Though neither of the horses they own finished in the top three at the Kentucky Derby, West Paces Racing’s two co-founders said it was an experience they’ll never forget.

WPR, a Buckhead-based equine ownership syndicate, was the only ownership group to have two thoroughbreds in the Derby, which took place May 4 at Churchill Downs in Louisville. Dornoch (pronounced “Door-Nick”), whose odds of winning were 22-1, finished 10th, and Society Man, a 44-1 longshot, placed 16th. WPR has 33% ownership in both horses, and former Major League Baseball player Jayson Werth owns 10% of Dornoch.

“Disappointed but not devastated,” WPR co-founder Keith Mason said. “[I’m] pleased that our horses came out of the race both healthy and the jockeys were safe and no one got hurt. That’s a good thing. We have nothing to be ashamed of in terms of their abilities to race.”

Fellow co-founder Larry Connolly added, “I think while we’re a little bit disappointed in not having a better result, I can honestly say the West Paces Racing partnership had an incredible week and the superlatives, the smiles of all of our partners participating in the festivities along with members of their family, I think it exceeded expectations and then some. I think we’ll have some horse enthusiasts for life as a result.”

Proud of horses despite finishes

Mystik Dan won the Derby, beating Sierra Leone by a nose, with Sierra Leone edging Forever Young by a nose, too. According to twinspires.com, it was the closest finish for the top three finishers in the race’s 150-year history.

Connolly said having Dornoch and Society Man in the two worst starting positions, Nos. 1 and 20, respectively, in the 20-horse field meant “we had our work cut out for us.” Dornoch, which had beaten Sierra Leone, in a qualifying race in December, had a good chance of finishing high at the Derby but didn’t start strong.

“Unfortunately, two things happened,” Connolly said. “One, it wasn’t a horrible break but he didn’t start that sharply, and second, the [No.] 3 horse, Mystic Dan, veered early to his left, cutting off our horse such that as soon as he broke, he had to pull the reins to prevent a collision. That also had the effect of causing Dornoch, who needed to be in the front, to fall to mid-pack on the rail, having to deal with traffic issues.”

He added that winning the Derby is so difficult that luck is a big part of it.

“The biggest disappointment for me was we didn’t get to see Dornoch at his best,” Connolly said. “He had no chance to display how good he was or not. I don’t want to sound like sour grapes because that race is so hard to win. Having good racing luck, it doesn’t matter how good a horse you are. In order to win that race, you have to have good luck. Having said that, we’re not down on the horse.

As for Society Man, the co-founders were pleased he finished 16th and just behind Fierceness, a Derby favorite that led the race early on before falling to 15th place.

Danny Gargan, the trainer for both Dornoch and Society Man, is a Louisville native whose father, also named Danny, was a jockey. He said those two horses are among the three WPR owns that he’s training, and the third Justdeny, a filly, couldn’t qualify for the Derby. So for the syndicate to have two thoroughbreds in the race was amazing, Gargan said.

“Winning’s a miracle,” he said of the Derby. “Dornoch had a rough trip. We’re still proud of the race he ran. He showed a lot of heart. With Society Man we were taking a chance and were taking a step up. But the Derby every year, it’s fun to be a part of.”

‘Once in a lifetime’

The co-founders previously were part owners of Derby horses in 2015 with Keen Ice and 2022 with Mo Donegal when they were members of the Donegal Racing syndicate before starting WPR in 2019. As such, Connolly, who’s attended the Derby about 10 times, and Mason, who’s gone at least 20 times, said this year was much different.

“It’s a world of difference to have someone in the Derby, much less two, as for us as being there as a horseman with some on the undercard,” Mason said. “Number one, it was a thrill, take nothing away from the other horses we’ve had. But in those cases, I’ll say for myself, we were in Delta comfort seats. We were in the cockpit with these. And then if you’re a spectator, you’re back in coach.”

Regarding their next races, Connolly said WPR is considering having Dornoch compete in the Belmont Stakes June 8 in Elmont, New York, the last leg of the Triple Crown, but not in the Preakness Stakes May 18 in Baltimore, the second leg, because it’s too soon. Society Man could compete in some Grade 2 or 3 (lower-level) races in Ohio, Pennsylvania or West Virginia.

Gargan said having 10% of the field and two of the 18 American horses in the Derby (two slots go to Japanese horses) is amazing.

“Being able to get there and have that experience and share it with your owners, it’s a special thing,” he said. “It’s probably once in a lifetime for the owners.”Mason added, “It’s just a whole different experience when you’ve got one [horse in the Derby], and then to have two, it’s such a boost to us. The thing I enjoyed the most about it was getting people in Atlanta and other places where I have a network of friends to start following the sport. That’s been the most rewarding to me, to hear from people who are casual fans or totally new to the sport to start showing an interest in it. I think that will continue, and that’s a good thing.”

The Disco Kroger’s dancing days may be over, but the Buckhead shopping center where it stood is getting new life with a redeveloped property that is nearly 100% occupied with both old and new tenants.

Anchored by a Publix grocery store and located on Piedmont Road near the Peachtree Road intersection, the revamped U-shaped shopping center is changing its name from Piedmont Peachtree Crossing to Buckhead Landing. It is expected to be fully open by mid-November.

The old shopping center was known for having Atlanta’s first named Kroger store. It got its “Disco” moniker because it was located next to the Limelight dance club, which was open from 1980 to 1987. During that time, the Kroger was known for late-night antics from revelers going shopping after partying next door. According to news reports, the Disco Kroger was in operation for 47 years, opening in 1975 and closing in December 2022.

‘Ripe for redevelopment’

Regency Centers, a Jacksonville, Florida-based shopping center developer, purchased the property from San Antonio-based Equity One Inc. in 2017 when the two companies merged in a deal reportedly worth $5 billion. The Buckhead shopping center, spanning nearly 11 acres, was part of a portfolio of 122 retail and non-retail properties Regency acquired from Equity One.

Nate Smith, Regency’s senior vice president and senior market officer, said Buckhead Landing has only two of 25 tenant spaces left after Omakase Table, a high-end sushi restaurant, signed a lease in April.

He said Buckhead Landing is another example of the commitment Regency has to redevelopments, new developments and acquisitions in an effort to grow. The company owns 21 other shopping centers in metro Atlanta and is the nation’s largest shopping center real estate investment trust, according to its website.

“Looking to improve our assets to be the best in the market, that often requires a recycling of capital,” Smith said, adding Piedmont Peachtree Crossing was “ripe for a redevelopment, because admittedly the development was looking a little tired. The new Publix opportunity provided us the platform to redevelop.”

While a rival grocery store is moving in, Regency is paying tribute to the Disco Kroger by keeping intact the mural painted on the side of the old store’s building.

“We recognize and respect the fact that it is one of the better murals of Atlanta, one of the most recognized murals of Atlanta,” Smith said, adding Publix reps he’s spoken to won’t mind having the new store being called the Disco Publix once it opens.

Buckhead Landing details

Publix will take up 55,000 square feet of space in Buckhead Landing, which will total 151,739 square feet and is slightly smaller than Piedmont Peachtree Crossing was. Smith said the Publix was moved farther west to better align with an entry drive and to accommodate its own design needs. The new shopping center will have 24 less parking spaces than the old one had, in an effort to make Buckhead Landing more pedestrian-friendly with wider sidewalks and more places to sit.

Construction on the new shopping center began in the first quarter of 2023 and work on Publix started in December. Buckhead Landing will have 12 existing tenants and 13 new ones, and all the old tenants have stayed open throughout the construction process, Smith said, calling that part Phase 1.

The second and third phases entail the new tenant spaces opening, with Phase 2 to be completed in August or September and Phase 3, including Publix and possibly the last few signed tenants, opening as late as November, in time for Black Friday sales, he said.

Smith added that 2023 was the most active year for new leases to be signed, with eight being inked then after Publix was announced as the anchor tenant late the previous year. The old tenants that remained include Starbucks, Binders Art Supplies and Frames, and Jamison Shaw Hairdressers.

In addition to Publix, Smith also singled out a few new tenants he’s excited about: Omakase Table, a 12-person restaurant that has a 20-course menu; Burtons Grill and Bar, which is opening its first Georgia location; Golf Galaxy, a golf clothing and equipment store; and Carter’s, a children’s clothing retailer whose headquarters is also in Buckhead.

What’s new and what’s next

When asked what other new developments Regency has had with Buckhead Landing, he said construction is actually three weeks ahead of schedule, “but you jinx it if you say it.” Smith added that all the facades on the project’s north and south sides are done, leaving only the west side, which includes Publix and Golf Galaxy.

“In fact, we just put up our wayfinding and monument signs, with a list and a tool to help people find those tenants,” he said.

While Regency has not announced plans to open or remodel another shopping center in the metro area soon, Smith said the company is also in the midst of redeveloping the Cambridge Square shopping center in Brookhaven, which like Buckhead Landing is replacing a Kroger with a Publix.

“We’ll open seven or eight months after Buckhead Landing opens,” he said.
Smith, who joined Regency 3½ years ago, said he hasn’t heard of anyone objecting to Buckhead Landing. The company made several changes to its design plans three or four years ago when it went through the city of Atlanta’s zoning process, said Kim Shorter, zoning chair for Neighborhood Planning Unit B’s board, which okayed the plans as the first step in city approval. 

Smith said he was not involved with Regency’s talks with the neighborhood until the tail end. One of the changes it made was addressing a pond behind the shopping center that had to comply with the city’s current stormwater codes.

“They actually did a really good job of working with the neighborhood ahead of time,” Shorter said. “The neighborhood president happened to also be a land-use attorney, so they did a very good job of carefully crafting a set of conditions that were both codified through the city’s approval process and also codified by the neighborhood in a private agreement.”

When 20 thoroughbred horses fire out of the gate at the Kentucky Derby in Louisville on May 4, not one but two of them will be owned by West Paces Racing (WPR), a Buckhead-based equine ownership syndicate.

It is the only ownership group that has at least two horses in the famed Running for the Roses at Churchill Downs.

