Friday, December 14, 2012

Strictly business.


Oh, that husband of mine. You know how much I love him already. Sure. I call him the "BHE" because, to me, he is the best husband ever. He's a great dad, a great son, a great brother, and a great friend, too. He sure is.

He's also easy on the old eyeballs. Ah hem. 

But y'all! Have I told you about what a kick ass business man he is? I can't remember. Have I? Well. If I haven't then let me just take a minute to right that wrong. And if I have then, dammit, it bears repeating. Because I think we should always be quick to tell it on the mountain when we love someone and when we're proud of them. Don't you?


(That's the bad ass BHE up front)

So check it. I may have told you about how Harry used to be in the military. He enlisted in the U.S. Army as a college freshman and has the G.I. Bill to thank for his higher education. Harry was actually on a career military trajectory but decided to take an honorable discharge around the ten year mark. I mean, this dude had become Ranger-qualified (think super, duper bad-ass Black Hawk Down) and was a part of the Old Guard (think hard core, stern-faced dudes marching in during inauguration and at The Tomb of the Unknown Solider.) Yeah. So. . . .that's kind of a big deal.

It kind of shocked the Army folks when he decided not to re-enlist at the decade point. But those who'd known him for years weren't surprised.
At all.

Case in point:

When the BHE was nine years old, he asked his parents for. . . .wait for it. . . a snowblower for Christmas. That was what he wanted as his "big gift." Why? Oh, quite simple, people. He grew up in Cleveland, Ohio. And in Cleveland, Ohio there is snow blocking walkways and driveways. That snow needs a-blowing. That's where a young Harry Manning came into the picture--happy to handle it for anyone in the neighborhood--for a fee.

Mmm hmmm.

Can't you just picture him trudging through the snow as dawn was breaking--oh, because this had to be done before school, y'all. And have you done the math yet? That made him a fourth grader.

It gets better. So fourth grade Harry blew that snow and earned that dough. And guess what he did with that money? Bought toys? Bought video games? No, ma'am.  That boy saved it up for the next big purchase that summer. Which was. . . .wait for it. . . wait for it. . . .a lawn mower complete with the clipping catcher.

Yes. A lawn mower. 

Because clearly that snow melts and underneath it is grass. Which needs mowing, of course. And again, this is where young Harry the Handykid steps in to hook up anyone in the neighborhood.

For a fee, of course.

So yeah. In addition to being a snappy dresser and extremely hot, this man is entrepreneurial spirit personified. He's fiscally smart, has great leadership skills, is good with people and has amazing vision. I learn so, so much from him about managing people (and managing myself.)

Anyways. He has had all sorts of businesses over the years. His main thing for the last decade has been his real estate investment and property management business. But you know that entrepreneurs are always thinking and moving. Thank goodness he's not impulsive.

Harry believes that the best businesses are built on relationships. Whether it's an investor or a consumer--he always says that once you build a solid relationship and people know that they can trust you--and your product--that they'll be back. Even during an economic downturn. That's proven to be very true with him. The places where he could have cut corners or done less he never did--because that wouldn't be good for the relationship. He says, "People remember how you treat them. And sometimes the little things say more than you can."

Preach, Bruh Manning!

That's been quite applicable to me with patients and learners, too. It's a good model to follow. Think about the details. Put people first. Look them in the eye. Listen. Right the wrongs. And his number one rule of all-- Don't make a bunch of excuses. Just do what needs to be done.

Or as he says it, "The Colonel doesn't give a shit about what the privates did or didn't do. Just get it done and be responsible for it. End of story."

Ha. Ain't that the truth.

Yeah. So that brings me to one of the BHE's newer endeavors. Oh! And what a tasty endeavor it is!

Mardi Gras Cafe!  

It's this creole restaurant near the Georgia Dome in the historic Martin Luther King west side corridor. The story behind it is rather simple. A really cool youngish guy was initially renting the space from Harry for what would be this restaurant. Well. Will, the youngish guy, quickly recognized that his landlord had a whole lot of business sense and experience. And Harry realized right away that Will had not only an amazing work ethic and energy, but also a real gift for cooking sho nuff and bona fide creole food.

Mmm hmm. 

And so. Mardi Gras Cafe was born. Will as the magic fingers behind the delicious food. And the BHE as the business partner slash mentor on the inner-workings. And anyone who knows Harry knows that this means getting his hands dirty.

"You have to be there until things get going," he told me. "Showing the consumers that you value their business. Asking how it was and making them feel welcome. That takes work but it's the only way to do it--especially in the beginning."

I smiled when he told me that because I remember the very successful shoe repair and alterations shop he had for years. It was nothing for him to come in during busy times and work that register, check in those shoes and shake a hand or two. For a full day, even. But we already knew that he ain't above getting in there and doing some of the less glamorous things. It's how he rolls.

So yes! Mardi Gras Cafe. Oh my. That food? Lawd. It's love all up IN it. All the good stuff, too. Like real, true gumbo made with a perfect roux. Overstuffed po'boys, red beans and rice, smothered pork chops (for the pork lovers--not me), hand cut fries, fried turkeys, and much more. Heavens to mergatroid!

My favorite thing on the menu right now?  Well. At first it was the gumbo. I dreamed about it after trying it for three days. Is that normal? But now? OMG. It has to be this grilled tilapia po'boy sub. O-EM-EXPLETIVE-G. It makes you want to wake your mama out of her bed to slap her as hard as you can.

