Sunday, January 31, 2016

Decatur Citizen Survey Coming - Randomly households Chosen

Every other year for the past 10 years, the City of Decatur has surveyed its residents through the National Research Center (NRC.) Today the NRC sent out a postcard notification announcing the 2016 survey to a random sample of Decatur residents. If you don’t receive a postcard in the coming days, you are not one of the households randomly chosen this time.

The actual survey will be sent out twice on February 5 and February 12 to the random sample. The survey is completely anonymous and we only get the final tabulations from NRC. If you are one of the lucky ones to receive the survey, please make sure to fill it out and send it back via mail or online. We’ve had a 40% response rate for the past five surveys, which is fantastic but we want more!

If you’d like a better idea of what the final tabulations look like, click here to view and download the 2006, 2008, 2010, 2012 and 2014 survey results. The data from the survey is used by the City in its budgeting, strategic and annual planning processes.

If you have any questions regarding the survey, contact Budget & Performance Measurement Manager Meredith Roark at or call 404-370-4102.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

There will be no more “What’ll ya have?” in Alpharetta

   Pictured here is The Varsity Jr. Drive-In on  Lindbergh Dr which  closed in 2010.
   Alpharetta location of The Varsity will close Feb. 1
   A New Winder location is scheduled for spring.

There will be no more “What’ll ya have?” in Alpharetta anymore come Feb. 1.

Varsity president Gordon Muir released a statement on the restaurant’s website confirming the closure:

After a great deal of thought and consideration, the leadership of The Varsity has decided to close our store in Alpharetta on Feb 1. We would like to sincerely thank the people of Alpharetta for welcoming us in their community for the past 12 years. We weighed a number of options and came to the conclusion that our three other stores north of the perimeter –Town Center (Kennesaw), Dawsonville and Gwinnett (Norcross) – can effectively serve our customers in this area. Many of the outstanding team members from our Alpharetta store already work at our other locations and will continue to carry the spirit of hospitality to our customers that The Varsity has been known for
since 1928.

– Gordon Muir, President, The Varsity

The original location of The Varsity, located in Midtown at 61 North Ave. N.W., has been open since 1928. In addition to the Kennesaw, Dawsonville and Norcross locations, there are also Varsity restaurants in Athens and Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, Terminals C and F. A Winder location is scheduled for spring.

Things to Do this Weekend in Atlanta


Live music, a trip to space, and beer? Yep, this is real life in Atlanta. If you're looking to have a fun weekend, here our our favorite picks for this Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Carol’s Picks
Carol is the ATL Insider’s culture vulture. If there is a new exhibit in town or a new show on the stage, Carol is the first to know about it.
    Art Garfunkel in Close-Up, Friday
    Who doesn’t love Simon & Garfunkel? Well, OK, Paul Simon won’t be here, but, still, a chance to hear, in person, half the team that gave us so many wonderful songs can’t be, uh, half bad. He’s an icon. He’s a poet. I’m mean, really, he IS Art Garfunkel. Groovy.

    Johnny Mathis 60th Anniversary Tour, Friday
    I must be in the mood for great music, since this is my second music pick of the week. A friend much younger than me once asked what I wanted for Christmas. “A Johnny Mathis album,” I replied. She ended up giving me a gift card to a music store because she said she was too embarrassed to ask where the Johnny Mathis albums were. So, OK, maybe everyone doesn’t love his velvet voice, but I sure do. Chances are I’ll go if I can. 
To see more things to do head on over to:

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Changes Coming to Toco Hills Shopping Center.


 Major changes at historic intown center

Edens, the Columbia, South Carolina owner of Toco Hills Promenade, has signed a 35 year ground lease on 

Toco Hill(s) shopping center was built in 1956 by notable Atlanta developer Clyde Shepherd, Jr.  Shepherd reportedly named the center Toco Hills in homage to the word "Toco," to which he was introduced in Brazil, and which he said translated to "more luck than you can imagine."

Shepherd, a graduate of Druid Hills High School, built a number of "Hill" shopping centers including Sage Hill on Briarcliff Road and Skye Hill, at Clairmont Road and Buford Highway.

Shepherd died in 2010 at the age of 96, but his family through various subsidiaries maintains ownership in a number of his properties. 
In doing research for this post I learned that the "Toco Hills" shopping district I knew as two centers, was in fact three.  "Toco Hills Promenade" extends from Uncle Maddio's Taziki's Mediterranean Cafe past Publix to Jimmy John's. 
The second center starts at the alleyway beyond Jimmy John's and extends from Famous Pub and Office Depot (formerly Linen Loft and before that, A&P) to the strip including Bagel Palace and the UPS store to Matsuya, the Japanese restaurant.  The center also includes the freestanding clock tower property. 
Toco Hills(s) Shopping Center.

