Mandy and Kelvin Slater prepare to open Rooftop L.O.A. on top of the Interlock building in West Midtown.
Slater Hospitality founders Mandy and Kelvin Slater operate Skyline Park and 9 Mile Station atop Ponce City Market and are launching Atlanta’s first non-hotel rooftop pool experience on the westside this fall.
In business together for more than 20 years, the couple met when Kelvin hired Mandy as a waitress at the Melbourne, Florida Chili’s he was managing. They married in 2003 and today have two children—Giana, 7, and Rocco, 9—and manage a 250-person company specializing in rooftop hospitality.
“We’re psycho about little details,” Mandy says. “We used to do everything [ourselves]. Now we have a whole team of people.”
After working in both mom and pop and corporate restaurants— Mandy in service and Kelvin in the kitchen—the Slaters moved to Atlanta to get out of the business. They opened cell phone accessory kiosks in malls and reveled in the ability to set their own hours. But when the phone accessory market became saturated, they felt the restaurant world calling and opened Blue Moon Pizza in 2003. By the time they sold it in 2015, they’d grown the funky homespun chain to five locations.
“Food is very important in an Italian family [like mine],” Mandy says. “It’s about bringing everyone together at the table and talking for hours.”
After traveling, the Slaters realized Atlanta lacked a unique rooftop restaurant and beer garden. They pitched the idea to Jamestown, operator of Ponce City Market, and opened The Roof, the kitschy boardwalk, restaurant and (later) event space, in 2016. Now the Slaters are preparing to launch their most ambitious project yet: a high-in-the sky, adults-only resort-style pool, restaurant and bar dubbed Leave of Absence or L.O.A. Located on the roof of The Interlock building on the corner of 14th Street and Howell Mill Road, L.O.A. promises to bring a new level of hospitality to the area.
We spoke to Mandy to learn more about L.O.A., her working style and family life.
What is your current role in the company?
I lean more to the creative side and handle design. Kelvin is CEO. He’s the connection guy, taking calls and meetings about new projects. We both do business development and new ideas. We have an office downstairs at Ponce City Market.
How do you stay “on” when you’re tired or not in the mood?[This job] gives me energy. As soon as I get to work, I’m fired up about everything. You don’t realize how tired you are until you get home. You’re running on adrenaline most of the time.
What’s the most surprising part of your job?
It’s hard to go from working in a business feeling useful every day to running it and not feeling as useful. I struggled with that transition for a while. You want to get to the step where you’re not there open to close six days a week, but when it happens, it’s not too much fun.
How do you and Kelvin handle disagreements given that you work and live together?
We’ve gotten better at this, and now there are fewer and fewer disagreements. We used to only talk about work. Now, we have a weekly “staff meeting” of our household to talk about things that are bothering us.
What do you like to do outside of work?
I spend a lot of time at the baseball fields with my kids. I play tennis and hang out with my girlfriends. We go to our house in North Georgia. Kelvin likes to play golf and chess, cook and drink Italian red wine. We love to get out of the city, try new things and travel with our team.
How did you come up with the concept for L.O.A.?
We always talked about this idea of a pool and poolside service without having to stay in a $500-a-night hotel. We approach business as what is not out there—and what would we want to go to.
What are your plans for the future?
We’re rooftop people now. We’re always looking for a new one. We like the downtown area near the stadium.
1115 Howell Mill Road
Foodie Tastemaker Columnist at Simply Buckhead. Contributing Editor at Atlanta Magazine. Restaurant Aficionado and Mother of Two.