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Buckhead Revisited
The Shops and Personalities of Buckhead

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Harvey Bourland

Annual design award to honor former ADAC showroom manager

When Robert Alby passed away in 1999, a group of his friends and admirers were determined that he would be remembered for his contributions to the Atlanta and Buckhead communities. As the longtime manager of the Baker, Knapp & Tubbs furniture showroom at the Atlanta Decorative Arts Center, he was active in the growth of ADAC -- 351 Peachtree Hills Ave. -- supportive of Southeastern design professionals and encouraged young people who chose interior design as their career.

Bob and his wife, Joan, were well know for participating in area design projects and for the Buckhead residences they purchased and -- doing a major portion of the renovation themselves -- turned from ordinary houses into extraordinarily handsome homes.

The Robert Alby Student Interior Design Fund was established to recognize superior achievements by talented students with both an annual award and a cash supplement to assist their entry into the professional arena. Now, in collaboration with the faculty of the Atlanta College of Art, the fund has grown substantially. An advisory board composed of area interior designers, showroom personnel, educators and design-related manufacturers will work with the College of Art to select recipients of the awards.

As the much-admired manager of the Baker showroom, Alby was on hand as ADAC grew from a relatively small John Portman-owned facility into what is now the major design center of the Southeast. The five-story structure now houses more than 90 major showrooms and has been expanded into adjacent buildings -- ADAC West.

Contributions to the R.A.S.I.D. Fund may be made by contacting advisory board members Mysty McLelland, vice president and general manager of ADAC, at 404-231-1720, Sue Wislar, ASID, at 404-231-2035, or Peter Pittman, department head for interior design at the Atlanta College of Art, at 404-733-5001, ext. 5160.

'Come Shuck With Us' -- Buckhead's landmark Steamhouse Lounge & Raw Bar offers outstanding oysters and much more

Although the Buckhead Village area gets more than its share of notice for weekend revelry, an institution tucked away at 3041 Bolling Way deserves attention for the lunches and dinners it serves -- without nonsense -- day in and day out. The Steamhouse Lounge has drawn serious seafood lovers from nearby offices, shops and neighborhoods since it opened in 1986 in an old two-story house that once was a shop for fine porcelains.

The menu features a wide variety of shellfish dishes: clams, mussels, crab legs, shrimp, seafood salads, sandwiches and, of course, terrific oysters. Starters include oysters Rockefeller (with fresh creamed spinach), oysters caliente, seafood quesadillas, seafood nachos and lobster bisque (voted "Atlanta's Best). The Steamhouse Frogmore skillet is deservedly famous: oysters, shrimp, corn on the cob, potatoes and sausage in a spicy butter/beer sauce. Sandwiches include grilled catfish, grilled tuna with jalapeno tartar sauce and lobster roll with drawn butter.

Don't mention "fried" or your waitperson may respond, "We're a Steamhouse, not a Friedhouse." But the friendly service, delicious food and modest prices keep Buckhead residents coming back for more. Hours are 11:30 a.m. to early morning. Mark your calendar for the Annual Steamhouse Oyster Festival in February. For more information, call 404-233-7980. Take-out orders can be faxed to 404-237-6580.

A new flavor 'Frontera' 

Some years ago, a favorite cantina for residents of the Chastain/Wieuca area was "Azuni," at 4279 Roswell Road. The owners relocated and named their new place near the Atlanta Water Works "Taqueria del Sol," taking with them their excellent corn chowder and lots of Buckhead diners.

But the space they occupied is now the Buckhead location of "Frontera," which appears destined to be a new neighborhood favorite.

Not only is the food full of grand flavors and fresh ingredients, but the interior is simpatico and the grill is already drawing crowds, especially at lunch time. Go early. The specials change daily and the prices are attractively low. A "Frequent Amigo Card", stamped on each lunch visit, will get you your 10th lunch free. The dinner menu is more extensive, and not Tex-Mex, but the real thing. Call 404-236-0777. If you ask, they will fax you a full menu.

Shopping and saving

Cost Plus World Market has opened in the "Disco" Kroger Shopping Center at 3330 Piedmont Road, offering home furnishings, decorative accessories, food and wine and imports from around the world.

There's a big wine selection and a large inventory of German beers and gourmet foods. Unusual decorative items included just the thing for "shop till you drop" customers: miniature shopping carts -- just right for a clever centerpiece, a gift filled with little surprises, or a child's room toy cart. Chrome-plated, they are budget-priced at $9.99 and $15.99. The store also offers a good selection of imported wood-and-iron furniture.

Cost Plus joins Beverly Hall's Thomasville Galleries and the dacor showroom to make this area a worth-the-time-and-trip destination. 

