Published in the Athens Banner-Herald on 02/18/07

brett's storefront athens, gaWork with a Chili’s restaurant franchise group brought Brett McCullough and his wife, Leslie, to the Athens area a couple of years ago as the Chili’s group set up locations in South Carolina and southeast Georgia.

When the Chili’s assignment was completed and it was time to move on, McCullough said he and Leslie discovered that they loved Athens so much they decided to stay and start their own eating establishment.

The couple set up Brett’s Restaurant, serving “American casual” fare in the former Locos Grill & Pub space near Ingles in the Athens West Shopping Center on Atlanta Highway.

The menu offers 36 items including spinach artichoke dip, Vidalia onion strings, homemade soups, sandwiches, fresh salads and grilled steaks, burgers and seafood.

Leslie McCullough said the kitchen crew makes everything fresh, including the salad dressings. Brett McCullough considers himself an accomplished cook, though he doesn’t have any formal training, but he hired two trained chefs, who drive the menu and put a focus on fresh seafood and meats grilled on a gas chargrill.

The cost for entrees ranges from $5 to $10, and the same menu is offered at lunch and dinner. Nothing is priced more than $10, McCullough said. The restaurant also has a bar area, and beer and wine is served.

Customers order at the counter, get their drinks and find a seat. The restaurant staff will bring their food to the table.

The McCulloughs incorporated an American theme in redecorating the former Locos dining area. Photographs of American landscapes, some familiar, some simply alluring, are placed throughout the room.

“It’s America through the eyes of a photographer,” McCullough said.

The McCulloughs even use table markers shaped like individual states for diners to take and identify their tables and orders. Seating is available for about 120 people in booths, at tables or at the bar.

Brett McCullough has worked in the dining business for 27 years and served as vice president of operations for the Texas Land & Cattle chain. Leslie McCullough worked in restaurants during college and right after and has working knowledge of hostess responsibilities and managing a wait staff.

Both are “passionate about food,” Brett said. Brett’s Restaurant employs 30 people. Check it out.

Name: Brett’s Restaurant
Owners: Brett and Leslie McCullough
Type: Restaurant
Address: 3190 Atlanta Highway
Phone: (706) 850-1395
Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday