Just a Jump to the Left of The Plaza, Let’s Do Beer and Burgers at The Righteous Room Again

Posted on: Jan 16th, 2013 By:

Photo credit: Rachel Marshall

By Rachel Marshall
Contributing Writer

“We don’t really have a manager,” Rebecca the bartender said, offering a silly, sly, unapologetic grin. See, I had asked if I could speak to a manager about their experiences within a bar called The Righteous Room.  That moment when it becomes clear that the inmates run the asylum is the moment you realize, as someone who just wants a good drink and a good bite to eat, you’ve come to the right place.

The Righteous Room is located on Ponce De Leon Ave., right next to the glorious gloom and clattering 35mm projectors of The Plaza Theatre, which to me has never been crowned just by a glorious marquis, but by the parted lips of an old ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW poster. So, let that be your landmark. Just a jump to the left of a theatre in a perpetual state of doing the Time Warp again, The Righteous Room has been intriguing newcomers and keeping regulars hooked for about 17 years.

You are, essentially, entering a dive bar. Rugged brick and exposed vents bathe in the mingling hues of electric yellow chandeliers and blue Christmas lights that framework dusty chalkboards displaying the latest beer specials. Purchasable works of local artists adorn the walls, and the bathrooms need no decoration, only the whims of drunken occupants armed with Sharpies and wits hopped up on shots. Similar whims will often pump quarters and dollars into a nearby jukebox in a bid to hear that one perfect song before they either wander off into the Atlanta night, or trudge into The Plaza (a step to the right).

Photo credit: Rachel Marshall

So, I settled in for a drink and a meal. What’s great about the service at The Righteous Room is there is very little pomp or circumstance when it comes to service, and frankly, in a dive, that’s all I want. I want someone with metal piercing their faces and ink intricacy staining their arms to hand me a frosty beverage and a juicy burger. No flourish, no stage-show, just a grin that says: “This will mess you up. See you on the other side!”

I enjoyed a Mamma’s Lil Yella Pils and a New Belgium “Snow Day” under the gaze of a local artist’s portrait of Mardi Gras. In time, a pulled pork sandwich arrived between two gargantuan slices of grilled bread. With house-made horseradish sauce at my side, I tore into my meal without hesitation.

That’s right. House-made. With a couple of exceptions here and there, everything is made within The Righteous Room. Not only that, but if you’re not as carnivorous as me and prefer the leafier side of things, The Righteous Room has a menu that flatters the herbivores out there. The peppery whisper of dandelion greens within a fresh salad, the cool, creamy indulgence of hummus and a fire-good veggie chili are just a few things on the menu that will cater to those of you that aren’t meat-feeders like me.

Photo credit: Rachel Marshall

So, sure, these dishes may help keep you on your feet after that third or fourth shot, but before those kick in, it dawns on you; this is not your typical dive. Rebecca approaches to see how the meal is going, and soon we’re talking about the heart of the bar. Behind the scenes, the owners work close with the staff. Everyone is interested in each other’s goals, and seeing what everyone can bring to the table. Literally! The owners love meeting with their staff for open forums on the industry and what shapes not only their company, but their own experiences. This approach doesn’t just mean a restaurant or a bar does well, it resonates.

Yes, even if it’s just a small bar next to a movie theater.

Photo credit: Rachel Marshall

Overall, The Righteous Room is an excellent meet-up before and after Plaza viewings. Frankly, it’s a good hang-out even if you aren’t taking in a movie. Now, if you’re looking for a fast bite and some quick table turnover, The Righteous Room may not be for you. No, this is where you go to hang-out, unwind, get messed up and really touch base with friends and regulars before moving on with the rest of your evening plans. The chefs take their time with your meal, devoting a lot of attention and care to the plating and the flavor. Don’t get restless, just order yourself a drink! The bartenders and servers are attentive, quick and efficient with potent, cool drinks. Stick around long enough, come back enough and before you know it, you’ll feel like a regular on CHEERS where everybody knows your name.

