Longtime Macon restaurateur Cesare Mammeralla has sold Tic Toc Room, the first restaurant he opened in downtown Macon when he came here nearly 20 years ago.
“That was my first baby,” Mammeralla said. “It started everything.”
The deal closed last week, and the restaurant at 408 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. has remained open and will keep the same name.
Mammeralla, who has opened numerous restaurants in Macon, selling some, closing some, only to open another one, said he has been downsizing since last year when he began reevaluating his priorities. He sold Ginger Stir Fry in August, which is now Oliver’s Corner Bistro, and in November, he sold Brasserie Circa, which retained the name.
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The Tic Toc Room was sold to David Fullman, of Bayside, New York, who owns the business along with existing executive chef Michael Galloway and general manager Josh Howard.
“Michael is my nephew, and he knows I am in the restaurant business … and gave me the opportunity to get involved in a new venture,” said Fullman, who was in Macon on Monday.
He is an accountant and owns several other businesses, including a gastropub he bought 10 months ago in Bayside.
He came to Macon in June — for the first time — when he learned about the Tic Toc being for sale.
“I knew nothing of Macon,” he said. “The moment I walked into the place … I really fell in love. … I had never visited (Galloway) here. … I loved the idea.”
He said he was blown away when he learned about the history of the restaurant, and “the history of music here really excited me.”
He said he would have never bought the restaurant if Galloway, who has been there two years, and Howard, who has been there more than six years, had not agreed to join him in the deal.
“I’m very excited about all of this,” Howard said. “The upgrades are going to be phenomenal.”
Galloway said almost all the restaurant’s food will be coming from local farmers.
Fullman said they plan to bring back live piano music during dinner and hope to turn the second floor into a lounge.
The restaurant will remain a fine dining establishment focused on steak, seafood and tapas, as stated on the awning now.
But in addition to keeping “fan favorites,” Galloway said they plan to improve the seafood offerings and may add more steak choices.
The interior of the space will not change much, but it will be freshened up, Fullman said.
“My plan, if I have my way, is to make this place a Michelin star restaurant,” he said.
Mammeralla, who operates under HotPlates Restaurant Group, is keeping the Bearfoot Tavern on Second Street and the Emerson Ballroom on Plum Street.
Some of the other restaurants or nightclubs he’s owned, but not all at the same time, are Luigi’s Bistro, Yabu Sushi, Kashmir Lounge, Dolce Vita Café & Bar and Dea nightclub.
He also co-owns Downtown Macon Open Air Market with Ryan Smith.
“The reason for the sales … more than anything is to sort of reprioritize,” Mammeralla said. “I’ve got three young kids (7, 5 and 3 years old). … So it’s too much of a burden on my wife and not seeing the kids. … I’m not a bachelor any more. … I can’t keep running around with my hair on fire all the time.”
He said Bearfoot is “doing really well, and we have doubled the amount of events we’re having (at Emerson Ballroom).”
He will continue his catering business out of Bearfoot.
“This allows us to focus on (those two businesses) a little bit more,” he said.