Bruce and Sally Alterman have lived in Sandy Springs since 1974 — just after moving back to Atlanta from college — and “always believed Sandy Springs needed a neighborhood place. That’s all we ever wanted to be,” says Bruce of The Brickery Grill & Bar.

“You can’t get more genuine than third generation Atlanta people that have lived here all of their lives, raised their kids here,” adds the man who from birth has known food as his family business. “The secret to The Brickery’s success is the genuineness that is here.”

The Brickery is now in its 17th year in business in the same location, 6125 Roswell Road.

After the Alterman family sold its food store business in 1980, Bruce and Sally, who married at age 21 while they were in college at the University of Oklahoma, became entrepreneurs selling a filtration system for trucks and buses. “The venture did not work and we lost all of our money and all of our confidence,” says Bruce.

Bruce’s brother Robert is the reason they are in the restaurant business today. Robert had the Perimeter Café at the main entrance to Perimeter Mall “and really felt like we could open a second. “Our solution to being dead broke was to open a restaurant,” he added.

They found a location in Peachtree Corners that had been four restaurants in five years. They borrowed money from relatives and friends, Robert put a second mortgage on his home and they scraped together enough money to open. Bruce went into the back of the house, into the kitchen and Sally went onto the floor in Robert’s Perimeter restaurant. “We did that for about six weeks and then we switched places,” Sally explains. “That was our knowledge of the restaurant business.”

Up to then, Sally had been a stay-at-home mom to the couple’s two children.

They had the Perimeter Café at Jimmy Carter Boulevard and Holcomb Bridge Road for a little less than four years. Then Morrison’s Corporation knocked on our door. They wanted our location for a Ruby Tuesday’s. The Altermans told Morrisons, “find us a location in Sandy Springs” closer to home and they would consider selling the lease. The rest is history.

They opened The Brickery in February of 1992. “By that time, we knew a few things,” Bruce says. “The instincts were back. We had an affinity for food. We understood value. We knew how to run a business. We like helping young people get from where they are to where they want to be in their lives. And, we had three-plus years of implementing something that we could say let’s erase the blackboard, keep everything that we like about it and re-invent the rest.”

They came up with the name Brickery because they knew the feel they wanted in the restaurant. “We would get that feel when we would go to Virginia Highland—those old restaurants. We finally determined that it was the brick that gave the warmth that we were looking for,” he says.

“It is a perfect combination,” says Bruce. “I was able to take everything that I had learned about systems (from the family’s business), but we are still mom and pop. It is run like a business, but it has a different feel to it.”

–John Schaffner