Brookhaven Reporter - July 2024

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JULY 2024 Vol. 16 No. 7 ■ PRSRT STD ECRWSS US Postage PAID Monroe, GA Permit #15 POSTAL CUSTOMER Brookhaven Reporter A Publication PETS & THEIR PEOPLE P19 We’ve got Stars See Pg 9
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Even with journalism under fire, signs of growth

Recent events in Georgia and Mississippi show that journalism’s principles are under attack by people whose efforts, if not their intentions, undermine the free press — a cornerstone of our democracy and the only profession enshrined in and protected by the U.S. Constitution.

In Mississippi, the nonprofit newsroom Mississippi Today, known for its Pulitzer Prize-winning reporting, faces a costly defamation lawsuit from a former governor. He is demanding access to confidential sources and notes, threatening the newsroom’s financial stability and the trust between journalists and their sources.

The lawsuit by Phil Bryant aims to stifle investigative journalism by draining financial and human resources and intimidating reporters. If newsrooms are forced to divert funds to legal defenses, they will ultimately produce less thoughtful work that holds the powerful accountable and keeps the public informed.

In Georgia, media organizations are facing our own troubling scenarios. The University of Georgia Law Clinic, known for its advocacy for open records and governmental transparency and its support of small newsrooms, including ours, recently halted some of its efforts due to alleged political pressure.

Locally, our Alpharetta-based colleagues at Appen Media Group are embroiled in a protracted legal battle with the City of

Sandy Springs over the state’s Open Records Act, challenging the city’s transparency, specifically with routine police records. In December, a judge ruled against Appen, but wrote that the company, “may be correct in its assertion that [Sandy Springs’] practice violates the spirit of the Open Records Act.”

Appen is appealing.

These legal battles exemplify how governmental bodies can use courts to obfuscate and delay due process, eroding trust and the media’s ability to serve as a public watchdog.

Tucker Reporter

These are merely two examples of a troubling trend that is almost certain to be exacerbated by the challenges posed by AI and deepfakes, especially as we enter into election season. Independent, credible journalism is our best defense against misinformation and manipulated media.

We are growing

In happier news, observant readers will notice our expanded coverage of a fifth community in this month’s issues of The Reporter. I’m pleased to announce that we have added Cathy Cobbs as a full-time staff writer who will be covering Dunwoody and Tucker, two of DeKalb County’s most dynamic cities.

As always, please feel free to reach out to me at, and make sure you’re subscribed to our

newsletters, which you can do by scanning the QR Code.

Thank you for your continued support of independent, local news organizations like Rough Draft. Your support is vital to preserving a free and fair press.


Collin Kelley

Beth McKibben

Senior Editor, Food & Dining

Sammie Purcell

Associate Editor

Staff Writers

Dyana Bagby

Cathy Cobbs

Bob Pepalis

Logan C. Ritchie

Figliolini Creative Director

Steve Levene Founder

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CONTENTS JULY 2024 ©2024 with all rights reserved Publisher reserves the right to refuse editorial or advertising for any reason. Publisher assumes no responsibility for information contained in advertising. Any opinions expressed in print or online do not necessarily represent the views of Reporter Newspapers or Rough Draft Atlanta. Honored as a newspaper of General Excellence 2018 ABOUT THE COVER See our Pets & Their People feature starting on Page 19. Brookhaven & Sandy Springs Gracie Waylock, an account executive with Green Olive Media, and her pup Mister. Buckhead Katie McAdams, communications manager for Babbit Bodner, with her pup Fiona. Dunwoody Lisa Torres, an agent with State Farm Insurance, with her pup Maisie. Tucker Callahan Solyian and his dog Belicheck. SANDY SPRINGS Ambulance Agreement 4 Road Work funding 4 BUCKHEAD New APS Superintendent 6 City Sets 2025 Budget 6 BROOKHAVEN Funding For Parks 8 DUNWOODY Goats Provide Maintenance 10 Walmart Closing 10 TUCKER City Council Meets 12 SPECIAL SECTIONS Dunwoody 4th of July Parade 13-18 Pets & Their People 19-23 ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT Sandy Springs Sculptures 24 SILVER STREAK Oglethorpe President Remembered 25 Senior Healthcare Community 25 DINING The Move 26 Nicky’s Undefeated 28 Omakase Table 28 BUSINESS Grindheart Fitness 29 Older Taxis at Airport 29 REAL ESTATE Lulah Hills 30 Affordable Housing 30 atlanta Reporter Newspapers A Publication Atlanta Intown A Publication Silver Streak By Advertising For information Deborah Davis Account Manager | Sales Operations Clay Hovater Sr. Account Manager Jeff Kremer Sr. Account Manager
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A Publication PETS & THEIR PEOPLE P00 JULY 2024 Vol. No. 1 We’ve got Stars See Pg 9

The State of DeKalb Animals (SoDA) initiative is brought to you by Commissioner Michelle Long Spears, in collaboration with the DeKalb Board of Commissioners, DeKalb County Administration, DeKalb Animal Services, and community activitists and organizations.



Sandy Springs has joined four other North Fulton cities to approve an agreement that guarantees a 12-minute ambulance response for serious emergencies.

Sandy Springs, Alpharetta, Johns Creek, Milton, and Roswell signed an agreement with American Medical Response (AMR), which is the designated provider to North Fulton County per the Georgia Department of Public Health approved Regional Ambulance Zoning Plan.

The 12-minute response time was a departure for Sandy Springs, which had been paying an extra subsidy to guarantee nine-minute responses by AMR. Chief Keith Sanders said the Sandy Springs Fire Department has and will continue to respond to all EMS calls, usually arriving before ambulances do and within eight minutes of the call.

“Today, our apparatus, all of our trucks, engines, and ladder trucks, are staffed with at least one paramedic,” Sanders said.

The fire department has all the necessary advanced life support intervention supplies, including drugs and equipment except the ability to transport a patient. The firefighters stabilize the patient upon arrival on the scene.

Sanders said only in six percent of the calls does a patient get transported to a hospital immediately.

The city has ordered a medical response unit (MRU) that will give the department transportation capabilities, he said in response to questions from Councilmember Melody Kelley. The unit will be delivered in summer 2025.

Sanders also said on June 18 he will present to the council a community paramedicine program to help enhance emergency responses and to take some non-emergency calls out of the 911 system.

The cities agreed to pay AMR a $2 million subsidy in the contract’s first year. Sandy Springs would pay $670,379.08 for the year, broken out into monthly payments.

City gets $1.5M for Boylston Drive project

Sandy Springs will get $1.5 million from a Georgia Transportation Infrastructure Bank loan and a grant announced by Gov. Brian Kemp and the State Road and Tollway Authority (SRTA) Board of Directors.

The city was awarded the Georgia Transportation Infrastructure Bank (GTIB) loan of $850,000 and a GTIB grant of $650,000 for its Boylston Drive project, according to a press release from Kemp’s office.

The project will realign the existing intersection of Hammond Drive and Boylston Drive/Hamilton Glen and install

new sidewalks at each corner of the realigned intersection to improve traffic flow and safety.

