Some of the most visible and most visited global businesses in Cobb are those that literally feed our international appetites. Drive the length of Cobb Parkway alone and you’ll lose count of the number of ethnic and global fusion restaurant signs (some written in their native tongues) beckoning from block to block—cuisines born entire continents apart, sharing a parking lot. Whether you’re in the mood for Mexican or Mongolian, Chinese or Caribbean, Italian or Indian, Greek or German, you can satisfy your craving or your curiosity without crossing the county line. Even rarer offerings, like Bosnian and Egyptian, and those fusing radically divergent dishes (think Taqueria Tsunami’s Latin-Asian mashup, or Heirloom BBQ’s Korean-meets-American-Southern smokery), are on the menu. A diverse selection of international food markets rounds out the bill of fare. Restaurants and home cooks alike can stock their kitchens with authentic ingredients from Cobb’s International Farmer’s Market, Vatan International Grocery, Marietta Halal Meat, Patak Meats and Tomato Japanese Market.
All these global options add up to big local business. According to the National Restaurant Association, restaurant industry jobs as a whole have grown faster than the national economy for the past 12 years, even with 93 percent of restaurants maintaining staffs of fewer than 50 employees. Restaurants, and ethnic restaurants in particular, also attract and hire more minority managers than any other industry. And because nearly all of these restaurants are locally owned and operated, the money we spend on those bowls of pho, skewers of halal and hand-wrapped tamales feeds back into our communities.