Atlanta is the hub for many trends and cultural stamps, and brunch is definitely one of them. As a brunch fanatic himself, Shamar Barkley created a platform dedicated to helping foodies curate the perfect brunch experience. Coined as a ‘Dapper Social Hub,’ The Brunch Spot ATL brings a network of foodies together to bond over the commonality of a brunch. A key feature of the platform is a restaurant database navigation that curates brunch searches designed to match you with the perfect restaurant in the Atlanta area tailored to your preferences. The database focuses on four key components: price, vibe, music, and mimosas. We spoke with Shamar Bakley on why he decided to start The Brunch Spot, and how it has changed the brunch scene in Atlanta.
Brunch must be pretty important to you to create a platform dedicated to it. What does brunch mean to you and why did you feel it was important to create The Brunch Spot?
It was just something with living in Atlanta and being at Georgia State University. I started to realize that brunch was a very heavy influence in the Atlanta culture. The more I started going to brunch and posting where I was going, almost every weekend people were asking me “Where should I go?” I always found myself asking the same questions: “What type of vibe are you looking for? How much are you trying to spend?” So it dawned on me to create a tool for people to use so that they can simplify their brunch search, to make it a little bit easier and faster. I used those same questions to curate the navigation aspect of this platform.
What was the development process like building the restaurant database navigation? What difficulties did you face building the site?
It was challenging. I definitely had to outsource. I actually reached out to [my friend] Donnell Ray for the creation of the website itself. He actually got into a bit of coding when it came to filtering the database. We used a lot of different online resources and kind of figured it out from there. Donnell really took the initiative on this. It was a challenging project for him because he hadn’t really got into coding at the time, so he pretty much figured it out on his own and executed.
I came in maybe a week before launch because there was a little tweak needed in the database itself. We were trying to find someone who could get the right code, but ultimately we had to put our heads together and figure it out. Professional coders are expensive and I didn’t have that type of time or money at the time so we worked with what we had.
Have you been able to partner with any of the restaurants listed in the database?
So the goal is for restaurants to eventually look at Brunch Spot ATL as a platform they can partner with to gain more traction to their businesses. How the site initially came about was me curating a list of every brunch restaurant I’d personally been to and compiled over like two years. These are places I’ve been to and had a good experience at. They’re reputable, they have good service, good food, everything you need for a memorable brunch experience. I wouldn’t recommend any place with a bad rep.
You’ve coined The Brunch Spot as a ‘Dapper Social Hub.’ What does it mean to be a member of The Brunch Spot?
With everything going on now, it’s putting things at a halt as far as what we can do in person. However, the Dapper Social Hub aspect will eventually be us curating brunch events. We want to offer an alternative to spending $30-60 every Sunday. You’ll have this brunch meetup or event that gives you a similar experience as going out but a cheaper alternative. It’s designed to be a meetup of young foodies and entrepreneurs with different themed events each month. So that’s what we’re looking to accomplish when the pandemic is over.
Your Instagram segment ‘Chop it Up’ highlights a variety of foodie influencers. How has it been collaborating with them?
What I’ve come to learn is that the foodie community is very welcoming. I’ve only been about 5 months deep in and I’ve just come to know that they’re so personable and so ready to network, strive and grow. It’s different because this network of entrepreneurs is the face of their brands. Their brands are literally them. I want to kind of be in the background and let the events and work of The Brunch Spot speak for themselves. So collaborating with them is a bit different in that sense, but they’ve been so welcoming and inviting. It’s been a really good experience so far.
I try to tailor the ‘Chop it Up’ segment to the specific influencer. The first person I invited was Nita Mathurin (@brunchin_with_bae) and her brand is really centered around the business and brunch type of networking. For our second episode, we celebrated Mother’s Day and we talked about what parenting is like in this day and age. We had Felicia B., her brand is @mamagottaeattoo, which speaks to being a mother but still finding time to eat your favorite foods or do things that make you happy. So I try to tailor the segments to their niche and brand.
Brunch just isn’t the same without mimosas. What are some of your favorite mimosa recipes from #MimosaMonday?
I love the cranberry-orange mimosa. It’s cranberry and Brut Rosé, which is kind of a dry champagne. I love anything with cranberry juice so definitely that, and the pineapple one. There’s also a money green one we did for St.Patrick’s Day, it’s just champagne, orange juice, and Blue Curacao Liqueur.