The project was part of TSPLOST 2021, the city’s transportation sales tax program, with a projected cost of $2.98 million.

The funds for Sandy Springs are part of the $16.9 million in transportation infrastructure projects to get funding through the program.

“Our state’s unprecedented economic growth is in part thanks to our reliable transportation infrastructure network that serves both hardworking Georgians and the job creators that employ them,” Kemp said, according to the release.

fosteringcollaboration, innovativeprogramming andpracticalsolutions.
SoDA (StateofDeKalbAnimals) intiative envisions a communitycompassionate
approves North Fulton ambulance service agreement
Sandy Springs has purchased a medical response unit similar to the one used in Cobb County. (Courtesy Sandy Springs)
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New APS superintendent hails from Tennessee

Bryan Johnson, a former Hamilton County Schools superintendent in Chattanooga, is slated to become the next superintendent of Atlanta Public Schools.

The Atlanta Board of Education introduced Johnson as the sole finalist for the school district’s top post during a Tuesday press conference. The announcement comes after APS, one of the largest school districts in the state with roughly 50,000 students, has been without a full-time superintendent for nearly a year.

“This is a phenomenal opportunity,” Johnson said. “Atlanta should be, will be, with all of us together in this community, our teachers and leaders in service of students ... our goal is to be the best urban school district in the country.

“We’re at an inflection point and we are excited to lean into this work,” he said.

State law requires the board wait 14 days before voting to hire Johnson — the vote is set to happen July 6. Interim Superintendent Danielle Bell will transition from her role by the end of

August following the school board vote. Johnson has spent nearly 20 years in public education, including as superintendent of Hamilton County Schools from 2017 to 2021. In 2021, he was named the Superintendent of the Year by the Tennessee Organization of School Superintendents,

Johnson will be leaving his job as executive chancellor and chief strategy officer of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga to take the job at APS. He has also served as chief transformation officer for U.S. Xpress Enterprises.

“When I was elected as board chair in January, we as a board set a goal to

announce the new superintendent by July. I am proud to say that we have achieved that goal. But more importantly, we found the best fit candidate for our district,” said Erika Mitchell, chair of the Atlanta school board.

The search for a new superintendent began last year after the board voted in June not to renew Dr. Lisa Herring’s contract. Herring served from July 1, 2020, until August 2023.

The school board extended its search process in April after the names of applicants were made public, a violation of the process.

City council approves historic $2.75B budget

Mayor Andre Dickens’ combined $2.75 billion budget for 2025 was unanimously approved by the Atlanta City Council in June.

The budget allocates $853.8 million for the general fund, $1.5 billion for enterprise funds and $352.5 million for other funds. The budget is the largest in the city’s history.

“This budget shows our commitment to significant investments in our community and in our employees as we continue toward our collective mission of making Atlanta a City of Opportunity for All,” Dickens said in a statement. “We know that Atlanta has great influence on a global scale from housing the world’s busiest and most efficient airport to our innovation in housing solutions and this budget shows that we are working to ensure all residents have access to critical resources in our city. Thank you to members of the Administration in putting the thought and intent into this budget that the people of Atlanta deserve and thank you to City Council for their support and their unanimous approval of this historic budget.”

The FY25 budget considers recent analyses and projections, including a projected slight contraction in inflationadjusted GDP and expectations of an average inflation rate of around 2.5% per year, according to the release.

Key highlights of the budget include: ■ City Employees: A $24.3 million investment in employee compensation, benefits, and professional development, ensuring a resourceful workforce for the

6 | JULY 2024 ROUGHDRAFTATLANTA.COM 7455 Trowbridge Road Sandy Springs, GA APPLIANCES | OUTDOOR LIVING WWW.SEWELLAPPLIANCE.COM Scan to schedule an appointment BUCKHEAD For more Buckhead headlines, subscribe to our daily newsletter at
Bryan Johnson (Courtesy Atlanta Public Schools)

city’s future. The minimum wage for city employees will increase to $17.50/hour.

■ Public Safety: $29.8 million, including funding for equipment, technology upgrades, and security measures.

■ Affordable Housing: The budget commits $17 million to the Affordable Housing Trust Fund.

■ Infrastructure Development: The budget allocates $30 million for capital improvements, including the construction of two new fire stations and addressing

long-standing maintenance needs.

■ Eradicating Food Deserts: Dedicating $6 million to developing local grocery stores and markets and supporting fresh food inventory and distribution throughout the city.

■ Youth Services: These investments include $3 million in Year of the Youth Investments, $1.8 million for the operations of At-Promise Youth Centers and $2 million for Summer Youth Program and $1.9 million for the Mayor’s Youth Ball.


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p e r i m e t e r c h a m b e r . c o m
A WORLD OF WOW Atlanta’s Science and Nature Experience JUNE 29 - SEPT. 29 Experience the Artistic Side of Nature Forest Forms is an exhibition created by artist Huelani Mei and produced by Elemental Exhibitions. A Mirror Maze: Numbers in Nature is designed and developed by the Griffin Museum of Science + Industry. Local support provided by the Isdell Family Foundation. Additional support provided by the Frances Wood Wilson Foundation. JUNE 8 - SEPT. 9, 2024 Engage with Patterns and Unique Experiences
Atlanta’s Science and Nature Experience
Mayor Andre Dickens (File)


On THE TOWN Movies

Brookhaven City Council met Monday to approve the use of Special Project Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) funding for Lavista Park and the Peachtree Creek Greenway.

The city approved a contract with design firm Cooper Carry in the amount of $56,000 to create a master plan for a three-acre wooded park in the Lavista Park neighborhood. The area was annexed five years ago, after the Brookhaven parks master plan was drawn up.

Lavista Park has a playground, walking trails, stone patio, picnic benches, and a weathered observation boardwalk. A master plan will address runoff and erosion, a blocked culvert, excessive sediment entering the creek, and general creek health.

“I’m excited to be able to provide this master plan development for the Lavista Park area,” said Councilmember John Funny.

The council also heard from Patty Hansen, director of Strategic Partnerships, about applying for funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation to cover the remaining construction of Peachtree Creek Greenway phase II. In 2023, the council approved using SPLOST II funds for the 20% local match required for the $25 million project.

“The match is for closing the gap on construction,” said Hansen.

In other news, council members voted to extend an InterGovernmental Agreement (IGA) with DeKalb County for the ambulance support center at 3292 Buford Highway. The property was formerly a QT gas station and convenience store.

City Manager Christian Sigman said the city entered into the IGA five years ago, followed by a contract with AMR ambulance company, DeKalb County’s emergency vehicle vendor. The council approved marrying the contracts to expire simultaneously on Dec. 31, 2024.