Dornoch (pronounced “Door-Nick”) is a 3-year-old bay colt and the first WPR horse to qualify for the Derby, the first leg of the famed Triple Crown of races. He was named after Royal Dornoch Golf Club in Dornoch, Scotland. Society Man, a 3-year-old gelding, is the second one to qualify. His name is a reference to Georgia Gov. Carl Sanders that was jokingly made by President Lyndon B. Johnson in a recorded phone conversation they had in 1968.

Of Dornoch, his trainer, Danny Gargan, said, “He’s the best horse I’ve ever trained.” Gargan, who is also training Society Man, called that horse “a trier.”

“He’s one of those horses that tries hard, and never has a bad day. Every day is a good day in his life,” he added.

Gargan estimated he has guided 400 to 500 horses since becoming a trainer in 2013. The Louisville native has spent his whole life around horses, and his father, also named Danny, was a jockey.

How WPR started

From left, Larry Connolly and Keith Mason, pictured at the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland Race Course in Lexington, Kentucky, are co-founders of West Paces Racing. Photo courtesy of West Paces Racing

Co-founded by Larry Connolly, Keith Mason and a handful of others in 2019, WPR gets its name from West Paces Ferry Road, the Buckhead street where both the Cherokee Town Club and its office are located.

“Most of the founding members were golf friends and affiliated with Cherokee,” said Connolly, who serves as WPR’s general partner.

Connolly and Mason, both longtime horse racing fans, started WPR after becoming part owners of other horses, beginning with the Donegal Racing syndicate around 2014.

Mason, a Sandy Springs resident and Gwinnett County native, served as Georgia Gov. Zell Miller’s chief of staff and in President Bill Clinton’s administration. He met Donegal Racing CEO and founder Jerry Crawford through his connections with the Democratic Governors Association.

Connolly, a Buckhead resident, is a native of Westchester County, New York. He grew up near two famed New York racetracks: Belmont Park, home of the Belmont Stakes, the Triple Crown’s third leg, and Saratoga Race Course, host of the Travers Stakes.

Those tracks were “a fun place to go as a young person for both the races and the social scene. I confess I was more interested in the latter than the former in those days,” he said.

From left, West Paces Racing partner John Geary, Dornoch jockey Luis Saez and WPR co-founders Keith Mason and Larry Connolly gather at the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland Race Course in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo courtesy of Dr. Michael Huang Photography

Connolly also became part owner of other horses through another syndicate, Starlight Racing. Dornoch is the fifth horse he has owned that will compete in the Derby, with the others being Keen Ice (2015, Donegal), Improbable (2019, Starlight) Authentic (2020, Starlight) and Mo Donegal (2022, Donegal). Mason was part owner of Keen Ice and Mo Donegal.

Authentic won the Derby and Mo Donegal won the Belmont. But Dornoch potentially could be the best of all of them. He was purchased as a yearling in 2022 for only $325,000 but has an impressive bloodline that could lead to millions in future race winnings.

The path to the Derby

With 33% ownership, WPR is the majority owner of Dornoch, who is partly owned by four other businesses. WPR also has 33% ownership in Society Man, which is owned by two other entities, including Gargan. To qualify for the Derby, which is considered a Grade 1 race, horses must win points by placing in the top five at Grade 2 events leading up to it.

Dornoch, ridden by jockey Luis Saez, did so by winning two recent races – the Remsen Stakes Dec. 2 at Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens, New York, and the Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream Park March 2 in Hallandale Beach, Florida – collecting 10 and 50 points, respectively, and by finishing fourth in the Blue Grass Stakes April 6 at Keeneland Race Course in Lexington, Kentucky, where he picked up 15 points.

Society Man, ridden by jockey Luis Rivera, qualified by placing second in the Wood Memorial Stakes at Aqueduct Racetrack April 6, earning 50 points. Each horse may have a different jockey in the Derby, WPR’s co-founders said.

Society Man competes in the Wood Memorial Stakes at Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens, New York. Photo courtesy of West Paces Racing

Racing is in their blood

Dornoch’s father, or sire, is Good Magic, who finished second in the 2018 Derby, and his mother, or dam, is Puca, who won four of the 17 races she entered. Good Magic’s sire is Curlin, who was the American Horse of the Year in 2007 and 2008 and winner of the Preakness Stakes, the Triple Crown’s second leg, and the Breeders’ Cup Classic in 2007. Puca’s sire is Big Brown, who won the Derby and Preakness in 2008. Dornoch’s full brother is Mage, who won the Derby and placed third in the Preakness last year.

“A good set of genes,” Mason said of Dornoch’s pedigree.

Society Man, who was purchased as a yearling in 2022 for $85,000, was sired by Good Magic, so he also has a strong bloodline.

“Part of what Oracle Bloodstock tries to achieve is to find a young sire that becomes very successful,” Connolly said, referring to the yearling selection services company WPR has partnered with. “It takes several years before you sire a foal, and it takes a couple of years before they start running, and it takes three years before they’re eligible for the Triple Crown. … The trick is to find a prolific sire before it’s widely known the offspring will be above average in terms of performance.”

Mason added that next year WPR won’t be able to afford to buy any offspring of Good Magic because now the secret’s out.

Dornoch, a 3-year-old bay colt, has qualified for the Kentucky Derby. Photo courtesy of West Paces Racing

Last year, another 3-year-old owned by WPR, Dubyuhnell, failed to qualify for the Derby. Mason said having two WPR-owned horses in the Derby this year is “awesome,” and Connolly called it “a proud moment for our young syndicate.”

“A lot of people with deeper pockets who have been doing this for longer than we have even struggle with [having] one runner [qualify],” Connolly added. “We knocked on the door with Dubyuhnell, and to have two this year, we couldn’t be more proud. In particular, Oracle Bloodstock, led by Conor Foley and Jim Hatchett, they’ve done an outstanding job in identifying horse talent that others with deeper pockets might have overlooked.”

‘Enjoying every moment’

Using a football analogy to compare Dornoch to Mage, Connolly said Dornoch looks more like a running back and Mage resembles a wide receiver, with Mason adding that Dornoch resembles a fullback.

“He also has great athletic ability, and, finally and most importantly, he has the heart for racing and natural desire to be in front and win,” Connolly said of Dornoch. He pointed to the Remsen race, where Dornoch outran two frontrunners, or rabbits (Billal and Private Desire), and then defeated Sierra Leone, who took a nearly one-horse-length lead late in the race before Dornoch roared back to win by a nose.

Sierra Leone, who was purchased for $2.3 million, is considered the Derby favorite.

“Holding off one, then two [horses] and then holding off a third, that’s a tall ask for any horse,” Connolly said. “Dornoch had to deal with two rivals. In that race, he was green, inexperienced. He made a rookie mistake by banging against the rail, which slowed him down and allowed Sierra Leone to catch up to him.”

WPR is a ‘Moneyball outfit’

Society Man warms up at Keeneland Race Course in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo courtesy of West Paces Racing

WPR currently has more than 20 members/investors and owns 24 horses, Connolly said. Though he did not disclose its membership fee, he said new members under age 40 can join at 25% of a full member price, and those under 50 can join at 50%. He calls WPR a “moneyball outfit,” meaning “there’s a limited number of horses we can buy each year.”

“If we want to get a portfolio of eight to 12 horses, there’s a limit of how much you can spend per horse,” Connolly said. “ A lot of times we get outbid on horses we desire by more established outfits. So, as a result, our average ownership [percentage] per horse will vary from the low 30s to 50% depending on the amount of the horse.”

By winning the Derby, which brings a $3.1 million prize, and other races, Dornoch and Society Man could increase WPR’s purchasing budget substantially.

“It’s super exciting,” Connolly said. “I’m enjoying every moment of the journey, knowing someday soon this will all come to an end. I’m delighted for the West Paces partnership, that we have something like this to collectively look forward to as a group.”

Mason added, “It’s a culmination of a lot of hard work and, more importantly, good luck to be where we are right now. We hope everything goes well and we’re entering the gates there on the first Saturday in May healthy and ready to run.”

What are the odds?

When asked to compare Dornoch to Society Man, Gargan said, “They would be opposites. Dornoch’s a big, imposing horse, and Society Man is more of a short and stocky type.”

Between the two, Dornoch is more likely to win the Derby.

“He’s one of the top picks in the nation,” Gargan said. “When you have one of the top Derby picks, it’s an exciting time. It’s like catching lightning in a bottle. … He’s a big talented horse. Every day’s special that you walk into your barn and see a horse like this. We’ve got as good a shot as any horse in the race.”

Jimmie James has always been driven by goals.

Jimmie James. Photo by Sebastian Hernandez

When he was 5 years old, while growing up poor in East Texas, James decided he would become the first person he knew to graduate from high school. The odds were stacked against him; he had been born in the Jim Crow South to a black single mother with eight children. But that did not stop him. After he finished high school, James graduated from Prairie View A&M University in Texas, becoming the first person in his family to attend and graduate from college. Then he embarked on a 33-year career as an executive with ExxonMobil, retiring on June 1, 2017.

So, when the part-time Buckhead resident decided he would spend a year playing Golf Digest’s 2017-18 Top 100 Courses in America, it was no surprise to his wife Erika.

“Nothing that Jimmie comes up with surprises me,” she said. “He’s always been goal focused. He needs a sense of accomplishment, and the harder the challenge, the more interested he is. I think I was most surprised he wanted to do it so quickly after he retired.”

James has written a book about his experience “Playing from the Rough: A Personal Journey through America’s 100 Greatest Golf Courses,” and will participate in a book talk and signing at 5:30 p.m. June 12 at The Chastain restaurant in Buckhead. The event is timed to coincide with the six-year anniversary of him completing his tour of playing the courses and the book’s June 11 publishing date. The book is being published by Simon and Schuster.

An idea takes flight

James is planning similar events June 11 and 13 in Philadelphia and Kiawah Island, South Carolina, respectively, where his family also has homes. He started playing golf in 2005, when an ExxonMobil vice president gave him advice about his move from Fairfax, Virginia, to Beaumont, Texas.

Jimmie James plays a round at the Fishers Island Club on Fishers Island, New York, during his year-long tour of the Golf Digest 2017-18 Top 100 Courses in America.

