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5Church’s cutting edge interior design & sophisticated ambiance is the perfect setting for your next corporate, social, or charitable event. Whether an intimate dinner party or an extravagant gala for 250 or more, our staff can create a truly memorable experience for you and your guests. Please contact our sales staff for details and availability.
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RJ Cooper named Executive Chef of Midtown Restaurant 5Church
The Most Anticipated Atlanta Restaurant Openings of 2016
Charlotte, North Carolina's 5Church restaurant "a 360-degree dining experience that blends award-winning food with top rate s
Jamie Lynch’s affinity for the high-octane kitchen life began when he was only 16 years old, worki...
With 20 years of experience in the restaurant industry under his belt, Patrick Whalen of 5Church Gro...
As the managing partner of all three locations of 5Church, Ayman Kamel is focused on establishing en...
For the past six years, Alejandro Torio has been keeping the party alive in Charlotte. His talent fo...
Despite achieving an impressive culinary pedigree, earning a James Beard Award and cultivating a pas...
Partner - Chef
Jamie Lynch’s affinity for the high-octane kitchen life began when he was only 16 years old, working his first job as a dishwasher at a local bar and grill in a Massachusetts fishing town.
He went on to attend the New England Culinary Institute in Burlington, Vermont, and work at such culinary heavyweights as Aqua in San Francisco and Le Cirque 2000, Aureole, Café Boulud and Tocqueville in New York City.
Upon moving to Charlotte, North Carolina, in 2002, Lynch worked at new American bistro Ethan’s, meeting farmer Sammy Koenigsberg of New Town Farms. “Seeing his produce, the chickens he was raising and the flavors he was cultivating from the earth just blew my mind,” Lynch recalls. “Before I knew it I was spending all my days off there to help. My attention shifted to the product and how it got to the plate.”
Lynch’s relationship with Charlotte’s sustainable farming community and the local dining culture grew from there, and in 2012 he accomplished his dream of starting his own restaurant with the opening of 5Church in the heart of Uptown Charlotte. He has since garnered many accolades, such as Charlotte Magazine’s Best Chef award in 2013, 2014 and 2015.
His cuisine at 5Church speaks to the diversity of the restaurants’ owners and is a hybrid of flavors from all over the world tied together with traditional culinary techniques and a philosophy of showcasing the ingredients rather than overproducing them. With the opening of two more 5Church locations in Charleston, South Carolina, and Atlanta, Georgia, he makes his mark in all three markets by offering both signature dishes as well as items that speak to each city’s geographical differences, from more meat-centric meals in Charlotte to a larger seafood selection in Charleston to playful, envelope-pushing dishes that reflect the unique cultural melting pot that is Atlanta.
Owner - Operator
With 20 years of experience in the restaurant industry under his belt, Patrick Whalen of 5Church Group (owner of 5Church and Nan and Byron’s) has held every position from dishwasher to bartender to manager.
His strategic ascent up the hospitality ladder, which began with a modest busboy role in a small neighborhood joint, has earned him a reputation as one of the top operators in his field.
The opening of 5Church’s initial location in Charlotte, North Carolina, in 2012 was Whalen’s entry into restaurant ownership, and his expertise in brand management, sales, operations and service has since earned him a designation as one of the youngest honorees to be chosen for the Charlotte Business Journal’s “Top 40 Under 40” and FSR Magazine’s “40 Under 40 Rising Stars.”
That expertise has also given him clear goals for the restaurant. “5Church has a rebellious spirit. Our chef can source local ingredients and be creative on the fly; we can be inventive with the space, and our service can be inspired, generous and genuine,” Whalen says. “There is nothing cookie-cutter about our restaurants.”
Delving into market research, design planning and business models has enabled Whalen and his partners to replicate the success of the Charlotte restaurant in other markets like Charleston, South Carolina, and Atlanta. But Whalen remains committed to his fundamental role – taking care of people. “Although brand development is requiring more and more of our attention, having ownership on site at all restaurant locations nearly every day is a top priority for us," he says. "We all really enjoy being on the floor with our guests and staff.”
Owner - Operator
As the managing partner of all three locations of 5Church, Ayman Kamel is focused on establishing enterprise-wide goals and creating a memorable guest experience.
“This is a 24/7 business that must be constantly refreshed and redefined,” he says. “The ability to think strategically is the most important leadership trait.”
A New York native, Kamel is a principal with 5Church Group (owner of 5Church and Nan and Byron’s). In January 2016, he moved his family to Atlanta so that he could be on the ground managing all aspects of 5Church’s newest location from A to Z. “I fell in love with Atlanta many years ago, and it has been my dream to open a restaurant here,” says Kamel of his affinity for 5Church’s newest location. “Because we are so hands-on with our operations, we are able to establish the same high-quality dining experience in Atlanta that we offer in Charlotte and Charleston. There is nothing like having the creators of 5Church’s culture standing in the restaurant on a daily basis to greet guests and keep an eye on the product. It makes all the difference.”
Prior to 5Church Group, Kamel was the executive general manager of the international entertainment group Big Bowl LLC, a firm focused on growth strategies, business improvement and systems optimization within the hospitality and retail industries. He previously served as an area director of operations for The Cheesecake Factory, where he was instrumental in positioning the Northeast region to lead all strategic development for expansion and profits.
Kamel is also active as an advisor and board member for several hospitality companies.
