Lenz recently presented the fifth annual Amplify Decatur concert series at iconic Eddie’s Attic from June 26 to 28, helping to raise $25,000 for Decatur Cooperative Ministry, a nonprofit that helps to keep families out of homelessness.

Since the first Amplify event (it was formerly known as Poverty Is Real) in 2011, Amplify has helped to raise nearly $75,000 for DCM and has served as the presenting sponsor each year. Amplify was founded by Lenz partner and vice president of marketing Mike Killeen, who remains an Amplify board member. Spencer Smith serves as Amplify’s executive director.

“Since our firm was founded 23 years ago in Decatur, part of our company’s mission has been to try to support the local community through a wide variety of public service, initiatives and sponsorships,” said Richard J. Lenz, founder, president and CEO of Lenz, who also has served as a founding member of the board of the AJC Decatur Book Festival, a nonprofit. “We are pleased that our efforts might help in some small way to alleviate the problem of homelessness for families in need. With this event, we creatively combine our love of music with positive action in Decatur to perform a public good. What Mike Killeen and Spencer Smith have been building with the organization is very smart, extremely effective, and inspiring.”

This year’s lineup was headlined by influential alternative country pioneer Jay Farrar and comprised six separate shows, including one by Christian artist Brady Toops. Two of the founding members of the label-defying band Cracker, known for its big ‘90’s alternative radio hits, performed two shows. Amplify Decatur also featured a Kids’ Show performed by female duo The Wishing Jar and a Neil Young tribute that included a number of notable local artists.

Jay Farrar

Jay Farrar

The weekend schedule included:

  • FRIDAY, JUNE 26, 7:30 p.m.: Performance by Farrar, who has received critical acclaim for more than two decades as the founder of Uncle Tupelo, as a solo artist and as the leader of Son Volt. Farrar combines heart-wrenching vocals with songwriting that has been influenced by Beat Generation writer Jack Kerouac’s free-flowing compositional style. Said Farrar of Son Volt’s sixth studio album, “Honky Tonk”: “Honky tonk music is about heartache, heartbreak, the road.” Instrumentalist Gary Hunt accompanied Farrar and Mike Killeen opened the show.


  • SATURDAY, JUNE 27, 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m.: Acoustic performances by “Cracker Unplugged with David Lowery & Johnny Hickman.” Cracker recently released its 10th studio album, entitled, “Berkeley to Bakersfield,” a double-album that includes tracks on the “Berkeley” disc from the band’s original lineup – the first time in almost 20 years that they have recorded together. The “Bakersfield” disc pays homage to the band’s “California country” side. Over the years, Cracker has been described as alt-rock, Americana, insurgent-country and even, at times, as punk and classic-rock. Lowery and Hickman performed as a duo.
  • SATURDAY, JUNE 27, 2 p.m.: Performance by The Wishing Jar (for children ages 3 to 8 years old). As singer-songwriters, Humphries and Shelton combine beauty, whimsy and a touch of vintage flair. They performed “Until Tomorrow,” a lullaby project of mostly original songs and an illustrated children’s companion book.
  • SUNDAY, JUNE 28: “Out on the Weekend,” a Neil Young celebration, featured local and regional acts performing mini-sets of Young’s greatest hits. Participating artists included Brian Collins with Craig Young, the Bitter Roots, Eliot Bronson, Doria Roberts, Jared & Amber, Adron, S. Connor of the Southern Gothic, Kristen Englenz, Rex Hussmann and Mike Killeen and some surprise special guests.

Full event details can be found at AmplifyDecatur.org.

Founded in 1969, Decatur Cooperative Ministry alleviates and prevents homelessness in and around Decatur. Its programs include an emergency shelter for women and children, transitional housing for families, veterans’ assistance, and emergency relief for families on the verge of losing their homes. Its work has helped make DeKalb County a better place for more than 40 years and Amplify is honored to celebrate DCM. More information is available at DecaturCooperativeMinistry.org.

Based in Decatur, Georgia, Lenz partners with its clients so they can grow together. For more than two decades, Lenz’s specialized expertise has helped its clients to reach their goals. Lenz offers the full range of digital and traditional marketing expertise, including brand strategy, advertising, PR, website development, inbound marketing and more. Learn more at LenzMarketing.com.

The Amplify Concert Series leverages the universal love of music to fight poverty and homelessness at the local level. Specifically, the Amplify Concert Series selects local-level charities combating poverty on the frontlines and hosts music concerts to celebrate their work and to raise funds for them. Amplify concerts unite communities by inviting local businesses to sponsor the events and by increasing awareness. Most importantly, every dollar raised at Amplify concerts goes directly to the beneficiary. The Amplify Concerts Series is produced by Poverty Is Real, a Decatur, Georgia-based 501(c)(3) organization, working to educate communities about issues surrounding homelessness and poverty. Learn more at AmplifyDecatur.org.

