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New restaurant wants to know your name

By Valerie Baldowski

vbaldowski@henryherald.com

The owner of one of the newest restaurants in McDonough is comparing its atmosphere to a well-known, television, prime-time show.

Occasions Restaurant, Bar and Lounge, located at 38 Macon St., has been unofficially open since the Memorial Day weekend, according to owner Danielle Harris. The restaurant celebrated its grand opening over the July 4th holiday weekend, however.

"I kind of compare this place to 'Cheers,' where everyone knows your name," Harris said. "We haven't been open long, but we definitely have regulars. When they come in, we know their food order, we know what they're drinking, we know how their kids are doing. That's what we're trying to create."

The restaurant's name reflects what Harris said she envisions as a dining experience.

"Occasions is different, because of our theme alone," she said. "I started it, and decided to create it [the theme] because we feel that every day is worth celebrating. We don't want people to just come and have lunch, or come and have dinner, or have a drink at the bar. We want them to feel like they're part of a family. No matter what they're going through, celebrating a divorce, or a raise, we'll celebrate with them."

Taking into account the tough economy new businesses face, Harris said she feels Occasions has a real chance at success because of its inexpensive menu. "I believe that our prices are extremely reasonable, and the food speaks for itself," she said. "The drinks are amazing. I think we're going to do well."

On Wednesday, Dashonna Taylor, of McDonough, one of the regular customers Harris referred to, was perched comfortably on a stool in a quiet corner of the bar. Taylor was conducting business through her cell phone and laptop, after finishing her lunch.

Two things keep her returning to Occasions, she said. "The ladies are super sweet, and I love the sweet potato fries," said Taylor. "I come here probably four times a week," she said. "I've tried just about everything. The fried macaroni is sinful. I've had the chicken parmesan. I've had the cheese steak, [and] the grilled shrimp, that was delicious."

The restaurant also serves burgers, sandwiches, pizza, baked or fried chicken, shrimp or chicken alfredo, salads, wings, and chicken strips.

Sean Griffin, a veteran serving in the United States Army, stopped at Occasions for a late lunch, with his three children, 10-year-old Triniti, 7-year-old Junior, and 5-year-old Ariana, in tow.

While he waited for his hamburger to cook, and the children waited for their chicken strips and fries, the youngsters watched a cartoon on a big screen TV. Griffin, a Philadelphia native, said he travels much of the time, but when he is in town, he stops at Occasions when he can.

He said the restaurant is suitable for children as well as adults. "I've been here about three times," he said. "It's got a good atmosphere, and I can actually bring my children here during lunchtime and feed them. If I want to come here late at night, be alone and have some adult time, I can do that, too."

Occasions is open Mondays through Wednesdays from 11 a.m., to 10 p.m.; Thursdays and Fridays, from 11 a.m., to 2 p.m.; and Saturdays and Sundays from 4 p.m., to 10 p.m.