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Chef Darren Henderson, the owner of Crust Pizzeria, is opening a restaurant in the Maxwell, a new development in Alpharetta. Set to debut in November, Rena’s Italian Fishery & Grill is named after Henderson’s wife Rena.
Through the many roles that Henderson has held over his two decades in the restaurant industry, his wife has been there with him. “I named [the restaurant] after [Rena] to say thank you for supporting my career in the restaurant industry for the last 25 years,” Henderson told What Now Atlanta.
Henderson envisions Rena’s as a restaurant that is equal parts seafood, meats, and pasta.
“I want to fill a void in our community,” he said. “I feel like there’s a great need for a restaurant that provides seafood and steak and pasta at a reasonable price with incredible quality.”
There will, however, be the occasional oddball dish that Henderson includes on the menu because it’s important to him. “I’ve been cooking shrimp and grits for my wife for years, so I’ll have shrimp and grits on [the menu],” he said.
The space that Rena’s will operate in consists of two floors, each 5,000 square feet. The first floor will be where the bulk of the restaurant operations take place. When people walk into the restaurant, “you’ll be able to actually see our pasta maker making fresh ravioli and fresh pasta right there,” Henderson said. The first floor will also feature a wood-fired grill used for the meats.
Meanwhile, the second floor will be a banquet and event space that can seat 200 people. Though he might initially be unable to hold events at that capacity, Henderson remains optimistic about the upstairs space. “I think that even though the coronavirus has gone on, we’ll be able to pop back and have those larger events,” he said.
In full operation, Henderson’s hope and intention are to make Rena’s successful enough that he can give back to his staff and community in an industry that lacks benefits like health insurance. “For me to be able to do what it is that I want to do, I’m going to have to grow,” Henderson said.
“My whole thing is taking care of the people in the industry that want to stay in it,” Henderson said. “The more I can do to give back to them, the better I’ll feel about running my business.”