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our story

Scout conveniently sits in the heart of Oakhurst Village, with its “Main Street, U.S.A.” charm. The restaurant and bar harken a sense of Americana, speaking to nostalgia for idealized small town life and a simpler bygone time. This cultural heritage is closely tied to the fare served, embracing a creative take on American cuisine and crafted cocktails that showcase the use of local and regional products, but also emphasize authenticity, transparency, and quality.
These efforts echo Scout’s curious passion for nature and the bounty it has to offer.

In homage to it’s home in the historic Old Scottish Rite Hospital, ‘Scout’ is built upon contribution to community and the highest of ethical standards. Our neighborhood eatery is named for organized scouting, helping to build a memorable relationship that speaks to both guests’ bellies and souls. Much like the movement, we stress unity and a brotherly sense of togetherness through shared experiences and good citizenship, but most importantly, around reliably superb food and drink. A scout is both loyal and trustworthy, and in all circumstances we strive to embody this very best of characters, willing to sacrifice his own pleasure or comfort in the name of duty. Focus is not placed on good deeds themselves, but rather the ability to recognize when service is needed. This dedication and altruistic character are the foundation upon which ‘Scout’ stands — bringing our history and code of conduct to life in an approachable family-friendly setting — for you, our neighbors, to enjoy.

the team

Chris Martha, Managing Partner

Growing up in Pittsburgh, PA, Chris Martha started working in hospitality at an early age. He developed a passion for the business at age 14, when he scaled the ranks from dishwasher, bus boy, line cook to waiter as a high schooler. He went on to earn a business degree in hotel restaurant management from Penn State University and studied abroad in Switzerland where he fell in love with food and its deeply rooted connection with family and culture. Throughout his career, he has worked in nearly all facets of the industry, from casual to fine dining, within both hotels and restaurants. With this foundational experience, Chris is embarking on his own venture with Scout, his own restaurant just around the corner from his family’s home.

Martha’s career began with an internship with Hyatt Regency Resorts in Hilton Head, SC, which led to a permanent position at the hotel’s location in Beaver Creek, CO. Hyatt proved to be an excellent training ground but his heart was in smaller, independent eateries. He moved to Atlanta during the tourism surge brought on by the 1996 Olympic Games and spent seven years with Fifth Group Restaurants, including Atlanta favorites such as South City Kitchen, LaTavola and The Food Studio. Ultimately, Chris became director of operations for their catering arm, Bold American Food Company.

His next opportunity led him to open Spice, the acclaimed Buckhead restaurant where he was general manager for six years. After he ended his run at Spice, Chris and partner Scott McCray opened “McCray’s West Village Tavern” located in the Symrna/Vinings area of Atlanta. From there, Chris found his way back to fine dining as general manager of La Pietra Cucina. His extensive experience has helped Chris focus on driving operational efficiencies without compromising the overall experience and satisfaction of his guests, an attribute that served him well in his most recent post at The Georgian Terrace hotel. Now, Chris has turned his attention to a project that is built wholly on his vision and to his high standards and specifications with Scout.

Located on the bustling Oakhurst square, literally right around the corner from Chris’ house where he lives with his wife and two children, Scout aims to bring good cheer to a neighborhood that means quite a bit to Chris and his family. With a focus on serving the neighborhood first, Chris is still drawing on the lessons he learned in his formative years studying abroad and working his way through the restaurant ranks in high school. Scout draws people in, makes them comfortable, creates lasting memories and serves as a positive force for Oakhurst and all visitors. This genuine positivity paired with Chris’ passion and experience make Scout one of the rare restaurants that will never wear out its welcome.

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Michael Semancik, Executive Chef & Partner

Michael Semancik brings over 25 years of industry experience to his position of executive chef of Scout, the new restaurant and bar in Decatur’s Oakhurst neighborhood. A graduate of Georgia State University here in Atlanta, Semancik attended the Delgado Culinary Arts program in New Orleans to further his culinary education. Upon graduation, he studied art and design in New York City, the results of which are evident in his visually beautiful – and delicious – dishes.

Chef Semancik’s resume boasts an impressive roster of American restaurants including roles as executive chef at New York’s Blue Ribbon Bakery and Mike’s on the Avenue in New Orleans. He is no stranger to the Atlanta fine dining scene, having worked with Kevin Rathbun at Nava and Jay Swift at South City Kitchen and serving as executive banquet chef at the private Piedmont Driving Club. During his time at South City Kitchen, Chef Semancik worked for the first time with Chris Martha, the operating partner of Scout. The two formed a connection that has propelled both of their careers forward in the ensuing years. At Scout, their partnership takes on a new life as they grow roots in a neighborhood in which they’re both personally invested.

Chef Semancik also has extensive hospitality and tourism experience with leadership roles at two of the nation’s best hotels. From 2009-2013, he was the executive chef of the AAA Four-Diamond Hotel, The Mansion on Forsyth Park, a leading luxury hotel in Savannah, GA and its award-winning restaurant, 700 Drayton. Prior to that, Chef Semancik was executive chef and food and beverage director at the Cliff House Resort and Spa in Ogunquit, Maine.