“He suggested, in order to better get along with the people I was working with and [who were] working for me, ‘You need to start shooting something. You can shoot animals or you can shoot par,’” James said. “My wife made the decision for me. She purchased a set of golf clubs for me.”

Originally, James planned to play 100 golf courses, two in each state, after his wife gave him John Sabino’s book, “How to Play the World’s Most Exclusive Golf Clubs: A Journey through Pine Valley, Royal Melbourne, Augusta, Muirfield, and More,” for Christmas in 2016.

But early the next year, when he got the Golf Digest edition featuring the Top 100 courses in the mail, he decided to play those courses instead. However, that list includes 87 private courses, 12 resort ones and one public course. So although James could easily play the resort and public courses, he would need a member or club pro of each of the private courses to invite him to play there.

But since James was already a member of Kiawah Island Golf Resort, whose Ocean Course is on the list, he had a head start in getting onto the other private courses by using his connections there. Throughout the tour, he also utilized more networking and grit to gain entry to the private courses by talking to members and club pros, including his playing partners, who could connect him with the other courses on the list. On those courses, James said about 75% of the people who helped or hosted him were strangers.

Jimmie James plays a round at the Fishers Island Club on Fishers Island, New York, during his year-long tour of the Golf Digest 2017-18 Top 100 Courses in America.

“So during the idle time between swings and putts, then, if they were interested enough, I would imagine they would offer to help,” he said. “I could see the mental Rolodexes going off. The reason I expected that to happen is we had been going to Kiawah for 12 years, and at the Ocean Course, I would always play with strangers.”

Though his tour started in June, James played perhaps the most famous course, Augusta National Golf Course, home of the Masters, in May because the course is closed in June and because he’d already arranged to play that round. It’s one of two Georgia courses on the list, with the other being Peachtree Golf Club in Brookhaven.

He said his five favorite courses, in no particular order, were Augusta National (“because of the experience; it’s just a magical place”), Merion in Philadelphia (“because of the traditions” it has), Fishers Island, New York (“the charm of it all”), Pine Valley Golf Club in New Jersey (“because it’s hard”) and Cypress Point Golf Club in California (“every hole is unique; … the scenery is awe-inspiring”). 

Part memoir and part golf tale, “Playing from the Rough” recounts James’ journey across the country. What will he remember most about playing those courses and writing the book?

“The people, the kindness and generosity of all the people … that I met along the way and who helped,” he said. “It was really about seeing if America was still a place where people would help a stranger achieve a dream. It wasn’t really about golf. Golf was still a vehicle to see if we were that country where grit, determination and the kindness and generosity of others could help achieve a dream.”

With strangers’ help

One of the strangers who helped James and became a friend is Jeff “J.J.” Johnson, president of the Flint Hills National Golf Club in Andover, Kansas, one of the courses he played. Flint Hills is one of two golf clubs James joined during his course tour, with the other being Pikewood National Golf Club in Morgantown, West Virginia. Johnson was asked to talk to him about his interest in joining Flint Hills.

“First of all, without the risk of sounding racist, when you see a good-looking tall black man who wants to play the 100 best courses the country, you’re impressed. Then, you start talking to him and he’s the nicest, sweetest man you’ve ever met,” Johnson said of his first impression of James. “I certainly remember and, being honest, I thought there’s no way a guy can play 100 courses in a year. A lot of people try to do it in a lifetime, and he was going to do it in a year without a private plane. [I thought], ‘God bless you and good luck.’”

Later in the tour, when the two were playing a round at the Chicago Golf Club as part of the tour, Johnson helped James gain access to Shinnecock Hills Golf Club, a private course in Southampton, New York, when his original course host had to cancel due to an emergency.

“He looked at his phone and his heart kind of sank,” Johnson said. “Ironically, that was one of the relationships I thought I could help with. Jimmy Dunne, a member of Shinnecock, I know. I texted Jimmy and said, ‘Hey, any chance my friend needs a Hail Mary by such and such a date, and all his text [in response] said was, ‘7:30 a.m. Sunday.’ Jimmie said, ‘I’ll get there.’ I didn’t know later that Jimmy Dunne had flown back privately from a [University of] Notre Dame reunion just for Jimmie and then flew back. There’s a story for guys who like the game and respect the game.”

Jimmie James plays a round at the Baltusrol Golf Club in Springfield, New Jersey, during his year-long tour of the Golf Digest 2017-18 Top 100 Courses in America.

Sharing a great story

Ian Straus, a New York-based editor with Simon & Schuster, has been working with James for a year.

“I think as book editors, … the number one thing we’re always looking for is a great story and Jimmie has loads of them,” he said. “This book has two amazing stories at its heart, the first one being the story about the golf trip, which is for people who like golf. But for people who don’t like golf, [reading about him] playing 100 courses across the country in [a year], and even [for] people who are into golf, their eyes go wide. …

“On the one hand, you have a great sports story and a great human interest story, this great story. But on the other hand, you have the memoir story, and it’s truly an amazing American life. … With a little bit of luck and a lot of hard work, anyone can achieve anything. I think Jimmie embodies that.”

His wife, who has co-authored two books with Lynn Perry Wooten and is the dean of the Wharton School, the University of Pennsylvania’s prestigious business school in Philadelphia, said she found it interesting to see him learn to write a book of his own.

“I think the book is extraordinary,” she said. “For someone who’s known him for 30 years, the fact that I learned things through this process was surprising. … I just think what he has been driven to do, which is use golf for the purposes of bringing people together, and what is sometimes seen as a sport for people with elite and privileged backgrounds, has the potential to transform lives if they get introduced to the culture of golf.”

For more information on the book talk and signing or to buy tickets, visit https://bit.ly/4b4Fg27.

I love when a friend has something good to prove and does so.

I bet you have been thinking what I have been thinking. The Miller Brothers clothing store, tucked away in a former bungalow on a side street in the Buckhead Village, is a men’s clubhouse. I get it. The television is usually tuned to a PGA tournament or SEC football. A stocked bar serves up mellow bourbon on the rocks. And with a quick first glance, it looks like their business is primarily Peter Milar products and 5-pocket pants. Wrong. We couldn’t be more wrong. Those specific items are actually the smallest part of their sartorial story, and Greg Miller wanted to prove it to me

Truth is, so much of Robby and Greg Miller’s success can be attributed to their diverse product mix.

More things you didn’t know: they employ seven tailors sewing custom pieces for their growing private label clothing and sportswear, and they have 100% of your formalwear needs, including white dinner jackets. They can outfit you head-to-toe, just no hat, no matter the occasion.

And since neither brother is braggadocios, I’ll be the first to tell you that they are home to over twenty-four progressive and higher end Italian lines for men. Twenty-four. That’s more than anyone in Atlanta.

Indeed, sprezzatura has landed in Buckhead.

In case you missed the word sprezzatura when it was one of our 11th grade Wordly Wise vocab words, Sprezzatura means the art of looking great, without fussiness, putting a lot of thought into your clothing, only it doesn’t appear that you did so.

I suppose the twenty-four Italian lines actually makes Robby and Greg the godfathers of Atlanta’s Spezzatura. (godfather; 9th grade Wordly Wise: a man who is influential or pioneering in a movement.)

The magic of the Miller Brothers’ high quality Italian lines like Castangia is the way they drape on your body. The handmade craftsmanship and finest materials make the pieces feel like a custom make. There is nothing more handsome than the Castangia brand. 

I had forgotten that Miller Brothers had a plethora of Italian. And I don’t know how I could have forgotten that because my husband owns thirty Italian shirts and over twenty Italian sport coats, each one purchased at Miller Brothers over the many years.

Also, in 2019, while I was bewildering away at a month-long French immersion course in the South of France, Jeff visited and we attended the Monte Carlo Open Men’s Tennis Championship. There, Jeff met Giovanni and fell in love with Giovanni’s sport coat. But when Jeff asked him who made it, Giovanni shook his head and refused to tell Jeff. Giovanni never talked to Jeff again. So yes, When in Rome . . . do not ask about their clothing. Anyhoo, at the Monte Carlo Open, when Giovanni wasn’t looking, Jeff snapped his photo and immediately sent it to Greg. Greg had Giovanni’s exact coat in the store. Now Jeff has Giovanni’s sport coat. So there, Giovanni.

That’s the lure of the Miller Brothers, exceptional service. I see why so many people flock there. Not every item is out on the 1,450 square feet of selling space. Robby, Greg, Jonah, Jerry, and Cole keep tricks up their stylish sleeves. When they say, “Hold on. I have just the thing for you,” and disappear, believe they are returning with a satisfied smile and a load of attractive bounty.  

For the new customer, here is what you need to know. Robby, Greg, Jonah, Jerry, and Cole will stretch you. They will let you keep your style, but they will challenge you to mix it up in some small way that no one else dons. Step in and roam about with a keen eye remembering you cannot see everything just by looking. They have something for everyone. Go find your touch of sprezzatura. It’s there, waiting.

Business keeps booming on. What started almost thirty years ago as two brothers in a townhouse off East Paces Ferry with a $15,000 loan from their father has proved to be a Buckhead mainstay.

Robby and Greg’s family affair continues. Seems the retail fever is in the Miller DNA. The next generation has joined the crew. Greg’s daughter, Madison Freeman, and Greg and Robby’s nephew, Cole Einbender, have jumped aboard, there is no succession plan created or even talked about. Robby and Greg have no plans to do anything except continuing to clothe you.

While you are visiting that corner of Buckhead, check out their other eponymous store, Miller Collective. Madison is running the Collective. It’s a whole ‘nother ball of surprises full of noteworthy gifts for the howdy, the haut-y, the surfer, the kid, the hostess, the adored pet, yourself, or the book and paper lover. Between the two stores, they are capturing the cool.  