Check out The Righteous Room on 1051 Ponce De Leon Ave., N.E., Atlanta, GA 30306. 

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Shop Around: Five Retro-tastic Valentine’s Gifts for Your Gent

Posted on: Feb 8th, 2012 By:

By Jennifer Belgrad
Contributing Editor

All right, it’s down to the wire. Do you know what you’re getting your Kool Kat? No ideas? Don’t Panic. I got you. In no particular order, here are five fantastic and local gift suggestions for your special someone:

Plaza Theatre Memberships: What could be more perfect? A whole year of date nights taken care of in one fell swoop and you support Atlanta’s oldest continuously running independent cinema, which opened in 1939! There’s even a deal for a couple’s membership. Done!
Film Fan: $45 – Membership card, Plaza T shirt, one free movie pass, 1.50 off one regular admission Sunday – Thursday*, one invitation to our annual membership party. ($29 is tax deductible)
Double Feature Fan: $80 – Two membership cards, two Plaza T shirts, two free movie passes, 1.50 off regular admission for Two Sunday – Thursday*, Two invitations to annual membership party. ($48 is tax deductible)
Cast and Crew: $250 – Two tickets to the Silver Scream Spook Show + Two membership cards, two Plaza T shirts, four free movie passes + 1.50 off regular admission for Two every day*, Two invitations to annual membership party.  ($182 is tax deductible)

R. Land Art: Personally, I like to buy art for my guy. It’s something special and no home is complete without it. R. Land is ARTlanta’s favorite son. He will not steer you wrong. BUNNY FOO FOO is a classic, but it’s hard to beat AHA SPECKLES (<—– My not so subtle hint).

 

 

 

PIGMATA: One of my local heroes, Jim Stacy, brings us more salty goodness. For foodies he’s best known for serving up corndogs through Pallookaville and PBS’s GET DELICIOUS, but now there’s PIGMATA. Artisan meats, cured and smoked, homemade Brunswick Stew, fresh Half Sour Pickles, Corndog Casseroles, and whatever his fabulously fiendish mind dreams up next. Are you hungry yet?  Like it on Facebook to see updated specials or email Jim (laffo@pallookaville.com) for goods available right now.

 

 

Photo credit: Jennifer Belgard.

The Beer Growler: I know, I know.  I’ve already written about them, but their growlers are a seriously great gift (especially paired with anything from PIGMATA). Some Valentine’s-inspired options include:  Original Sin’s Hard Cider (dry traditional cider made with two types of champagne yeast), Ommengang’s Aphrodite (Aphrodite has champagne-like carbonation. Plus enchanting flavors with whispers of raspberry and pear, and hints of funk and tartness created by the Brett yeast. Grains of paradise are infused into the nectar, and when poured Aphrodite is crowned with a luxuriously shimmering rose-pink head), or Southern Tier’s Choklat (Belgian bittersweet chocolate is combined with dark malts to make this rich chocolate stout).  Your sweetie a teetotaler? No worries. They also carry Abita Root Beer (Sweetened w/ pure Louisiana cane sugar, the resulting taste is reminiscent of soft drinks made in the 1940s and 1950s, before bottlers turned to corn sugar and fructose. Caffeine-free). So good!

 

Chocolate F/X: It wouldn’t be right to skip the chocolate on Valentine’s Day. Atlanta RollerGirl Demi Gore whips up these badass confections named Best Local Chocolate in the AJC’s Best of the A 2011. There’s TAKEN (Be a Prisoner of Love with this heart-locket chocolate with the word “Taken” scrolled across the front. Packaged with 12 assorted truffles); FROM ANOTHER GALAXY for the STAR WARS lover (Includes one white chocolate with chile-spiced praline pecans Storm Trooper; one milk chocolate, peanut butter and pink Himalyan sea salt Yoda; and one dark chocolate with dried cherries and chipotle peppers Boba Fett in a gift box. Totally out of this world!), and, of course, YOU’RE THE S#!T! (Molded chocolate pile o’ poo comes with writing on it in a nifty red keepsake box. A fun, loving gesture for that special someone in your life!).

