Chef Joe Schafer discusses move from Bacchanalia to Philips Arena

Joe Schafer has left Bacchanalia for a position as executive chef at Philips Arena. / Photo: Star Provisions

A year and a half after taking charge of culinary operations at Bacchanalia, Joe Schafer has left the restaurant. He has accepted a position as executive chef at Philips Arena, home to the Atlanta Hawks. 

Replacing Schafer as exec chef at Bacchanalia is Jonathan Kallini, who served as the restaurant’s chef de cuisine for the last four years.

“It was more about this opportunity than me wanting to leave Bacchanalia,” Schafer said of the job change. “Lately I’ve been thinking about what I am going to do next. I enjoyed Bacchanalia. I didn’t have real plans of leaving. I’ve been in the industry 22 years, the majority at independent, nice restaurants. It wasn’t on my radar yet to open my own place but I wanted to go do something else. Coincidentally, that’s when I got the phone call about this.”

When he takes up his new role in early August, Schafer will oversee all culinary operations at Philips Arena – from food service for suites to concessions throughout the venue. “It’s definitely not tweezer food,” Schafer said, comparing eats at Philips to the sophisticated, highly composed New American fare served up at Bacchanalia.

Philips Arena is currently under renovation. The $192.5 million remaking of the 18-year-old venue will be spread over two Hawks off-seasons, resulting in new amenities, including Zac Brown’s Social Club, a southern-style restaurant by musician Zac Brown.

Schafer said that he expects to be a “support team” when that restaurant launches, although he does not know yet the extent of his involvement.

The first phase of construction, which began in June, is expected to be completed in October, in time for the start of the Hawks’ 2017-18 regular-season home schedule.

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