The exponential increase in Buckhead Village Developments means a facelift for the neighborhood. But amidst the hum of bulldozers, many small local shops are being forced to close or relocate. With land prices having passed $10 million per acre, the economic feasibility of operating a freestanding cafe or bakery may simply be a thing of the past. Will our beloved local businesses survive this wave of development? We caught up with some owners of the area’s most iconic businesses for their perspectives on the future of the Buckhead Village.
Restauranteur Jennifer Levison, founder of Cafe Jonah, Souper Jenny, Juicy Jenny, and more, announced on her blog that she has closed Cafe Jonah because of the recent sale of the property. The landlord who owned the tiny and worn out cottage where Cafe Jonah operated sold for $3.5 million. When Levison posted the news about her beloved Cafe Jonah on her Facebook pages, she echoed many of the community’s objections. But supportive comments from clients, friends and family poured in:
I know whatever you do it comes from your heart & it will be amazing just like you!!! Love you cousin Jenny?
This letter made my cry! Such a special place and so many happy memories! Thanks for being such an inspiring role model and leading with such honesty and grace. Sending over big hugs!
Thanks for sharing Jenny. Be proud of what you created here, and for all the memories that came out of this space. SO many people to credit for making this such a special place
I’m so not happy hearing this. Just know (and I’m sure you already do ) that wherever you go, we’ll follow! XOXO!
I have experienced the most wonderful lunches with dear friends and loved ones at this special place. Many thanks to your thoughtful vision and delectable dishes!!! You will be missed!
I will dearly miss this place, Jenny. It was very special. I frequented the Magical Attic and am hoping both the restaurant and attic will find new homes. Thanks for a wonderful experience.
The best food, the best camaraderie and the best magic. I will always remember Cafe Jonah and the way being there elevated my soul!!! Best wishes to you!
Say it isn’t so! Love that place. Keep us posted on what is next!
Levison also announced that her flagship store at East Andrews Shopping Center, Souper Jenny, is moving into the newly-designed Atlanta History Center this April. Real estate developer Edens purchased the shopping center for $19.1 million (according to the Atlanta Business Chronicle). Edens requested that the restaurant remain at their newly-acquired development, but according to Levison, the Atlanta History Center offered a more attractive rent price and community growth opportunities.
We caught up with Levison for insight into her outlook on the upcoming move of her flagship restaurant.
“I’m very excited about our move into the History Center. When we were approached about it, I’d been wanting to open another (yes, another) location in Buckhead for some time. I’m so big on creating community, and the vision with this move is to enhance our relationships with the neighborhood, our current clients and our new clients. All the exciting things going on at the History Center, their commitment to the Buckhead and the extensive redesign – that’s the perfect partnership. We will have our own parking (guests don’t have to enter the Museum to get to us), new facility, and a new family. We’re excited to start this new journey.”
Owners Dan Belman and Randy Korando of Boxwoods Garden & Gifts created this Buckhead legacy and told Buckhead.com more about it’s history and how it came to be. While Belman and Korando don’t own either property that their two across-the-street locations sit upon, they rely on good relationships and long-term leases.
“We’ve got a long-term lease on the home store and a very strong relationship with Jim Cumming (owner of the garden store), who has assured us that we will be here as long as we want to be. We are praying we’ll be able to stay and continue our legacy, the thought of moving this business… I can’t even comprehend! But you can’t forecast developers’ plans.”
On the new development of East Andrews Shopping Center (next to their Home store), Belman said, “I spoke with Edens about their plans, I think they get it. They mostly want to retain the typical Buckhead boutique kind of businesses. If they keep going in that direction, it will go well. What we need is to maintain the character of Buckhead.”
Courtesy, Google Street View
As The Loudermilk Companies have filed a demolition permit to replace buildings on the block facing Peachtree and East Paces Ferry Roads with a multi-level mixed use office and retail building, rep Chip Pottinger told BuckheadView.com that the developers are helping Fish Hawk find a new home, as future plans call to tear down that strip of stores. With a moving date imminent for The Fish Hawk, owner Gary Merriman told Buckhead.com, “The time frame is up in the air, and the Loudermilks are good friends and customers so whenever the development starts, that’s when we will start looking.”