Courting good fast food, catering off the beaten track 

Longtime Buckhead residents will recall that years ago there was a fancy beverage shop on the back side of Lenox Square near where the pedestrian bridge now crosses into the Peachtree Park neighborhood. The site became an even fancier Middle Eastern restaurant in the days before East Paces Ferry Road was cut off by the construction of Georgia 400.

The original Fish Market restaurant, part of the Buckhead Life restaurant group and now located on Pharr Road, also got its start at the back of Lenox, where the food court is today. 

Savory memories, but today's food court has its own attractions. It's fast food, but the choices are international and the service, also international, is cheerful and courteous.

Our favorite? The Farmer's Basket is ideal if you have little helpers along on your Lenox Square shopping trip or if you have lots of packages. It's conveniently located at the back next to the parking. Dishes are freshly cooked within your sight and they're delicious. Tasty sauces are one secret, another is the "down home" side dishes such as turnip greens, fried okra and broiled potatoes.

Looking for an unusual place for your next business or professional meeting? Contact Amy Cates Lance at Chastain Horse Park. The spacious, handsomely decorated facility overlooking the riding rings does have kitchens or can arrange for catering. It's become an "in" place for all types of socializing. Call 404-252-4244 x28. Better yet, pay them a visit at 4371 Powers Ferry Road. 

"NB" is the traditional Latin designation for nota bene (note well). In this case it stands for "non-Buckhead, but good"

Occasionally something crosses our desk that is too good not to share. In our mail we got a copy of "The Lee Brothers Boiled Peanut Catalog" from Matthew and Ted Lee of Charleston, S.C. A clever hand-stitched little publication of only 28 pages, it is chock-full of Southern delicacies. Boiled peanuts, of course, but some fig items also sounded delicious.

"Mrs. Studdard's Fig Preserves" is made with the sugar fig varietal, zested with paper-thin slices of lemon. "Mrs. Studdard's Fig Syrup" is explained by this enticing information: "When Mrs. Studdard makes her prized preserves, she's left with an abundance of flavorful fig syrup. She has bottled for us a limited quantity of the syrup because we all agreed that it is too precious to go to waste."

The syrup is priced at two 8-ounce jars for $10.50 and the preserves at two jars for $14.75. Both items are shipped postage paid via U.S. mail, UPS or Federal Express. Call 843-720-8890.

For $1 extra, they will mail you their delightful catalog of fig and peach preserves, blackberry and strawberry jams, okra and watermelon rind pickles and "Mrs. Studdard's Pumpkin Chip Preserves" from the Lowcountry.

Sometimes we simply need to shop away from Buckhead for life's simple pleasures.

Take a shopping vacation at home

As if influenced by the new reduced air fares most airlines are offering, the major showrooms on Miami Circle have joined the price-cutting program. And there are several new destinations for astute shoppers.

Don't be misled, however, by the window sign at House of Thebaut. Atlanta's grande dame of lamps and lampshades, Hedy Thebaut, is not closing the doors of her shop at 674 Miami Circle. She is merely reducing her stock of more than 4,000 lamps (priced at 50% off for cash payment, 40% off for charge sales). Lampshades are not included.

"Close out" and "Reduced prices" banners can be seen up and down the street, offering interior furnishings and accessories from antiques to original art work and rare books. A visit to the Antonio Raimo Galleries is  like a shopping trip to the Smithsonian or a prestigious museum. On display in seven galleries are fine volumes and beautiful bird and botanical engravings. If there is a golfer on your Christmas list, you will find a wide range of golfing memorabilia from both this country and Scotland.

Several new showrooms also are now open, including new sources for marble and stone. As you enter the street, don't miss the strikingly handsome wall of fireplace artistry on the the Moore Showroom at 648 Miami Circle crafted by French artist Thierry Francois and his talented artisans. For information, talk to Ward Moore in the showroom or call the fabrication headquarters, Stone Age Designs, at 404-350-3333.

To break your shopping tour, stop by Eclipse di Luna at 764 Miami Circle at the very end of the street for a delicious light menu in a relaxed setting.

Nearby, at 2469 Piedmont Road, you may have missed the familiar Zesto's sign. The sandwich/ice cream shop is still there, only now it's called Burrito Brothers. In addition to many of the old favorites, the menu now includes popular Mexican fare. The shop has undergone a colorful facelift, but it is still owned by the Livaditis family and still offers the same friendly service. Many long-time Atlantans also know Jimmy Livaditis' other business: Big John's Christmas Trees, a source for top-quality holiday trees and greenery.

'Antiquish' -- a brand new word for very old furnishings

If you are shopping for classical decorative pieces-of-distinction, you might want to drop into a handsome little boutique on Roswell Road appropriately called Antiquish Things. Even before entering, you will feel you've found the right place. Its cheerful "European yellow" facade would be right at home on a picturesque street in France, Greece or Italy.