See?  That wasn’t so bad.  If you’re lucky, maybe you’ll get some (tee hee). Happy Valentine’s Day!

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Parades, Fireworks, Music and Beer: Our Patriotic Picks for a Retro Atlanta Independence Day

Posted on: Jul 3rd, 2011 By:

Want to spend your Fourth of July in the most classic Retro way? Here are ATLRetro’s top patriotic picks.

Parades

“I Love A Parade” go the lyrics of the classic Arden & Ohmen song, perhaps put to its most whimsical use in this zany1932 Merrie Melodies cartoon. ATLRetro couldn’t agree more that it’s just plain unpatriotic not to on the Fourth of July. Alas, the big Salute 2 America parade (1961-2007) has vanished into the realm of nostalgia. But while the floats and marching bands might not be as glitzy, several suburban parades compensate with homegrown small town star-spangled spirit. To see one of the largest in the area, hop in the car and be in Carrollton by 10, where the parade proves it’s all-American-ness by starting at the Dairy Queen and ending at Kmart. Or head east to Cumming for its Steam Engine Parade (also 10 a.m.), including antique steam engines, tractors and cars, which will be on display in the fairgrounds afterwards where you can ride carnival rides, munch on festival food and linger for evening fireworks.

Prefer to stay in town? Avondale Estates’ parade marches up Clarendon Avenue starting at 10 a.m. at Avondale High School. Marietta also starts up at 10 at the Roswell Street Baptist Church, followed by vendors, food concessions, carnie rides and entertainment in the Square.

Always wanted to be in a parade yourself? Line up at the First Baptist Church of Decatur at 5:30 p.m. for that suburb’s annual July 4th Pied Piper Parade, which officially starts at 6 p.m. and goes to the bandstand in the square where the Callanwolde Concert Band will play patriotic tunes at 7 p.m.

Fireworks

Among the big fireworks displays, Lenox Square‘s Salute 2 America Celebration has history on its side, because, well, there wasn’t even a Centennial Olympic Park until the Olympics in 1996. For sheer ooey-gooey patriotism, however, head to Stone Mountain Park’s Lasershow Spectacular in Mountainvision which concludes with a mighty fireworks display over the granite dome. It’s been updated this year by adding some Pixar-like CGI effects—yeah, that’s the Mountainvision. But there’s just something so ‘70s/’80s about seeing our nation’s patriotic heroes from Founding Fathers to firefighters in squiggly laser outline—remember when that was NEW technology! Yup, they still play Elvis’s “American Trilogy” and the cartoony “Devil Went Down to Georgia” and that trippy psychedelic rock sequence. If you still can drive there in that old Trans Am, you get extra points. Alas, family-friendly no longer means you can legally enjoy a beer during the show.

If you’re more into an old-time community fireworks display, sitting with your family on a picnic blanket or lawn chairs, head to the Decatur Square or surrounding streets. Every year we’ve been impressed that it lasts longer and is bigger than we expected. If you’ve got a bit of extra cash, fantastic views can be had from the front terrace of Café Lily, along with barbecue and other picnicky specials, DJ music and a glass of complimentary prosecco. OK the latter sounds a bit European, but hey, it’s family-owned by the Italian-American Pitillos and besides Thomas Jefferson and Ben Franklin really dug France.

We kind of also like the idea of watching the sky explode at scenic Avondale Lake with its vintage boat house and live music by Atlanta Blue Notes. And the Henry County Fireworks Extravaganza is at an actual battlefield, Nash Farm Battlefield Park. We’ll ignore that it was a Civil War battlefield where Georgians fought to separate from the Union, and just enjoy the pony rides, live music and Spirit of ’76 period actors on hand to help families “relive the excitement of when and how America was born!” Extra Retro points for enthusiasm and only 20 bucks a carload so pile those kids into the station wagon and head on down.