City council approves SPLOST funds for Lavista Park Conveniently located on Peachtree Road adjacent to Oglethorpe University. 7/18
Movies for families, date nights and nights out with friends! Thursdays, Beginning at Dusk (no movie 7/4) While supplies last FREE POPCORN PROVIDED BY: 7/11 7/25
A rendering of Peachtree Creek Greenway (Courtesy City of Brookhaven) Courtesy City of Brookhaven

Cochran-Johnson becomes first Black woman to lead DeKalb

In a historic vote in DeKalb County, former county commissioner Lorraine Cochran-Johnson defeated Larry Johnson in the June 18 runoff election for the office of chief executive officer.

Cochran-Johnson will become the first Black woman and the second female in the history of DeKalb County to be elected to the post.

During the May 21 primary, CochranJohnson garnered 46% of the vote and carried 156 of 191 precincts, but failed to obtain the 50% threshold to take the

office. Johnson took 34% of the vote, and third-place finisher Steve Bradshaw, with a substantial amount of money in his war chest and endorsements from high-profile officials, only captured 19%.

Since no Republican candidate is running for the position, CochranJohnson will be DeKalb’s next CEO.

Johnson, who has represented DeKalb’s District 3 for 22 years, ran on a platform of “A Better…Safer…Stronger DeKalb that Thrives” and promised world-class infrastructure, an innovative economy, and healthy livable communities if elected.

JULY 2024 | 9 ROUGHDRAFTATLANTA.COM 2090 Dunwoody Club Dr. Ste 107 Sandy Springs, GA 30350 770-396-0492 The colors of Freedom Red, White. Blue. HappyAnniversarytoall theSummerLovebirds!
Photo courtesy of DeKalb County

DUNWOODY Goats provide maintenance, entertainment for residents

It’s rare that a goat can be both a savior and a source of fascination but in Dunwoody this spring, both objectives have been accomplished.

Passersby have been fascinated by the city’ newest “contract employees” – a herd of goats tasked with clearing vegetation in 15 designated city-maintained areas.

The goats are a cost-effective, safe, and more environmentally sound alternative to manually clearing out area retention and detention ponds, according to Dale Harris, an operations and maintenance supervisor with Dunwoody’s Public Works Department.

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“There can be a lot of hidden rocks and snakes in these areas, which would make clearing them out dangerous,” Harris said. “It’s also so much easier for a goat to access these areas than staff. The terrain situation is irrelevant because they can go anywhere.”

Harris said this is the third season of employment for the Capra aegagrus hircus, hired through Get Your Goats Rentals, an Atlanta-based invasive vegetation control company.

Depending on the area, the goats can clear a congested retention or detention pond in a matter of days. The goats’ last day of employment, Harris said, will be

in a few weeks, but they will return for a limited gig in the fall.

Harris said he provides a list of the designated areas to the company, and workers install an internal electric fence (to keep the goats in and predators out), place the goats, and check on them daily to ensure that they are safe and hydrated.

Harris said he has been highly entertained watching the goats in action, along with other Dunwoody residents.

“They actually work together in teams,” he said. “One goat will push a tree over and the other goats will eat the vegetation. Then they take turns bending over the next tree.”

The goat program costs anywhere from $12,000 to $15,000 depending on the season. Funds are allocated from the city’s

stormwater budget.

For those not interested in a vegetation-clearing project, select members of the herd can be hired for entertainment purposes.

According to the Get Your Goats website, people can order a “Goat Gram,” and the company will deliver the animal to a designated destination for cuddling, visitation, and photo opportunities.

According to the company, the “goat grams” have become popular for national holidays, birthdays, proms or any time someone wants to recognize a person as the “Greatest of All Time.”

“They’ve taken the goat game to a whole new level,” Harris said.

Underperforming Walmart closing July 12

The Dunwoody Walmart Supercenter is closing in July due to underperformance, according to an announcement made by the company.

“This decision was not made lightly and was reached only after a careful and thoughtful review process,” Walmart said in a statement. “We have nearly 5,000 stores across the U.S. and unfortunately some do not meet our financial expectations. While our underlying business is strong, this store

hasn’t performed as well as we hoped.”

The store and its pharmacy department, located at 4725 Ashford Dunwoody Rd., will cease operations on July 12, according to the announcement. More than 300 associates work at the Dunwoody location.

“All associates in the store are eligible for transfer and will be paid through September 20. After that date, if they do not transfer, eligible associates will receive severance,” the release said.

Goats make quick work of invasive vegetation at Brook Run Park. (Photo by Cathy Cobbs)

The Dunwoody store’s shuttering is joined by another location in Marietta. The company’s statement said that no other closures were planned in the region for the foreseeable future.

While some are celebrating the closure and already offering suggestions on social media as to what could fill that space (pickleball facility, Wegman’s, and the perennial favorite, Trader Joe’s), Walmart devotees say they loved the store for its rock-bottom deals.

“The prices on everything were better than any other store around,” Dunwoody resident Shelly Jacobs said. “I just was there today to pick up a shirt for my son.”

Longtime teacher Christina Kramer said she enjoyed taking advantage of Walmart’s back-to-school sales.

“I always spent a lot stocking up

on supplies for the year because prices were so low,” Kramer said. “The prices were much cheaper than Target.”

Whether mourning or celebrating the news, most people agreed on one thing – Walmart’s in-store service was always, in their opinion, terrible.

“It’s sad that it’s closing because you can find just about everything there, but I always have anxiety checking out or if I actually need help finding something,” Jonathan Peters said. “Forget about it if you have a question. But I will say the curbside pickup has always been

efficient and quick.”

The Walmart announcement said there are nine other store locations within a 15-mile radius of Dunwoody.

It appears the closest location will be in Chamblee, which is 4.7 miles away from the Dunwoody store. Courtesy Google Maps


City council approves double drive-thru for new restaurant

The Tucker City Council at its June 10 meeting voted 5-2 on second reading to approve a special land use permit that would allow a new restaurant to install double drive-through lanes.


Unless otherwise noted, all meetings are held at Tucker City Hall, 1975 Lakeside Pkwy, Ste 350B, Tucker, GA 30084


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JULY 22 - 7 P.M.


Councilman Vinh Nguyen and councilwoman Alexis Weaver were the dissenting votes, while Mayor Frank Auman, Roger Orlando, Virginia Rece, Cara Schroeder and Amy Trocchi supported the SLUP application for Jim ‘N Nick’s Bar-B-Q, which is under construction. The restaurant is located in a Northlake Mall outparcel at 4800 Briarcliff Road NE.

Jim ‘N Nicks, which began in Birmingham, AL. in 1985, has 48 locations throughout the southeast. Its menu features slow-cooked pork, turkey and beef, along with traditional homestyle side dishes.

The council had discussed the proposal at its May 13 meeting. City Planner Matthew Couper-Gardner again made a brief presentation to the council regarding the permit application.

Couper-Gardner said the restaurant is one of several new or relocated businesses around Northlake Mall. The doubledrive through lane must adhere to several stipulations, including screening selected areas with either a hedge or wall.

Weaver mentioned during discussion that the proposal didn’t fit into the criteria defined in the city’s Town Center Character Area and the city’s comprehensive plan.

“I have really significant concerns around the precedents this sets around drive-throughs and around orienting to automobiles,” Weaver said.

