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Fifth Group and Taste of the Highlands

The times I’ve met him, he’s never been less than impeccably dressed, not a hair out of place (if one was, it seemed intentionally out of place), and the conversation has been easy and intelligent. If there was ever a man who was the living embodiment of the company and restaurants he represents, it’s him.

Who am I talking about? Michael Erickson: Don Draper to Atlanta dining’s Madison Avenue.

Michael is the director of marketing for Fifth Group Restaurants, which comprises South City Kitchen (both in Midtown and Vinings), Ecco, Lure, La Tavola, Alma Cocina, and The Original El Taco. And that’s not including the El Taco and Ecco restaurants in Hartsfield Jackson, and more to come.

Lure, Ecco, South City Kitchen Midtown, and Alma Cocina can each claim at least a half-dozen hotels within a couple of blocks of their doors (and bars). “We love the hotels and concierges,” says Erickson, “and we love that they recommend our restaurants to hotel guests.”

And movies. Fifth Group and the movies go together like Bogart and Bacall, Hope and Crosby…PB and J. Somewhere like South City Kitchen Midtown is perfect if you’re getting some dinner while filming a movie about a 1970s local news anchor, while Ecco was featured in a couple of scenes in the movie The Changeup, which starred Ryan Reynolds and Jason Bateman.

Fifth Group recently moved their offices from King Plow to Peachtree Center, and despite living in Atlanta for 22 years, Erickson says that the move has led him to “discover the city all over again.”

For diners who haven’t discovered Fifth Group’s restaurants, it’s like this: Lure has an inventive and super-fresh seafood menu, Ecco carries the torch for European-inspired cuisine, Alma Cocina serves Mexican and Latin-influenced dishes, La Tavola has some of the best Italian food this side of the Atlantic, The Original El Taco is a family-friendly Mexican joint, and South City Kitchen is where it all began in 1993 with Southern food cooked from the heart. Phew!

This year marks Fifth Groups’s 20th anniversary, and they’re returning as presenting sponsor at Taste of the Highlands, as they have been since 2006.

In the sold out VIP area, Taste-goers will enjoy oysters from Lure, while the rest of the group’s intown restaurants will be scattered throughout John Howell Park.

Follow Michael Erickson’s Twitter account for musings on all things around Atlanta dining, and check out the Taste of the Highlands official event hashtag — #TOTH2013 — while you’re at the event.