Live Music

The fireworks displays and community festivals have live marching bands and other patriotic entertainment. But to ATLRetro.com, nothing sounds more all-American than Hawgapalooza 2011—BBQ pork, beer and country music including kick-ass honky tonk duo Whiskey Belt at Hottie Hawgs BBQ on the Westside. Fun starts at 4 p.m. and concludes with a fireworks show in Whittier Mill Park.

Beer

Nothing’s more all-American Retro than beer, right? Red, White & Brew embraces the patriotic spirit of America’s favorite alcoholic beverage with a beer tasting from 6-10:30 p.m. Even if we’re not too sure about the Retro-ness of being the rooftop of the Georgia Aquarium parking deck, the location promises great views of the downtown fireworks. Gwinnett County may pretend to be all sugary wholesome, but The Mall of Georgia, in all-American consumer spirit, apparently has a Beer Garden planned where mom and dad can toss back a brewski while the kids feast on patriotic food offerings including bratwurst?! I personally prefer to stay ITP, so for more ideas, check out this piece I wrote recently for Metromix on some of the most All-American Bars in Atlanta here.

All photos are from the 2007 Decatur fireworks display and copyright ATLRetro 2011. For post-July 4 Retro action next week, be sure and check back for the regular This Week in Retro Atlanta on Tuesday July 5.

 

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The King is Dead, Long Live the King—Rockin’ Retro Artist Derek Yaniger Reveals His Squirmy Past with Dead Elvis

Posted on: Feb 25th, 2011 By:

Back in the day, a motley group of UGA art students had this crazy idea to start a band that combined their love of punk rock, beer and the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll. For about a decade, Dead Elvis was a—welcome to some, nightmare to others—fixture on the Atlanta music scene, drinking buckets of booze and spewing out hard-ass, high-energy hardcore with their signature sense of humor. All the local fame and phlegm, though, never went to their heads—shhh, don’t tell anyone but they’re really swell, sweet guys. But in the mid-1990s as punk began to fade into Green Day-fueled corporate respectability, the band parted ways.

That is, until an awesome set at the 688/Metroplex reunion concert at Masquerade in 2009. Since then Dead Elvis has been rising from the grave periodically to haunt the Atlanta scene. The next of those occasional gigs is this Saturday, February 26, at Star Bar. This time they are teaming up with the El Caminos, another Atlanta classic, and Sex Pistols tribute band Sid Vicious Experience, for a not-to-be-missed old-school punk revival to raise money to help good friend Ed Waller who was in a serious motorcycle accident last fall.

ATLRetro recently caught up with Squirmy Rooter, aka Derek Yaniger, for a sneak peak and to find out what the band has been up to. Since those decadent days, Derek also has forged a righteous reputation as one of America’s top retro pop culture artists. His self-described “chicken scratchins” have appeared in Marvel Comics and on the Cartoon Network, as well as in scads of vintage revival magazines such as Atomic, Barracuda and Car Kulture Deluxe. He’s also designed posters for some of the nation’s premiere retro gatherings like Tiki Oasis, Hukilau and the Wild Weekend. And soon you’ll be seeing his artwork right here as ATLRetro revs up its engines to supersonic this spring.

1. For all the young ‘uns, what’s the quick history of Dead Elvis’s origins and how you got involved? As I recall, the band was founded in 1984 and it had something to do with beer?

I’m a little fuzzy on when she all began, but 1984 sounds about right. The bass player Ernie Danzig, lead singer (Tranny Danny) and myself (Squirmy Rooter) met in the halls of the Art Department at UGA. We were surrounded by heaps of other bands in Athens, but no one was makin’ with the punk rock bit. It wasn’t until we graduated and moved to Atlanta and met up with our lead guitarist Jet [Terror], that Dead Elvis finally rose from the crypt. And yes—it had a LITTLE somethin’ to do with beer!

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