Miller Brothers    3207 Paces Ferry Place   (404) 233-8000  www.MillerBrothers.com

On a warm night in September of last year, Assembly Studios in Doraville, GA, made a grand debut just a few miles Northeast of Buckhead, igniting excitement in Georgia’s film and TV scene. The star-studded opening featured a glamorous red carpet where invited guests lined up fortours of the high-tech facilities on a new 50-acre campus The night buzzed with live entertainment and networking, spotlighting Georgia’s growing status in entertainment and leaving a mark of anticipation for the studio’s future. Though Buckhead is not the epicenter of productions taking place in Georgia, the Assembly Studios opening further solidified it’s position at the geographic center of the major film studios that now form a ring around Atlanta.

Cutting the ribbon at Assembly Atlanta studios

The “Made in Georgia” logo has become a common sight as the credits roll for film and television productions, and the state’s film/TV industry continues to flourish after a brief hiatus for Hollywood actors and writers strikes of 2023. Several industry experts underscored the important and unique role Buckhead plays in the state’s burgeoning film industry and the economic benefits to the community are substantial

. According to the Georgia Department of Economic Development, the fiscal year 2023 saw a direct expenditure of $4.1 billion on productions in the state.

Buckhead’s starring role is housing

Georgia’s TV/film industry is now firmly established. As such, many crew members who are considered “below-the-line,” such as grips, makeup artists, camera operators and similar behind-the-scenes roles, now live in the state. But when a production is filming in the Atlanta area, actors, directors, producers and other “above-the-line” talent who do not live in the area require housing. They often move into the Atlanta area for several months for a film production, or longer for a television series.

Cue Buckhead’s production prominence.

Jacob Bean owns Studio Housing Atlanta. The company specializes in providing fully furnished housing — and other relevant services — for cast and crew members living temporarily in the Atlanta area during productions.

“The studios and crew members want something turnkey,” Bean said. “They want it to be fully furnished, with bedding, towels, everything A-Z as they are just showing up with a suitcase.”

Many are coming to Buckhead. Bean said many Buckhead homes are listed for about $30,000 to $70,000 a month. That budget could be even, higher for “top A-list celebrities.”

“Some actors get what they want, and the productions will pay practically whatever,” he said.

Studios will look elsewhere for productions taking place at Trilith Studios in Fayetteville or others area south of Atlanta due to commute times, Bean said. However, Buckhead has become a housing hotspot for productions filming on the north side of Atlanta, including at OFS Studios or Eagle Rock Studios in Norcross, or the newly opened Assembly Atlanta in Doraville. This is particularly true for A-listers who want the estate atmosphere Buckhead provides.

“Buckhead is a hotspot for [more prominent] cast members because it offers the privacy, security and amenities people are looking for,” Bean said.

Buckhead resident Ryan Millsap is the founder of Blackhall Studios, which was sold to a private investment firm in 2021 and now operates as Shadowbox Studios in DeKalb County. Millsap said Buckhead is an attractive housing option for many A-list celebrities as its upscale atmosphere can’t be found in others areas of the city.

“Buckhead is the nicest neighborhood in all of Atlanta,” he said. “This is where you will find the nicest homes. Originally, a lot of stars, directors, and above-the-line teams wanted to live in Buckhead, which I think is still true.”

Millsap said Buckhead has served as a temporary home for major actors like Robert Downey Jr., Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Jennifer Lawrence, Chris Pratt, and Tom Hardy during the production of films, including Jungle Cruise, Jumanji, The Accountant, Venom, and Marvel movies.

Buckhead’s appeal is not limited to housing

Justin Campbell, director of studio operations for Assembly Atlanta — the newly opened 50-acre studio development in Doraville on the former General Motors assembly site — said Buckhead is also an exceptional place for on-site filming.

“(Buckhead) provides something other areas of Atlanta don’t in its unique architecture and fine-end finishes,” Campbell said. “From the homes, hotels, corporate and retail spaces, it brings something you can’t find anywhere else.” Assembly Studios is projected to include over 1 million square feet of stage space at full build-out and already has a long-term partnership with NBCUniversal.

Jacob Bean with Studio Housing Atlanta said the opening of Assembly Atlanta, which is about 12 miles from the center of Buckhead, should drive more talent to be housed in the community.

“I do think Buckhead’s prominence will rise with Assembly Atlanta,” Bean said. “Already there is one production rumored to be coming in the next 30 days. What I know about that film, it will be higher-end actors looking for higher-end properties.”

Cost savings continue to draw productions to the Atlanta area

Millsap said the biggest driver of the Georgia’s film/tv industry growth, and subsequently that of Atlanta and Buckhead, is the state’s 30-percent tax credit for qualifying productions.

“The tax credit really makes the difference in why people want to make movies and TV in Atlanta,” he said. “All of the growth is largely dependent on the tax credit. If the tax credit changes or caps, it could have a significant effect on the future growth of the industry.”

Other cost savings are notable factors. Millsap said Atlanta provides “a massive discounted price for what you get.” For Buckhead, this includes the leasing costs to house actors.

“You can lease a beautiful home in Buckhead, but move that home to L.A. and you have to multiply the cost by eight or 10 times. The same is true in New York. Even in Miami you are probably paying five times as much for the same home. Atlanta provides a deep, deep discount for luxury. It’s a big draw because the quality of life here for the money is unmatched.”

Though the tax credit serves as the draw, the Atlanta area’s appeal for TV/film production goes beyond cost savings.

“The 30 percent qualifying productions receive, that’s what made [Georgia’s film/TV industry] go,” Campbell said. “But what’s allowed it to grow at the pace it has, and sustain, is the bipartisan support, labor development, the great infrastructure with Hartsfield-Jackson Airport and private airports, and thousands of small businesses that have either started in response to the industry or have pivoted to fit this industry’s needs.”

The initial growth of the state’s production industry has also fostered a new workforce of below-the-line crew members. Campbell credits initiatives like the Georgia Film Academy with fostering the state’s TV/film production labor pool. The Georgia Film Academy partners with the University System of Georgia and Technical College System of Georgia providing workforce training and classroom instruction for TV/film production at universities and colleges around the state.

“We no longer have to import crews from across the country,” Campbell said. “Eighty to ninety percent of crews are local, they’re Georgians. That has been a major driver and component to sustain the industry and make it a permanent presence.”

All my life, I’ve only ever had two real complaints about Buckhead.

#1. It’s too far from any coast

#2. There is no good mom-and-pop Italian eatery

I do not think that complaint #1can be remedied. Short of an earthquake coming and splitting Georgia in half—don’t laugh, the Brevard Fault Line runs right smack dab through Atlanta, we will most certainly remain five hours from the coast.

But what about #2? The whole spaghetti conundrum. How else will I get my fix of carbs heaped with cheese, oregano, and red sauce? Yes, we have splendid high-end Italian mainstays like LaGrotta and Pricci. Their well-curated offerings never disappoint. But sometimes, my simple little soul just wants that swirl of skinny pasta with unadorned red sauce. You know the kind, where inevitably one clump of the spaghetti sticks together like a miniature haystack. I adore that clump.

I’m thinking the word spaghetti left our lexicon circa mid-1970’s when fine restauranteurs like Panos Karatassos and Steve Nygren entered the food scene. And so maybe therein lies my problem, Buckhead’s eateries are only getting better and more sophisticated. So I suppose I’ll keep relying on the next best thing: pizza. The good news is Buckhead is not short on phenomenal pizza.

I’ve quietly become a pizza freak. Thursday mornings during ALTA tennis seasons are my favorite time of year because they give me a legit reason to have a slice of “za” before eight a.m.. It’s the quintessential carbo-loading. When people ask me which pizza is my favorite, I give them the same answer as when they ask which one of our sons is my favorite. The answer is this: Whichever one is with me. Duh.

And just like each son, every pizza place offers something great and different to our world. Isn’t that the goal? It is. No two pizzas are alike and, surprisingly, none of the following restaurants have a whole lot in common even though they all serve the similar fare. In order of lowest to highest cost, here are the merits of Buckhead’s best slices.

Fellinis, 2809 Peachtree Road, Garden Hills

Slices as wide as go-cart tires. This generous fast-casual spot is continually consistent. They get so much right: fast service, freshest ingredients, free parking, self-serve Coke machine for bottomless sodas (Thank you, Jesus), large shakers of dry spices—think oregano, garlic powder, parm, and red pepper flakes. Order at the counter. It’s one of the last places to get a tasty $15 meal. Tipping is your best chance at dragging a smile out of the staff, but don’t wait for it. Maybe try it closer to the weekend. Maybe? Dunno. There’s headbanging music that you’ve never heard before but just might like; the vibe is so real there. It’s the only late-night pizza spot in Buckhead, open until midnight. It’s also one of best and biggest porches to sit and watch the busy world go by. Or to sit and read a good novel. You’re allowed to loiter there. What’s not to love?

www.FellinisAtlanta.com   

Mural at Piu Bella

Piu Bello Pizzeria, 3330 Piedmont Road

Hands down the widest selection of ready-made slices in Buckhead. They have no less than ten options at any given hour. Their topping combinations are wide-ranging. Many pre-made vegetarian options are available also. The interiors remind me of a beloved pizza spot at 42nd street and Fifth Avenue, across from the New York Public Library in Bryant Park. Both spots have that kitschy, quintessential, bucolic painting of old Italy adorning their wall. Trust the decorum anyway; it’s great quick pizza. They do a steady business all day, so fresh pies are forever coming out of the oven. Go in and check out the many choices. Try a topping you’ve never eaten before. A super cheery crowd works there. And so does another self-serve Coke machine. Oh, such joy.

www.PiuBelloBuckheadAtlanta.com

Blue Moon Pizza, 325 East Paces Ferry

Best red sauce around and super tasty crust. They do not scrimp on ingredients either. Grab their lunch special of slice, salad, and drink. The only pizza joint in town with curbside parking so you can run right in and grab your grub. They do a thriving takeaway business. If you dine in, there are many TVs playing sports channels. Go when a game is on. Or better yet, if you’ve been to Fetch Dog Park with your furry child, walk a block over to Blue Moon and dine on their porch. They are super pet friendly and bring bowls of fresh water out to Fido. The walls are adorned with artwork for sale, painted and drawn by one of their talented employees. Be sure to check out their Take-n-Bake options. They are the only ones in town who offer that.

