For Better or Wurst: Vegan restaurant owner pivots to sausage

Mikail Ali. Photo by Dean Hesse.

Tucker, GA — As a business owner and restaurant industry veteran, Mikail Ali saw the writing on the wall about six months into his vegan venture, Papa Ali’s. Located at 2323 Main Street in Tucker, Papa Ali’s was losing money each month on payroll and bills. When he fell below his two-month operating costs, Ali knew it was time to make a change.

Ali closed up shop, reevaluated and opened For Better or Wurst on June 1 in the same spot.

Closing the vegan restaurant was a hard pill to swallow, he said. Papa Ali’s was supposed to be a place where anyone could eat, safe from food allergies. The menu was nut-free and offered gluten-free bread and soy-free options.

“I was in the shop a lot. I’d hear people walk by, look at the menu and then say, ‘Oh, there’s no meat,’ and they’d walk away. We had a couple of loyal people who loved the food, but not enough people were willing to try it,” said Ali, who describes himself as a flexitarian.

Image obtained via For Better or Wurst

Flanked by Matthew’s and Ford’s BBQ, a vegan place was filling a void – but not for Tucker residents. Ali said some of his customers drove an hour to eat at Papa Ali’s.

“You really have to cater to the locals. That’s really what I learned,” said Ali, who has been working in restaurants since he was 17.

And that’s exactly what he’s done. Since opening, For Better or Wurst has been selling out of homemade sausages and artisan buns.

Come early for the specials like Surf and Turf. It’s a smoked beef sausage topped with homemade coleslaw and fresh Maine lobster. The Rattlesnake, made daily in limited quantities, is a footlong smoked beef sausage wrapped in jalapenos and bacon, served on a local artisan bun topped with chipotle aioli and crispy fried onions.

“People tear it up,” said Ali, who is the executive chef.

The menu includes some classic dishes like the Chicago – a hot dog loaded with mustard, onions, relish, chopped tomatoes and peppers on a poppy seed bun – along with special items like vegan sausage, smoked chicken salad and loaded tots.

“We are using high quality quarter pound hot dogs, and all the toppings are made fresh in house. It’s chef inspired. Everything is made with care and made fresh,” said Ali.

Tucker residents can get a taste of For Better or Wurst at the city’s July 3rd celebration on Main Street. Ali said he’s planning to celebrate National Hot Dog Day for three days, July 18-20, with 30 different hot dogs from around the world.

For Better or Wurst is closed Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. The hours are Wednesday and Thursday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.

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