“My sense is that it doesn’t meet with all the criteria, but it meets some of it,” Rece said. “Not every project fits exactly in the box.”

Nguyen concurred with Weaver, saying he has “wrestled with this back and forth.”

“We can all appreciate Jim ‘N Nicks going above and beyond, accommodating the pedestrian access and lighting to make the area safer,” Nguyen said. “But I want us to be cautious about future SLUPs of this type, especially in the Northlake area.”

One speaker, during public comment, said he opposed the application, saying it went against the original strategy of developing walkability in the area.

The council also passed on second read 7-0 the 2024-25 budget that had some minor adjustments after its first reading on May 28. Auman and several others thanked the city’s finance department for its hard work in developing and refining this year’s budget.

“This was a Herculean effort,” Orlando said. “For some reason this has been an especially difficult budget.”

In other action:

■ the council heard that economic development department has awarded Incisive LLC a $25,000 contract to produce a written and digital pitch deck to promote the city and its activities.

■ Auman recognized the city’s municipal court clerks for their service.

■ the panel voted on first read a rollback of the millage rate by 2.096 to reflect a revenue-neutral tax digest.

Tucker City Council (Photo by Cathy Cobbs)


Dunwoody 4th of July Parade: Thursday, July 4

Red, White & YOU atla


Parade Route

The parade route is approximately 2.7 miles and steps off from the intersection of Mount Vernon Road and Jett Ferry Road at 9 a.m., proceeds west on Mt. Vernon to Dunwoody Village, turns right onto Dunwoody Village Parkway, circles around the Parkway, and left into Dunwoody Village at Starbucks.

Viewing Information

Parade spectators are encouraged to set up chairs along Mt. Vernon and circle around the Dunwoody Village Parkway into Dunwoody Village. Viewing will start on the west side of Jett Ferry on Mt. Vernon. Mt. Vernon Road, between Jett Ferry Road and Dunwoody Village, will be closed from approximately 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

Parade Festival

After the parade ends at Dunwoody Village, stick around for the festival! The 116th United States Army Band and Dunwoody Idol Winner Lauren Schroder will perform. There will be a bounce house, Kona Ice, and an opportunity to meet local businesses and politicians. Scout Troop 266 will be selling Slope’s barbecue as a fundraiser (pre-order at and the Rotary Club will be selling hot dogs to raise money for the organization. There will be large tents with tables, chairs, and fans.

JULY 2024 | 13 ROUGHDRAFTATLANTA.COM SPECIAL SECTION | JULY 2024 #DUNWOODY4THOFJULYPARADE Presenting sponsors: Dunwoody Homeowners Association and Rough Draft
Photo by Paul Ward


Twilight Twirlers and Dunwoody Precision

Lawn Chair Drill Team

Find out more about these entertaining community groups on Page 17.


The Torres Family, who have become local celebrities thanks to the front yard dinosaur inflatables, have something really special planned for the 2024 Parade.

Discover Dunwoody

The team will be driving the amazing ReDiscover Dunwoody Trolley and handing out pool balls and stickers.

Atlanta Falcons

Freddie Falcon and some Atlanta Falcon Cheerleaders are back for the Parade and will have a special tent afterward at the Festival.

2024 Dunwoody Idol

Dunwoody Idol Winner Lauren Schroder is taking part in the Parade and performing at the Festival in the Village.

DeKalb CEO Michael Thurmond

Michael Thurmond shows up to the Dunwoody Parade year after year. As his tenure as CEO is coming to an end, he’s back to celebrate one last time!

DCSD Superintendent

Devon Horton

Dr. Horton is back for his 2nd year with the Parade, and he will be riding next to District 1 Board of Education Board Member Anna Hill.

Georgia Spelling Bee Champion - Sarv Dharavane

As a 4th grader at Austin Elementary, Sarv won the 63rd Annual Georgia Association of Educators State Spelling Bee in March. He then placed 22nd at the Scripps National Spelling Bee.


Oscar Meyer’s iconic wiener-on-wheels is coming back to Dunwoody!

116th United States Army Band

The 116th has one of the busiest schedules of any unit in the Georgia National Guard, and is a fixture of ceremonies throughout Georgia.

Spirit of Atlanta Drum and Bugle Corps

Spirit has become one of the most revered drum and bugle corps, while remaining true to their Southern heritage and continually striving to push the boundaries of artistic innovation.

Dunwoody High School Band

The DHS Band was a crowd favorite in the rain at last year’s Parade. This year the Band Boosters are inviting current members and alumni to march!

Atlanta CV Drum and Bugle Corps

Atlanta CV is an all-age performing drum corps competing in both Drum Corps Associates and Drum Corps International sanctioned events.

Courtesy Spirit of Atlanta Photo by Paul Ward Photo by Paul Ward Lauren Schroder
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David Abes

David Abes, the founder of DASH Hospitality who created an entertainment district in the heart of Dunwoody, will be this year’s parade grand marshal.

Abes is the driving force behind an effort to create a multi-use entertainment and restaurant complex in the heart of Dunwoody that now includes  Bar{n} booze {n} bites, Message in a Bottle, Morty’s Meat Supply and several food truck concepts.

“I am beyond honored to be the grand marshal this year,” Abes said on Instagram after the announcement. “It’s awesome seeing the entire Dunwoody community come together for the parade.”

Abes served as the general manager of the Atlanta Fish Market during the 1996

Olympic Games, and later as the director of operations for the ownership group Here to Serve Restaurants for 14 years, helping to grow the company from three to 14 restaurants.

He then held the role of COO for Buckhead Life Restaurant Group. In 2018, Abes decided to strike out on his own and started Dash, which includes Morty’s Meat & Supply and Message in a Bottle.

Abes is a member of the Dunwoody Village Merchants Association and a staunch supporter of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Fund (now called Breakthough T1D), and has hosted a fundraiser called Green Egg & Kegs for the last four years.



Atlanta Lions Club

Bring your used eyeglasses to the parade for recycling at the Georgia Lions Lighthouse Foundation. The Lions International Youth Ambassadors and their host families will march with the Atlanta Lions Club and the Lighthouse Mobile Eye Clinic van. Look for the colorful flags of the world as the students will be parading with their national flags and carrying eyeglass collection boxes.

Community Assistance Center

The Community Assistance Center has been working to prevent hunger and homelessness in Dunwoody and Sandy Springs for over 35 years. Bring your donation of nonperishable canned foods and/or towels and linens in good condition for CAC’s three pantries.