Alliance Residential Company has agreed to purchase Henri’s Bakery & Café, the iconic family-owned breakfast and lunch spot on Irby Avenue in Buckhead. Thus, Henri’s Bakery will remain in it’s location on Irby Ave as part of the new mixed-use development (with a temporary relocation during construction). This means a new expanded facility for Henri’s Bakery, and a few new neighbors. Owner Madeline Leonard shared with Buckhead.com that she is very excited about the future and expansion opportunities for her family’s iconic Bakery – Buckhead’s favorite lunch spot.
“Our favorite memories have been made right here. Change is inevitable, and I understand that can be difficult, but it can also be really exciting. We will have new neighbors and make new memories! Honestly, we’ve been so crammed in our current building, we see this as an opportunity for growth of both Henri’s and our new neighbors!”
As a community, Buckhead heads forward and change is part of that. We could not be more thrilled to acquire new neighbors and improve our curb appeal. Our small businesses and local treasures will make new memories wherever they land – in their current homes or a few beautiful blocks over.
Take a look at more Buckhead Village developments in the pipeline and let us know what you think in the voting box below.
What’s YOUR take?
Tucked away in a rambling cottage in the Buckhead Village, Boxwoods Gardens & Gifts is a go-to shop for those who live in Buckhead. It has been named one of the top 50 retailers in the US by Home Accessories Today, included in the American Express Member’s Favorites several years in a row, and in the Hall of Fame for Atlanta Magazine’s Best of Atlanta. But when Dan Belman and Randy Korando set out 20 years ago to open a garden and gift shop, constant warnings of the impossibility of their success echoed from prospective landlords, business advisors and even friends. Belman told Buckhead.com that in those days, “everybody was telling us how crazy we were because we had no prior retail experience. But I knew if we were going to do this, we were going to do it right.”Belman and Korando always found themselves antiquing at estate sales, traveling to Europe (France is their favorite), and buying vintage collectibles. In 1995, Korando was working with high-end clients on their landscaping and exterior design, decorating their homes with items selected from his personal shopping excursions. Meanwhile, Belman was a business consultant using his smarts to revive troubled companies. As Belman puts it, “Randy is all about form and I’m all about function so being in business together works well.”
Korando had the idea to open a quaint garden & gift shop in Buckhead, but the only way Belman would consider retail was if they were in the perfect location. They were repeatedly denied meetings with the owners of their first choice location until one day their friend drove by and saw a going out of business sign at the current garden shop, a charming white house on East Andrews Drive, so Belman pounced.
“It definitely depressed us to hear that without retail experience we were crazy trying to do this. But I’d always had my eye on that white house on the corner, and when the previous tenants went out of business, I met with the owner Jim Cumming (who is now a very close friend) and shortly after, we signed the lease! We opened for business 45 days after closing! Randy and I worked non stop to get everything ready. At night, we painted and decorated; and during the day, we would buy at the Mart and design shows. We put our touch on it, building our checkout counter from old doors and altered the original house significantly.”
Belman offered a valuable piece of truth on acquiring success as a retail tastemaker with a tip from a former business advisor – whom also told them that they would never make it.
“I remember she said, ‘what determines your success isn’t how well you sell, it’s about how well you buy.’ And we are fortunate that Atlanta has an incredible gift market and great selection. Randy and I go to the gift shows as much (and as long) as we can, so we find the things other people miss. We cherry-pick for those pieces that are the right quality and right price. We take buying trips to France – it’s amazing how much France has – the dealer shows in the South of France are amazing! I remember standing in the freezing rain at a street market at 6:30 one morning – it was cold, windy, it started to snow and I was complaining. I said to Randy, ‘I can’t believe we’re doing this. If only the people back home knew what we went through!’ But Randy looked at me and said, ‘You know what, you need to stop complaining because we get paid to shop.'”
From the Garden store’s porch, the Home store comes into view.
You would think that a booming garden shop would be enough, but in 2009, Belman and Korando opened The Boxwoods Home Store across the street because of a need they saw saw for, “a shop in-between a Target and a Neiman’s,” with true quality dishes, glasses, silverware and placemats at better prices. And despite opening during the recession and friends (again) telling them not to, it is doing quite well.
