On the wall of Horseradish Grill is a painting of family members sitting around a dining room table. The painting was done by Steven Alterman’s sister Phyllis Ranco and it says much about his family that not only ate together but worked together to build a grocery dynasty in Atlanta through much of the 20th century.
When Steven left the Alterman family business after the sale of all the grocery stores in 1980, he was vice president of store operations. He recalls that at one time in the more than 50 years the business grew and thrived in Atlanta, there were as many as 13 members of the family working in the business.
To a lesser degree, the tradition of that business lives on today. Although Steven blatantly states he hopes his sons will not end up in the food business, both sons, Josh and Daniel both work on and off at their father’s Horseradish Grill on Powers Ferry Road in Buckhead.
“Among other things, Josh is a baseball coach,” his father states. “That’s first love and that’s what he’s studying in school. God willing when he graduates that’s what it will be instead of the restaurant business.” He is studying sports management.
Daniel graduated from Suwanee. “He worked at Longhorn for four years and just came over here to help out,” Alterman says.
Steven’s earliest recollections of life in the Alterman family was as a kid on Whitehall Street. “They had about 14,000 square feet on two floors. There was a metal chute that went from the second floor to the first floor and they would use it to get some of the groceries down.” He admits the kids also would often slide down the chute.
“I distinctly remember the smells of Whitehall Street,” he adds. “Upstairs is where they kept the cigarettes and the candy. There was a real sweet smell.” Then the operation moved to 933 Lee Street.
“My grandfather Louis Alterman was a lot of fun. He didn’t speak a lot of English, but whatever he said, they saluted,” Steven recalls.
He said his grandfather sold out the company to three of his sons for $25,000 when he saw a stranger handling the family’s money in the cash register.