David Wilmott and Darnell Morgan are the co-owners of Forks and Flavors in Kennesaw, located off of George Busbee Parkway. The married couple’s journey began with a catering business and a retail line of spices before venturing off into the restaurant business.
In June 2020, the pair decided to open their own restaurant. Despite the onset of the pandemic in March 2020, Morgan described the opportunity to open the restaurant as “the stars aligning very well” for him and his husband.
“The one thing a lot of people who want to do this say: ‘I don’t have time, I don’t have time to dedicate to writing the menus, and have time to dedicate to writing recipes; I don’t have time to look for a building,’” Morgan said. “Which is real. And everybody across the entire world was given something that’s the most valuable thing to everybody, and that’s their time. And we were given a lot of time to sit and think and plan and execute opening a brick-and-mortar restaurant.”
For three months, Wilmott and Morgan spent their time looking for the right building for Forks and Flavors to call home, before moving into their current space in September 2020. The couple was fortunate to find a location that was already fully furnished and only needed a few repairs.
“There were some slight renovations we had to do,” Morgan said. “We had to convert the kitchen from an all-electric kitchen to add gas to the kitchen… The previous restaurant that was here, their flooring got damaged because of a flood, and there was mold and stuff. So they had to get rid of that part of the flooring and cut off pieces of the wall. So we just had to replace that and replace the flooring, and we were ready to open.”
Forks and Flavors opened for the first time in November 2020.
The early days of owning and running a restaurant were a bit of a learning curve for Wilmott and Morgan. Wilmott, the executive chef at Forks and Flavors, learned how to cook from his family and didn’t attend a culinary arts school. He believes that cooking comes from the heart.
Despite his eight years of experience cooking professionally, Wilmott had never cooked in a restaurant setting before. Morgan, a National Guard retiree, has a background in healthcare information technology, so being a restaurant owner was a complete career change.
Working together for the first time took some getting used to, but with time, Wilmott and Morgan have been able to find a rhythm that works for them.
“We both know what our strengths and weaknesses are in our personal relationship,” Morgan said. “Now in our professional relationship, he’s the CEO and I’m the CEO… And we bump heads sometimes, but we are learning to get along with each other.”
Wilmott normally tends to the back of house and curates the food menus, while Morgan normally tends to the front of house and the drink menus.
According to Morgan, Forks and Flavors carries more Black-owned liquor brands than any other restaurant in the world. It took five bottles to have more Black-owned brands than any restaurant in Georgia.
“We don’t sell national brands, we sell Black; 95% of the bar is Black,” Morgan said. “Because not only is it a great market, but it’s an underserved market.”
In August of 2021, representatives from the Food Network contacted Wilmott and Morgan to see if they were interested in applying to be on “Restaurant Impossible,” hosted by celebrity chef Robert Irvine.
“They contacted us; they said that they would be in the area filming and asked if we were interested,” Wilmott said. “Of course, initially, it was like, ‘Oh yeah, sure of course.’ And then we didn’t send them the information … And then right after the holiday, they reached out again. And then we finally said, ‘Okay.’”
In February, a production team came to Forks and Flavors to renovate the space in 48 hours with a $10,000 budget.
Everything in the restaurant was updated; there are currently only four original tables left. A wall that separated both sides of the restaurant was removed as well, giving Forks and Flavors a more open-concept feel.
Forks and Flavors made its Food Network debut on the May 12 episode of “Restaurant Impossible,” titled “My Way or the Highway.”
Irvine introduced Wilmott to three new dishes: Georgia Peach BBQ Short Rib, Korean Fried Shrimp and Miso Crusted Flounder. Since being added to the menu, these have become some of Forks and Flavors’ best-selling dishes. Productivity and profits have also increased by 35% since the episode aired.
Wilmott and Morgan were already planning to do a renovation of their own, but were more than pleased with how everything came out on “Restaurant Impossible.”
“The colors [on the walls] are [Wilmott’s] favorite colors,” Morgan said. “And the industrial theme up there and everything, that’s all me. I love industrial looks, I love exposed piping, exposed bricks, and things like that. They did an amazing job with everything.”