16 | JULY 2024 ROUGHDRAFTATLANTA.COM | 4800 Ashford Dunwoody Rd., Dunwoody GA 30338 | 678.382.6700 July Highlights 27 5 18 22 8 9 4 11 Development Authority Meeting City Hall | 5 p.m. Food Truck Thursday Brook Run Park | 5 - 8 p.m. History Alive Donaldson-Bannister Farm | 9:30 a.m. Dunwoody City Council Meeting City Hall | 6 p.m. Improv: A Night with the Dads Stage Door Theatre | 7:30 p.m. 13 20 Pics in the Park July 5 Pernoshal Park Dunwoody Farmers Market Saturdays Brook Run Park | 9 - noon HappyAmerica!Birthday, 248 YEARS Groovin’ on the Green July 13 at Brook Run Park Dunwoody July 4 Parade Mt. Vernon Road from Jett Ferry to Dunwoody Village | 9 a.m. Pics in the Park: Kung Fu Panda Pernoshal Park | 9 p.m. Dunwoody City Council Meeting City Hall | 6 p.m. Planning Commission Meeting City Hall | 6 p.m. Sustainability Committee Meeting City Hall | 8 a.m. Zoning Board of Appeals City Hall | 6 p.m. Master Gardener Talk: Mushrooms and Foraging Brook Run Park Greenhouse | 11 a.m. Groovin’ on the Green: Mount Vernon School and Nu WAVE ATL Brook Run Park Amphitheater 6 - 9 p.m.
David Abes (Courtesy DASH Hospitality) Photo by Matt Wollner

DRILL & TWIRL Lawn Chair Drill Team and Twilight Twirlers performing in parade

This year’s Dunwoody Fourth of July parade will see the return of two popular entries – the Precision Lawn Chair Drill Team and the Twilight Twirlers.

Patrick Fitzgerald, a Dunwoody North resident and founder of the lawn chair drill team, said the brigade, which is making its fourth parade appearance, will “razzle dazzle” the crowd with its distinctive chants and choreographed routines.

“Every year we try to tighten up the routines and learn some new ones to freshen it up a bit,” Fitzgerald said. “The first year, we backed up the parade quite a bit, but it’s hard to march past people who want to see the routine.”

COVID-19 fatigue, he said, was the impetus for forming the lawn chair drill team in 2021 after safety concerns forced the cancellation of the event in 2020.

“After they had to cancel, then announced that it was coming back, I kind of thought that I’d like to be in the parade and do something fun and outrageous,” he said in a 2022 YouTube interview. He rejected several possible options

while searching for something that people with little or no talent could do, including a briefcase drill team he saw participating in a Michigan parade.

“It was a little too stodgy and I didn’t want to wear a suit,” Fitzgerald said.

It was not until he watched a video of the East Beverly Lawn Chair team out of Massachusetts that he felt he found a concept that seemed to fit the bill.

“This was more my style. You didn’t have to dress up, and you didn’t need a lot of equipment,” he said. “Then I took it on as sort of a project.”

He recruited neighbors and friends, wrote several chants, and developed a training video that outlined the routines, at the same time realizing that perfection was not the ultimate goal.

“The nice thing about this situation is the more poorly executed and ridiculous you are, the better,” Fitzpatrick said. “There wasn’t a lot of stress about getting things right.”

This year, the drill team will consist of at least eight members, who will carry new aluminum chairs (courtesy of its first sponsor, Lawn Chair USA), chant,

and execute their signature move, the “handstand.”

Anyone interested in more information can visit the group’s Facebook page and ask for permission to join.

While it’s all about the lawn chairs for the drill team, it’s all about the boots for the Twilight Twirlers, according to Kathy Prough, who heads up the group.

“These are ladies who just want to twirl so they can wear the boots,” Prough joked. “The boots are really cute.”

The group, which has been in existence for 20 years, consists of teachers, lawyers, and retirees with diverse backgrounds. Nobody has to have baton experience to

join, just the desire to “get in a little bit of fitness and have some fun.”

Prough said the Dunwoody parade is the hands-down favorite because it’s so large and there are a lot of bands participating. She said the group also participates in the Atlanta St. Patrick’s Parade in Atlanta, the East Cobber Parade, Festival of Trees Parade in December, and the Tybee Island Festival.

This year, the team, wearing the aforementioned cute boots, will perform a patriotic medley that touches on all branches of the military. Prough said the group will be a mixture of Dunwoody parade veterans and newbies.

Precision Lawn Chair Drill Team (Courtesy Patrick Fitzgerald) Twilight Twirlers (Courtesy Kathy Prough)
2024 Theme: “Red, White & YOU” Grand Marshal: David Abes, Founder, Dash Hospitality Group For more information about sponsorships, please contact Leah Economos at (770) 624-4825 or For parade information and registration, go to Bronze Sponsors Presented By Platinum Sponsor Gold Sponsors Silver Sponsors atlanta
Thursday, July 4,

Pets & Their People

We put out the call for photos of you with your beloved furry friends and you answered us! Our annual “Pets & Their People” issue is one of our favorite issues to assemble since it gives us a great opportunity to showcase our readers. The submissions always tend to run more in favor of the pups, so we were happy to see more kitties and even a horse this year.

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Art Sandy Springs gifts sculpture to city

Art Sandy Springs gave the city a sculpture that is now on display as part of the annual “ArtSS Walk, Arts in the Open” competition.

Melissa Patterson of Art Sandy Springs presented the Sandy Springs City Council with the “Caprice,” a stainless steel and bronze sculpture by Charles Pilkey. The nonprofit organization proposed the Abernathy Arts Center as its permanent location during the city council’s work session on June 4.

The city began funding the “ArtSS Walk, Arts in the Open” sculpture competition in 2018. Nine sculpture finalists are displayed on the City Green at City Springs. After each exhibit, selected works from the finalists are purchased and placed in permanent locations by the city.

Patterson said in the five years of the program, 29 sculptures have been gifted to or purchased by the city.

She said Art Sandy Springs recommended that the city spend $21,300 to purchase these three sculptures:

■ “Nesting,” a steel and driftwood sculpture by Richard Herzog ($11,000). Its proposed placement at Morgan Falls Overlook Park would be where many of the city’s birding programs take place.

■ “UpCycle,” made of steel, bicycle wheels, and paint, by sculptor Joni Younkins-Herzog ($4,600). Abernathy Greenway South was its proposed location.

■ “Flowing Arches,” painted steel by sculptor Matt Moyer ($5,700), would be placed at Windsor Meadows Park if the city follows the nonprofit’s suggestion.

Councilmember Tibby DeJulio asked Patterson if Art Sandy Springs had considered soliciting artworks for the walls of city hall, which largely remain blank.

Patterson said the group has discussed the idea and will continue those conversations “to put beautiful art on these walls.”

Councilmember Jody Reichel asked when Art Sandy Springs would install the “Caprice” sculpture, due to construction work at the Abernathy Arts Center. The city is demolishing an old stone house and garage, replacing them with a modular art studio.

Patterson said that the sculpture may need to be put in storage until it can be installed.

The city council was expected to decide on the sculptures at press time.

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Laura K. Schilling, J.D., CPA, CFP® “Flowing Arches” by Matt Moyer (Photos courtesy City of Sandy Springs) “Nesting” by Richard Herzog “UpCycle” by Joni Younkins-Herzog “Caprice” by Charles Pilkey

Silver Streak

Former Oglethorpe president dies at 104

Former Oglethorpe University

President Dr. Manning Pattillo died on Sunday, June 2, at 104. He was a highly regarded national figure in higher education.

