Name: Daniel Auffenberg
Family: Wife, Claire Auffenberg, no children, but we of course treat our dog as a child. She is a 2-year-old Golden Doodle named Ginger.
Years in the Golden Isles: About one year – we moved here in September 2020.
Training: Undergraduate degree – marketing and management from Texas Christian University; culinary school – French Culinary Institute, New York City and management training, Pappas Restaurant Group, Dallas.
Occupation: Owner and executive chef, Dorothy’s Cocktail & Oyster Bar
What is your culinary background? After culinary school I worked at a classic French bakery in Dallas. I then moved back to New York to work at Gramercy Tavern. It was here that my culinary education really took off. I worked many positions in the kitchen, but by far my favorite experience was working as the assistant butcher, where I learned to break down pigs, lambs, cows, and an assortment of other animals and fish. After Gramercy, I decided to try my hand as a front-of-house manager. So I moved back to Dallas and got a job as a manager with the Pappas Restaurant Group. The Pappas group put me through an intensive training schedule where I worked every position in the restaurant over several months. After the training I helped manage a restaurant that would do up to a 1,000 covers a night. It was a crash course in how to manage chaos. After a while with the Pappas Group, I left the restaurant industry for a couple years to do commercial leasing for restaurants and retail. However, after a while I realized the service industry was calling me back and my wife and I decided it was time to follow our dreams and open our own restaurant.
Tell us about how you arrived in the Golden Isles: My parents moved to the area in 2016, right when my wife, Claire, and I met and began dating. Claire and I fell in love with the area and ultimately I proposed to her here and we married on St. Simons in 2018. We knew opening a restaurant was in our future and we felt certain that St. Simons was the place to do it. The growth here has been incredible and we felt that Dorothy’s would thrive.
Tell us about the story and atmosphere of Dorothy’s: Dorothy’s is named for my maternal grandmother, Dorothy Ruth Crane. My grandmother was an excellent cook and homemaker and we wanted to honor her legacy. The decor of the restaurant is British Colonial and was inspired by travels to Southeast Asia my wife and I have taken. We designed it to make people feel like they just walked into the home of a British expat in Singapore or Indonesia.
What are the menu highlights of Dorothy’s? Our raw bar is obviously a big part of our concept. I think everyone should start with at least one course from there. If it were me, I’d have to go with the Salmon Aguachile. It is a unique blend of fresh mango, salty cucumbers, fatty salmon and a little kick. Our hot menu is heavily Asian-influenced. I’d have to say my favorite appetizer is the octopus with banana and green curry. For the entree, I have to go with the fire-roasted chicken. I think it’s hands-down the best item on the menu!
What items does Dorothy’s locally source? We try to work with as many local farmers and purveyors as possible. We get our chickens and eggs from Grassroots Farms. Our pork comes from Hickox Family Farm. Our shrimp comes from Native Seafood on Tybee Island. We get local produce from Greenway Gardens, Pottlicker Farms and Crossroads Farm & Garden. We get our local seafood from Eckerd Seafood. We also get regional seafood from Farmers & Fishermen, based in Atlanta. They are a very small purveyor and work as a middleman from the fishing boats to us.
What are your goals for the future of your company? In the immediate future we hope to open for lunch five days a week. Long-term we really aren’t setting any limitations. We would love to have multiple restaurants in the Golden Isles and expand to other places like Savannah and Jacksonville as well!