“I are very proud of the fact that we’ve built our company from scratch. Our guests are used to seeing us chipping in around the restaurants, and when my staff sees me doing this, it inspires them to work even harder,” he says. “There is only WE” isn’t just written on the restaurant’s ceiling; it is the 5Church mantra.”
Kamel currently lives in Midtown Atlanta with his wife and two children. In his spare time, he enjoys watching soccer games, following politics and reading up on restaurant business news.
Owner - Marketing Director
For the past six years, Alejandro Torio has been keeping the party alive in Charlotte. His talent for providing the charming Southern town with fresh entertainment concepts and cultivating a cutting-edge ambience draws diners into 5Church before they even realize just how badly they’ll want to stay.
Prior to moving to Charlotte in 2010, he co-produced numerous events featuring talents such as the Beastie Boys, DJ Mark Ronson and Moby. During this time, Torio also hosted weekly events at hot spots like Lotus, Centro-Fly and Marquee, earning himself a reputation as New York City's best promoter. With such a strong background in event production and promotion, Torio has seamlessly translated his past experience into hospitality brand management with 5Church Group (owner of 5Church and Nan and Byron’s).
Now, Torio handles the marketing and promotions for the whole company, which includes all three 5Church locations (Charlotte, Charleston and Atlanta). He also serves as the communications liaison. The brand that Torio has developed for 5Church has garnered attention from such reputable news sources as The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Washington Post and the Chicago Tribune.
A master of brand rollouts and grassroots campaigns, Torio’s greatest strengths are his ability to form genuine relationships and create a buzz about town. “I think restaurants are successful because of the personalities involved,” he says. “My partners and I are always at our restaurants, and we all bring something different to the table. As a group, we are able to combine our talents to wow guests from the start and make them want to stay for more than just a meal. We believe that dining out should be an event.”
Despite achieving an impressive culinary pedigree, earning a James Beard Award and cultivating a passion for modern cuisine throughout his many years in the restaurant industry, executive chef RJ Cooper still claims his profession chose him rather than the other way around.
“The culinary world drew me in because it requires the same teamwork and leadership skills needed in sports,” explains Cooper. “I felt the same camaraderie and adrenaline rush that I did when I was a baseball player.”
This esprit de corps is what makes Cooper a natural match for the 5Church team, which is a partnership built upon the motto that “there is only we.”
“I believe success starts with organization, proper technique and setting up my staff for success. Once you have these elements in place, the dynamics of food and service come out," says Cooper. "We all have the same focus, but we also bring our personal perspectives to the table, which elevates our process.”
Cooper, who began his career working under famed chefs Guenter Seeger at The Dining Room at The Ritz-Carlton, Buckhead and Gilbert Le Coze at Brasserie Le Coze in Atlanta, has returned to the city to collaborate with 5Church’s chef /partner Jamie Lynch in designing eclectic, technique-driven menus that represent both the well-rounded nature of 5Church’s owners and the culture of Atlanta.
“Atlanta has it all for me – there’s art, a music scene and old friends who act as a great support system. It’s like coming home after a long tour,” says Cooper.
A Detroit native who attended the Culinary School at Kendall College in Chicago, Cooper has a remarkable list of accomplishments under his belt. After his time in Atlanta, he worked under Eric Ripert at Le Bernardin in New York City and Brasserie Le Coze in Miami, Florida, before returning The Crow’s Nest Restaurant at Hotel Captain Cook in Anchorage, Alaska, to its original four-star, five-diamond rating.
He went on to generate accolades in Washington, DC, as the executive chef of New Heights Restaurant and then at Vidalia, where he worked for seven years with esteemed chef and owner Jeffrey Buben. While at Vidalia, Cooper was instrumental in the creation of tasting table “24,” received a 2006 Star Chefs Rising Star Award and the 2007 James Beard Award for Best Mid-Atlantic Chef.
“Jeffrey gave me the stage to really push my craft to the limit,” says Cooper of his mentor. “That was a turning point in my career because I understood not only how to do great food but also how to operate a restaurant.”
In 2011, with Buben’s encouragement, Cooper moved on to open his first restaurant, Rogue 24, in Washington D.C. An innovative cooking lair that featured a 24-course menu, Rogue 24 was the city’s first of its kind and earned a three-star review from The Washington Post. Cooper’s second restaurant, Gypsy Soul, opened in Fairfax, Virginia, in 2014, featuring a progressive menu with Mid-Atlantic and Southern influences. Now, he is furthering his Southern-inspired fare in Atlanta by starting with the best ingredients possible and honing them into great works of art while still maintaining their purity.
Cooper approaches food with a progressive style that is grounded in French cooking fundamentals yet showcases local ingredients. He also shares the same belief as 5Church’sowners that dining out should be an event: “I’m very much a believer in creating a dining experience.”
His culinary creativity is often inspired by simply walking down the street, picking local produce or experiencing a great meal and learning more about the process behind the dishes But his greatest motivation comes from his children, Ava and Bridgette. “They’re the best things I’ve ever made!”
Cooper lives in the Morningside neighborhood of Atlanta with his wife, Judy, and nine-year-old twin daughters. In his spare time, he enjoys listening to jam bands and riding motorcycles. He has even parlayed his appreciation for Harleys into a way to help end childhood hunger by co-founding Share Our Strength’s Chefs on Bikes program.