Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Attention Music Fans: Smith's Olde Bar May Be Forced Out

The property currently home to Smith's Olde Bar may soon change hands.

Marketed as "Morningside Strip Center," the property that includes the iconic Smith's Olde Bar is due to go to auction August 28th.  According to a "property package" I obtained, the center, on Piedmont Avenue in Piedmont Heights, was built in 1925 and has been owned by the Taylor family since 1927, or 88 consecutive years.  

Although now controlled by a trust, Beverly Anne Taylor owned the property until this past March when she passed away at age 97.  A native Atlantan, Taylor's parents May Garvey and Albert Heery Bailey had a home at the corner of Peachtree and Piedmont Roads until 1956. Notably, in 1939 she attended the premiere of Gone With The Wind and danced with Clark Gable at the ball.  To this native Atlantan, both of these are pretty remarkable. 

Also remarkable is the longevity of key tenant Smith's Olde Bar. The bar, restaurant and live music venue occupies 10,511 square feet (over five spaces) of the property's overall 17,767 square feet in retail space.  Smith's has been the center's biggest attraction in recent memory, having opened in 1993. Similar to the likes of The Masquerade and the (original) Roxy Theatre on Roswell Road in Buckhead, Smith's is a great place to see a new, local or up-and-coming band in an intimate setting.  

News this week indicates that Atlanta may soon lose the Masquerade to, yes, you guessed it: MORE FU$&ING APARTMENTS. Cobb County will be getting a new version of the Roxy Theatre as part of the new SunTrust Park development but it won't be the same. As previously reported, New York's City Winery, an entertainment venue, will be opening at Ponce City Market, but like the Roxy revamp, will be new and likely pricier than other options.  There is something about seeing a band in a grungy, old, small venue that just makes it that much better.  

Sadly, also included in the "property package" is a line that reads "Smith’s Olde Bar is currently an at will tenant and has received a 60 day notice to vacate, which is in dispute. The Ownership is working to resolve this ongoing issue." According to a source with knowledge of the situation, Smith's has filed a lawsuit against the trust to challenge the notice. 

According to the materials, the property includes 1576-1590 Piedmont Avenue and also includes 25 parking spaces. 

Active liquidation sale at Ansley Antiques 
Ansley Antiques, located at 1586 Piedmont Avenue, occupies  2,738 square feet and is currently having a liquidation sale. The antique shop's lease ends September 30th.  Glory Be Salon previously occupied 1,522 square feet at 1590 Piedmont Avenue, but has already relocated.  Glory Be is now at 595 Wimbledon Road, essentially behind nearby Grindhouse Killer Burgers. 

Smith's occupies basically all of the remaining space.  

Not included in the property offering are El-Gant, an alterations business located to the south at 1574 Piedmont, and Cowtippers Steaks & Spirits (former Old Hickory House), located to the north, at 1600 Piedmont Avenue.  

Interestingly, in my walk of the property, it seems as though the corporate headquarters of Fox Bros Bar-B-Q, along with "BlackHole Records" and "Nolen/Reeves Music Incorporated" are located at 1574B, above the alterations shop. It's worth noting that Dan Nolen and Mike Reeves are listed as CFO and CEO respectively of Smith's Olde Bar, LLC. 

The "Morningside Strip Center" property is zoned C1 and is in the the Atlanta BeltLine Overlay District, within NPU-F.

Under the headline "POTENTIAL USES" in the materials, we find the following: 

"Ownership has positioned the tenancy so that the buildings can be repurposed for urban retail and/or entertainment in the near term. The site could be potentially completely redeveloped; however, due to the age and history, this may require extensive negotiation with the neighborhoods and NPU."

As a native Atlantan, I have fond memories of attending 99X shows at such venues as The Coca-Cola Roxy, The Masquerade and Smith's Olde Bar.  I worry that the character and affordability of these venues will soon be lost forever.  

One can hope that the new owners retain Smith's, but the pessimist in me sees some developer coming in and redeveloping the entire parcel.  

What are your thoughts on this issue?  What would you like to see happen to the property?  What is your fondest memory of Smith's Olde Bar?

Please share your thoughts below. 