Decatur's Beach Party is Making a Comeback

Decatur’s  Beach Party will be making a comeback this year after last years Slide the City event that had problems with low water pressure. 
The very popular Beach Party will be June 17, 2016
Learn more at the events facebook page  when they update it for this years event.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Before Mojo Pizza N' Pub it was a Soul Food Place

     Decatur GA
     East Lake, photo taken Sept. 1990 (Soul Food Place)

Friday, January 22, 2016

"Need to Know" In the event of snow &/or ice…


In the event of snow &/or ice… 

• The city will concentrate on providing a usable travel lane in each direction on major streets and clearing sidewalks near MARTA stations.
 • The city will work with City Schools of Decatur to make sure entrances, exits, and driveways at the schools are clear.
• Residents should expect to clear their driveways and sidewalks. It is unlikely that the city will be able to clear interior neighborhood residential streets.
 • If you, or a neighbor, are a senior, someone with a medical need or someone with special needs, consider creating a safety profile at You can also contact Lifelong Community Coordinator Lee Ann Harvey, 770-652-8593, to be placed on the home checklist maintained by the Police Department. Stay tuned to blog, Downtown Decatur on Facebook, and the city’s website for information about facilities closures. For more winter weather tips and tools, check out page 10 of the January-February 2016 edition of the Decatur Focus.

Video Friday - Van Halen - Jump

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

GBI decides against investigating DeKalb further

GBI decides against investigating DeKalb further

The GBI completed its review of a corruption report in DeKalb and won’t take further action.

GBI Director Vernon Keenan says the report didn’t contain new criminal allegations.
Interim DeKalb CEO Lee May says the GBI’s conclusion may bring closure.

The GBI isn’t pursuing further allegations of corruption in DeKalb County after reviewing a report on government corruption.

GBI Director Vernon Keenan wrote in a letter to Gov. Nathan Deal that many issues raised by investigators Mike Bowers and Richard Hyde have already been reviewed by other law enforcement agencies like the FBI and DeKalb police.

Other accusations raised by the Bowers/Hyde report relate to ethical breaches that couldn’t be prosecuted criminally, Keenan wrote.
“It is our view the report contained no new criminal allegations that warranted further investigation by the GBI,” Keenan wrote.

The Sept. 30 report alleged “appalling corruption” in DeKalb, including more than $500,000 in questionable spending and accusations that Interim DeKalb CEO Lee May hindered the inquiry.

Bowers, a former Georgia attorney general, said he wasn’t surprised by Keenan’s decision.
While I might disagree, I respect his judgment,” Bowers said Wednesday. “That’s his call. I might have called it otherwise, but that’s his call.”

May said the county will continue to cooperate with other investigative agencies as they complete their work.

“It is encouraging that we have a sense of closure in this area,” May said. “The vast majority of DeKalb employees are honest, hard-working and dedicated, but if there is criminal wrongdoing by any DeKalb County employee, that employee should be held accountable for his or her actions.”

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Smith's Olde Bar Future is Stronger than Ever.

by Josh Green
Smith's Olde Bar, that classic Atlanta dive and launch pad for musicians, is charging back from the brink of rumored extinction toward a future that its owners say will be stronger than ever. Atlanta real estate developer (and self-described music nut) Charlie Hendon, president of Hendon Properties, is stepping in as a 50/50 partner with Smith's longtime owner Dan Nolen.

Last week, Hendon and Nolen signed a lease with new property owner Selig Enterprises that seals the deal "to not only keep Smith's open in its original Morningside location, but to make some operational improvements," reps tell Curbed.

But don't freak out: The planned improvements won't involve frozen yogurt or Bieber Nights, but rather enhancements to the bar and food menu and some structural upgrades (a new roof and HVAC system) that should keep Smith's rocking for longer — and won't even require temporary closings. "We are keeping what's great about the venue and subtly improving upon it," Nolen said in a statement.

Last year, Selig bought the Morningside Strip Center that houses Smith's and announced intentions to keep the local institution in place, assuaging fears it would all be demolished.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Looking Back at 1970's Decatur

This was across the tracks from the Decatur Depot.
circa 1970's
Top Watson Drugs sign photo from circa 1950's /60's

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Ponce City Market Update

Ponce City Market is about ready for its close-up.

Atlantans have been watching the project since 2011, when developer Jamestown Properties bought City Hall East, a former Sears distribution center, and announced plans to turn it into a mixed-use development that would feature retail, restaurants and food stalls, office space and high-end apartments.

