Kirkwood Bar & Grill’s liquor license application denied by Mayor

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Restaurant owner notified of denied license through local publication, waiting for official City notification.

UPDATE (June 11, 2013): Kirkwood Bar and Grill has ‘officially’ closed

After its temporary liquor license was put in front of the city’s License Review Board in December, Kirkwood Bar and Grill will not be granted a liquor license in 2012, East Atlanta Patch first reported.

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed denied the controversial Kirkwood restaurant’s liquor license application after “carefully considering neighborhood concerns that have been brought to him,” Sonji Jacobs Dade, Reed’s spokeswoman told East Atlanta Patch.

David Johnson, owner of the restaurant at 1963 Hosea Williams Dr. SE, was first made aware of the Mayor’s decision when he was contacted by Patch for an interview.

Johnson argued that complaints from the neighborhood of him violating city codes governing his temporary liquor license were made only because he is black and that racists have been trying to run him out of Kirkwood.

Tweets were sent from Kirkwood Bar & Grill’s Twitter account touting the complaining neighbors as racists.

Johnson was not immediately available for comment.

East Atlanta Patch has more details here.


Caleb J. Spivak

Caleb J. Spivak

Caleb J. Spivak

Caleb J. Spivak

34 Responses

  1. Guy is a moron. Good riddance to him. The food was awful, the service sucked and they caused nothing but problems. I didn’t agree with most who had their minds made up before he opened the place, but they were correct.

    As of last night he was still serving food. Wonder how long he can last.

  2. What a great day for the neighborhood. Mayor Reed deserves so much credit for taking a stand for Kirkwood and it’s citizens! This guy and his “restaurant” were a public nuisance, and I can’t wait for the day when “Closed for Business” is on the door!

  3. Would a new owner with a new concept work better in the space? It seems that maybe the guy just had no clue of what the neighborhood wanted or needed.

  4. So in a neighborhood that was predominately african American but they were forced out it now can’t hv a bar that when there were already bars in that area? So what next do you want to change the name of the street from Hosea Williams Blvd to George Wallace Blvd? If you want suburban living Atlanta has plenty of areas for that Cobb,Gwinnett,N.fulton,Forsyth,or Cherokee,what’s the point of moving to the inner city and trying to make it Alpharetta and complaining about people hanging out at a bar that don’t look like you?

  5. @But u Moved

    I dont think that is the issue. Being that African-American patrons were complaining that they had to be “frisked” at the door (see urbanspoon) this place was obviously attracting the wrong clientele. If a business requires that its patrons be frisked, then it has no business in a predominately residential neighborhood no matter the racial composition. Besides, the business was doomed to fail, look at some of the reviews regarding the quality of food.

  6. “…can’t have a bar that when there were already bars in that area? ”
    Of course you can have a bar in Kirkwood, you just have to play by the rules…and they aren’t particularly strict anyway.

  7. Hold on… I’m going to get my decoder ring. I’ll translate the last comment into English and be right back.

  8. How hard is it to type two extra freaking letters to actually spell out you? Are you that lazy???

    The place is set under and next to townhouses. You can’t have a loud night club there. The building guide lines state the business has to be closed by 11pm. He knew that going in. When you have hundreds of noise complaints at 2am on a Wednesday night, you’re not going to make any friends.

    Some of the issue were
    -Noise/Operating passed allowed hours
    -“Security” frisking anyone coming inside
    -First night they were open the police were there for a huge fight. Bad way to start off.
    -Residents found increased amounts of broken glass, drug paraphernalia & trash around their community
    -Increased police activity. I believe a warrant was served on property (speak to clientele).
    -Illegal drink specials (This was mainly an issue b/c it just shows him not giving a damn about laws and is another strike against him)
    -Put up Strip Club like mirror/reflective window tint, which is against code and makes the place look seedy as all hell.

    But, really it is the minority white residents of Kirkwood being racist against a black business owner. I hope us whites don’t find out KWB&G’s neighbor Le Petit Marche is owned by a non-white. Oh wait…..

    Next on the list is White aggression list is Morris Lounge.

