For almost ten years, Betsy McKay has been cooking and preparing comfort food in her take-out restaurant Casseroles.
McKay was no stranger to the restaurant industry — it was her career for most of her adult life — but she took a break from it and worked as a wine importer for three years after getting burned out and growing tired of long working hours. However, it didn’t take long for McKay to miss her time in restaurants.
She didn’t want the long grueling hours, so returning to her first career would have to wait. However, the wait wouldn’t be too long. In an interview with Georgia Voice, McKay recalled that the budding idea of owning her own restaurant came to her after visiting her mother.
After her mother had knee surgery, someone brought her a casserole. That casserole, a delicious oven-baked meal, got McKay thinking. She began to research and found that there were no take-out restaurants selling casseroles in Atlanta. “It was a great opportunity to get back into the food industry but not have the hassles of a typical restaurant,” McKay said.
Thus, Casseroles was born. Casseroles is a take-out shop with a professional restaurant-trained staff that prepares not only traditional single-dish meals but also cuisines from around the world with a Hispanic, French or Asian flair.
According to McKay, the goal was simple: provide appetizing Southern comfort food. They offer a core menu of casseroles to choose from, but to keep it fun and exciting they also offer specials of the day. The specials of the day are made from fresh seasonal ingredients. Casseroles also prepares all their dishes with fresh ingredients and makes all their own sauces and chicken and vegetable stocks. They also use herbs and spices to keep sodium content low without compromising the flavor of their casseroles.
As she prepares to celebrate ten years in March, McKay recalled with a chuckle that she never expected Casseroles to be as successful as it has become. In the beginning, McKay often worked the front of the shop and in the kitchen prepping and cooking meals. It was while working in the front and listening to her customers that she implemented many of their suggestions and needs.
“The first couple of years the customers highjacked the ship, and I was running behind trying to keep up,” McKay remembered of the early days of learning what her customers wanted and needed. Casseroles eventually became a one-stop shop for those who want to pick up dinner for their families, food for parents who gave birth and people dealing with sickness, holidays, and potlucks. Besides the main casserole dishes, they also offer fixings for salads, breads, and desserts. Customers can choose from a frozen casserole to cook later or one from the cooler that they can warm up for dinner.
Unlike many restaurants and businesses that were forced to close or have suffered from loss of business due to the COVID-19 pandemic, McKay said they still have a regular stream of customers who bought casseroles for their families.
Safety and cleanliness have always been a top priority for McKay and her small staff. They were already operating according to the CDC guidelines with the exception of wearing masks. Now, they wear masks, take temperatures and practice social distancing. They also offer curbside pickup and delivery to some locations.
For customers who would like to come inside and pick out their casseroles and other side items, masks are required. Three people are allowed inside at a time, and workers disinfect after every customer. They ask customers who may be waiting outside to remain six feet apart and to remain six feet away from employees inside.
To learn more about Casseroles and their menu offerings, visit their website at casserolesatlanta.com or their Facebook page at Casseroles Atlanta. Casseroles is located at 1393 North Highland Avenue, behind the shops that face N. Highland (Highland Runners, Highland Diamonds). You can access the shop from N. Highland Avenue by a driveway found to the right of Sorrell Boutique.