There are several more businesses still slated to open, but those who have been eagerly awaiting PCM already have plenty of opportunities to eat, shop, listen to music and more.

A piece of New York has come to Ponce City Market.

Ponce City Nights, an offshoot of Chelsea Nights at Chelsea Market in New York City, launched in September 2015 with local acts Small Reactions, Book of Colors and Floral Print.

The Ponce City Market Facebook page will keep music fans apprised of upcoming talent.

The all-ages concerts are free and take place 6:30-8:30 p.m. every other Thursday in the courtyard or Central Food Hall.

— Melissa Ruggieri


The Big Walk on South Candler Street January 13th, 7-9am

The Big Walk on South Candler Street
January 13th, 7-9am
 January 13th, 7-9am
Come out and walk or bike on January 13th to show support for proposed pedestrian crosswalks on South Candler Street.  The neighborhood is teaming up with the City of Decatur, City Schools of Decatur, and the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) to organize a Big Walk from 7-9am on Wednesday January 13th.
photo: google maps

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Redevelopment Plans for Chevron Gas Station at N. Decatur Road and Scott Blvd.


"National Mattress Retailer" Planned for Decatur Gas Station Redevelopment
Chevron to shutter, be replaced by new development

The Chevron gas station located at 1486 Scott Boulevard near Suburban Plaza is slated to close this weekend. In its place, Mark Light of Lighthouse Realty Advisors plans to build a 6,000 square foot, multi-tenant center with 36 parking spaces. 

The property, located at the dynamic intersection of Medlock Road,

Light, a 26 year veteran of the Atlanta real estate community as Vice President of M&P Shopping Centers, left the group in late 2014 and launched his own development company this past year.

The gas station property previously included a Hertz rental office which already relocated to Maple Street in Decatur within Maple Street Collision. The property is also home to "Cleaner 2 K," a dry cleaner, which is reportedly in the process of finding a new location. 

Sources tell me that a "national mattress retailer" has signed a lease for 4,000 square feet in the center.  A "national wireless carrier" is reportedly in lease negotiations for the remaining 2,000 square feet.  If, as I'd say it's safe to assume, the "national mattress retailer" ends up being Mattress Firm, it would be only a mile from the company's huge, SuperCenter/Clearance store at North Decatur and Clairmont Roads. 

An existing SunTrust ATM will reportedly be rebuilt and relocated as part of the new center. 

Plans call for demolition of the existing building in the coming weeks and for the construction of the new building to be completed in July or August of this year.
North Decatur Road and Scott Boulevard, is close to both Suburban Plaza and Decatur Crossing, the new Fuqua Development project. 

photo credit: google maps

Friday, January 8, 2016

Google making Elvis Presley’s ‘30 #1 Hits’ free in honor of the King’s birthday

Google making Elvis Presley’s ‘30 #1 Hits’ free in honor of the King’s birthday
Are you an Elvis fan? Even if you’re not, now’s a great chance to become one! In honor of his birthday, January 8th, Google Play is handing out free copies of Elvis Presley’s 30 #1 Hits.

This singer, actor, and cultural icon turned the music industry on its head when he unleashed his upbeat fusion of country music and rhythm and blues on the world. His sexually charged performances worried parents, terrified television producers, and won over generations of young Americans through the 50’s, 60’s, and beyond. His musical legacy and influence can still be seen throughout pop music, rockabilly, and rock and roll even into the current day. Even if you’re not a fan of his music, his 30 highest rated songs should probably be on your to-listen list just for cultural education purposes.

We don’t have any word yet as to whether or not this promo will extend beyond this musical legend’s birthday, so if you want to get your hands on it, you should probably act fast. Click the button below to grab your copy of Elvis Presley’s 30 #1 hits.

Elvis photo from one of his many concerts at Atlanta's OMNI

Video Friday: Rawhide- The Blues Brothers

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Marcello's Moving into Emory Point

Marcello's Moving into Emory Point

Marcello's, a Buckhead area favorite for decades, is bringing its authentic Italian fare to the Emory area. Marcello's has leased the former La Tagliatella at Emory Point and hopes to have the restaurant open sometime in February.  The 4,400 square foot restaurant is adjacent to Fresh to Order on Clifton Road. 

La Tagliatella closed at Emory Point in December 2014, less than two years after opening.  La Tagliatella, part of Poland based AmRest, has already closed its midtown location, which enjoyed an even shorter life. 

