Former 'Top Chef' judge explains why he won't be reopening his Atlanta, Athens restaurants

Five & Ten, a fine-dining restaurant in Athens (FOX 5)

Monday, restaurants across the state unlocked their doors and turned on their “open” signs after Gov. Brian Kemp announced he would allow some businesses to reopen.

But not all are on board.

Hugh Acheson, a former celebrity judge on the cooking competition show “Top Chef,” who owns restaurants in Atlanta and Athens, shared why they won’t be open for business any time soon.

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Acheson’s Atlanta and Athens restaurants closed March 15, but that hasn’t kept him from doing what he loves.

When he’s not cooking from his home live on Instagram, he’s cooking for the community.

Acheson owns Five & Ten, a fine-dining restaurant in Athens. They donate as much as 1,500 meals a day to ministries, homeless shelters, hospitals, the list goes on.

That’s the work they will continue to do as other restaurants reopen to the public.

“I want to reopen. I want to do my job. I’m a good chef, and we run restaurants well, and we have clientele that really wants us to feed them again," Acheson said. "But we just need a little more time to make sure everybody is doing this in a really smart way."

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Meanwhile, the governor’s mansion will remain closed to tours. The restaurant owner finds this hard to believe.

“The response by the people answering the phone there is ‘We’re in the middle of a pandemic, why would we give a tour?’" Acheson said. "Yet at the same time, bowling alleys and tattoo studios and wax parlors and restaurants, this strange motley crew of businesses are being asked to reopen."

Gov. Brian Kemp said during a press conference on Monday those who perform the tours in the mansion would be considered high risk and that is the reason they have not restarted tours.

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Still, Acheson believes more health and safety protocols are needed, such as a detailed plan on sanitization, how to do contactless payment and how to adjust the seating layout.

“We’ve seen these things happen in the past during COVID-19 where what we didn’t know really came back to haunt us,” Acheson said.

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