Pizza and wings may not be what most people think of when considering how to uplift a community, but that’s how Esau Holmes runs his restaurant.
Cutting Edge Pizza and Wings will soon be launching a second location at 556 Northside Dr. SW, suite A, between Adair Park and Mechanicsville neighborhoods. He just signed on to the new location a few weeks ago and is hoping to open within 60 to 90 days.
“The goal is to bring well-managed, independent restaurants to the communities and set a new standard in what we can give back,” Holmes said during a phone interview with What Now Atlanta on Thursday. “And bring pride to the community.”
The restaurant’s first location is at 1955 Campbellton Rd. SW, suite B, between Venetian Hills, Adams Park, and Pomona Park neighborhoods.
“It’s about a lot more than just pizza and wings,” he said. “It’s more about people development.”
Holmes worked in the corporate world of the food industry for years before opening his own restaurant last year. He successfully rose through the ranks of different chain restaurants until landing in a corporate role. Most recently, he was director of operations with GPS Hospitality and operated 63 restaurants.
He always had an entrepreneurial spirit and had a desire to give back while creating his own business opportunity.
“I wanted to give back to the community,” he said. “I focused on restaurant sites in underserved communities (in Atlanta).”
He found a location and made a commitment to open a restaurant and develop the entire management team from crew level. A bigger chain had left the location and Holmes wanted to bring the jobs back to the neighborhood.
Holmes started Cutting Edge Pizza and Wings in December 2019 and officially opened to the public in 2020.
“This is one idea of giving back and making a difference for people that might not be given the chance to excel and grow,” he said.
The new expansion is a similar idea, he said. He wants to help the community and the city’s he’s grown to love.
The first location, which opened in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, has been very successful since opening its doors. The success in such uncertain times has been very encouraging, he added.
He’s connected with the community and built a great team. There has been an overwhelming amount of support from locals in the neighborhood, he said.
“It’s been phenomenal,” Holmes said. “I’m looking to expand and grow on that.”
Again, there was a business in the existing building that he’s moving Cutting Edge Pizza and Wings into, so no major construction has to be done. The space, approximately 1,000 square feet, just needs to be brought up to code, Holmes said.
Holmes is definitely looking to continue the expansion after this location opens. The first one had some additional work or challenges to figure out, but now is acting a launching pad as he replicates the process in strategic locations.
One of the things he looks forward to is teaching and encouraging the entrepreneurial spirit in his young team members. He trained other up-and-comers in the corporate world, but after building his own successful business it’s given him a better perspective.
“When you actually create something, yourself you can truly give some hands-on training,” Holmes said. “Hopefully I’ll help others in owning and creating an (their own) opportunity.”
He’s definitely had a great response from his team. Cutting Edge Pizza and Wings is their first job for many of them, he said. They’re very curious and asking all about the “how” and “why” of Holmes’s own success story. He’s teaching them everything he’s learned over his career and some, hopefully, will grow into leadership roles in the business.
“It’s turning out to be exactly what I thought it would be,” Holmes said.