3265 Buford Drive,

Buford

770-831-8752

Open since: June 27

Managing Partner: Paul Duke

Executive Chef: Alfredo Flores

Location: Buford Drive; near JC Penney parking deck

Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday through Saturday

Atmosphere: Seasons 52’s new location in Buford tries to evoke the same high-end vibes of its Buckhead and Perimeter Mall counterparts.

Guests are greeted by a fountain outside the entry awning, and the inside is dimly lit with living foliage. There is an outdoor patio and windows surround the restaurant’s exterior. The center wall is a massive wine refrigerator.

The brand has 45 restaurants across the U.S. in large markets. It’s under the umbrella of the parent company, Darden, which also includes sister brands Longhorn Steakhouse and Olive Garden. Seasons 52’s brand is established with its menus, but the Buford location was free to explore its creativity in regard to the design of the restaurant.

“We’ve had some time to think about our design choices and keep things updated and fresh,” managing partner Paul Duke said. “As you look around the restaurant, you can see that. We feel this design represents who we are and what we have to offer.”

There is natural wood used in the interior design alongside the living plants. The brand’s theme is inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright designs. Duke said the wood and stone features in the restaurant have been locally sourced.

Menu: Duke said Seasons 52 tries to offer a polished approach and offer meals and wine that consumers can’t get on an everyday basis. Its 52 wines by-the-glass offer a selection that is uncommon to find anywhere other than a wine bar.

That philosophy goes with some of the menu items. The Wild Alaskan Salmon entree, Duke said, is something consumers can’t get everywhere. Items on the menu feature micro-seasonal ingredients throughout the year.

Duke added that that polished approach is one reason the Seasons 52 brand doesn’t overextend itself in the markets it settles in.

“That type of approach of slowing down, taking more time hand-crafting things and carefully sourcing things, you can’t take that approach and apply that across the demand to 20 or 30 units in a city,” Duke said.

Alfredo Flores is a veteran of the company, having spent the last seven years as the Buckhead location’s executive chef. He said the summer season’s items are based on fresh produce from local farming partners.

“The menu is based more on produce,” Flores said. “We make sure our dishes are served with fewer calories. Every dish is served with less than 580 calories.”

The restaurant’s flatbreads are among its most popular dishes. Seasons 52 offers a flatbread with roasted corn, aged cheddar and spiced bacon. It’s topped with sour cream and lime spritz. A vegetarian option is the roasted tomato flatbread, topped with mozzarella, Parmesan cheese and basil.

The seasonal aspect of the menu is illustrated in the grilled, caramelized sea scallops, topped with roasted garlic broccolini and goat cheese risotto.

Something you may not know: Seasons 52 features a “Drink Them Before They’re Famous” wine menu that is made up of wines from little-known vineyards throughout the U.S. For a limited time, the brand is featuring four wines from the Mendoza region of Argentina. The Catena family offers a red blend, chardonnay, cabernet sauvignon and pinot noir.

The Jansz Tasmanian sparkling rose is another rare, imported bottle that is featured on the Seasons 52 wine menu.

“You can’t go to a grocery store and get that,” Duke said.

Taylor Denman is a reporter born and raised in Gwinnett County. He came back home to seize the rare opportunity of telling stories in the county he grew up in.

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