www.BlueMoonPizza.com

Peros Italian Restaurant, 3521 Northside Pkwy  

Not much has changed at Pero’s over the decades and sometimes this is a good thing. I believe they are the last vestige of spumoni in town. This is the pizza you grew up on, the one with the buttery, airy crust. You’ve got to love a place that still serves French, Roquefort, and 1000 Island salad dressings. Oh, and believe it or not, they actually have an option called the Yankee crust, it’s the thicker one.

www.PerosPizza.com

Pala Bakery, 1264 West Paces Ferry Road

Antico Pizza had a son and this is it. And it’s really, really scrumptious. Antico Pizza’s Gio Di Palma passed the torch to a second generation, his son Johnny. And Johnny has three rules: No add-ons, no substitutions, and no half-toppings. But don’t let any of that stop you, he knows what he’s doing. So get this, Pala’s has no triangle slices. They only have circles and rectangles. The circle feeds 1-2 people. The rectangle is a massive 10” X 14.” Basically, that’s the size in between a standard pillow and a king pillow, which makes her the queen of pizzas. Her name is Alla Pala (pronounced “al-a pal-a”). Whichever shape you decide upon, you’ll taste the brightest tomatoes a pizza sauce has ever had. BTW, Johnny left out a fourth rule: each bite must be dipped into their garlicky vinaigrette.

www.palabakery.com 

Fresh basil for the meatball & besciamella Pinsa Romana at Pala Bakery

Amalfi Cucina & Mercato, 3242 Peachtree Road

One of the rare spots in Buckhead where you can still order a cannoli. Their menu harkens back to old-school Italy menus. Two trained chefs, ten pizzas. They have the biggest menu of all the restaurants listed here. A menu for carnivores, vegetarians, and seafood lovers, there is something for everyone.

www.AmalfiAtl.com

Taverna, 280 Buckhead Avenue

The best place for big groups and families, especially those with varying palates. Taverna is so much more than pizza. Even though the size of their pizza is perfect for just one person, this is a terrific spot to order many different dishes and share. They have the best all-season porch with a wide view of the Buckhead Village. This happens to be one of those rare and gracious restaurants that never seems to mind if you linger a bit longer. So do.

www.TavernaByLombardi.com/atlanta-buckhead-location

Yeppa & Co., 306 Buckhead Avenue

Located only twenty steps from Taverna, yet a very different feel. Yeppa is cozy and loud, and the oversized circular bar in the middle of the restaurant makes you feel like you’re home. Pizza is the smallest section of their menu, but it must be mentioned. Their pizza is a fat, oblong rectangle cut into squares, and there is nothing like it. The pizza is both crunchy and chewy, which makes it incredibly satisfying. You have to love a pizza that they throw arugula onto after it’s been baked. They elevate pizza and you must try it.

www.YeppaCo.com

Varasano Pizzeria, 2171 Peachtree Road

There is a reason why their pizza is so loved. It’s different. Each pizza is made with a natural sourdough yeast that’s fermented for several days. The pies are very thin, flash baked in only about 2 1/2 minutes, and sparingly topped. This is all by design. The eating of it comes with explicit instructions. The chef insists we eat it with our hands, no utensils required. Just pick it up, fold it over itself—creating a more narrow V, and then chow down. Everyone else will be eating with their hands also, so there’s no judgment. How refreshing! 

www.Varasanos.com

What I wouldn’t give for a fat piece of garlic bread tossed haphazardly onto a bowl of steaming spaghetti right now. But my New Year’s resolution is to be where I am. So no big dreaming of anyplace else. Which puts me right back here in Buckhead’s pizza world, and it’s such a lovely place to be.

Even in Atlanta’s lavish Buckhead community, homelessness is a major issue, and Mayor Andre Dickens is working to solve the problem. 

“We know every night hundreds of Atlantans sleep in our parks or under our bridges,” he said. “It’s not just a humanitarian crisis. It’s a public health crisis. The existing system of shelters and support systems is really overwhelmed and underfunded. Every month 200 people enter our system needing shelter. Resources are stretched thin. People are waiting for weeks on end for a hotel or apartment. This is unacceptable. We need to make changes.” 

Dickens spoke on that topic and others at the Buckhead Coalition’s annual luncheon Thursday, January 25th at the St. Regis in Buckhead. 

Homelessness remains a problem both in Atlanta and the rest of the state. According to Georgia’s 2022 Point in Time Count report, the state’s homeless population jumped by 43% between 2019 and 2022. Metro Atlanta ranks 46th in the nation with a homeless population of only 53 per 100,000 residents, based on a Home Bay study released in July. 

However, according to the Atlanta Mission’s website, about 2,000 homeless individuals sleep on the city’s streets each night, and 6,848 homeless people were served in 2022 by the Mission, a nonprofit that provides shelter and services for the unhoused. 

Earlier this week, Dickens participated in the Atlanta portion of the weeklong statewide Point in Time Count, which is part of a biannual national survey of the unhoused that is required by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Atlanta’s count was conducted in partnership with Partners for Home, a nonprofit aiming to end homelessness in the city. On Wednesday he announced a set of initiatives to help combat homelessness in the city. 

“Last week I asked the city council to approve my plan to allocate $7.7 million to accelerate our rapid housing initiative and house at least 250 [more] people, and they approved it unanimously,” Dickens said. “… These funds would be used to extend the hours of our warming shelters and to expand shelters operations to identify for purchase or lease additional facilities and provide support services and security at select sites.” 

The mayor also said this week the city will celebrate the opening of The Melody, a vacant downtown parking lot converted to a village of 40 donated converted shipping containers and modular units. Dickens said they took less than four months to build. 

“So, these are examples of how together we will make changes that make every community stronger,” he said. 

Of Buckhead’s homeless population, the mayor said the city is addressing two areas where the unhoused are encamped: The Hill, a wooded area near where Sidney Marcus Boulevard, Buford Highway, Lenox Road, Ga. 400 and Interstate 85 intersect, and Cheshire Bridge Road. 

Regarding crime, Dickens said he was proud of the progress the city has made lately

“Citywide, homicides were down 21% in 2023 [compared to the previous year] and down 36% in Zone 2, in Buckhead,” he said. “Aggravated assaults were down 16% and 18% in Zone 2. Rapes were down 50% [citywide]. … We did have that one nagging problem around vehicles. Motor vehicle theft was up in our city. That’s something we need to work on, but overall, we’re very proud of the progress we’ve made in this city. But any single crime, just one crime, is one crime too many.” 

But Dickens did say motor vehicle thefts, which have jumped by 61%, and shoplifting, which has increased by 22%, must be addressed. 

“More is to be done there. We’re moving forward to be better,” he said. 

Georgia House Speaker Jon Burns, R-Newington, who spoke after Dickens, said the state’s law enforcement agencies support the Atlanta Police, adding they back the city’s controversial public safety training center that is under construction. 

Burns also said the state has devoted $1.3 million to build a new Georgia State Patrol post on the governor’s mansion property in Buckhead. 

“This will allow the Georgia State Patrol to have a bigger presence,” he said. “[The importance of] increased safety across the board goes without saying. Buckhead now leads Atlanta in overall crime reduction.” 

By Denise Starling, Executive Director, Livable Buckhead

I am thrilled for the opportunity to give readers of The Buckhead Paper an update on PATH400. This project is my favorite topic of conversation, and I never get tired of sharing the latest news about the trail and our progress toward completing the full 5.2 miles in Buckhead. Actually, I also love sharing updates about PATH400’s progress beyond Buckhead’s borders. Making it possible to run, walk or bike to other areas in metro Atlanta is one of the trail’s major benefits, and we’re getting closer to achieving that goal every day.

PATH400 background

Before I give you a construction update, let me give you a bit of background on the trail in case you haven’t tried it out for yourself. PATH400 runs roughly parallel to GA 400, beginning at the southern end of Buckhead where one day the Atlanta BeltLine will connect to it, and continuing north to Sandy Springs. The trail is transformative, taking unused right-of-way along the highway and turning it into a beautiful greenway that we can all enjoy. 

Most people who walk the trail for the first time are surprised by how many areas of natural beauty there are in Buckhead. If you only travel through our community by car, you’re missing out on wooded areas, creeks and ponds that are just steps away – and now are accessible via PATH400. Walk the trail from Miami Circle to the back of Lenox Square, or from the Buckhead Loop to Wieuca Rd. and you’ll see what I mean.

Final stage underway

In November 2022 we broke ground on a section of the trail between Wieuca Rd. and Loridans Dr. This is the last major section of PATH400 as it was originally envisioned in Buckhead and it connects directly to Mountain Way Common, a park that neighbors have worked for years to develop.

This section is three quarters of a mile long with a lot of challenging topography that complicates construction. The centerpiece of the work is a soaring bridge over the park that is taking about 14 months to build and is still a few months from completion. While that progresses, crews are building the trail out from the bridge, moving northward to Loridans and southward to Wieuca at the same time. The bridge really is impressive, and you can get a look at it for yourself by joining us on an upcoming construction tour – visit the events page of Livable Buckhead’s website to sign up.

Mountain Way Common where the new section of PATH400 will join the existing path

Next steps

By summer we will likely be under construction on PATH400’s connection to Sandy Springs. From the Atlanta city limits northward, the project technically becomes someone else’s baby but I am excited to report that there are big plans for PATH400 beyond Buckhead. The City of Sandy Springs has completed design all the way up to where GDOT has built the section of the trail that goes right through the middle of the 285/400 interchange connecting from Peachtree Dunwoody Road down to the Glenridge Connector. Sandy Springs will begin construction on the first section around summer of this year.

I hope you’ll make a point to get out on PATH400 when spring weather returns to Buckhead. If you enjoy biking, mark your calendar for March 24 when we are co-hosting a group ride with Big Peach Ride+Run. If running is more your style, join us on May 4 for buckheadRUN!, our annual 5K along PATH400. And if a casual walk is what fits you best, by all means please get out and enjoy a stroll on PATH400!

In the ever-evolving landscape of Buckhead’s real estate market, a recent trend analysis reveals a striking dichotomy in the single-family homes sector. The data, spanning from 2018 to 2023, shows increasing property values against a backdrop of declining sales volumes, a trend that speaks volumes about the shifting dynamics of this desirable area of Atlanta.