Inside, a hand-painted floor leads you into displays of chests, tables and armoires covered and filled with candles, floral arrangement and linens. On a recent visit, a pair of impressive intricately inlaid chests had just been sold. If you don't wait too long, a striking faux bamboo bed still may be tucked into a corner. "Almost double-size," it has European dimensions, but the modest price includes box springs and mattress.

Bamboo -- real this time -- to bring good luck is offered in clear glass vases. A perfect gift for those to whom one wishes good fortune.

Antiquish Things is at 3714 Roswell Road in the Powers Ferry Shopping Center.

Nearby, Erika Reade, Ltd., has almost tripled in size. The landmark location for the unusual in gifts, furniture and accessories is featuring maple chair and stools from Maine Cottage.

Maybe because it's summer, or perhaps in just typical Buckhead hospitality, each of the shops in the shopping center seems to be particularly welcoming. This is especially true at B.D. Jeffries, a source for "alligator and crocodile accessories, unique gifts and antiques." A pleasant shopping experience for both men and women.

Signature Jeffries leather goods are much in evidence, including not only the reptile skins the shop is known for but also smooth leathers in an array of stylish colors. Men will be especially pleased with the selection of hunting/sporting themed articles. There is even an assortment of vintage books, many out of print, that will be treasured by dog lovers. And don't overlook the collection of canines sculpted in metal. Some are obviously meant for use as door stops, but all are collectible for the den, the study or the weekend retreat.

Moe's Southwestern Grill and Harry's In A Hurry are close by for a quick snack or a relaxing shopping break. Both feature refreshing natural selections, and Harry's is a great stop at the end of the day for an elegant gourmet carry-home dinner.

Missing Person: Where is Paul Ziegler?

Paul Ziegler Keeping track of Paul Ziegler (at left) is difficult. When last sighted, he was seeking, finding and selling collectibles somewhere in Florida. He was once sited at 646 Lindbergh Way, the portion of Lindbergh that crosses Piedmont Road downhill from the now internationally hot topic Gold Club.

He owned and operated the Furniture Exchange, that two-story (long-unpainted) building that now rambles into space next door and opens into an attractive garden shop and landscaped parking area behind.

Bill Cook is the new owner, and the Exchange is still a great place to find "pre-owned" treasures at "pre-inflation" prices. He and his associates have a knack for finding unusual decorative accessories, antiques and artwork. We were surprised to find a collection of leather hides in a variety of colors and sizes, just right for reupholstering a chair, ottoman or barstool. A talented artisan is still on-site, making lamps from favored pieces-of-the-past as well a performing competent lamp repairs.

Don't mistake the collection of boutiques -- as in so many stalls-type locations -- to be operated by anonymous stay-away proprietors. At the Exchange, you will usually find Bill himself on hand, and the many-faceted operation is known as a "group shop." It is obvious that the "group" of "pickers" ranges far and wide to discover items that decorators -- and other discriminating buyers -- often travel miles to country shops and city auctions to find.

If you're tired of paying exalted prices in the showrooms, you will be delighted at the finds you'll discover here. Call 404-233-2100 for shop hours and directions.

And notify Buckhead Revisited if you locate Paul Ziegler. He started it all, and we bargain shoppers are eternally grateful.

Meet the press ... and find a designer

Buckhead is fortunate to have two fine shelter magazines, Veranda and Atlanta Homes and Lifestyles. The latter has inaugurated a new series about local sources for decorative furnishings titled "designtalk." The June issue features tips for "Creating the Classic Look" by Kathy Guyton, the award-winning interior designer and owner of three Interiors Market showrooms (in Buckhead at 55 Bennett Street, in Birmingham, Ala., and in Jackson, Miss.).

Guyton distills her suggestions down to five essentials:

  • Select comfortable seating that is durable and lasting.
  • Choose at least one antique made of beautiful wood.
  • Use really pretty Oriental rugs, perhaps a runner for starters.
  • Include one contemporary piece, maybe a glass-and-iron coffee table or lamp, with clean, simple lines.
  • Hang a wonderful painting or striking photograph or grouping.

She also advises against using a lot of color on the walls, "paint competes with the colors in artwork or upholstery fabrics." She favors soft backgrounds of "putty" or "taupe."

(Sidenote: In 1856, an 18-year-old English chemist named William Perkin accidentally "discovered" the subtle color mauve while working on a treatment for malaria in his home laboratory. Simon Garfield tells the story in "How One Man Invented a Color that Changed the World," $23.95 and available from The Common Reader, 1-800-832-7323.)

