With a client list that reads like a veritable who’s who of Atlanta, from the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Jeffrey Fashion Cares to 99x and every hip eatery and happening in town, PR maven Caren West is an authority on the best places to eat, sleep, shop, play, and be seen in the city. Always five steps ahead of every local and national trend, West elevated Atlanta’s PR landscape when her namesake company launched the city’s first event navigator app for iPhone that not only tells you what events are going on in town but allows you to RSVP, get directions, and grab a cab to or from the event. Between her impeccable sense of style, she has worked with Barney’s CO-OP, Dragonfly Salon, and Daily Candy just to name a few, and tenacious energy this Atlantan by way of Maryland is sure to continue changing what it means to be a publicist in a city full of boutique firms.
Where were you born ?
I was born in the beautiful state of Maryland. I grew up in Annapolis and then moved to Ellicott City, which is located right outside of Baltimore.
How long in Atlanta:
I have been living in Atlanta since 1997.
Both my office and my loft are smack dab in the heart of the Old Fourth Ward. I absolutely love my neighborhood and can’t imagine living anywhere else in Atlanta.
President of Caren West PR, a full-service public relations and graphic design firm specializing in lifestyle and events. Feel free to stalk us at carenwestpr.com or via our new iPhone app, the CWPR Event Navigator. Of course, we’re also on Facebook at www.facebook.com/carenwestpr and you can follow us on Twitter at @carenwestpr.
I go through phases, but three restaurants that will never fall of my list are Rathbun’s, Aria and Bacchanalia. You can also find me at P’cheen International Bistro & Pub at least once a week.
I was surprised to discover that Park Tavern has the best sushi I have ever tasted in Atlanta. I realize this is a bold statement. When we started working with them I discovered that they fly in sashimi-grade premium fish daily from Hawaii. They also have something called the “salt block experience” where you can cook wagyu beef and their sashimi grade fish on a Himalayan salt block that they heat in the oven. They give you seaweed wraps, sushi rice, sesame seeds and Asian fixins to create your own wrap or sushi roll. It’s a blast. Oh, because they fly the fish in daily, every night at 10 p.m. sushi is half off. Try it! I promise you’ll love it.
Best Ethnic Food:
Clearly Buford Highway is the expected answer, but there are so many fabulous in town dining destinations I love to go to that have brilliant ethnic or ethnic inspired cuisine. Pura Vida, Café Circa, Nan, Nuevo Laredo Cantina and Il Localino are some of my favorites. I also live for the chef’s curry trio at P’cheen.
I adore Il Localino, which has been open for 11 years in Inman Park. La Tavola in Virginia-Highland is another fave.
Best place for late night dining:
A lot of people don’t realize that the kitchen stays open really late at Café Circa, one of our clients, which is very convenient to my office and works well for my lifestyle. I also frequent the Edgewood Corner Tavern, which has come to my rescue quite a few times after logging ridiculously long hours. And, if you haven’t hit Victory Sandwich Bar in Inman Park, you’re missing out. Their mini-sandwiches always hit the spot.
I’m not a big dessert person, but Rathbun’s mini banana peanut butter cream pie is simply to die for. We also did a media tasting at Diesel Filling Station and I fell in love with the fried chocolate cake…so did everybody else. Each bite melts in your mouth and it is the ultimate indulgence. Go figure!
Best place for a romantic date:
I am more of a take me to a dive bar and a hockey game type of gal when it comes to romance so I am probably the wrong person to ask. I do love relaxing and enjoying conversation over a glass of wine and small plates at Krog Bar. Dining in the wine cellar at Aria is as romantic as it gets. Oh, and if Francine Reed is doing one of her intimate performances at Café Circa, that is an absolute must.
