Kirkwood Public House to reopen as VIP Sports Bar and Lounge

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Kirkwood Public House to reopen as VIP Sports Bar and Lounge

kirkwood public house ~ what now, atlanta?

'Upscale sports bar' takes gastro pub's place

UPDATE (April 3, 2011): New Kirkwood Public House owner blames Atlanta Business Chronicle for cheesy name

No, that's not a misprint.

The former Kirkwood Public House will reopen as VIP Sports Bar and Lounge, according to the Atlanta Business Chronicle.

The pub was sold through the Schumacher group on March 3 to restaurateur, David Johnson, who plans on transforming the second floor of the 3,600-square-foot restaurant into a "VIP area." Johnson, who also owns Cafe Bleu Restaurant and Lounge in Lawrenceville, said the restaurant at 1963 Hosea Williams Drive is slated to open May 1.

What Now Atlanta spoke with Alana Kelly on a trip to the restaurant Sunday, owner of neighboring flower and gift shop Gitche' Yah Yah, who said she "wants anything to open there."

We can't imagine after finding out Johnson's plans for the space, she'll feel the same way (unless she considers herself a VIP, of course).

"I purchased this space specifically because it was next to a restaurant," said Kelly. "Traffic next door means more business for everyone."

We asked Kelly why she thought the Kirkwood Public House closed in the first place. If you recall in our announcement of the restaurant's closure, previous owner John Turpin said he closed the pub to "pursue his passions."

"If the new restaurant has good food and good service, it will do well," Kelly said. "That should answer your question."

Kirkwood residents, Dawn and Michael Gilreath, told What Now Atlanta while attempting to open the restaurant's front door, "we didn't know they we're closed."

Kirkwood Public House, the full service gastro pub in historic Kirkwood, closed at the first of the year (story here).

"We don't want something new, we liked what we had," said Michael. "We don't have many options for places to take our baby."

Kirkwood Public House
1963 Hosea Williams Drive
Atlanta, GA 30317

Kirkwood Public House

1963 Hosea Williams Drive Atlanta, GA 30317
Caleb J. Spivak
Caleb Spivak

Caleb J. Spivak (CJS) is the Founder of What Now Atlanta (WNA). He was featured in The New York Times, Creative Loafing's "20 People to Watch," named "Lifestyle Blogger You Need To Know" by Rolling Out Magazine and highlighted as Atlanta's Metropolitan Male in fashion magazine, 944. WNA has been named "Best of Atlanta" by Creative Loafing, and Atlanta and Jezebel Magazines.

62 responses to “Kirkwood Public House to reopen as VIP Sports Bar and Lounge

  1. What does this mean?

    "We can’t imagine after finding out Johnson’s plans for the space, she’ll feel the same way (unless she considers herself a VIP, of course)."

    What are the plans?

  2. As a Kirkwood resident I'd hoped the space would finally get a good pub. I guess I'll just have to hope that the place that opens up after VIP inevitably shutters its doors will be decent.

  3. Got yea. Yea, can't say I love the name. The Kirkwood Public House was also pretty much more of a sports bar then it was a pub. I'd be interested to know who the target market is for this place. Hopefully more info to come.

  4. Here come all the comments about people moving to NYC and San Francisco because a sports bar is opening up in Atlanta. Any minute now...

  5. I do agree that it doesn't really sound right for the area... but it could save itself if it has a really large beer selection (akin to a Taco Mac or something like that).

  6. I live 2 blocks away, and as much as I'd like for something to happen to that space, this just seems like the exact wrong fit for our neighborhood. I can't think of one person I know within a 5 mile radius who wants to hang out in an exclusive sports bar, or any sports bar for that matter. If the person who's opening the bar is reading this, please, do yourself a favor and do some more research before pursuing the sports bar direction.

  7. The restaurant was built out to be a destination "date" kind of place and it just overshot the market. I thought that they were on the right track with the Kirkwood Public House but they never did get the menu right. I think the biggest thing that anyone taking over the place would have to consider is what to do with the upstairs area. Personally I figured they would have made it a smoking area... I can't see a VIP area going over well.

    But I definitely think the area could use a good place to watch a game- currently we end up driving over to Taco Mac to watch and there really are not many other options.

  8. I'm not opposed to having a sports bar. I just think the name VIP attracts the kind of clientele that was run out of the Buckhead bar district years ago. I foresee metal detectors, cruising, burglaries, and property damage.