46 comments:

Austin Hubbard said...

Such a shame since the Masquerade is also being forced out

http://raverschoice.com/historic-masquerade-venue-confirmed-to-be-replaced-by-new-apartment-complex-atlanta-ga/

Webstanator said...

Yeah, let's just strip the entire city of all character and become one big fake city. The row of fake "perfect" and made-up towns between Panama City and Destin come to mind. As do Disney World and all that faux Europe stuff is Las Vegas. Fake. Boring. No character at all.

Ham said...

I suspect a lot of the in-town growth that Atlanta is experiencing is the result of people relocating from out of town. These folks are most likely looking for a place to live in Atlanta and not the burbs, so the need for more apartments. Also, these folks have no attachment to some of the older entertainment, dining or shopping venues that many of us do. For example I’m not the biggest Varsity fan, but I still get sad thinking about the closing of the Varsity Jr. However, I suspect a transplant would have seen the little place on Lindbergh as a dump.

Anonymous said...


It's total crap. they just need to leave it alone. Pretty soon were not goin to have any place to see shows. That is one of my favorite places to hangout and see bands.

William T said...

@webstanator Don't all towns have to start somewhere? How are they "fake" for being new? Many of those towns, Rosemary, Seaside, Alys, ect are built on the principals of New Urbanism and feature the same kind of architectural quality in building materials and attention to detail that we used to see before WWII in America. It's not just "faux european". The building codes in those communities allow for a wide variety of different styles from a more historic cape dutch to modern styles. I predict that 75 years from now people will treasure these towns for their charm and architectural distinction.

marga templeton said...

i can't even begin to count how many shows i've seen at smith's. i have also made several life-long friends as a result of said shows. a fond memory is the night roger clyne & the peacemakers played through a thunderstorm and a fluctuating power situation. the crowd sang the songs in the dark, and the smith's staff sent up popsicles to keep folks cool.

Anonymous said...

Was this Gene and Gabes years ago?

Anonymous said...

Agreed! FU$&ING APARTMENTS! Will the apartment bubble BURST already so that developers all over the metro get a damn clue NONE OF US need anymore FU$&ING APARTMENTS. Ham suggests we tear down ugly Atlanta to welcome the transplants. William T. thinks these apartments are going to be designed by the likes of A. Hays Town and win a Pritzker. Today's affordable luxury for in town transplants will be tomorrow's section 8. Watch the local news on any given night and you will see the future of these "oh so needed" high density housing eyesores. FU$&ING APARTMENTS!

Lisa Maddox said...

Over the years, think of all the venues that have been closed. Where will live music thrive in the future? The first death knell of true access to live music in Atlanta was the raising of the drinking age. Whatever your stance on the issue ( and I will say it now, I believe if you can get married, vote and join the military, you should be able to get a drink legally in a bar), that changed the live music scene irreparably. All age shows just never worked, because the venues make the money from the bar, not the door. But thinking of the music scene, and from the standpoint of those who still love to see live music, it has to be said: how can a band work up to any notoriety and standing without venues to play in? Smiths has supported bands over the years and so many bands have been heard because of this supportive venue. Atlanta has to be more than just a dumping ground for more and more humans, restaurants, dance clubs and cars. I don't live there any more, but I do miss it, but everyone tells me the Atlanta you miss is dying more and more every day.

susie said...

DO NOT like this one bit! the musicians in Atlanta have charmed us at Smith's Olde Bar for so long... so many up and coming artists get a SHOT at performing either upstairs or downstairs at SMITH's.. heartbreaking to cram some more apartments in and take away the memories and opportunities to LIVE in the ATL.
just sucks!

Lonnie Hawkins said...

Many issues have been brought up in the above comments but it is much more than just these. Not only is intown increasingly losing it's history and musical venues but also losing it's sense of self and neighborhood charms. In addition they are increasingly wanting to put more and more apartment units on Piedmont.