In his position at Scout, Chef Semancik has created a dining program that feels familiar and comfortable while offering something new in every visit from neighborhood regulars. His menu evokes feelings of home even as he turns a keen eye towards responsibly sourced ingredients and a studied form of cooking. With Chef Semancik at the helm of the kitchen, Scout sets the standard for the classic neighborhood restaurant that people return to again and again.

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Nate Shuman, Beverage Director

Nate Shuman, born and farm-raised in Kennesaw, found his passion for bartending after endeavors in several different career fields, from design to software production. Always an insatiable creator, these pursuits failed to grab his imagination. Shuman first stepped foot behind the bar at local Atlanta restaurant P’cheen where he learned the basics of bartending and began to get a feel for the general craft cocktail scene under lead bartender Tom Williams. Shuman eventually became the lead bartender himself, and under his direction P’cheen was voted best local bar in Atlanta. After two years, he moved on to help open another local favorite: 4th & Swift. At Chef Jay Swift’s ambitious restaurant, Shuman refined his education in artisanal products and classic bartending technique. This opportunity led him to a balancing act between 4th & Swift and Sound Table, the Edgweood restaurant and music venue known for cutting-edge music that matches the food and drink.

Ultimately, Shuman chose to fully commit to Sound Table and worked under prominent beverage professionals such as Paul Calvert and Navarro Carr. He credits his work with them as one of the most influential and educational experiences in his career thus far. After leaving Sound Table, Shuman worked for the critically acclaimed neighborhood gem Top Flr for more than two years, where he made major contributions to the cocktail program and grew his ever-expanding skill set. At Top Flr, Shuman worked alongside even more talent, including some of Atlanta’s best bartenders in Lance Warner, Brian Stranger, Ryan Fitch and others.

In August of 2011 Shuman joined the team at Livingston Restaurant + Bar at The Georgian Terrace hotel. He quickly took the existing cocktail list and updated it to truly reflect the restaurant’s gorgeous space. At Scout, Shuman is using his finely-honed skills to once again create a cocktail program that reflects his surroundings. The beverages at Scout will cater to the tastes of the neighborhood and imbue the restaurant and its diners with cheerful feelings of goodwill. Shuman will draw on his extensive skillset to create cocktails that are truly simple and appealing; as any bartender will tell you, simplicity is one of the most difficult and rewarding feats to achieve in a new cocktail. In Shuman, the Oakhurst neighborhood has a new friend who will create drinks that always seem to convince you to order one more before a short walk home.

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Eater Atlanta » December 27, 2017

"...and, there are plenty of new restaurants that opened this past year that improve their neighborhoods and make me wish I lived closer to them: Oakhurst's Scout, for instance..."full article

Zagat » December 3, 2017

"Taking advantage of some seriously stunning architecture — complete with an airy interior and lots of windows — Scout is the best example of the cozy Decatur neighborhood's revitalization; while still retaining its say-hi-to-the-neighbors charm, Oakhurst's revamped its core. Add to the gorgeous setting executive chef and partner Michael Semancik's New American cuisine, presented on a menu designed to encourage sharing and tasting, and you've got a winner. "full article

Thrillist » November 13, 2017

"It’s located inside a former Old Scottish Rite Hospital, and charges itself with a sense of duty akin to the meaning of its name... but in terms of food and not all that tying knots, reading compasses, and opening things with Swiss Army knives. Executive chef Michael Semancik, who worked with chefs Kevin Rathbun and Jay Swift before either had their own restaurants, leads the mission from the airy, naturally lit historic space. The kitchen puts out shareable snacks like split smoked chicken wings, Western-style beef jerky (basically teriyaki), and PBR-battered cauliflower, as well as regional entrees such as bowls of Georgia red shrimp Creole, and cast-iron tasso ham-crusted red fish. The drinks, courtesy of ATL barman Nate Shuman from the P’cheen days, are also expertly made. "full article

Eater Atlanta » December 9, 2016

"Chris Martha, chef Michael Semancik, and beverage director Nate Shuman, who have all spent time at The Georgian Terrace hotel, are reuniting at Scout. Semancik will serve modern Southern cuisine, but he’s steering clear of typical comfort food. Shuman wants to pour 'a great version of your favorite drink — whether it’s a cocktail original to our restaurant or a classic that anyone could make at home.'" full article

MyAJC.com » June 15, 2016

"Southern cuisine restaurant Scout has named an executive chef in advance of its opening in Oakhurst later this year. The move will reunite Michael Semancik, who will serve as both executive chef and partner, with operating partner Chris Martha. The two first worked together when Martha hired Semancik for his first sous chef position at South City Kitchen more than 20 years ago. Most recently, they collaborated as the directors of the food and beverage program at the Georgian Terrace hotel.” full article

Atlanta Magazine » April 5, 2016

"A new Southern-inspired restaurant called Scout will soon join staples like Steinbeck’s and Mezcalito’s in Oakhurst. The dinner and weekend brunch spot is the brainchild of Chris Martha, formerly of Proof & Provision and McCray’s West Village Tavern. Scheduled to open in late June, Scout replaces McGowan’s Oakhurst Pub and a section of the Solarium at Scottish Rite, and aims to serve 'food interpretive of Southern regional cooking but not just fried chicken or meatloaf,' Martha says."full article