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Food Issue - Like a boss

Three Atlanta restaurant professionals speak about their over-the-top love affairs with tailgating

Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q co-owner Jonathan Fox loves food and the Atlanta Falcons.

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Before we opened the restaurant, the dishes evolved by cooking on Saturdays for college football, whether it was at a game or in my backyard. That's how a lot of our recipes evolved. I've been an Atlanta Falcons season ticket holder for four years, so I've been tailgating ever since. The restaurant has been open for eight years. As soon as we got time to free ourselves up from the store and got to have fun and do fun things, we started taking tailgating a little more seriously.

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Last year, we had a really large tailgate. We probably had 75 people out there and co-branded it with the Falcons. We had a full barbecue buffet, a DJ, Falcons cheerleaders, and Freddie the Falcon out there. On the buffet, we had 40 racks of ribs, a couple hundred pounds of wings, a couple hundred pounds of brisket, mac and cheese, potato salad, and coleslaw. We had a bar setup, so we had shots going. We had mixed drinks with seven or eight bottles of Cathead Vodka. We had two large smokers; we went through two kegs, one being from SweetWater because the guys behind it were there. We were doing Whynatte Latte shots because those guys were out there too. We had T-shirts, hats, and tickets for everybody.

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We don't really travel to away games, but we will get groups together and tailgate. There can be anywhere from 12 to 15 people on a small occasion and probably 30 people on the bigger games. We're friends with Kevin Rathbun, so we've been tailgating with the crew that comes out with him. He's a big tailgater, as well. Our season tickets are all in the same section together.

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We kicked off this year with ribs. Since it was a Monday night game, we tried to get down there a little earlier in the day. Everyone thought about cheese steak, but ... we decided to keep it simple with finger foods and everybody loves ribs. We took a smoker down there and cooked off ... about 12-15 racks of ribs.

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It's obviously a meat-topia kinda event. We'll feature some kinda meat whether it's ribs, tenderloin, prime rib, fried catfish ... Sometimes we go into regional dishes. Or if we have friends that are fans of the opponent we'll ask what they would like to see. Like if it's the Saints there might be some Cajun stuff ... I was a Cowboys fan while I was living in Texas, but, we are the official barbecue for the Atlanta Falcons and I am a season ticket holder, so my allegiance is to the Falcons. I still watch the Cowboys, but I think because I've lived here for so long I tend care more and more about what the Falcons are doing.

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Victory Brands manager/bartender and lifelong Braves fan Martin Hwang describes his epic opening day tailgate tradition.

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This year I bought 80 tickets, and ... what we do is charge a set price for anyone who wants to attend that covers all the booze you want, all the food. It's pretty awesome. This year my friends and I ended up with about 120 tailgaters.

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When it first started out, probably about five years ago at this point, it was definitely a small, low-key thing in the Blue Lot at Turner Field ... and then we just kinda made it a thing every single year and always went back for Opening Day. ... We love baseball and it's just slowly grown. It gets bigger and more debaucherous every single year.

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Years before we've had caterers, live music, some sort of entertainment like cornhole ... This year, we didn't buy the Bubba Burgers or anything, we made 200 burgers by hand.

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We bought about 1,000 Miller High Lifes and 20 bottles of liquor. It took three or four cars to get all the beer there. There just weren't enough vehicles. We had about six or seven coolers but that wasn't enough space to store all of the beer. We gave specific instructions on not to bring anything, because we had everything covered, yet people still continued to bring booze. ... We had enough Miller High Life left over after stocking the coolers to essentially create a Throne of Highlife, which was pretty awesome and extremely comfortable even though they were all really wet.

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Our tailgate has become something that people talk about, and it's because we make it so easy to find. We attach the American and POW flag to my Jeep. This year, it was on top of a 16-foot pole that my buddy made from aluminum that's designed for planes and whatnot. Next year, we plan to rack it up about 20 feet so people will be able to see it anywhere. We might have to get a bigger flag.

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The Braves have always been my home team. I was born and raised on them. I remember watching Smoltz, Madden. I remember when they got the World Series. ... Talking about the Braves moving out of town is very personal, I get both sides. But, next year, we're going to try to be better for opening day and continue when they move to Cobb County, but the last day at Turner Field will be nothing but debauchery. Hopefully the Braves will make the playoffs, but we'll definitely make the last game a thing.

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Sommelier-at-large Stuart White and his anti-fair-weather-fan tailgate crew are major Atlanta Falcons supporters — and they've got the custom suits to prove it.

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We call ourselves the Red Suit Crew (#redsuitcrew): Greg Teyf, Khanan Teyf, Saurabh Puri, Justin Holloman, Daniel Long, Penny Long, Chuck Heyen ... We got the suits made in 2012. The Falcons had lost to Green Bay horribly, and halfway through the game most of the Falcons fans had left. It was ugly. People started talking about how terrible Atlanta fans are. So we were really pissed off because ... even if it's a shitty season of football, we still go. Personally, I've only missed maybe four Matt Ryan-games. So, we decided we had to do something to give people something positive to talk about. So I thought, let's do a red suit and red gator shoes. ... People look at us like we're crazy especially in the beginning of the season because it's hot outside.

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There's a lot of prep that goes into tailgating, because you want to have a meal that you can put together quickly and nothing more to do than that. We don't just take Publix hotdog buns and throw them in a skillet. We'll spend several hours ahead of time. And, for playoff games, we'll really throw it down.

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The last game of the season last year, we made some crazy shrimp and grits ... I've got a crazy chili recipe that I've been doing for five years now, and random people will come up to me asking, 'What week are gonna cook the chili?' ... I usually make burgers from local grass-fed beef and use Pine Street Market bacon. We'll buy local stuff whenever we can. I try to do that with everything I buy. Not to be cheesy, but it's kind of farm-to-tailgate.

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I do most of the beverage stuff. Typically, it's before noon when we get to the Dome, so you can see me making a lot of Bloody Marys. I try to make some suppressor cocktails, which are lower alcohol drinks. That's because it's so early, and you don't want to get black-out drunk before the game, which is really easy to do. I use the low-alcohol grapefruit beer Stiegl Radler to make cocktails a lot. Gin, Campari, and Stiegel is my go-to cocktail.

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Daniel Long, who is a mechanic, bought a short school bus and it's completely decked out with Falcons. It's totally professionally done. There's Falcons memorabilia in there and everything you could possibly need for tailgating. We roll up in that to away games. This year, we're going to Nashville when the Falcons take on the Titans.

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Hopefully, one day, we'll be able to wear our suits at the Super Bowl. The Super Bowl is going to be in Atlanta in 2018, and no team has ever played in the Super Bowl the year it came to their hometown. And for the Falcons, you never know. That would be something.



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