serving and making happy the night before.