If you imagined that Top Dawg Tavern must have been dreamt up by a couple of die-hard Georgia fans, you’d be right.
Well, half right. Renee and Brett Summers had one final decision to make before opening their brand new restaurant: its name. Renee’s team and alma mata was nearby UGA, but Brett had gone to the University of Oklahoma. Fortunately, a beloved OU mascot, Top Daug, would provide the compromise that saved the day. Thus, Top Dawg Tavern was born.
But it was another birth, that of their daughter, Genevieve, that set the plan for Top Dawg into motion. “Brett was working long hours and I was commuting daily from Athens to Atlanta,” says Renee. “Her arrival changed everything, and we knew we were going to need a better work/life balance.” On March 4th, 2013, the first Top Dawg Tavern opened in Bethlehem, GA. “It was 10 minutes from home, and Genevieve came with us to sign the papers. She’s nine now, and talks to us about commodities and margins.” Renee laughs. “But her official title is Chief French Fry Taster, and she’s a natural!” Genevieve has also helped design Top Dawg’s intricate kids’ space, complete with a giant mural, a chalkboard wall, a bubble machine and “an iPad for your feet” with over 200 games to keep the little ones moving and entertained.
The rest of the interior was Renee’s department, and would again be all about balance.
Top Dawg has NFL game tickets and access to SEC, ACC and Big Ten networks, but it’s open and homey, with no neon or flashing lights. Comfy booths help guests settle in and feel at home. “We wanted it to be a place where you could take grandma after church or watch the game. The culture,” she says, “is all about service with a smile.”
And then there’s the food!
Some favorites include bite-sized tenderloin filets over mashed potatoes with creamy horseradish, sesame crusted and seared rare ahi tuna with wasabi dipping sauce, fried green tomatoes with pimento cheese and bacon, salmon in a sweet bourbon glaze and blackened chicken over rotini with cream sauce and parmesan. Also wildly popular are the juicy Tavern Burgers, made with freshly pattied Black Angus Beef, and the Build Your Own Salad option!
On Sundays, Top Dawg does brunch from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. with live acoustic music and all the staples. Plus, this is the place to be if UGA and OU go head-to-head in January…just sayin’. So head on over to Top Dawg Tavern, find a shady spot on the patio overlooking the marina and let the games begin!
By Dani Ray
Top Dawg Tavern
13 Harbourside Lane