Krista Slater was born in Orlando, Florida and graduated from Lake Howell High. She attended Rollins College in Winter Park, FL where she got a degree in Art History and Humanities and then completed culinary school in Northern California. She became a Certified Sommelier in 2006, working in the food and wine industry in the California Bay Area before moving to Georgia. Krista moved to the Athens area with her husband and business partner Jerry in 2018 when they opened The Expat restaurant in Five Points, a French bistro and cocktail bar named one of the Best New Bars in the South 2018 by Garden & Gun Magazine. She will be opening The Lark, a wine shop with food, in the former Avid Bookshop space on Prince Avenue in September. Krista still loves to paint and occasionally runs a marathon. She and Jerry just bought a home in the Chicopee-Dudley neighborhood, where they live with their two dope cats, 2Dubs and Chan.
What do you love about your job?
I would say there are two flip sides. From the administrative side, the non-dealing with people side, I like how every day is different. I really don’t thrive in desk job environments, and with restaurants I love how many moving parts there are. I thrive on that. On the front-of-house side, what I really like about dealing with people is getting them excited about trying something new. My big thing is drinking the same wine night after night is like the worst slow death ever. Life is too short. So I get really jazzed when people come in, and I can turn them on to something new and that changes their whole view. That can be about food too, not just wine but that is my main bag here.
When you are not eating at your own restaurant, and pretending that things are normal, where do you like to eat in Athens and what do you love there?
This is a hard one because it is like choosing favorites between your friends, but what I will say is we don’t get to go out that much for dinner, but we have a few traditional favorites for when we are sneaking around. If Jerry and I get to leave early and don’t have to work all night, we love to pop over to Donna Chang’s and have pork dumplings and dry fried eggplant and a glass of whatever wine they recommend. When we are celebrating a special occasion, it is usually at lunch and we go to The National and we have lovely wine with lunch and the food is always good…whatever it is. Then, if it has been a very busy weekend, we are always off on Sundays together, so we will go to Heirloom for a late lunch and have draft beer and nibbles (I love their veggie burger).
If you are not going out for dinner, what is your favorite thing to do in Athens?
Any day, my favorite thing to do is, and I started this in California, I call it urban hiking. I just like to wander, and I think Athens has a lot of very distinct, great neighborhoods. So, roaming. Roaming Boulevard, roaming Chicopee-Dudley, roaming Five Points. Just exploring, wandering around and seeing the little hidden histories or nuances to each neighborhood. It is a very walkable city, especially coming from Atlanta, it has been super fun to have that back. That, and I like to go to The Manhattan Cafe and have a gin and tonic.
If you could see any band or show, anywhere, dead or alive, any venue, what would you see and where?
This is a hard one! I will say the most honest answer is I was obsessed and am still obsessed with Concrete Blonde when I was in high school, and I never got to see them live. They are not dead, but they are defunct. I would love to see Concrete Blonde in concert, and they are from L.A., but I don’t really love L.A. I love San Francisco. So, I would love to see them in San Francisco in the 90’s if I could and wander around The Mission District afterwards.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Life is not going to be a linear path and that is okay so stop freaking out (to whatever age this young self is) about not being where you think you should be right now, because you are going to thrive on this non-linear path.
Do you have a favorite book, or a book you find yourself re-reading or referencing often?
I definitely don’t re-read. I am a big nonfiction reader. I love memoir. I love David Sedaris, and I buy every one of his books, and I recommend them. Lately, I have friends who have children who are graduating high school which is a new thing for me. There is a great book that I love by a musician/artist named Amanda Palmer called The Art of Asking, and I think it is a really great book for women going into the world. I love to gift it to young women, especially creative women.
If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?
I have never been to Spain so my answer is probably Barcelona. Jerry and I had thought about a grand trip for my 40th this year, but that didn’t happen. So, I think if I had to say just one place on the spot, I would love to go to Barcelona for the food culture, for the art culture, the architecture, and Jerry has never been there either. The new explorations together would be great.
If you could have lunch with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be and where?
I think I just want to see my best friend, I haven’t seen her in years. I am still very close to my childhood best friend from Florida, and her name is Jessica Hall and she is a badass musician pursuing her PhD in musical performance, and raising two children and helping run her family’s real estate company. She is funny as shit, and I would love to see her again. I would love to go to New Orleans with her. We have never done that. It is one of my favorite places in the world, and just show her things that I think she would get excited about like Peche. I love lunch at Peche. They have a cozy bar right next to the front windows. You can sit and have a good glass of wine, and people watch in the street and everything is delicious.
What is something interesting about you that most people don’t know?
I think that most people know that I am a painter. So, what I think is the interesting thing is I don’t present as a typical distance runner, but I love to distance run. I have done five full marathons in my life, at least double that in half marathons and a countless number of 10ks. It is my favorite thing to do other than food and beverage. It is a great way to see a city. I have helped turn Jerry on to running, he never ran before me and my obsessive nature with running has gone down a little bit since I have met him. It is something we do together to relieve stress and have fun. Most recently we did Chicago and it was his first full marathon. It was the first one I had done in like five years because I hurt my knee. Distance running is a very good tool for me as an entrepreneur because it is so hard to run more than fifteen miles. From my head, when you get to that twenty mile point, I think: if I can do this I can do anything from a physical and mental capacity standpoint. It just may be a surprise to some people because I love to eat and drink so I am not like this skinny, wiry runner. We ran the marathon in Chicago, and we spent the next three days just eating everything everywhere. It is why whenever we go do Charleston Food & Wine or Tails of the Cocktail, we always have a great trip because we love running in those cities and we never go too far. We never drink too much, we never eat too heavy because we know we want to get up and run.
What three words or phrases come to mind when you think of the word “home”?
Jerry, because we have moved so many times together and he is my rock; sketchbook, because it’s where my mind lives; and kitchen (ok and cats!).