The red line in the graph illustrates a downward trajectory in the number of single-family homes sold over the years. The peak of sales was observed in 2021, with 1,437 homes sold. However, this figure took a sharp downturn in the subsequent years, with sales plummeting to just 672 homes last year. This represents a startling drop of approximately 53% from the 2021 peak and a 27.4% drop from the prior year.

The chart paints a different picture with its blue line, indicating the average sale prices of these homes. In a counterintuitive twist, the prices have been consistently on the rise, even as the number of sales dwindled. From an average price of $1.13 million in 2018, the market saw a steady climb, reaching a zenith of $1.71 million in 2023. This upward trend in prices, marking an increase of over 50% in five years, suggests that the Buckhead market remains a bastion for high-value properties, attracting affluent buyers despite the overall decrease in transactions.

While this data clearly indicates that Buckhead remains the address of choice, it exposes the fact that supply levels of available homes are clearly not keeping up with demand. With metro Atlanta once again poised to be one of the top US real estate markets in 2024, these trends are likely to persist.

Is This A Problem That Requires A Solution?

While individual home-owners may cheer the news of their home value increasing, it is a point of debate whether these increases in value and constraints on supply are healthy long term for our community. Affordable housing advocates focus on workforce housing through multi-family projects such as the one proposed by the Atlanta Beltline Inc at 579 Garson Drive in South Buckhead, but single-family homes are never part of those conversations. Not since Atlanta’s City Planner Tim Keane released Atlanta City Design Housing in December 2020, has anyone attempted to change housing density and zoning to allow for more single-family homes to be built at a lower cost. The pushback from the community to these changes was strong and swift. Keane left Atlanta for the same position in Boise, Idaho one year after unveiling his proposals, which have since been tabled. Without the political will or public support for changes to zoning, the Buckhead real estate market will continue to be shaped by the delicate balance between available land, construction costs, supply, demand, and interest rates.

While Buckhead’s most expensive home sales in 2023 did not break records, they showed broad strength in the top-end of our market. The average sale price for homes in Buckhead reached $1,714,416 in 2023, marking a 12.3% rise from the previous year. To join the elite list of Buckhead’s top 10 home sales in 2023, properties needed a minimum price tag of $7 million.

For several years in a row I have personally sold more of these top 10 sales than any other Realtor, and I am proud to say that I have maintained that record for another year with two of the top ten sales to my name, including the #1 sale of the year.

Four of the top 10 sales were new construction spec homes, indicating a demand for “new” from buyers and a boldness to fill that demand among local luxury home builders. Siegel Construction & Design built two of these four homes and has plans to bring more top-tier homes to the market in the near future. “We see a lot of strength at the top end of the market in Buckhead both for spec and custom builds,” commented David Siegel, the founder of the firm.

Among the top 10, two were high-rise condominiums. The condo at Park Place, formerly owned by Elton John, garnered international interest and secured the 9th position with a $7.2 million sale price. Meanwhile, a Penthouse at the Graydon, located on the same stretch of Peachtree Road, quietly surpassed this figure, selling for $7.95 million and achieving the 5th spot on our list.

8

343 Hillside Drive                                                                        $7,550,000

SOLD  12/06/2023
7 br / 7 ba / 3 half bath / 11,500 Sqft / 1.5 Acres
 
New construction home on prime lot by Siegel Construction and Design. Sold by Hirsh Real Estate

9

10

Buckhead resident Anne McKillips says she wants her “quality of life back” in aiming to pass legislation that could automatically cite the owners of cars that produce excessive noise.

McKillips, a retired entrepreneur who lives near Lenox Road and Ga. 400, leads the volunteer-based Georgia Loud Cars Task Force, which is working with legislators to draft bills aimed at limiting vehicle noise through automated citations. The group recently began a petition that aims to draw support for the cause in the hopes it will spur legislators to take up the issue in 2024.

“The noise pollution in this world is incredible, and it needs to be brought under control,” McKillips said.

Group proposes use of noise detection cameras

McKillips and her volunteer task force plan to introduce legislation that will allow for the use of noise detection cameras statewide. Such camera systems have already been implemented in cities like Knoxville, Tennessee, and Miami, and New York City lawmakers are expected to allow their use soon, Forbes reported.

The noise detection cameras work like other automated traffic systems, including school zone speed cameras, McKillips said. They can be mounted near roadways, calibrated for that location, and will detect any cars surpassing a certain decibel threshold set by local lawmakers. When the system detects excessive vehicle noise from a car, the cameras can snap a photo of its license plate with a time, date, location and decibel stamp, allowing a citation to be issued to the registered owner of the car.

The task force is currently working with several Georgia House and Georgia Senate representatives, she said, to introduce bills in each house in 2024. Similar bills were proposed in the Legislature during the 2023 session, but they “went nowhere,” McKillips said, spurring the task force to continue drumming up support.

The group’s Change.org petition, which began Nov. 17, had garnered over 1,400 signatures as of Dec. 6.

“I’m hoping we can get people to circulate it to their entire network so we can say to the entire legislature this is important to the citizens of Georgia,” McKillips said.

The Loud Cars Task Force does not intend to mandate these cameras at any level, McKillips said. Rather, it wants the state to pass a bill to allow for their use statewide and leave the decision to use them up to local control.

“One of the things that’s really important in the bill, we want to make sure the state Legislature allows the noise detection technology but does not mandate it,” she said. “Every jurisdiction will make the decision to use it. We also want it so that every jurisdiction that implements it can set its own decibel level [limits]. For instance, Tuxedo Park needs a lower decibel level than Fulton Industrial [Boulevard]. We only want it available.”

She is certainly advocating for their use in Buckhead and the City of Atlanta, though.

Buckhead is purportedly a hotspot for car noise vehicle complaints

A study conducted by Georgia State University students found Peachtree Road had the highest number of vehicle noise complaints calls to the Atlanta Police Department from June 2021 to June 2023. Three-hundred calls were fielded by the APD during the two-year span. Neighborhood Planning Unit B — which includes North Buckhead, Buckhead Forest, South Tuxedo Park, Buckhead Heights, Peachtree Heights East and West, Garden Hills and Buckhead Village and other local areas — had the second highest noise complaint volume of the 25 NPUs within Atlanta, the study noted.

The vehicle noise around Buckhead is what inspired McKillips to create the task force around three years ago. At first, McKillips said she wanted people to continually call APD each time they heard an excessively loud car.

“I kept calling and calling,” she said. “After talking to some APD officers, they can’t do anything about it. If there’s a loud car, by the time they get there, it’s gone. There are more important things they have to address, and they don’t have the staff to sit everywhere and monitor [car noise levels].”

McKillips said excessively noisy cars have become a nuisance, but it goes beyond quality-of-life issues.

“We want to have noise pollution caused by cars, trucks, ATVs, anything, under control,” she said. “That’s our real goal. It affects wildlife, children with autism, it can cause strokes. I’m tired of it. If we don’t make it through this session, I’ll be back the following year.”

Difficulties exist in enforcing vehicle noise levels

A specific noise limit threshold that can be emitted from a car’s muffler is not outlined in state codes. However, it is a misdemeanor to sell or use a muffler “which causes excessive or unusual noise.” As such, it’s often up to an officer’s discretion to cite a car owner for excessive muffler noise, Lt. W. Mark Riley, former public information officer for the Georgia Department of Public Safety, told 11Alive in 2021.

State codes dictate that sounds produced from a car’s audio system cannot be heard at a distance of 100 feet or more from a vehicle, however.

The Loud Cars Task Force hopes that municipalities or counties would be able to use the passage of their proposed bill(s) to set specific decibel limits. McKillips said signs would also be posted to warn drivers of their use. State law requires such signs to be erected advising drivers of the use of speed detection and red-light cameras.

Representatives from Michelin’s famous guide presented the first Michelin stars to restaurants across Atlanta on October 24, 2023. Atlanta’s Michelin Guide joins just six other U.S. Guides- New York City, California, Colorado, Florida, Chicago, and Washington DC. Chefs and diners around the city have been buzzing since the announcement that the guide was coming, and there was a palpable sense of excitement leading up to the announcement.

Michelin Guide Experiences and Communications Director Elisabeth Boucher-Anselin described how Michelin’s anonymous restaurant inspectors were “amazed” by the quality of the restaurants they discovered in Atlanta. She said they felt “this spark Atlanta has- The one which makes the difference, and attracts international travelers looking for a very special journey.”

45 restaurants were recognized during the event. The selections were all inside the perimeter, but Michelin says they may expand beyond the perimeter in the future. 5 Buckhead restaurants were recognized, including Atlas winning a coveted Michelin star. Other hot spots around the city include the West Side, East Atlanta, Decatur, and Chamblee/Doraville.  

Michelin Guide history

The Michelin Guide began as a way to help motorists plan trips across France. The Michelin brothers figured that more driving trips meant more tire sales, and they were right! The guide included maps, instructions for changing a tire, where to buy fuel, and more. The guide began to include hotel and restaurants in the 1920s, and the now famous restaurant inspectors began to visit and review restaurants anonymously. The first Michelin star was awarded in 1926, with 2 and 3 star ratings added five years later. The Michelin Guide now rates over 40,000 establishments across three continents.

Buckhead’s winners

There were several awards handed out on October 24, but perhaps the one with the most culinary weight is the coveted Michelin Star. A star in the Michelin Guide means a restaurant is “High quality cooking, worth a stop!” Michelin’s restaurant inspectors judge a restaurant on quality of ingredients, harmony of flavors, mastery of cooking techniques, personality of the chef reflected in the cuisine, and consistency of food and service between visits. A Michelin star (or two or three) recognizes a chef and a restaurant among the best in the world.

Atlas dining room. Photo courtesy of Atlas

Atlas and chef Freddy Money were awarded the first Michelin star in Atlanta’s history. Anyone who has dined at Atlas is not surprised by this recognition. The inspectors found Atlas “snuggled inside the St Regis” and called the restaurant “impossibly elegant.” Of winning Atlanta’s first Michelin star, Chef Money said, “Very humbling. Awesome experience and shows the dedication and hard work of our whole team, so we’re very proud.”