Pattillo was one of Oglethorpe’s most important presidents, earning the distinction of University Chancellor and President Emeritus from the Oglethorpe Board of Trustees.

Pattillo led the university from 19751988. He was instrumental in helping Oglethorpe achieve national recognition and enhancing its academic reputation.

The average SAT score of incoming students rose 250 points during his tenure, and credentials and qualifications of faculty were a strategic priority.

Pattillo remained active in higher education and the Oglethorpe campus community after his retirement, according to the press release, including attending 47

New senior healthcare community opens in Marietta

A new 75,000-square-foot senior healthcare community is open at 900 Wylie Road from nonprofit A.G. Rhodes.

The provider currently operates three nursing homes in Cobb, Fulton, and DeKalb, providing long- and short-term care, therapy, and rehabilitation services to 1,100 underinsured and underserved metro Atlanta seniors annually.

More than half of its residents are estimated to have Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia.

The Marietta location is a skilled nursing and memory care community with a “household-model” building designed for 72 residents living with dementia, plus renovation of its existing building with 58 residents.

Both buildings feature private rooms; a community kitchen and dining room, living room, sunroom, gardens, and rehab gym.

This community is a change from the traditional hospital-like design of most longterm care nursing communities. The Wylie Road location is designed to be a model that other nursing homes can use to convert double rooms to private rooms, improve a person-centered model of care and prepare for potential infectious disease outbreaks/. Find out more at

Oglethorpe commencement ceremonies from 1976 to 2022.

“Oglethorpe University is the university it is today because of the leadership of Manning Pattillo,” said Dr. Kathryn McClymond, Oglethorpe’s current president. “It warmed my heart to see him at commencement in 2022, my first at Oglethorpe, and I am mindful of his legacy as I seek to lead Oglethorpe to become Atlanta’s premier undergraduate learning experience during this chapter of

our important and ongoing story.”

Born in Charlottesville, Va., on Oct. 11, 1919, Pattillo received his bachelor of arts degree from the University of the South in Sewanee, Tenn., and his M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Chicago.

Before his tenure at Oglethorpe, Pattillo was a professor at the University of Chicago for seven years, served as an Associate Secretary of the Commission on Colleges and Universities of the North Central Association, and worked for numerous foundations including the Lilly Endowment, Danforth Foundation and the Foundation Center in New York.

He came to Oglethorpe from the University of Rochester in New York, and he had previously served as chancellor of St. Mary’s College in Maryland.

“Dr. Pattillo held a strong commitment to maintaining Oglethorpe as an undergraduate liberal arts college,” said Oglethorpe University Librarian Eli Arnold. “The Pattillo years would see the establishment of the Freshman Seminar, something only recently resurrected in 2022; a change in Oglethorpe Athletics, making it more competitive and stable compared to its previous years; building improvements, such as Hearst Hall; and other budgetary and accreditation changes.”

Pattillo was married to Martha Aileen Crawford Pattillo for 56 years before she passed away in 2003. He is survived by his daughter, Martha Crawford Pattillo; his younger son, John Landrum Pattillo; five grandchildren; and three greatgrandchildren.

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Dr. Manning Pattillo with his wife Martha in an undated photo. (Courtesy Oglethorpe University)

The Move: Three can’t-miss dishes for July

Bread and Butterfly

290 Elizabeth Street, Inman Park

Eight years after opening his Frenchinspired cafe Bread and Butterfly in Inman Quarter, Chef Billy Allin turned over ownership last year to Brandon Blanchard and Chef Demetrius Brown of Afro-Caribbean pop-up Heritage Supper Club. Having attended past pop-ups, I was already an admirer of Brown and his mission to highlight the food and ingredients of the African diaspora.

Brown and Blanchard have kept most of Allin’s breakfast and lunch menu intact, save a few new dishes sprinkled in here and there. But dinner is where Brown shines.

Like Heritage Supper Club, dinner spotlights French cuisine and cooking techniques seen through the lens of the American South and African nations like Senegal and the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Caribbean countries like Haiti and Jamaica. Brown’s family hails from Trinidad.

On a recent visit I started with feathery soft plantain buns served with Georgia cane syrup-infused butter. I can’t speak highly enough about the potato salad – a herby mixture of Yukon Gold potatoes, beets, peppers, and peas. I was most impressed with the scallop étouffée. Savory roux gently pools around three tender scallop medallions garnished with delicate Carolina Gold rice crisps, green onions, and parsley.

On past visits, I’ve also enjoyed the djon-djon, commonly found in northern Haiti and comprised of rice, peas, and black mushrooms. Brown uses both local and Haitian mushrooms in his djon-djon. The Haitian patty is another must, filled

with local beef and peppers spiced with tamarind.

Wine is never the wrong move, but don’t skip cocktails like the “Palazzo Spritz” made with Amaro Montenegro, Bual Madeira, and tonic water. Try the “Express Yourself” with oaked zero-proof rum, espresso, and a touch of maple for a great nonalcoholic take on the espresso martini.

sweet, savory, and spicy together in a taco garnished with fresh cilantro, onions, and a squeeze of fresh lime juice.

Although the spit at the Brookhaven restaurant isn’t topped with a pineapple, the fruit is still a key ingredient in the al pastor tacos.

I ordered two trios of tacos de al abuela (grandmother’s tacos) simply for the handmade corn tortillas. All street tacos come with a choice of grilled beef, al pastor, chicken, chorizo, birria, or lengua

Tacos Al Pastor

2146 Johnson Ferry Road, Brookhaven

What started as a pop-up in 2020 opened as Tacos Al Pastor restaurant in Brookhaven last fall. Located between Moon Indian Cuisine and Hovan Mediterranean Gourmet, the meat-packed spit (or trompo) of tender rotisserie pork (al pastor) spins slowly behind the counter ready for slicing.

If the spit reminds you of shawarma, it should. That’s the origin behind al pastor. Lebanese immigrants brought shawarma to Puebla, Mexico, in the 1930s, using the spit to roast lamb. Upon ordering, meat is quickly shaved from the spit into thin slices and served hot in a pita. Lamb was eventually replaced with pork in Mexico and seasoned with achiote or adobo and chiles.

Slowly grilling for hours over an open flame, the towering hunk of pork layers forms a crispy exterior. You’ll often see a trompo of al pastor in Mexico crowned with a whole, skinned pineapple, which allows the juices to run over the pork as it marinates and caramelizes the meat. The pineapple is sliced with the pork, marrying

daikon radishes pickled in pear juice, Korean potato salad, Napa Valley kimchi, fried peanuts and anchovies, and mung bean jelly noodles. It preps your palate for what’s to come.

My table of four ordered four wellportioned dishes to share, including haemul pajeon (seafood onion pancake), jogaetang (steamed clam stew), dolsot bibimbap (crispy rice, tofu, vegetables in a stone bowl), and mandu jeongol with tofu (dumpling hot pot). While everything we ordered was excellent, I can’t stop thinking about the steamed clam stew and the hot pot. Both were outstanding.