  9. @ But u moved, if this was about being surrounded by people who look like you, there would be no issue. Kirkwood is what, at least 60% African-American? 70%? There are numerous successful minority-owned businesses in Kirkwood – in fact, I’m pretty sure they outnumber Caucasian-owned businesses. David Johnson’s contention that this is a racial issue is a ludicrous PR smokescreen to distract from the actual issues – that he misrepresented his intentions from the very beginning.

    The bottom line is, whether the person who owns it is white, black, green or purple, having a noisy bar/nightclub (NOT a restaurant, as originally claimed) that is open until 3 a.m. in a residential building is going to piss some people off. As I understand it, staying open past 11 pm violates the lease agreement the KBG owner agreed to and signed. In addition, he violated a local zoning ordinance AND Kirkwood Station HOA rules by installing mirror film on the windows, which still has not been removed.There are other Kirkwood locations the owner could have chosen that the community would have welcomed and supported, but Kirkwood Station is simply not the right place for this business.

  10. As a concerned Kirkwood resident (but not living in Kirkwood Station), I have been following this seemingly unending saga since it first began back in August. After six months of this ridiculousness, I have come to the conclusion that all the parties involved- on both sides- are all equally to blame for this situation, and are not particularly strong assets in this great community.

    On the one hand, you have a small group of residents who have discovered, and taken full advantage of, one of the most powerful tools for achieving results in government. They are an extremely well-organized and vocal minority, who have done an amazing job of dominating the public discussion on this issue. For that they are to be commended.

    However, even though he may have spelled “you” as “u” (@ No Parking- you sound like a bit of a d-bag), @But you moved may have a legitimate point. I think it is pretty clear that there are some people who moved here relatively recently and want to have their cake and eat it too. They want to live in this neighborhood and take advantage of its proximity to the city, but they also want Kirkwood to be historic downtown Roswell, and don’t really have a whole lot of regard for the population that has lived here for the past several decades. There is something of a paper trail supporting my point; for example, this Creative Loafing piece from 2004 provides just a little taste of why gentrification generally has a negative connotation ( Further, why would you ever purchase a home that shares a wall with a business if you have a problem with noise? That seems like a very poorly-planned purchase to me.

    On the other, I think its pretty clear that the bar owner tried to turn the opposition into the KKK. The spray-painted messages, the threatening voicemails; he might as well have thrown in a burning cross. I am 99% sure he did these things to himself, simply because it doesn’t fit in with the opposition’s M.O. They were so effective in their mission by keeping everything completely above-ground that to do something like that would be like shooting themselves in the foot.

    Final conclusion: everybody involved sucks. I don’t have cable, and I was excited to move to a place like Kirkwood, because for the first time in a long time, I would have the option of walking to the bar to watch a few big games. Instead, you spent all summer, all fall, and all winter fighting like little children, and ruined football season for me. I think you are all detriments to the community.

  11. Q–Further, why would you ever purchase a home that shares a wall with a business if you have a problem with noise? That seems like a very poorly-planned purchase to me.

    A–The residents of the community and the HOA have stated that the space is for a restaurant that was suppose to close at 11pm. What else do you want? It is plain as day. Close at 11 so you don’t disturb the residents. It is in his lead. He said screw it and stayed open 4 hours later.

    –Ruined football season & your TV watching….

    The place was terrible. The food was beyond awful. The service was horrible. I gave it the benefit of the doubt like I said above, went twice. Frisked once.

    I don’t want Kirkwood to be Roswell. Some combination of EAV, Edgewood & BLVD, Little 5 is all fine by me. The area has potential and development on Hosea will hopefully add more shops and more bars and more restaurants for all different types of folks.

    And to me being a d-bag. Sorry I despise when people can’t speak or type at a 10th grade level.

  12. @ you all are the worst: I believe most of the residents of Kirkwood Station purchased their homes BEFORE Mr. Johnson opened KBG there.

    And I don’t think anyone in Kirkwood is looking to duplicate historic Roswell, or any other suburban location, but we don’t think it’s too much to ask for a safe, family-friendly restaurant to patronize. This is what Mr. Johnson promised with KBG, but ultimately didn’t deliver. Add to that the aforementioned issues with KBG (crime, drugs, violation of lease, etc.), and that’s what people spoke out against.