THE CHASTAIN was the first Buckhead restaurant to be recognized during the Michelin Guide ceremony, and they ended up with three awards on the night. THE CHASTAIN’s Juan Fernando Cortés won the first Michelin Sommelier of the year award in Atlanta. Michelin inspectors said that Juan “puts care and thought into each and every selection, and that he’s not afraid to think outside the box.” In a testament to his commitment to his craft, Juan was not in attendance to receive his Michelin award because he was working at the restaurant. 

THE CHASTAIN was also awarded one of two Michelin Green Stars in the city. A Michelin Green Star is awarded to acknowledge a restaurant at the forefront of sustainable practices and ethical environmental practices. The inspectors were impressed with the way THE CHASTAIN goes “above and beyond organic.” THE CHASTAIN and fellow Green Star recipient Bacchanalia join just 21 other Green Star restaurants in the U.S.

General Manager Emilee Durrett said the Michelin Green Star recognizes a big part of what THE CHASTAIN has been working toward concerning sustainability. “When we set out to do THE CHASTAIN, a big goal of ours was making an impact not only in a neighborhood, not just in Atlanta, but in the southeast as a whole.” Durrett said the team at THE CHASTAIN, including Executive Chef Christopher Grossman, has been dedicated to, “changing what it could look like to have relationships with local purveyors, farmers, and independent businesses, and really making a choice to do that, despite the challenges.”

The Michelin Guide chose 30 restaurants for their first Recommended Restaurants selection in Atlanta, including THE CHASTAIN, Storico Fresco, and Tomo. Bib Gourmand recipients are recognized by the Michelin Guide for high quality food for a reasonable price. 10 restaurants made the list in Atlanta, and we are going to claim Heirloom Market BBQ as Buckhead’s winner on the list. 

We would like to congratulate all of the restaurants recognized in Atlanta’s first Michelin guide. Check out the full list of winners below, and support your local chef!

Michelin Guide winners in Buckhead

One Star

Atlas

Green Star

THE CHASTAIN

Sommelier Award

Juan Fernando Cortes, THE CHASTAIN

The Chastain

Storico Fresco Alimentari

Tomo

Bib Gourmand

Heirloom Market BBQ

Michelin Guide restaurants throughout Atlanta

One Star

Bacchanalia

Hayakawa

Lazy Betty

Mujo

Green Star

Bacchanalia

Michelin Service Award

Neil McCarthy, Miller Union

Exceptional Cocktails Award

Jason Furst and bar team, BoccaLupo

Michelin Young Chef Award

Chef Jarrett Stieber, Little Bear

Bib Gourmand

Antico

Arepa Mia

Banshee

Bomb Biscuit

Busy Bee Cafe

Estrellita

Fred’s Meat and Bread

Fishmonger

Little Bear

The Alden

BoccaLupo

Chai Pani

The Deer and the Dove

Delbar

Food Terminal

The General Muir

Georgia Boy and Southern Belle

Gunshow

Han Il Kwan

Home Grown

Kamayan ATL

Kimball House

LanZhou Ramen

Lyla Lila

Marcel

Miller Union

Nam Phuong

Poor Hendrix

Snackboxe Bistro

Talat Market

Ticonderoga Club

Tiny Lou’s

Twisted Soul Cookhouse & Pours

The White Bull

Xi’an Gourmet House (Midtown)

Canterbury Court has been an integral part of the Buckhead community since it opened in 1965. The recently expanded campus will be home to over 500 senior adults, nearly double the previous capacity, in what is referred to as a Life Plan Community. With multiple restaurants and myriad amenities, Canterbury Court feels more like a resort than a retirement community. The fact that Canterbury Court refers to internal sections of the campus as neighborhoods speaks volumes about the culture of the staff and residents.

The connection to the greater Buckhead community is an important aspect of life at Canterbury Court. President and CEO Debi McNeil said, “More than 60% of our residents come from [the Buckhead] area and have lived here most of their lives.” She continued, “It means a lot to be part of the city, to be in the heart of it. Not to be isolated. People want to be near their families, they want to be near the things that they know and love, and to be part of that same environment they were always in.”

McNeil says the expanded medical facilities in the new Monarch Tower allow Canterbury Court to have “state of the art, healthcare, and spaces that people want to be a part of that still feel home-like and residential.”

About the campus

Residents enjoy independent living in 323 apartments across 4 residential towers. When their needs change, they can seamlessly transition into the assisted living and skilled nursing facilities on-site, including 42 assisted living apartments, 40 Skilled Nursing apartments, and 21 memory support apartments.

Independent living and healthcare are in separate neighborhoods, but everything is still connected and integrated. Healthcare residents are encouraged to participate in activities in the main buildings, but there are separate activities and events in the Monarch Pavilion. McNeil said the path from independent living to healthcare is not necessarily a straight line. “We tell people just because you go to HealthCare doesn’t mean you’re never coming back.”

The grounds are an important component of life at Canterbury Court. The 14 acre campus includes lush gardens with over a mile of walking trails, along with a recently added state-of-the-art greenhouse and residents’ private garden beds. A new 8,500 square foot landscaped terrace known as the Overlook has expansive garden views, a bocce ball court, putting greens, and more. A 10,000 square foot secure therapeutic green space was recently added for the exclusive use of the memory care residents. 

History of Canterbury Court

Frank Player and Margaret Hancock conceived the idea for a new retirement home, and asked rectors of Atlanta’s All Saints’ Episcopal Church and St. Luke’s Episcopal Church to sponsor the project. From the Canterbury Court website, “Their idea was to create a community where older adults could live and share a joyful lifestyle, with a continuum of care to meet changing needs.” Their dream was realized when Canterbury Court, Atlanta’s first Life Plan Community, opened in 1965. 

The original Club Tower is still recognized for its striking mid-century modern architecture. The Peachtree Tower opened in 1991, and the Vermont tower in 2005, both echoing the style of the original tower. The latest additions to the campus are a departure from the original design, while still visually integrating with the existing buildings. Debi McNeil said of the Garden Tower and the Monarch Pavilion, “I always like to say they’re not twins, but they’re definitely sisters.”

2023 expansion

The Garden Tower and Monarch medical Pavilion represent the largest expansion of Canterbury Court to date. The new facilities add 133 independent living apartments and more than 40 apartments in the healthcare neighborhoods. The expansion doubles both the square footage and the number of residents.

Dedicated memory care apartments and the 10,000 square foot private memory care garden are important additions to the Canterbury campus.

Board Chair David Aldridge says discussions about expanding Canterbury Court began in 2016, “We came away with aggressive goals, not just to have adequate health care facilities, we want it to be best in class.” Aldridge continued, “We needed to reach a higher level of operating efficiency, and that meant we needed to expand our independent living campus alongside our healthcare. These two go together like hand in glove.”

What’s next for Canterbury Court?

The next project for Canterbury Court will be adding to the green space. After purchasing three adjacent homes along Vermont Road, Debi McNeil explains, “We are going to be working with the Neighborhood Association and the city through the zoning process to take those homes down and add another 1.3 acres to our green space.” 

Canterbury trustee and chair of the Enrichment Project Oversight Committee Larry Lord spoke at the grand opening of the Garden Tower and Monarch Pavilion. His remarks summed up the impression we got from all of the residents and staff we spoke to, “Our campus is truly a testament to our commitment to progress, the enrichment and bettering our residents’ lives and to the bright future that lies ahead for Canterbury Court. May the Monarch Pavilion and Garden Tower along with our existing facilities continue to bring joy, comfort, and a sense of community and pride to all those who call Canterbury Court home. May the winds of inspiration and hope forever grace the halls of Canterbury Court.”

Restaurants come and go in Buckhead for any number of reasons. Pietro Gianni and Stephen Peterson (Yeppa and Co., Storico Fresco, Forza Storico, etc.) announced that their Italian wine bar, Storico Vino, was closing in June of 2023. Gianni said at the time, “The main reason for the rebranding is that Yeppa and Co. is extremely successful and we knew it would likely hurt [Storico] Vino.” 

Rather than replace the wine bar with one of their existing concepts, Gianni and Peterson decided to give their staff a chance to create something more personal, and the result is an exciting addition to Buckhead Village.

Pachengo’s Neighborhood Taqueria serves Mexican food you might expect to find in a food truck in Mexico City, and that’s no accident. Omar and Lupe Santamaria, the husband and wife chefs behind the menu at Pachengo’s, are both originally from Mexico City. Omar said he and his wife have worked at Storico Fresco, Yeppa and Co., and Forza Storico, and they jumped at the chance to create their own menu.

Food truck vibes

During a conversation with the owners, Omar expressed that he would like to run his own food truck one day to serve traditional Mexico City fare. He says the owners offered the Storico Vino location and said, “okay, this is your food truck, Make it work.”

Pachengo’s is definitely more civilized than a food truck in a parking lot, but it has a fun vibe that is unique in the village. The bar and long tables inside encourage sharing dishes and mingling, and the outdoor covered patio space is a great place to enjoy the weather.

The menu is small and focused, like you might expect from a food truck. “You can see the kitchen is pretty small,” Omar said, “So it’s like a food truck.” He said he doesn’t feel constrained by the small kitchen, but rather it was designed to have just what they need.

Food with family ties

Omar and Lupe designed the menu around family recipes and many they developed together. Omar’s family has a small restaurant in Mexico City, and he grew up with his grandma, who he credits with teaching him how to cook. He says many recipes on the menu at Pachengo’s are from his grandma. Omar gives Lupe credit for several menu items, and he says she is invaluable when they need to “fix” a recipe or create something new.

Tacos are (of course) a specialty, as well as enchiladas with tomatillo sauce or mole, and a remarkable carne asada plate, along with the sides and starters you expect. Everything tastes fresh, and the preparations are simple and delicious. Each ingredient feels like it is there for a reason, and the flavors are perfectly balanced.

