Porterhouse Grill has been a fixture on East Broad Street in downtown Athens since July 2000.
The reason for that longevity, general manager Shawn Butcher says, is pretty simple.
“There are some fantastic places in town — we call it the cool kid’s club,” he said. “You can go get some beautiful adventurous meals. We’re not that, but we satisfy a niche and we do it very, very well.”
Porterhouse Grill is independently owned by Andy Urell, who also owns Copper Creek Brewing Company.
Butcher graduated from the University of Georgia with a degree in history. He initially planned to return home to Atlanta to teach but instead has worked at Porterhouse for 10 years, where he waited tables, was a bartender and for six years now has been the general manager.
Q: What is your specialty?
We’re a traditional American steakhouse. We serve 100 percent certified Angus beef. Everything’s butchered in-house outside of things that have a bone. Our tenderloin New York strip, ribeye, all that is butchered here in house. We’ve been here for 16 years. We’ve never tried to reinvent the wheel culinary. It’s just kind of the nature of a steak house. You figure out what you want to do and just do it to the best of your ability. Our namesake cut is the Porterhouse. The thing that people come back for is the Bleu Filet. It’s a 10-ounce filet mignon with blue cheese herb butter melted on top served with mashed potatoes and steamed vegetables. We have a 16-ounce bone-in ribeye that’s wonderful that Buckhead Beef cuts specifically for us and anything with the bone-in with that marbling is wonderful.
Q: You serve lunch, dinner and brunch?
A: We’re open Monday through Friday at 11:30 for lunch and Monday through Saturday at 5 for dinner and then brunch on Sunday (11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.). We don’t do lunch on Saturday and we don’t do dinner on Sunday. We do lunch on Saturday for things like graduation and football games, but Sunday night is the one time that we kind of made an oath to our staff that we don’t do Sunday nights.
Q: How crazy is it on football weekends?
A: Crazy. Those are six weekends a year that you brace yourself and hold on no matter what. It’s fun. Each year over the past five years we’ve had a better year than the last. Football season obviously has a large amount to do with that. As our business has increased, it’s interesting that football season which used to be 20 percent of our business for the year were those six weekends, now as Athens has grown and sustained itself a little more independently we’ve kind of spread that out throughout the year and our business has grown. The percentage of business we’ve done just from football season has shrunk, but those are the guaranteed crazy weekends that you kind of look forward to in the restaurant.
Q: In your years of general manager, have you found that customers’ tastes have changed much?
A: Slightly but our core is red meat. That kind of stays fairly standard. We have two sections. We have our steaks and we have our specialties, which is chicken dishes, seafood dishes, crabcakes, pasta, things like that. We’ve had a rotation of things go through on our specialties—lamb, duck and pork—but the red meat pretty much stays fairly standard.
Q: How many steaks do you think you eat in a month?
A: When I first started working here 10 years ago, I was in college. So I thought this was the greatest windfall. I’d have steak three or four times a week. I gained 30 pounds in the first two months I worked here because of the steak and mashed potatoes. I learned to temper my diet, but I eat a good amount of red meat. The rancher’s association would be proud.
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