Piedmont Heights Civic Association has already had meetings with those that want to tear down the apartments just south of Fat Matt's and add more units. People currently needing to go to Midtown and do not want to take the left onto Monroe from Piedmont are already sitting in bumper to bumper traffic on Monroe Drive from the curve before Wimbelton all the way to Piedmont. The neighborhood already has influx from I-85, Armour Circle industrial park as well as from Midtown and Buckhead and from the new monstrosity being built where Rock Springs Plaza used to be. If the powers that be keep adding units all in the same stretch of road then the resulting traffic will be gridlocked more times than not and we will have what happened when the did the same thing on Lenox road

Anonymous said...

The old owners are selling and there will be new owners. If Smith's leaves it will be sad, but only in a world that we don't want to live in can a property owner be told who they must rent to. Let the owners of Smith's bid on the property.

Truth said...

It's a shame that a majority of the music venues that I used to perform at, as well as attending great shows at, are now gone or ob the verge of closing. After leaving Georgia 20+ years ago to perform and live in California, coming back home to Georgia to see so much change in the entertainment industry here, has me questioning my move, as I try to renew my musical career again.

Anonymous said...

What a great idea to put more apartments at one of the most congested intersections in the city. Anyone taken a drive on Piedmont Road from Monroe up to Buckhead lately? The luxury apartment building boom is out of control and developers could care less if everyone is sitting in gridlocked traffic all day long. As long as they're making their millions, they could care less. Of course nothing is being done to improve pothole-riddled Piedmont Road. More evidence of a city out of control with misplaced priorities and letting developers do whatever the hell they want with the city.

Eternalspring said...

That's right, let's build up suburbia and build bigger highways! That works :) This boom is the best thing that has happened to Atlanta in decades!! There is hope of converting this sparsely populated forest into an actual city! Transportation is next need. But guess what, transportation will not work well if there are no people to ride it. So what we should be screaming is why only eight stories, build higher!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Someone call John Mayer and get him to buy it.

Anonymous said...

Not sure where the post said apartments are planned for the site. But you all crank that outrage meter up to 11 because why the hell not!

jeff a. taylor said...

The truly sad thing is that once these all-brick, older structures are gone, there is nothing left to host music. You just can't put a loud rock club in a mixed-use, residential environment. Not with aluminum studs and sheet rock, not with people trying to sleep all down the block. The great thing about these old spaces is precisely that they were on the edge of sketchy and industrial, no one to complain about noise at 12am. What you do get are things like the faux Roxy going in at Bravesworld. Let's see how many local acts get booked in there.

Anonymous said...

Nolan/Reeves (one of them, can't remember which but think it's Reeves), owns Smith's and another venue in Alabama, hence the offices upstairs. Nolan/Reeves is the booking agent arm of that if memory serves me correctly.

Anonymous said...

It would be sad to lose such a popular slice of Atlanta in Smith's. I'm wondering why it is going to auction? That typically means that the property was foreclosed which would be unusual with what we assume is a successful anchor tenant. I'm also wondering what the status is with Smith's lease and why they are m-t-m....something seems strange.

Also, in response to Webstanator above, what is wrong with that stretch of towns along 30A? I think they're great. We've taken several family vacations to Seacrest, Rosemary, etc. and have always had a fantastic time. Aren't those towns exactly what the Atlanta townies wish we had here? Ride around on bikes/walk to restaurants, shopping, etc.???

Anonymous said...

too late

Pat M said...

Ditto

Anonymous said...

Wow, people are really playing fast and loose with the word "force" aren't they?

It's not "force". A lease is a consensual agreement between adult people. If one or the other wants to opt out of the lease after it expires, that is their right to do so.

If the venue tried to stay in the building after the owner of that building declined to renew, now THAT would be force.

....Or am I allowed to come over and live at your house because I have a *RIGHT* to be there?

Please stop using the word "force" incorrectly.

robert smith said...

Sadly all the good music venues are closing or closed. Atlanta as a business city has no respect for history and legacy. Atlanta is focused on $$$$$, if a bigger buck can be made, developers will destroy anything. We still have some areas like Little Five Points, but Buckhead is gone.

T Ariel said...

Yup it's happening everywhere. I moved away from ATL for just 3 years and went back last fall to find so much homogenized shit not being utilized that stood on grounds that once were landmarks of unique ATL character. Pissed about Smith's and the block turning into housing. It is not needed !!!!

T Ariel said...