The warm bowl of jogaetang is filled with whole clams soaking in a bath of clam and anchovy broth. Infusing the dish further are chilis, scallions, and fragrant chrysanthemum greens, bringing out the subtle salty, sweet notes of the clam meat and balancing out the dank broth.

As for the hot pot, it arrived ready for cooking at the table. The metal stew bowl was brimming with mandu, squares of soft tofu, vegetables and greens, and plump mushrooms. A flick of the switch on the burner starts to simmer the anchovy-kelp broth, gochujang-based chili sauce, and a scoop of fresh minced garlic, slowly cooking the mandu, tofu, and vegetables. Once the hot pot finishes cooking, you ladle over glutinous rice. The burst of spicy, savory, and funky flavors meld together in one hell of a comforting dish I can’t wait to eat again.

(beef tongue). Three of my tacos were al pastor and pineapple. The other three tacos were filled with chorizo, lengua, and birria. Be sure to load up on the house-made sauces for your tacos, ranging from mild to hot.

Bōm (Spring 2nd Branch)

36 Mill Street, Marietta

Chef Brian So opens Bōm (or Spring 2nd Branch) Korean restaurant later this year just around the corner from his Marietta restaurant, Spring. He’s offering sneak peeks at Spring through the end of July that you should put on your summer bucket list.

Every Tuesday night through July 30, So transforms the critically acclaimed fine dining restaurant into a Korean diner serving simmering hot pots, dolsot bibimbap, mandu (dumplings), and other dishes like tteokbokki (spicy rice cakes) and naengmyeon (cold noodles). Cass Korean beer, soju, and wines by the glass are also available.

The menu features six sections: appetizers; rice and noodles; soup; hot pot; meat; bunsik (snacks); and dessert. As at most Korean restaurants, the meal begins with complimentary banchan like

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Scallop étouffée garnished with delicate Carolina Gold rice crisps, green onions, and parsley at Bread & Butterfly. (Photo by Beth McKibben) Tacos Al Pastor in Brookhaven specializes in its namesake taco. (Photo by Beth McKibben) Mandu jeongol with tofu (dumpling hot pot) from Bom. (Photo by Beth McKibben)

Nicky’s Undefeated bringing Philly cheesesteaks, Jersey-style pizza to Tucker

Nicky’s Undefeated will bring Philly cheesesteaks, Jersey-style pizza, and water ice to Tucker when it opens this summer

beside Perc coffee shop on Main Street.

Owned by Philadelphia and South Jersey natives Michael Lo and Walt Gebelein, the two met while working at

The Home Depot in the early 2000s. They struck up a friendship, initially bonding over their love for Philadelphia sports, before finding commonality in their family backgrounds. Lo’s family owned

Chef Leonard Yu opening second location of Omakase Table at Buckhead Landing

Chef Leonard Yu will open a second location of Westside sushi restaurant Omakase Table early next year at Buckhead Landing. The Piedmont Road shopping center, once home to the Disco Kroger, will also include a third location of Mediterranean restaurant Aviva by Kameel.

Omakase Table, which began as a prepandemic pop-up helmed by Yu, serves a 20-course omakase experience to 16 people per service. Yu’s Buckhead location of Omakase Table will see a similar service set-up, seating between 12 and 16 people per night.

Yu opened a permanent location of Omakase Table in 2022 at the Seven88 complex on West Marietta Street near the King Plow Arts Center. Nightly seatings feature courses of otsumami (small bites), nigiri, small plates like atsuyaki tamago castella (multi-layered omelet), hand rolls, and dessert. The restaurant purchases fresh fish weekly from Toyosu Fish Market in Tokyo, Japan. Wine and sake pairings are optional.

Later this summer, Yu and Chef Paul Gutting will open Japanese small plates and omakase restaurant Ryokou together at the Adams Fixture development in Adair Park. Ryokou resides next door to

restaurants in Philadephia. Gebelein’s family operated a liquor store nearby in southern New Jersey.

Lo continues the family business in Atlanta with his restaurants Salaryman, Ramen Station, and food stall Suzy Siu’s Baos at Krog Street Market. But for this next restaurant venture, he partnered with Gebelein in Nicky’s Undefeated. The counter-service joint in Tucker was inspired by another of their shared loves: sandwiches.

“Nicky’s Undefeated is our homage to our hometown. It honors Italian-American culture, the City of Brotherly Love, and [Philadelphia’s] favorite, small-time underdog boxer [Rocky Balboa] who worked harder than anyone else using sides of beef as punching bags and overcoming all the odds to become a champion,” Lo told Rough Draft of the name. A further nod to Philadelphia sees the iconic Liberty Bell replacing the apostrophe in the name.

Look for Nicky’s Undefeated to feature sandwiches popular throughout the Philadelphia and New York metropolitan regions, including Philly cheesesteaks, Italian-style hoagies, and breaded chicken cutlet sandwiches. Lo and Gebelein sourced deli meat, cheese, chips, and ice cream for Nicky’s from companies around the Northeast. They tapped Liscio’s Bakery in South Jersey to supply the dough for the sandwich bread to bake at the Tucker shop.

In addition to sandwiches, expect sides like cheese fries, salads, water ice (a chunkier form of Italian ice), and large slices of Jersey-style pizza. The pizza style is known for its crispy edges and thin, foldable crust loaded with toppings.

Nicky’s Undefeated will also serve beer, wine, and cocktails and include TVs for watching sports.

As for why the duo chose Tucker to open Nicky’s Undefeated, Gebelein said that the decision came down to the city’s diverse population, industrial leanings, and high concentrations of commercial corridors. It reminded Lo and Gebelein of where they grew up.

upcoming retail shop and members-only wine club The Vine Club, which should open at the end of June.

3330 Piedmont Road, Buckhead, Atlanta.

“The Main Street Tucker area is exciting with new businesses coming in, the proximity to Tucker High and Middle Schools, a new Town Green Park about to open next year, recently passed open container laws, and a supportive growth mindset focused on local city government,” Gebelein added.

Nicky’s Undefeated should open this summer and offer lunch and dinner service daily.

The future home of Nicky’s Undefeated on Main Street in Tucker. (Photo by Michael Lo) Omakase Table opens soon at Buckhead Landing on Piedmont Road. (Courtesy Omakase Table)

Grindheart Fitness in Brookhaven caters to teen athletes

Grind Heart Fitness owner Brandon West has lived in South Georgia, Canada, and in between but his heart has landed on Apple Valley Road in Brookhaven.

As a former high school and college athlete, West is passionate about training kids and teens to become stronger and healthier through fitness.

West, 36, set the individual career scoring record at Camden County High School, despite the devastating death of his father during his junior year.

“I jumped into high school football my junior year and from there on, I worked hard,” said West, who attended Western Michigan University on scholarship as the starting running back. At WMU, he was a four-time All-American college football player.

West went on to play football in the NFL and CFL. When he retired from the sport, he returned to Georgia to support his daughter, who is breaking track and field records at his alma mater in Kingsland, GA.

He was playing pick-up basketball games at a Brookhaven gym when his buddies suggested he start training. Resisting at first, West quickly realized training kids was his passion.