Oh. Shoot! Forgot to mention my other addiction there--the bread pudding. It is covered with this delicious bourbon sauce that makes you want to break down and cry. And me? I thought I'd had bread pudding before, but clearly I had not. Damn. Wish I had a picture of that.

 I also thought that cajun food and creole food were the same thing. According to Will and his mama who is the master mind behind the recipes and is from Opelousas, Louisiana--they are NOT EVEN the same. But to me, whatever it is, it's good. It tastes like love and time went into it. Their creole food, that is.

So yeah. For my Atl-iens, you've GOT to try this spot. For reals. Not because it's affiliated with the BHE. But because the food is freaking amazing. And! That thing called Zifty -- you know, where they will deliver your food from nearby restaurants -- they do several Mardi Gras deliveries per day. So even if you can't get over there, please-- consider ordering something and getting Zifty to deliver it. Or just go up there because it's a hop, skip and a jump from downtown and the Georgia dome.

I had my team dinner there the other night. We were like some stuffed ticks, man. Soooo yummy. They even have this party space upstairs which is super swanky, too. My team just chilled in the restaurant part, but that upstairs is bananas, y'all.


Let's be clear. I will be pacing myself on the food there. Don't think that I will now promptly gain 20 pounds due to this latest BHE endeavor. I just discovered that the grilled fish and sauteed spinach is a lovely, flavorful low-carb option for me there. Ha!

Oh! And the other thing that the business guru teaches me is that you shouldn't "get high on your own supply." That means you pay for what you get to keep yourself honest and to make sure that you aren't hurting your own gig. So I'll have you know that I have gladly paid for every little morsel that my lips have touched. And, since I am cheap thrifty, the fact that I've returned tells you that the portion-to-cost ratio is not oppressive nor is it a deterrent.

Okay. So here's the address for y'all to peep it out.  (It's across from the new Super WalMart.)

Mardi Gras Cafe
886 Martin Luther King Drive
Atlanta, GA 30314

And a few pictures of the swanky upstairs space because it's really cool. Oh, and before I forget -- our dear friend Katina B. of Benenate Design did the design. She designed our home, too. She's amazing.

Thinking of having a gathering with my sorority sisters one day soon. Or something.


So shout out to the BHE and to all the business people out there. Shout out to good food and hard work and remembering to build relationships. And shout out to love because that's what has to be the main ingredient in any and everything that works.

Happy Week before Harry's Birthday.


  1. Wowww... This place looks amazing!! (Also,sooooo hungry right now... this didnt help. ;) )

    1. Okay, Cathy. You must go eat there. The food is ridiculous. For reals.

  2. Wish I lived closer. The food looks fabulous. As for the BHE, well you know how fabulous he looks! Maybe better than the food. Enjoy.

  3. What a beautiful restaurant!
    And you know what? Your BHE and my BHE have an awful lot in common. They are the same sort of men. Which means we're both very, very lucky.

    1. I am not kidding you, hand over heart, when I was writing this I was thinking about you and Mr. Moon. I do think our BHE's make us kindred spirits even more. So easy to love, those men. They have all the very best parts that we don't and they love every last drop of our crazy.

      Yes, the restaurant is beautiful. So very. Like our men.

  4. Well now, this is a day latr and a dollar short for me. I was looking for a fried turkey last week for my department celebration. I didn't find one so I just ordered from our in house catering. I will pass this information along to the group who plan executive functions though. The place looks swank and UPS is all into community history.

  5. Oh, and it sounds like Harry had fantastic parents who provided him with the tools to have confidence in his abilities. A blessing.

  6. This Zifty ....does it deliver to the greater New York City area ? This venture looks ah-may-zing !

    Maria, fellow Meharrian

    1. Ha ha ha. . .that's a little beyond the radius. But you'll have to check it out when you visit the A. Everyone visits the A at some point!

      Kimberly, fellow Meharrian

  7. The only thing that would have made this post even better is having your hawt BHE photographed in that swanky upstairs lounge. Yowza!!!

  8. Oh Perfect, my family will be in Atlanta area in January and we were looking for restaurants to add to the list. Need to make sure I program this in the GPS.

    Question: The place looks really sophisticated, hence do people typical dress up for the dinner service or is casual wear okay. Don't want everyone to know were foreigners....

    1. It is TOTALLY casual. You can wear whatever you want. For my team dinner we had on jeans, t-shirts, etc. The upstairs is fancy looking but right now it's used mostly for private sets. The downstairs is super casz.

  9. For some reason I am just seeing this (and i never miss a post), but I can't wait to eat there! The food looks amazing and it's right around the corner from my job.

  10. Omg! This is freaking amazing! This the work my daughter wants to do. She wants to feed people and make them feel prized and welcome. It makes sense your BHE is like that too! Bee-you-ti-ful space!

    Your boys have an amazing world to grow up in between the two of you. It makes me so happy for them.

  11. Per this entry, I stopped by for dinner. The food is GREAT! I had grilled tilapia and my friend had smothered chicken. We'll be back. Thanks for the reco.

    1. OMG, D-Nice!! I am so clapping my hands right now!!! Yaaaay! Thank you SOOOO much for checking us out. Next time you MUST have the bread pudding!

      xo, Kimberly

  12. I stopped by the restaurant tonight and the food was GREAT! I had the tilapia and my friend had the smothered chicken. Thanks for sharing.

    1. I see my original post went through. I was responding from my phone and thought it wasn't posted. LOL! Feel free to delete the 2nd one. LOL!


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