You fucking suck.

AtlsntaGal said...

Wowwwww....obviously someone in this comment thread is a transplant( and I don't mean T Ariel). Folks like you are part of the problem NOT the solution-- good bye to that

Alana H. said...

Among my all time fave shows is Marvelous 3 at Smith's circa 2001. Butch hanging from the rafters, everyone sweating their asses off, it was epic. Have also seen Lit, Autolux, many many awesome bands......

Anonymous said...

People this happens everywhere for many reasons. The site needs serious repair, has no parking (no one will get out of their cars in Atlanta) and obviously Smiths has not really "cleaned up" or potentially isn't paying rent. Taxes have to be paid and properties have to be maintained and that isn't free. There has been vacancy in this property for over 5 years due to the condition as part of the building is in deplorable condition. It's just not so black and white. And what someone mentioned in the blog comments Smiths can buy it at auction of they are that successful. Atlanta has a ton of great reuse projects like Ponce City Market and White Provision that keep the structure and make it BETTER. If you don't like this city, you have the choice to leave but it's amazing city that has grown up a ton in the past 24 months and will continue too.

Anonymous said...

The article actually explains most of the things the majority above are assuming. The owner pasted away and the trust is putting it up for auction. Has nothing to do with someone not paying taxes. Read the article. It does mention apartments where Masquerade is but not the Morningside strip center (not enough room)

Shrek said...

My nefew bought the house across the street. Deemed the house on the hill. Totally restored once a eye sore to that block of the city.Smiths across the street is one of the best attributes to the property. Seemingly so you would think a noisy bar would be a disturbing deterant. Far from the truth.

Anonymous said...

I have been to Smith's several times and know several people who have performed there. I will add, I had a good time too!

That being said, I will side with the owner. The building is old and literally falling apart. If it wasn't for Ansley allowing people to park in THEIR lot (which they do not have to do), all the businesses would have closed years ago. Most tenants have moved out.

If they landlord and tenant can not come an agreement that is mutually beneficial, there is nowhere to go with that.

If folks want them (and Masquerade) to stay intown.... get together buy a shopping center or old building then make it available to them. Put YOUR money where your mouth is. I will contribute to the project!

peggy2599 said...

I've been here since 1968 and have seen lots of changes - the Great Southeast Music Hall - gone, Roses Cantina - gone, the Point - something else now, Underground Atlanta - who knows what's there now, and several more that were our favorites. Time marches on and things change. I've grown older and don't go to many music venues that often. I've been to Smiths but was not that impressed, mainly due to the nauseating cigarette smoke. If, anything, it at least needs a renovation and air out.

AJ said...

It's funny that people say this only happens in Atlanta. It happens everywhere. It's business. It's economics. It's reality. These types of businesses definitely have a very important place in this city as well as others. They just have to be creative about how to survive. Smaller businesses just can't afford to be in the high profile areas many times. In Atlanta. In NYC, Chicago, Miami, etc. We can't tell the owner of a property to rent to a "cool" business for 1/2 of the market rent. It just doesn't work like that. If you or I owned this property, our goal would be to maximize the value of the property. Maybe having Smith's would be maximizing it. But likely not. But that's the decision of the property owner. The government cannot - and should not - get involved. Yes, the government has a say in zoning and such, but that should be their limit. Venues like Smith's don't need to be on Piedmont, Peachtree, Ponce or any street with great visibility. These are establishments that have their customers and fans. These establishments need to find places that may be a little out of the way - on a side street for instance and develop their base there. What a world we would live in if instead of people complaining, they'd use their energy to find solutions.

Anonymous said...

Having played at Smith's multiple times in different bands, the 60-day vacate notice is not at all surprising. Business practices at Smith's were less than favorable. Great venue to play in for a new band, though.

Additionally, let's remember that there are new and much better venues coming online intown...Terminal West comes to mind. Incredible experience in comparison.

Anonymous said...

found a 1953 Southern Israelite article saying that 1578 Piedmont was an Italian restaurant, 'Mamma Mia'. In 1934 it was a Piggly Wiggly. It's possible that there has been some re-numbering though (not positive that the current 1578 was always 1578).