  13. @ You are the worst
    That article doesnt really help support your claim. Especially when residents make calls resulting in 17 issues of fighting or drugs. That doesnt belong in any neighborhood no matter the race or financial composition. And if one race or financial group is unwilling to report or stop it, then someone must do it. Granted the increased housing prices is out of control and should be reigned in. But residents who move in and attempt to stop illegal activity should not be looked at as monsters.
    Why would someone move next door to a business if concerned with noise? Because their lease agreement states that they have to close by 11, which they violated. Additionally if their patrons are conducting illegal activity, (cited by the drug paraphenilia and fights) it is their responsibility to control it, and if they dont, then the residents have every right to report and stop it. Furthermore the business owner violated additional lease and neighborhood rules such as blacking out the windows and serving drink specials.
    So no this isnt an issue of wanting to have their cake and eat it to. No matter where one lives or moves to they have the right to a safe neighborhood, and if the existing residents refuse to do something about it, then I applaud the new ones that put a stop to it. As long as their concerns were over safety (which have been repeatedly founded) then this has nothing to do with race or gentrification.

  14. @KWD….the whole family atmosphere needs to be toned down a little bit by Kirkwood residences IMO. Nothing wrong with bar types that are 18+ mixed in too.

    Something for everyone…

  15. @ No Parking

    There is nothing wrong with bars for those that are 21 and up. But there is something wrong with an establishment if it requires their guests to be frisked, have evidence of drug activity, and are violating their lease agreement, all while illegally offering beverage services. That doesnt belong in any neighborhood, family or no family.

  16. @ No Parking:
    I completely agree that there should be places that cater to adults (21+ though). I chose ‘family-friendly’ because that’s how Mr. Johnson described what his business would be; of course, his marketing and actual business practice didn’t fit that business model.

    I understand the family-friendly angle may be annoying to some. As someone who doesn’t have children, I find it annoying sometimes too (especially when people complain that they can’t take their kids to a bar because it’s too smokey), but if you’re looking for Kirkwood residents to tone it down, you may end up being disappointed because there are lots of young families with small children in Kirkwood.

    And all things considered, I would much rather deal with young children running around than the gunfire, public urination, 911 calls, etc. that came with KBG.

    It would be nice to have a 21 and over bar where frisking isn’t necessary before entering, but I don’t know if there are enough Kirkwood residents to support it.

  17. I live in KWD. Went the the bar a couple times. Generally liked the owner (from my limited interaction). Never made any complaints myself, but to me it’s an open and close case. You agreed to certain rules when opening a place in a town home community. If you can’t follow those rules and run your business WHY DID YOU AGREE TO THEM? Seems stupid. There is empty space all over ATL where you are not sharing walls with a townhouse and don’t have to deal with those rules.

  18. The place just didn’t fit the area. Point blank. Period. The moment I saw those mirrored windows and televisions go up…UGGGH. I honestly don’t think it matters to many people (maybe some) here what color the person is who opens a great business there. I think most residents here agree that we just want it to be GOOD and lasting.

  19. OK, so all the focus on KBG – seems like that case is coming to a close. So now, what’s to come of all the derelict places across the street, including the now-defunct Ms Winners and other empty businesses? If they close down our post office, then that’s another empty building. When KBG shuts down – another empty building. You see where this is going? We are losing businesses faster than we are opening them. This whole strip of Hosea Williams needs a huge injection of cash to keep it from becoming blighted and a crime infested area. If I was operating a business on Hosea right now I’d frankly be a little nervous about things to come. It looks like it’s only going to get worse before it gets better.

  20. Kirkwood roots-
    I’m a former Kirkwood resident, and glad that I don’t have to live around people your attitude anymore:

    “There are other Kirkwood locations the owner could have chosen that the community would have welcomed and supported, but Kirkwood Station is simply not the right place for this business.”