“Honestly, we’re not a discount place,” Belman says, “but we offer a lot of bang for your buck. It’s true quality at a affordable price. We sell everything from a few dollars to a few thousand dollars. We try to do a lot of unique things that you won’t see anywhere else. It’s the kind of place where customer service is #1… Our employees are our best asset and stay here for an average of 12-15 years. And we truly have great customers – we have become great friends with so many clients.”
You’ll find that Boxwoods Gardens & Gifts combines a brilliant mix of old and new decorative accents, with unique vintage hand-selected pieces from Europe and throughout America. Nearly an acre of exterior garden areas host a plethora of birdbaths, planters, and more garden accessories on display to adorn your exterior space.
Boxwoods Gardens & Gifts is located at 100 E Andrews Drive in Buckhead.
Thank you, Dan Belman and Randy Korando, for following your dreams and paying no attention to the “no’s.”
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The Atlanta Tech Village is a startup incubator in the bustling business center of Buckhead’s Lenox neighborhood. Created and founded by entrepreneur David Cummings, this electric 103,000 sq ft office community is home to over 170 startups and entrepreneurs (affectionately referred to as “Villagers”). Cummings co-founded Pardot in 2007, and in 2012 sold the company for $120 million. That same year, he purchased the tech village for $12.5 million and invested over $16 million in renovations. Named one of the 100 Most Influential Atlantans by the Atlanta Business Chronicle and dubbed one of the 55 Most Powerful Atlantans by Atlanta Magazine, Cummings proves to be a huge asset to Buckhead’s economy.
By continually investing in startups and, through the tech village, nurturing the entrepreneurial success of Buckhead, Cummings predicted to Neighbor Newspapers that,
“Over the next 10 years, the village will create over 10,000 high-paying jobs in metro Atlanta by increasing the number of entrepreneurs here.”
An entrepreneur himself, Cummings has always had an insider understanding of what other individuals on similar business paths need to succeed. Cummings’ idea for the tech village was inspired by the very thing he was lacking while starting his first business, an environment that would facilitate and nurture the mindset of a startup company. As he told Creative Loafing Atlanta, “When I was building Pardot, I wanted to be around other startups and entrepreneurs. I couldn’t find them, let alone work in the same building with them.”Cummings fulfilled that need with the Atlanta Tech Village, now the Southeast’s largest technology entrepreneur center. The community of over 170 startups consistently operates at 100% occupancy and maintains around 20-30 hopeful villagers on a waiting list. This popularity is attributed to Cummings ensuring that the village facilitates a positive entrepreneurial environment, with programs designed to grow the startups that fill the floors and enrich the sense of community among villagers. These programs and events encourage introductions to potential employees, partners, and customers while villagers enjoy group activities like a yoga club, running groups, or enjoying a coffee in the lobby’s hit cafe, Octane. Cummings explained that his goal is to help more startups reach $1 million in revenue. Once a new business makes it to this benchmark, it is easier for the company to grow organically from there. As Cummings told Creative Loafing, “The best thing we can do is to create more successful startups. The more successful businesses we have, the more jobs created, the more buildings occupied, the more exits created that generate wealth. I think a focus on building real businesses is what we need right now.”
An open environment, entrepreneurs at the Tech Village come and go, filtering through the common area with beer on tap to the lobby where a local favorite coffee bar, Octane, serves their go-juice.
And why Buckhead? According to Cummings, it fit the bill perfectly for his “scrappy startup,” which he defines as, “one that makes every dollar reach as far as possible and is minimalistic and efficient with its funds.” As the financial district of Atlanta, Buckhead proves to be extremely beneficial when startups are looking for venture capitalists and funding. The Atlanta Tech Village is strategically located on the corner of Lenox and Piedmont because of easy access to the highway and public transportation along with walkability for easy access to food and shopping.
Cummings is confident that over the years, Buckhead will continue to grow with an entrepreneurial force propelling it forward. As Cummings told the Atlanta Business Chronicle, “the continued emphasis on entrepreneurship, especially the idea that the majority of new jobs come from companies that are less than ten years old, will continue to shape Buckhead and Atlanta over the next year. Look for new entrepreneurship initiatives, new entrepreneurial office space, and more success stories from cultivating our own home-grown companies.” We will keep an eye out for more jobs and more inspired entrepreneurs as a result of the efforts put forth by Cummings and the Atlanta Tech Village team.