At Formwell, owners Rami and Heather Odeh and Andy Berman keep their mission focused on personal training by seeking out credentialed trainers—including elite trainers who have worked at Formwell for at least five years and who possess a combination of a master’s degree in exercise science and advanced training certification. Throughout the indoor and outdoor facilities, they lead clients through tailored workouts that may incorporate traditional fitness equipment, such as free weights and cardio machines. They may also draw upon alternative exercises, such as lifts on Olympic rings, kettlebell swings, and tug-o-war with a horse.
Beyond personal training, Formwell’s team leads partner training and small-group classes, such as CrossFit, plus a weight-loss program that extends to nutritional education. Tiled bathrooms with showers let guests transition between work and the gym, and a children’s room entertains young ones with a television, DVD player, and video games.
Flanked by rustic stone columns and carved lions, 5 Seasons Brewing's entrance looks like the secluded front to a Napa Valley villa, belying its cozy atmosphere and community-focused mission to provide tasty, affordable food and drink. Founded by chef David Larkworthy—son of a pioneering advocate of using organic food in restaurants—Five Seasons Brewing carries its commitment to community to its ingredients, cooking with a cornucopia of regularly shifting local produce from a gaggle of affiliated farms. The menu features such fusion dishes as crispy alligator served with a blackened chili glaze and Remoulade. At tables, guests dig in to home-baked bread, whose warm crust exudes tangy scents from the brewery's spent beer grain.
In the towering tanks that skirt the pub, brewmaster Kevin McNerney creates a kaleidoscopic selection of unique small-batch beers. The cofounder of flagship Georgia brewer SweetWater, McNerney brings two decades of experience to his craft, making refreshing brews such as the Chug Monkey and turning to ancient Belgian traditions to make his crisp, orange-infused witbier.
A 5,000-square-foot, multilevel laser tag arena is the main attraction at Sandy Springs Funhouse, a 22,000-square-foot indoor playground. In the neon confines, players undertake high-tech games of hide-and-seek while navigating the interior of a nuclear submarine. Lazer Frenzy, meanwhile, is a tangled web of light beams you have to pass through without touching. Afterwards, head to the arcade to play classic pinball, air hockey, and the latest, most exciting video games. This summer's Fireball Contest allows ticket-winners to vie for a whole barrel of tickets, which can then be redeemed for prizes.
Youngsters can frolic in bounce houses and slip through tunnels and slides on the enormous jungle gym, which has 40 integrated elements. Designed with parents in mind, the facility has an open layout so that grownups can keep eyes on little ones no matter where they are. With a snack bar serving ice cream, pizza, and soft drinks, the funhouse is an ideal venue for birthdays and other special events. Party packages include playtime, use of a private room, and extras such as party coordinators, invitations, and paper goods.
Robert Gayle, the executive chef at and owner of Chef Rob's Caribbean Cafe & Upscale Lounge, combines his Caribbean background with a Culinary Institute of America education, gathering flavors from around the world to refine a menu of island comfort fare. After spending his childhood in Jamaica and the West Indies, Chef Rob relocated to the United States and began to develop his culinary lobe at age 13 by working as a steward in Brooklyn. His skills and prestige steadily increased over time, allowing him to eventually open P. Diddy's Atlanta venture, Justin's Restaurant, in 1997 and prepare meals for such celebrities as Jennifer Lopez and Akon. Chef Rob's mental rolodex includes recipes for curried goat, dry-rubbed spare ribs, and his signature spicy jerk seasoning, which he massages into mesquite-grilled chicken. For lighter nighttime fare, diners can convene in the newly opened Chef Rob's Upscale Lounge for hookah, top-shelf cocktails, satisfying tapas, and signature wines. The contemporary furniture completes the swanky atmosphere.
Colorful instruments erupt with sound as belly dancers twirl and shake their bejeweled torsos to the musical beats. As the dancers weave between tables, some diners remain enraptured by the show while others carry on intimate conversations with their companions. Along with belly dancing on Friday and Saturday night, Fanoos Persian Cuisine hosts flamenco music and dancing by performer Calo Gitano on the first Sunday of each month.
In the kitchen, cooks flit about with the same merriment as the dancers. The owners fondly remember the Persian flavors that highlighted their youth and commemorate these recollections with a menu replete with familiar and lesser-known Mediterranean dishes. Steaming platters of shish kebabs and veggie-rich stews served alongside beds of rice round out the menu and complement spirits and international bottles of wine. For special occasions, they also rent out their restaurant for events to entertain up to 400 guests.
In 1975, four friends with hearts full of the great outdoors decided they needed a place to get gear indoors. This quest for adventuring equipment lead Bubba Sloan, Gerald Marshall, Denny Mays, and Ned Buxton to found High Country Outfitters as a gear shop for all manner of activities performed under the sun. These days, Bubba runs the retail side of things in Buckhead, while Gerald continues to captain daring cruises down the Ocoee River's relentless rapids. The store kits out customers for safe communing with nature with tools and togs from manufacturers including The North Face, Patagonia, and Big Green Egg, whose verdantly painted smoker grill creates hot meals in the midst of a long trip or particularly boring wait in the airport. Meanwhile, guides lead expeditionary parties along on waterborne trips down the Middle and Upper Ocoee’s burbling banks, recapturing the sun-dappled fun that inspired the store's creation in the first place.