    You want city living but don’t seem respect or understand the people that were there long before you were ever conceived. So it’s fine, as long as it’s not in your fancy little enclave. Got it.

  21. @b: We live in America, formerly inhabited by indians, and if you’ve read your history books you’re aware of what happened to them. What makes you think anyone respects or understands people that were there before they were conceived? Please.

  22. @b, you know nothing about what I want, who I respect or understand, or when I was conceived. You know nothing about where I live or whether it’s fancy. However, this issue has nothing to do with any of those things. It’s simply an astoundingly bad business decision to put a noisy nightclub in a small residential building. It’s not like there aren’t numerous alternatives within a two-block radius of Kirkwood Station.

  23. @b and Space Ship

    Comparing this to Native Americans or not adapting to the existing neighborhood culture is ridiculous and just plain ignorant. This is not an issue of dilluting a culture or running existing residents out. This is an issue of legality. The existing residents were not willing to do anything about illegal and illicit activity that was going on, so the new residents were. This is not an issue of mowing down existing historical structures or attempting to colonize the citizens that were there before them. This is about stopping activity that should not be allowed nor tolerated in any neighborhood whether it be Buckhead or SW Atlanta. Regardless people were violating the law, and creating situations that were unsafe for anyone. And if you cant see that then you are no more intelligent than the half a$$ partially thought out statements that you have made.

  24. No one is “comparing this” to indians. My point is that America has a history of eradicating any culture that does not conform to its own politics or your white bread middle class interests. Don’t be caught a muslim in this country unless you want your tires slashed and your family threatened. And here we are in 2012, a black man wants to run a business and feed his family, and all you can do is hold him back. What did you want, a Chilis or Applebees? Now this whole street is going to be blighted and your houses will be covered in graffiti because you’re shutting him down. Let me know if in six months you still feel comfortable strolling down Hosea Williams with your babies, and your sweater-wearing labradors, and your $99 J Crew shirt. No, you walk down the other side of the street when you see someone not of your color who doesn’t look like you. And you hide behind that computer screen, tip tip tapping. Tip tap, BCATL.

  25. @Space
    Nice attempt at the assumptions about race and where I live. Wrong on both accounts. And hell no I dont want to see a Chilis or Applebees. But no one wants to see an establishment that has to black out their windows (makes for a terrible streetscape and what exactly are you attempting to hide). And no one wants a business that cant follow the owner’s rules or one that allows illegal activity. No one wants to see something generic go in there as well, but there are tons of local and unique establishments throughout this city that dont require guests to be frisked, or their guest leaving behind the residuals of their illegal activities either.

  26. Space ship you sound like Mr. Johnson. Not sure if you have been around Kirkwood, but I have not seen any labradors wearing sweater vests. Update on this issue is now he is suing the Mayor so we will see what happens with that lawsuit. I like your part about how the whole street will be blighted and graffitti will be everywhere. That’s a good one considering the former bar was closed down before and now a new restaurant has opened across the street (Pullman) and the building directly across the street is being torn down and turned into a Sherwin Williams. Having KBG sit empty has resulted in less criminal activity in that block than when it was open. Look it up.

  27. As a K’wood resident, I have to say there’s a staggering amount of dumb on display in some of these posts.
    I love when people that don’t know shit about the neighborhood or situation want to chime in with their $.02.
    I, for one, will have a big laugh and an even bigger ‘I told you so’ when KBG shuts down.
    Dude’s selling hamburgers for $3 now.
    I can smell the desperation from a block away.
    Good luck on those legal fees, jackass.

  28. I love how in the linked East Atlanta Patch article, he states that he’s staying open by “simply serving great food”. Is that why he has a 19% rating on Urbanspoon, or one of the worst (and humorous) reviews I’ve ever seen on Yelp?

    I personally went there twice when it first opened to give it a chance, and I really wanted it to be good because I was hoping for a cool sports bar that I could walk to… especially since I had to drop cable! But, after my wife and I (with our 4 month old baby) were frisked at 5:00 pm on a Friday afternoon, and after stale, freezer burned food and awful service, we decided to never go back. It was quite simply one of worst restaurant experiences I’ve had in quite some time.

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