“I fell in love with personal training because it is goal-oriented,” said West, who calls all of his clients “athletes.”

West trains a large group of athletes from Marist, as well as other local schools. Several 2024-2025 graduates have been recruited for sports scholarship programs: Sofia Dawson, a rising senior, is committed to University of North Florida for volleyball; Grady Jones is planning to play football at Rhodes College; Cassidy Kuehne is a rising senior who has committed playing soccer at the University of Mississippi; and Reese Black is going to play soccer at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and has been nominated for Gatorade Player of the Year.

When West opened Grind Heart Fitness on Apple Valley Road in the Dresden corridor, he planned for a one-stop-shop. Youth fitness is the main goal, but Grind Heart Fitness also offers

personal fitness and groups workouts for adults.

West’s goal is to create a third space for kids and teens looking to get more fit, training for sports, learn about nutrition, and feel supported. “I try to help them focus and get into the mode to do it for themselves,” West said.

“We are all about community,” said West. “A lot of times when I get one client, I get family members, too.”

West believes that Brookhaven is one of the best cities in Georgia. “I wanted to lead this journey in Brookhaven,” said West, who has met many small business owners and entrepreneurs through his fitness studio.

Grind Heart encourages athletes to call,

Older taxis now allowed at Atlanta airport

A new City of Atlanta ordinance allows taxi cabs picking up passengers at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport to be up to 10 years old.

The ordinance, passed by the Atlanta City Council at its June 3 meeting, replaces a seven-year age limit on taxi cabs serving the world’s busiest airport.

Cabbies have argued for the taxi age limit to be changed because it is too expensive to buy a new car every seven years. They said extending the use of a vehicle to 10 years would give them time to finance a new car while continuing to work as taxi drivers and support their families.

“We can buy a five-year-old car and at least make sure we have it for five years,” said Tony Igbere about changing the age limit of taxis. “Our cars are made stronger these days, but they cost a lot.”

“We promise we’ll continue to work to improve our industry, to do whatever it takes to make our visitors feel comfortable, especially at the airport, which is the only vestige of the taxi industry left,” Igbere said.

Councilmember Alex Wan was the only “no” vote and said the timing was problematic for him as the city prepares

for the 2026 World Cup.

“We are starting to talk about 2026 and the World Cup and all the investments we’re making in the city, yet at the airport — where for most people it’s going to be their first entry into this city — we are now relaxing what could be one of their first experiences in the city.

“It’s a bell that you can’t unring once it’s been rung,” Wan said.

An earlier version of the ordinance proposed to deregulate the taxi industry in several ways, such as repealing some requirements for taximeters and the color of cabs. Cabbies vocally opposed those proposals, but organized to lobby the council to permanently allow older taxi cabs.

stop by for a tour, or sign up for a courtesy workout.

“Come meet the staff,” said West. “I am all about clients being happy and connected to the community.”

For more information about Grind Heart Fitness, visit grindheartfitness. com on @grindheartfitness.

Councilmember Byron Amos, sponsor of the legislation, said it took many months and conversations with taxi drivers, taxi companies, city and airport officials to reach an agreement.

“Originally you could only have a car for seven years in service and anyone who has ever bought a brand new car,

you know, that’s the average loan on your car. So you’re really working to pay off a car,” Amos said in a statement after the meeting.

“Now that we have increased that to 10 years, at least you have some additional years that you can work and that money, instead of going to a car, is now going to take of your family, feed your family, put them through school,” he said

The age limit for taxis was 10 years

until 2017. That year, the council mandated taxis be no more than seven years old while implementing regulations for Uber and Lyft pickups at HartsfieldJackson airport.

In 2020, the council passed a temporary waiver to allow taxis up to 10 years old pick up passengers at the airport due to struggles drivers were having during the COVID-19 pandemic. The waiver was extended in 2022 to expire in 2024.

Brandon West works with kids at Grind Heart Fitness in Brookhaven. (Courtesy Grindheart) Taxi cabs up to 10 years old are now allowed to serve passengers at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. (Courtesy City of Atlanta)

North DeKalb Mall demolished to make way for Lulah Hills

Demolition has begun at the former North DeKalb Mall site to pave the way for a new mixed-use development called Lulah Hills.

“Saying goodbye is never easy,” said a press release from developer EDENS. “North DeKalb Mall has been an integral part of this community for nearly 60 years. Now the time has come for a new chapter in this story.”

EDENS, which acquired the property in 2019, announced in 2023 that it

would transform the site into Lulah Hills, a 73-acre mixed-use redevelopment.

“At its full buildout, the project will include 2.5 million square feet, including 320,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space, 1,700 multifamily units, 100 townhomes, a 150-key hotel, and a PATH Foundation trail connection to Emory University,” the announcement said.

The name Lulah Hills is a play on an original naming concept by the renowned landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted for the Druid Hills community, according to the EDENS announcement.

Located near downtown Decatur and Emory University, North DeKalb Mall was

Atlanta’s first fully enclosed mall when it opened for business in 1965. Over the years, it contained such tenants as Rich’s, Woolworth, Rhodes Furniture, Mervyn’s, Uptons and Stein Mart.

In 2020, the mall closed its doors, citing poor sales and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The first phase, which will contain retail stores, is expected to open in 2025, according to EDENS.

Brookhaven buys parcels on Buford Highway for affordable housing

The Brookhaven City Council is acquiring two lots on Buford Highway for $7.4 million to build affordable housing adjacent to the Peachtree Creek Greenway.

At a recent council meeting, District 4 Councilmember John Funny called it “a great opportunity for the city.”

Brookhaven is purchasing parcels 2677 and 2687 Buford Highway from KBO, LLC. The parcels are currently occupied by a small office building and a parking lot. City Attorney Jeremy Berry said additional associated costs could be incurred and “nothing is final until the deal is closed.”

Brookhaven purchased 2665 Buford Highway in 2023 to house the city’s planning and engineering departments. The building, property and renovation

– now underway – are expected to cost approximately $5.4 million.

Nearby, billion dollar developments are progressing with Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta’s Arthur M. Blank Hospital, a 446-bed pediatric hospital, and Emory’s Executive Park Campus. Adjacent properties on Buford Highway include a new residential development at 2751 Buford Highway, a vehicular bridge, and a pedestrian bridge over I-85.

“This gives the city the opportunity to pursue affordable housing,” said Funny. “We are doing this with intent of addressing the ‘missing middle’ spoken of in the comp plan.”

The “missing middle” refers to diverse housing options for a low income bracket. Funny said the intent is to offer workforce housing in the city of Brookhaven for police, firefighters, teachers, and nurses, allowing the city to be inclusive. Specific

plans have not been announced. Brookhaven plans to partner with the DeKalb Housing Authority and the Tax Allocation District, said Deputy City

Manager Steve Chapman.

“It will be 100% affordable housing,” said Funny. “That’s exciting. That’s making a welcoming city for all.”

Lulah Hills renderings courtesy of EDENS. The current property at 2677 Buford Highway. (Photo courtesy of LoopNet)

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