Best Sunday brunch:
Sun In My Belly is one of the best brunch spots in Atlanta. It is very affordable, the food is delicious and the ambiance is charming. You can also bring in a bottle of champagne for mimosas for a minor corking fee. Café 640 has a delicious brunch and its patio overlooking Highland is ideal for people watching. Diesel Filling Station has some of the best Bloody Marys in Atlanta and its brunch lasts until 3:30 p.m. for late-starters like me. Try the biscuits and gravy with vegetarian sausage or Death Muffin – if you dare.
I am biased because we work with the Gold Room from time to time and we also work with Tongue & Groove - an Atlanta nightlife institution. I am a big fan of people watching and both have kept me entertained for hours.
Best place for a power business meeting:
Once again, I am probably not the best person to ask about business power meeting spots, as we tend to be a bit unconventional at CWPR. We have executed some of our biggest deals at dives, events and our office. I have had some nice business meetings at The Ellis Hotel at the Terrace Restaurant, which overlooks Peachtree Street. Condesa Coffee, which recently opened at the Tribute Lofts, is another ideal spot; it is a block away from our office, it has Wi-Fi and the coffee is fantastic.
All-around favorite spot in Atlanta:
I am a diehard fan of the Old Fourth Ward. There is an overall sense of community in my neighborhood and I am very proud to be a part of it. There’s also something very moving to me about living in such a historic neighborhood.
If you have out of town guests, which hotel would you recommend?
Honestly, it depends on their agenda, but Loews Hotel, The Glenn Hotel, and W Midtown are my go-to recommendations and they all welcome dogs.
Favorite shopping venue/boutique:
Barneys CO-OP in Phipps Plaza and Sandpiper. I also hit Urban Outfitters on Ponce quite a bit out of convenience. For anything pet related I go to Inman Park Pet Works.
Best place to buy Jewelry/Watches:
Since I lose and break jewelry like it is my job, I tend to buy pieces I can part with. Banana Republic has affordable options that always impress. Worthmore Jewelers never disappoints and has a very diverse selection for men and women.
I am not into the new age music & trickling fountains vibe at some spas. I like spas with distinct personalities, relaxed atmospheres, and talented experts that can the job done without any B.S. Spa Sentio, Aviary Organic Beauty Collective and Fabu Face Spa are my top picks.
Favorite Charity Event:
Jeffrey Fashion Cares! We are so honored to have the opportunity to handle the PR for such an amazing event that donates 93 cents out of each dollar to the Atlanta AIDS Fund and Susan G. Komen for the Cure – Great Atlanta Affiliate.
Favorite Cultural Event:
Dad’s Garage Theatre’s BaconFest, really.
Favorite Cultural Institution:
Woodruff Arts Center
Best Aspect of Atlanta:
Higland Tap. Give me a dirty martini, a perfectly cooked filet and great conversation in that dimly lit, cavernous dining spot and all is right with the world.
Here’s the deal: I love pizza and I am in no way a pizza snob. It’s pretty hard to screw up pizza in my eyes and it is one of my favorite comfort foods. I tend to grab a slice out of convenience, so usually head to pizza joints in my ‘hood. My regular stops are Jack’s Pizza & Wings (ask for Porter, he’s one of the best bartenders around), Fellini’s on Ponce and Pizza Vesuvius.
I am not a big “luncher” during the week, because I am overly distracted by work, but I am slightly obsessed with Elliott Street Pub’s sandwiches. We also work with The Real Chow Baby on Ponce. It’s a great quick-serve lunch option with healthy offerings and booze, which are both a plus in my book.
Best Gym/Athletic Facility:
Sadly, I completely suck at exercising, so I usually hit the gym on the rooftop at Tribute Lofts or take advantage of the Freedom Park PATH Trail.
Fabu Face Spa
Best Limousine/Driving Service:
Interns. Just kidding. We’re not committed to any driving service, but we do love the Fur Bus when the occasion calls for it.
Favorite historic/legendary place to see or explore:
Best Broadway show:
Anything with gloATL in it. We are also big supporters of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and have been very fortunate to work with them over the years.
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