We like introducing our friends in the community who we think make a difference to the culture through their vision, spirit, creativity, and hard work. Decatur is fast becoming known as one of the best towns in the country for foodies, and one of our new favorites is Makan, established near the square by Michael Lo and chef George Yu.

Michael Lo always longed for authentic Chinese and Korean culinary experiences inside of Interstate 285.

And while the University of Texas MBA worked for seven years in corporate finance at Home Depot, he also yearned to do something entrepreneurial with his career. It was in his blood. Despite minimal formal education, his father, an immigrant from Fujian Province, which sits on the southeastern coast of China, retired at age 50 after running a chain of mom-and-pop Chinese restaurants.

Thus was the impetus in 2014 that give birth to Makan, one of Decatur’s most unique and up-and-coming restaurants. The amiable Lo acts as general manager, often greeting customers and providing a helpful explanation of the menu, and George Yu serves as executive chef. Yu was classically trained at Le Cordon Bleu and previously worked as sous chef at Midtown’s Ecco.

The two partners had known each other for years before going into business together. Their wives, both of Korean heritage, were long-time friends. When Lo went looking for a chef to help execute his vision for what ITP Atlanta lacked, Yu, who also is ethnically Chinese, represented an ideal choice.

In many ways, Lo is trying to accomplish locally with Chinese food what some celebrity chefs have done nationally with Italian food — that is, overcome the stereotypes of certain Americanized versions of regional cooking, such as the ubiquitous spaghetti and meatballs with tomato sauce.

Most Chinese food found in the United States is the Americanized version of Cantonese food, as Cantonese have comprised the largest immigrant group to this country. However, growing up in Philadelphia, Lo dined on his mother’s dishes of succulent steamed seafood and noodles.

“My personal goal is to create more understanding and more demand for better Asian food in town,” Lo said.

A recent trip to Makan (the Indonesian verb “to eat;” Lo preferred it for its easy spelling and marketability, and pronounced MOCK-in) would indicate that he is well on his way.

Makan, which rotates its menu about every two months, mixes some reliable favorites with others that fall a little more on the exotic side. Visitors should not miss the House Kimchi, a chef’s selection that is made seasonally, or the House Pickles.

Kimchi is a Korean preserving technique in which the food is brined. Typically, Makan brines its Kimchi for two weeks. In May, that made for a brightly flavored Napa Cabbage that held an appetizing crunch. The House Pickles, made of ramps and leaks, were equally pleasing, albeit with softer textures.

An unexpected surprise was the Sliced Hwe, which the menu labels as “Korean Sashimi.” Lo explains that many concepts in Korean cuisine are similar to those in Japanese — it’s just that purveyors of Japanese cooking have done a better job of marketing their product to the American public. The Sliced Hwe — in this case, sushi-grade salmon that melts in your mouth — comes with a delightful presentation of thinly sliced pickled vegetables, mostly cucumbers and carrots, and gochujang vinaigrette, a tangy spice paste.

Four Dumplings, Northern Style — dumplings and buns rank among Makan’s best sellers, not to mention best buys at $8 — are cooked-to-order and arrive about half the size of a fist. The wrapper offers both a light crunch and a soft chew. Inside, the natural flavors of the local ground beef and pork, seasoned lightly, play the starring role.

For entrees, Lo suggests a pair of beef dishes, one grilled and one braised. The Kalbi Marinated Hanger Steak would be the envy of any steakhouse, a light pink on the inside and crisp exterior paired with a ssamjang sauce (a wonderful mixture of fermented bean paste — similar to miso — and hot pepper paste). The braised beef shank is akin to the Italian Osso Buco with European herbs replaced by slight undercurrents of ginger and hot pepper. Also served with stewed carrots, onions and potatoes, the earthiness of this dish is cut by the mild acidity of braised kale and grilled cherry tomatoes.

Makan also offers a full bar program — on this night a lively birthday party filled the spacious bar area — and dessert. A simple sponge cake topped with gelato made from Korean rice wine and a thin stream of caramel provided an ideal coda.

Lo has big plans. He’s negotiating leases elsewhere in the area for other concepts than he can spin off from Makan.

“When we did this endeavor, we decided to do it in a very deliberately different way,” he said. “It’s meant to stand out and be different than what 99 percent of people associate with Chinese food.”

In essence, he wants to upend preconceived notions about Chinese and Korean cuisine.

So far, so good.

Now you know Michael Lo and Makan!

-John Manasso


In May, Lenz helped Harris Botnick and Worthmore Jewelers land an Executive Profile in the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Former Business Chronicle staff writer and current Lenz media manager John Manasso developed the pitch and coordinated the interview. Congratulations Harris!

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