gusto!, the Atlanta-born restaurant brand founded by Nate Hybl, will open its first location in Athens on Thursday, April 28, 2022, marking the brand’s tenth shop across Georgia, the company announced in a press release Tuesday.
The new gusto! will feature a putting green, pet-friendly outdoor dining, bright interiors and a drive-thru for bowls and wraps on the go.
“It’s awesome to come back to Athens after all these years and see the same great town and spirited people, and know that I’m bringing something new and different with me this time,” Hybl, a 1999 South Georgia football recruit, said. “I wake up each morning to live out my gusto — my passion — and I am a strong believer that food should add zest and boldness to everyday life. gusto! challenges you to get out of your comfort zone and embrace new flavors and ingredients, and we can’t wait to introduce it to the classic city. This town has meant a lot to me, my family, and our team and we’re excited that our first true expansion outside of Metro Atlanta is in Athens!”
The face of the brand at each of the shops is the Local Operating Partner (LOP), someone with an owner’s mentality that is a true embodiment of gusto!’s cultural values, according to the release. Andrew Skellie, a longtime Athens resident and hospitality industry veteran, was tapped to run the show at the new location.
“I’ve lived in Athens for over 30 years now and I’ve been a part of a lot of different restaurants, but nothing ever like this,” Skellie said. “It’s a new wave. It’s everything that we say it is — fresh, friendly, fast, flavorful. What Nate has done with the brand is truly special and it’s going to show when we open the doors. I can’t wait to see everyone come together on the patio for a gorgeous spring day or give people a wave and a smile through the drive-thru.”
Located off the intersection of W Broad Street and Alps Road, gusto! Athens is outfitted with a drive-thru for guests on the go and a patio with heaters, cornhole and a putting green “for those who want to come in and stay awhile.”
The new shop features local artwork and incorporates biophilic elements into the space with an abundance of natural light and plants scattered throughout. Additionally, gusto! Athens will be pet-friendly for owners wanting to bring their furry companions along.
gusto!’s menu begins with a bowl or wrap, then guests select a base, protein, and “gusto,” or signature flavor profile. “From the tangy Buffalo Buttermilk Blue to the seasonal Harissa Lemon Tabbouleh, the gusto! team has mastered the bowl- and wrap-making science, delivering meals with minimal customizations in 30 seconds or less,” according to the release.
The grand opening celebrations will kick off on Saturday, April 23 with a free drive-thru from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Guests must be in the drive-thru line by 1 p.m. to score a free meal and beverage, kids included. Each car is eligible for two meals with a fountain beverage included. The dining room doors will officially open to the community on Thursday, April 28 and 10 percent of sales from the day will benefit the Food Bank of Northeast Georgia.