ROCKMART — ACH Entertainment, part of businessman Andrew Heaner’s portfolio of holdings, has become a major player in the restaurant industry in Polk County.
The jewel in Heaner’s epicurean empire is Knucklehead Cafe, 217 W. Elm St. ACH also owns RW’s Snack Shack, 2536 Cole Road in Aragon; the Rock Cafe and Ice Cream Shop, 103 W. Elm St. in Rockmart; and Running Wild Catering.
Knucklehead General Manager Robin Haney said the shops in Rockmart are totally different. “The meats are different, the menus, the atmosphere, the service, they’re all three unique,” Haney said.
The Snack Shack is all about country-style food, burgers, hot dogs and breakfast biscuits, while Knucklehead is a family-oriented full-service restaurant with a motorcycle motif. The name Knucklehead refers to a Harley Davidson motorcycle, something that Andrew Heaner collects and keeps polished to the point where male customers could shave in the mirrored chrome.
“It’s a lot like a Hard Rock Cafe, except that instead of guitars, we have motorcycles,” said David Heaner, Andrew Heaner’s brother. A 1947 Harley-Davidson Knucklehead hangs above the bar.
The ice cream shop opened about six years ago. Knucklehead has been open for about three years and the Snack Shack has been open about a year.
Eric Tant, the director of food service at Knucklehead, said the cafe has a menu that ranges from steaks to salmon and just about everything in between. Chris Peek is the executive chef. He joined Knucklehead from the Governor’s Gun Club in Powder Springs one year ago. Nick Rotundhi is Peek’s chief assistant in the kitchen.
The restaurant employs about 70 people and David Heaner said jobs are a primary focus.
“Business has been very good to Andrew. This is not so much about being in the restaurant business and making a lot of money,” David Heaner said, “it’s about providing great food in this area and creating jobs. The restaurants are just one of many of his businesses.”
Running Wild Catering is capable of bringing out huge smokers that can prepare anything from burgers and hot dogs to pulled pork barbecue and high quality appetizers and steaks. “They go as far as Atlanta,” David Heaner said. “We can do anything from chili dogs to white linen events.”
The kitchen staff has also developed a series of spices and rubs for meats that are proprietary formulas and available for retail sale in the restaurant. “We got a pork candy rub for ribs, people talk about this one,” David Heaner said. In all, 22 different spices and rubs have been developed and are available to customers.
Tant said both the Rock and Knucklehead benefit tremendously from the bicycle traffic on the Silver Comet Trail, just a hundred yards away from both establishments.
“We get tons of riders,” Haney said. “Last Saturday (April 22) we were filled up with bicycles,” Tant said.
Knucklehead makes a point of letting the cycling community know they’re welcome with a couple of large bike racks out in front of the restaurant.
Haney said more and more her staff is seeing new faces from all over the region. “I try to go to every table and speak with just about everybody if I’m not tied down with something else,” Haney said. “I had a couple come up from Newnan and we get people from Canton and Acworth, so they come from everywhere.”
Knucklehead has a front patio area with limited outdoor seating and a huge rear area complete with a bandstand for concerts.
“On May 13 we’ve got our Jeep Jam coming up and we do several car shows each year,” Tant said.
David Heaner said his brother just fell in love with Rockmart and saw a lot of potential to help revive the community.
The Running Wild farm is in Silver Creek, complete with zebras, llamas, alpacas, camels, longhorn cattle and other exotic critters. He does have a permit from the state to breed the animals.
Allstar Properties LLC, another Andrew Heaner-owned entity, pays property taxes on 15 different locations covering more than 1,830 acres in Rome and Floyd County. Another entity — Allstar Properties I LLC — has numerous holdings in downtown Rome including the 333 Broad St. building and the 200 Second Ave. building, home to Keller Williams Realty Northwest offices, and the building at 205 E. First Ave., formerly a Heritage First Bank office building.