By Kevin Collison
George Atsangbe has been corporate chef at some of the better known names in the local restaurant world including Houlihan’s and Bread and Butter Concepts for 40 years.
So the native of Nigeria knew exactly what he wanted to do when he opened his own place, the Union on the Hill, at 2974 Gillham Rd. in December.
“I had worked at higher end restaurants and I wanted a place where you could come with the feel of an expensive place, but affordable,” he said. “You feel welcome, like a king or queen.”
Located in the former Cafe Europa space in a Union Hill apartment building, his place caters to residents of the area’s newer apartment projects and more established neighborhoods, and people farther away venturing out for the evening.
His menu has a strong seafood emphasis along with entrees including Filet Meatloaf, Hanger Steak and Caveman Crispy Chicken. There’s sandwiches including Hot Mama Chicken and sides like HB Mac & Cheese.
The Sunday brunch menu includes Chicken & Waffle 3 Ways, Breakfast Tacos, the basic S&P Breakfast, Shrimp + Grits + Eggs and a Waffle Ranchero Sammy.
Many of the dishes are based on those served at Atsangbe’s food truck, Happy Belly. The truck is still rolling and offers American food including burgers, wings and mac and cheese.
The food truck was originally a venture that was launched by Bread and Butter when the Covid pandemic hit. It proved to be the launch pad for Atsangbe to start pursuing his own culinary dream.
“I decided to venture away and take the truck the next level,” he said.
The new space at Union Hill is ideal, with its proximity to both greater downtown and the surrounding neighborhood which has seen substantial reinvestment in recent years. The size, it seats about 110 people, also was right for his plan.
The interior design is contemporary and comfortable, and features a good-sized bar with a full array of cocktails, wine and beer.
“I wanted the interior to be a welcoming and relaxed atmosphere,” Atsangbe said.
Union on the Hill already has proven to be a hit with the neighborhood, thanks in part to the 10 percent discount it offers to Union Hill residents.
“We have a mix of customers, people who’ve been to expensive places who go out all the time and people who out every couple weeks,” he said. “Their middle class, young adults, young business people and college grads.”
The hours are Tuesday through Thursday, 11 a.m.- 9 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m.- 10 p.m., and Sunday 9 a.m.- 4 p.m.
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