The June issue of Atlanta Homes also features the Buckhead home of Anita and Joe Best and garden photography by Jay Fletcher, who with wife Anne enjoys garden design inspired by trips to England and the south of France.

Don't despair, you can always repair

E. Thomas Gavin III brings new life to china, porcelain, ceramics and objects d'art. He has relocated from Maple Drive to 341 Peachtree Ave. and now has two apprentices to continue his magic. With Gavin available as a teacher and adviser, Korina Hersch and David Santagatoa are accepting restoration commissions. Call for an appointment: 404-239-9228.

Another doctor of porcelain repair, Kay Marsden Gilpin, who studied the art and craft in England, also accepts commissions, but of museum quality only. Her studio is at 2218 Bohler Road. Call 404-252-2809.

MORE great Buckhead places and people

Something to crow about

Still in love with Libby 

Veranda's visionary

Signature Shop

ArtWalk at Lenox



Legendary interior designer James Edwin Kilby

Beverly Bremer, "the silver lady on Peachtree Road"

ADAC, Atlanta's mecca of interior design

Jane Marsden, Atlanta's grande dame of decorating

Art & Antiques, a collector's bible

Barclay's Flowers
& Tea Garden

Buckhead snapshot: Neal Newsom

Bodacious bites from Geraldine

And more ...

Indulge the rooster

Why does the chicken cross the road? Easy: To mingle with all those roosters along Piedmont Road. Suddenly they're all over Buckhead's shops and showrooms.

Rooster graphic Not since Piedmont Road was a two-lane, unpaved farm-to-market trail has a fowl been so important. Forget the fabled buck head mounted near Henry Irby's tavern and grocery. The new symbol of this area seems to be the rooster. There's even one clever shop -- not far from where it all started -- with a live rooster as a mascot.

 Rupert struts his stuff at Chicken Scratch behind historic Sardis United Methodist Church at 3725 Powers Ferry Road for his own amusement and the entertainment of all.

Perhaps a respectful nod should be directed to the late Virginia Crawford, an arts patron who endowed the High Museum's outstanding collection of decorative furnishings. Always ahead of the times, Crawford was a pioneer collector of rooster art and assembled a splendid group of original European oil paintings.

A suggestion to the Buckhead Coaliton: If Chicago can do it with cows, why not mount a village-wide cityscape of rooster art? What a way to pay tribute to our heritage. Maybe restaurateur Pano Karatassos could erect a heroic rooster next to one of his food palaces (possibly more fitting for an inland village than a giant fish).

While roosters-as-art abound at the Atlanta Decorative Arts Center, on Miami Circle, and in just about every smart retail shop in Buckhead,  the offerings at the newly opened Home Depot EXPO on Garson Drive, just off Piedmont Road, include an impressive array of rooster-related accessories. From lamps to framed artwork (trimmed in chicken wire) to floor mats and ceramic tile and wallpaper borders, this new store is a virtual ROOSTERPO of fowl excitement. Check out the handsome wall paintings by talented artisan Nicole Lathouse.

Not widely known is the fact that the rooster was an official emblem -- 1842-1874 -- of the Democratic Party. Perhaps if an  assertive rooster replaced the stubborn donkey as the party's emblem, Democrats' national fortunes might change.

And while you're writing your legislators and Congress members in support of this suggestion, urge them to adopt a nationwide ban on cock fighting to make it unacceptable to mistreat the barnyard king in all states. I'm sure Gamecock fans will appreciate this worthy cause.

'Disco Kroger' or 'Digital Kroger'

Don't be surprised when you visit the remodeled Kroger at 3330 Piedmont Road and hear mooing and cackling as you shop. This bright new store has left the Limelight disco era behind and entered the high-tech age. Maybe our roosterville campaign (above) is catching on!

Be prepared for another familiar sound if you visit the new Tobacco World shop on the right as you enter the Piedmont Crossing shopping center (where Kroger is located). Talking with owner Bill Clowers, you may think you're talking to sportscaster Don Meredith. This native Texan played football back home, and his shop is like a comfortable gentleman's club with sofas and television. Clowers promotes "social smoking" for those who respect non-smokers but still practice the joy of the leaf.

Just down the way is a savory new addition to Buckhead eating: Jason's deli. Not since the early days of Harry Baron's pioneer deli at Phipps Plaza have be had such an authentic New York deli. This Beaumont, Texas-based chain (with almost 100 stores throughout the South) offers impressive food, generous servings and an accommodating staff.

An while you're thinking about food, stop in the dacor showroom. dacor offers superior kitchen appliances made by the California company. Call to set up a demonstration of  their cooktops, ovens and ranges, which are ranked at the top by chefs and cooks.

With Starbuck's and Soto -- the much-acclaimed Japanese restaurant -- nearby, this shopping center is worth a trip.

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