~mindspringyahoo

Charlie Denton said...

Okay, but we're not talking about towns that need to get their start. Atlanta got it's start hundreds of years ago as a railway hub, then again during Post-Civil War reconstruction, then again as a host of the Olympic Games. We are a hub for air travel and we have a LIVE MUSIC FESTIVAL that happens just a couple miles from downtown (and 100 yards from my house!) so don't even think you have grounds to suggest that Atlanta needs to get its start. I understand you were bringing up a special case by mentioning places like Rosemary, but we're not talking about Rosemary. We're not talking about a place that needs 75 years to acquire charm.

We are talking about a city that's been around long enough to have charm TODAY. Take a walk through Little 5 Points, see a show at The Masquerade or Smith's, visit any operatong venue in Midtown the city that's scheduled to be demolished and replaced with apartments and then try to understand why I'm telling you off.

Specifically, try to understand why we need to preserve Atlanta's character instead of destroying it and saying it will return in 75 years.

Charlie Denton said...

Okay but we're not talking about a town that needs to get its start. We're talking about a city that got its start hundreds of years ago as a railway hub, then again after it was burned down and rose like a phoenix during Civil War era reconstruction, then again when it became a hub for air travel and a host of the Olympic Games, then once again just recently when it became a city to film movies. (Antman? Yeah that was filmed in Atlanta by an Atlanta-based studio. There are many others, but I'm going for recent stuff.) I haven't even mentioned Music Midtown, the LIVE MUSIC FESTIVAL that happens just a couple miles from downtown and 100 yards from my house!

I understand that you're bringing up a special case with places like Rosemary, but Atlanta is a different animal. Don't think you have the grounds to suggest that Atlanta can have some charm in 75 years with the right architecture and building materials. Take a walk through Little 5 Points, see a show at The Masquerade or Smith's, and please try to understand why Atlanta doesn't need spiffy new apartment buildings with some neat architecture in order to have charm.

Atlanta has had charm for hundreds of years, and don't think for a minute that its charm will remain if you take away the venues that give it character.

Lonnie Hawkins said...

Responding to AJ, you are correct it doesn't only happen in Atlanta, but Atlanta is way worse than most and the worse for it. Atlanta has always had a history of tearing down the old and building new and this was generally accepted here in Atlanta until they went after the Fox, then this town lost it's mind. AT&T wanted a Peachtree address and didn't about Atlanta history, icons or anything else. They wanted to tear down the beautiful Fox theatre to build that ugly monstrosity they end up building just behind the Fox on West Peachtree. Cities like Chicago do not just tear building that are old but are more prone to preserve or restore.

As for what the market will bear, Smith's has been the anchor there since 1993, has office's above El'gant and has also expanded to include the Atlanta room after the business there flooded. And businesses like Smith's benefit from being on streets like Piedmont and Peachtree due to both street and sidewalk traffic. If it was a sandwich shop I would agree but....

I do think we can all agree that losing neighborhood businesses such as Smith's are a great loss and I hope that the new owner's realize what they have with w tenant like Smith's olde Bar

Anonymous said...

Well that's a nice steaming pile of shit for logic you have there. I'm all for progress over preservation, but knocking down classic landmarks in favor of what will assuredly be useless stores or overpriced apartments isn't really something I'm interested in letting just happen.

citygirltkv said...

Hoping the developers are more "George Bailey" and much less "Mr. Potter"...

Anonymous said...

Also, for those of you bashing developers - how in the world do you think these places you want to save so badly got there in the first place?

Zach Johnson said...

The downstairs was Gene and Gabes, northern Italian cuisine. Gene and Gabe were gay partners and this was one of the first restaurants where it was OK to be openly gay. They were famous for their fights that would leave the place destroyed and require closing for a few days to repair the damage.

Wasn't the upstairs originally a Masonic hall?

MWATKINS said...

Leave it ain't and stop the corporate greed. There definitely DOESN'T need to be another developer putting in a complex

Anonymous said...

As a musician that has played this place many times over the years I say, good riddance. They were never very kind to us and shorted us on our pay. I stopped playing and supporting them years ago. Something new and better will appear.

Anonymous said...

Good riddance.