Bothers Julian and Marcello Najm, owners of Marcello's, surely got a better deal than they could have from a new development, and are walking into a fully built-out restaurant.  The Najms are renovating the space to customize it and give it more character than before. 

The original Marcello's opened in 1984.  Today, what had become two separate storefronts, "Buckhead Italian Market," and a separate bakery, are under one, approximately 2,400 square foot roof at Tuxedo Festival near Chastain Park. 

Marcello's features various brick oven pizzas as well as a classic Italian menu that includes dishes like Veal Piccata, Chicken Marsala, and Chicken Parmigiana.

photo credit:

Monday, January 4, 2016

U-Haul Converts Decatur, GA, Building to Self-Storage


 The 13.75-acre property features 145,978 square feet of space. Located in Avondale Square, the building was constructed in 1969 and has housed many businesses, including a furniture store. It’s across from a Walmart Supercenter.    (3653 Memorial Drive)        

U-Haul Converts Decatur, GA, Building to Self-Storage
Phoenix-based U-Haul International Inc. is converting a building in Decatur, Ga., into a self-storage facility. The company had previously leased the property at 3653 Memorial Drive and closed on the acquisition in September. U-Haul Moving & Storage of Decatur officially opened in April, providing moving and packing supplies, truck and trailer rentals, and U-Box portable-storage containers. Renovations are underway to add 200 indoor, climate-controlled units, hitch installation, propane sales, and RV parking, according to a company press release.          


"The best part about taking over this building is U-Haul will now be able fill the entire 13 acres of empty space, and serve more and more customers at lower cost," said Raquel Bryan, the facility’s general manager.

The opening of the Decatur property was driven by U-Haul’s corporate sustainability initiatives, which support infill development to help local communities lower their carbon footprint, the release stated. U-Haul’s adaptive reuse of existing structures eliminates the amount of energy and resources required for new-construction materials and helps local cities diminish their unwanted inventory of unused buildings, U-Haul officials said.

Established in 1945, U-Haul has more than 44 million square feet of storage space at more than 1,200 owned facilities throughout North America. 
photo credit: google maps

Retailers issue hoverboard recall over fire safety fears

Christmas 2015: Retailers issue hoverboard recall over fire safety fears

From: http://www.westerngazette
EVER since Back to the Future Part II came out in 1989, hoverboards have become a must-have - and several companies have been trying to make it happen.

But if you were given a hoverboard for Christmas, or bought one for a friend or family member, you should probably take it back.

A number of hoverboards sold by major retailers such as Argos, Tesco and John Lewis have been recalled due to safety concerns.

There are fears that the self-balancing hoverboards are unsafe, and there is a risk of fire and explosion due to poor design and construction.

Read more:
Follow us: @thewesterngaz on Twitter | theWesternGazette on Facebook

Visit The Ty Cobb Museum in Royston GA

He was part native son, part baseball legend and part devil. If all the stories about Hall of Famer Ty Cobb are true, the man nicknamed "The Georgia Peach" may be one of the most divisive characters in baseball history. At the Ty Cobb Museum in Royston, you can separate fact from fiction and learn more about the man who was once baseball's biggest star.

Location: 461 Cook St., Royston, GA 30662
MyAJC photos: Remembering Ty Cobb, the 'Georgia Peach' gallery
MyAJC photos: Remembering Ty Cobb, the 'Georgia Peach'

Hours: 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Friday and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday

Admission fee: $5 for adults; $4 for senior citizens; $3 for students; free for children ages 4 and under and for active duty military members
photo credit

Sunday, January 3, 2016

11th Annual Run with the Dogs is this Saturday, 9 January 2016!

11th Annual Run with the Dogs is Saturday, 9 January 2016!

Registration forms can be found HERE or register online on

DBB_RWTD_2016_Poster_Comp_HI.jpgThe Decatur Bulldog Boosters would like to let the Decatur dog-loving and running communities know of the 11th Annual Decatur Bulldog Boosters 5K "Run with the Dogs" on Saturday, January 9 at 9:00 a.m. This run/walk event will begin and end in front of Decatur High School and traverse a scenic, if challenging, course. The event will again feature a single 5K race where runners and dog-owners can run with (or without) their dogs. T-shirts, awards, and treats will be available to participants as well as a sporty "race"-kerchief for canine companions. All proceeds go to funding the uniforms, equipment, and awards for our student-athletes at the middle and high schools. So come on out and run off a few of those Holiday calories with Decatur and its Dogs!

This will be the first race of the New Year in the City of Decatur's 2016 Grand Slam Fitness Challenge and will serve as the award ceremony for those dedicated Team Decatur individuals who completed the Grand Slam last year!