Simple and delicious

The drink menu at Pachengo’s is also a departure from the typical new Buckhead restaurant. The drink menu is simple and curated to accompany the Mexico City vibe of the food. You won’t find craft cocktails at Pachengo’s, but you will enjoy the simple and traditional margaritas, palomas, ranch water, and Sangria, along with a selection of wine and (mostly Mexican) beer.

Keeping with the taqueria theme, there are no fountain sodas. Panhengo’s serves Hibiscus agua fresca and bottled sodas like Mexican Coke and Sprite and a selection of Jarritos bottled sodas.

Pachengo’s is open for lunch and dinner, and they plan to offer breakfast soon. The restaurant is located at 3065 Peachtree Road, across from One Buckhead Plaza near the corner of Peachtree and West Paces Ferry.

Only Alisa Barry could take a whopping 3,100 square foot space, fill it with a thousand items and make it feel like home. The impeccably curated Bella Cucina shop is remarkable. And maybe a bit magical.

What started as a simple line of pantry provisions, from the likes of an Italian grocer with a terrific sweet tooth, has since blossomed into a gift shop, a vintage cocktail starter shelf, a furniture store, a dreamy closet, an art studio, workshops, and a languid gathering spot. Yet, it’s so much more than any of this. It’s a rare force nudging you to become a better version of yourself.

Bella Cucina helps you up your game and finally indulge in those brilliant ideas which, on second thought, you always deem too hard and undoable. Ideas like throwing a fete with old school cocktails served in swanky vintage glassware, just like Fitzgerald and Hemingway—minus the fist fighting. Or eating fat bowls of saucy pasta around a rustic French farm table despite your terribly narrow porch. Or making your abode magazine-worthy using sky-high vases, petit paintings and oversized floor coverings. Or more than any of this, undo your doing by tapping into inner peace and serenity through the meditative practice of Japanese ink art.

There is something for everyone at Bella Cucina. It’s both your guidebook and your resource to living fully and living well.

It started with inspired cuisine

In the early nineties, Alisa opened a café in Atlanta to share her passion for cooking and eating as an artful ritual. Inspired by her sabbaticals in the hill towns of Italy and culinary training in California (she apprenticed under Alice Waters at Chez Panisse), she created simple menus with locally sourced ingredients. When her loyal customers kept asking to take home her artful offerings, an artisan food business was born.  

Then Oprah found her. The best-selling Lemon Artichoke Pesto was the first Bella Cucina item to make Oprah’s Favorite Things List. Pretty much everything Alisa does is spot on. Subsequently, she began searching the globe for objects of affection and collaborations with other like-minded artisans in order to create beautiful essentials for our kitchen, home and soul.

At home in Buckhead Village

The Bella Cucina flagship store in Buckhead is one of those exceptional places that lets you touch sculpture. It’s a bookshop. It has one-of-a-kind antiques, furniture and found objects. It’s ceramics and textiles and wooden picnic baskets. It is elegant serving bowls. It’s a market chock full of Spanish potato chips in stylish tins, Italian hot sauce, pomodoro sauce and artisanal pastas. Spices and aromatic salts sit next to a rainbow of small-batch pestos and bountiful rounds of Pane Rustic. It’s walls of Alisa’s gorgeous custom Japanese ink art. It’s also a venue to learn about Tea Tasting & Artful Food Pairing or take a Food Photography Workshop. But again, it’s really so much more than all this.

It’s inspiration and courage. A reminder to slow down to the speed of life and live more deliberately so you can capture all the joy one life can amass. You only get one. It’s a shot of wellness and the easiest steps to simplicity. So perhaps this is why it feels akin to home.

Bella Cucina is your one-stop life shop. It’s loads of goodness plunked into one sunny locale. The sunshine glistens into the storefront all day long. Given its location on the Buckhead Avenue block, all-day abundant sun isn’t even geographically possible, but it’s happening.

A guide for your first visit

Here’s what you absolutely must know before you visit Bella Cucina. There is only one way to experience its wonderment. Immediately, upon walking inside, take in the welcoming signature scent. Right then, the space starts to transform you. But stay with the plan. Don’t get lost in the store quite yet. Instead, walk straight to the checkout and find the deck of EnCOURAGEment Cards. Pull one out. Read it. Then reread it because it’s so perfectly attuned to your life in that moment. The exact affirmation you needed, right? Good news is you get to keep the card. Next, turn around and take in the vast enchantment surrounding you. What narrows your focus? Or piques your interest? Saunter over to it. Start there. Nothing else matters as you begin to step and turn and reach and meander around the milieu of Bella Cucina.  

Sometime after you visit, your soul might start hungering for more than the banal day you’ve had, and it can feel like something deep down inside you is missing. Only you can’t pinpoint exactly what, that’s when you’ll recall the EnCOURAGEment Card you pulled from the deck. The one that challenged you to be braver and live more completely. Just remember the ting of magic you experienced when you picked it. Reset your sights and aspirations to the card’s suggestion and affirmation. All of which will beg you to return to Bella Cucina to discover new ways of continuing to live your best life. You’ll always find your way back there. Again and again and again. Just like home.

Bella Cucina is located in the heart of the Buckhead Village at 270 Buckhead Avenue.

Popular middle eastern restaurant Delbar, which operates locations in Inman Park and Alpharetta, has advanced its second round of plans to open a prominent new location in Buckhead at the corner of Peachtree Road and West Paces Ferry, adjacent to One Buckhead Plaza. This new location at 3060 Peachtree Road would replace the former King + Duke restaurant that closed earlier this year.

Kevin Plenge of Fathom Architecture, which is spearheading the design of the proposed restaurant, presented Delbar’s plans to the Special Public Interest 9 Development Review Committee (DRC) Oct. 4. The DRC conducts reviews of development plans that require a permit and passes its recommendations to the City of Atlanta for its review. DRC members voiced no issues with the plan as presented.

Some of the dishes available at Delbar in Inman Park as seen on the restaurant’s Facebook page.

Delbar’s proposed Buckhead location set to open next year

Though the plan still requires additional stages of approval, Plenge said the Buckhead Delbar location will seek to open for business by February of next year, but there is the possibility it could begin operations sooner.

Several updates are planned for the exterior of the restaurant — including a water feature and arched design elements — but the most notable is the inclusion of a 1,940-square-foot addition. Plenge said the addition’s seating area will include retractable windows and a retractable roof. These features will allow for open-air dining in fair weather, but the space can be closed off and will be climate controlled when necessary.

Plans call to “soften the design” of the exterior with modern arches, wood and stucco. Plenge said will, “brighten up the current overall look of the facility.”

The current interior of the restaurant should begin operating early next year, Plenge said, while construction on the outdoor space, which he said will “liven up that corner,” is ongoing.

“It would be ideal if this exterior [addition] was open by May of next year,” he said.

The permit application for the new Buckhead Delbar interior will be submitted to the city in mid-October, Plenge added.

If approved, the plan will finally bring the popular eatery to Buckhead after an initial attempt fizzled.

Delbar’s proposed Buckhead location is its second for the area

The Peachtree Road location is the second proposed spot for Delbar making its way into Buckhead. A previous plan to bring the popular eatery to the area, which was announced in mid-2021, did not come to fruition.

Delbar announced it would open its third location in the Gentry apartment tower at 3172 Roswell Road in Buckhead Village with a planned opening date of fall 2022. However, it was later determined the location was not mechanically suitable for a restaurant, and Delbar went back to the drawing board.

Delbar, which Plenge said offers a variety of middle eastern fair with a focus on Persian food, opened its first location at Inman Park in 2020. The menu is inspired by Chef Fares Kagar’s family recipes.  

On May 10, a second location was opened in Alpharetta on Old Milton Parkway.  

Both locations have been given glowing reviews by professional and amateur critics alike. The upcoming location in the Buckhead Village is expected to be one of the most popular restaurant openings of the year.

The Weezie towel company is is a great Buckhead success story. Tuxedo Park native Lindsey Johnson and her business partner Liz Eichholz brought their internet business into the real world when they opened a holiday pop-up shop at St Andrews Square in October 2021. The community embraced the new business and they decided to put down permanent roots.

As the store prepares its two-year anniversary, Weezie has begun hosting a series of in-store parties and events. When I attended the first Weezie book club meeting this summer, I was delighted by the store and the staff, and was pleasantly surprised by the community’s support for the event.

Weezie co-founders Lindsey Johnson, left, and Liz Eichholz. Credit: Weezie

Weezie’s first book club event

On July 20th, the Weezie towel company held their first book club with Avery Carpenter Forrey’s Social Engagement. As a Weezie customer before there flagship shop in Buckhead ever opened, I admit I was skeptical.

First of all, co-founders Liz Eichholz and Lindsey Johnson picked the quietest time of summer—two weeks after July Fourth and two weeks before school started—when the Buckhead community vanishes. Who’d be attending besides my two friends and me?

Also, would we just stand among the lovely displays? Could a towel shop even reach literary readers? And what about the wicked storm brewing? Suddenly, the event felt impossible.

Honestly, it all came down to this, How could a towel shop pull off a book club?  

The storm grew moodier, the angry clouds lowered. The first thunder roared.

I stepped into the shop and found rows of beautiful white wooden chairs. Avery’s books sat alongside petit fours, savory hors d’oeuvres, three varietals of wine, and bespoke cookies with book cover overlays.

A lively crowd of forty-five quickly gathered. The place became abuzz. We drank and ate and laughed. Waiting at each seat was an oversized tote of Weezie goodies. The night just kept on giving.

We sank deep into our seats, cozied by the beautiful surroundings and great discussion.

Jessica DeHart with Weezie store manager Amanda Gallarelli. Photo by Rob Knight

We forgot about the storm. Forgot until the door blew open and two weary readers stepped in, drenched beyond measure. The jovial staff welcomed them with fluffy towels and wide smiles. Liz and Lindsey created the perfect towel; soft and luxurious, rounded corners, hook for hanging. They’ve become more than towels, their offering is ever-expanding.

Two hours passed like eleven minutes. None of us wanted to leave.

Departing, I spied something new, plush slippers. Oh good, a reason to return, it’s an absolute feel-good place. Liz and Lindsey just seem to do everything right.

Weezie is in Andrews Square at 56 E Andrews Drive.