  9. wow, just about the worst possible news for that spot. first off it makes "downtown" kirkwood about the strangest strip in all of atlanta. a "vip sports bar", a bar that is occasionally open, a pizza place that many will never consider going to, spades kounty kooking, an upscale specialty food shop, and a juice bar that has in the past pretty much openly begged for people to come in. secondly i have reservations about anything that is "vip".

    this has all the signs of mistake. just think if the public house had closed like nine months ago we might be getting the new fox bros tex mex place.

  10. The person opening this place has another restaurant called Cafe Bleu. I'm not sure what the atmosphere is like there, but if anyone has been that would be a good clue to what they are going for here. I did read somewhere that they were planning to have 15 beers on tap and stick with the gastro pub type food. I've always wanted them to make that upstairs an area to smoke cigars with an exhaust system to suck out the smoke.

  11. More on Cafe Bleu:

    Comedy, smooth R&B, and live jazz performances are on the restaurant's weekly event list.

    Groan. I'll be continuing down the road to Oakhurst.

  12. I have to say though this seems like it would fit in Lawrenceville much better than Kirkwood. Did this guy do his homework and check out the demographics? It would be a shame if this place attracts people from outside of the neighborhood - I mean, it's suppose to be a neighborhood pub. I"m usually not so negative, but if it is as lame as it sounds, I hope it closes down quick or he just decides not to open it all.

  13. Can't be related (or I hope not). I'm still hoping they do it right to fill the need of a neighborhood hangout spot with good beer and good food. I'm hoping someone talks more to the owners to get a feel for what they are planning to do. I'm all for a place to watch sports, eat, and drink. There aren't a lot of options outside of Taco Mac for that. It couldn't have been the cheapest place to buy, so hopefully they know what they are doing.

  14. Personally, I've never quite understood the concept of sticking a bunch of TVs in a restaurant, pub or bar. It seems like most of the really successful restaurants & bars in the intown neighborhoods have none or maybe one television, keep the noise down enough so that you can have a conversation with the person next to you & serve good quality, non-generic food, such as the Universal Joint, Leons, the Brick Store, Wahoo, The Porter & St. Augustines.

  15. you know, even if the name was different I think the neighborhood response would be different.

    cause what i see and i bet other people do too is some sort of annex/pre/post bar for Esso.

  16. Yikes! I live in Kirkwood and I've got to say that I hope the ideas that they have written in this article are way off. It sounds like it will be a huge bust! There is no way the neighborhood responds well to an upscale anything. Let alone something that would have a VIP section. All they need to do is open a half way decent bar/restaurant with half way decent food. Kirkwood wants to support a place in that spot but this just sounds like a terrible idea.

  17. Ugghh..Somewhere for the patrons of Morris Lounge to hang out before they go to the club. It will be all people from outside the neighborhood. I hate to say this, but I am rooting for them to fail. Putting something tacky like "VIP" in the name brings in a specific crowd.

    I hope I am wrong about the whole thing.

  18. What our neighborhood really needs is a grocery store! I think this would be a fantastic location for a small-time green grocer/bakery. Wishful thinking, I guess.

  19. Hello
    It is our hopes to bring a place that people can enjoy just as they did when the name was Kirkwood Public House.
    I would like to personally thank all the people who choose to leave a message about the article wriiten on the new ownership of Kirkwood Public House.
    Your comments about what takes Place here are very important to us, in saying that we would like to reassure the Kirkwood community that this place will be consistant with the improvements currently being made to continue to make this area a wonderful place to raise a family. In closing I would like to say it will be my pleasure to offer a restaurant/sports bar that will offer great simple food made with fresh ingredients, staff that are friendly and knowledgeable and service orientated. It will be our goal to treat everyone as a VIP. Thank you again and please look for our new website that will allow you get a better understanding of our menu,hours and communtiy involment efforts.
    David Johnson

  20. David:

    Thank you for your response to everyone's concerns. As a new parent that is closing on a house in Kirkwood and choose the neighborhood because of the family environment, I was very concerned when I read people's thoughts on the new restaurant. However, it seems as if you have taken these concerns to heart and hope to maintain a family-friendly atmosphere, and if that's truely the case then I hope you are successful with your endeavour.

  21. Thanks David, I live in Kirkwood and am excited about the idea of having a sports bar with solid food and cold drinks so close. You gotta take the good with the bad in regards to the neighbors responses and opinions. In my experience Kirkwood neighbors are open in their opinions (good or bad) but about as supporting of local business as I've ever seen. I'm looking forward to checking you out and think it will be well accepted based on your response.

  22. I finally have a minute to respond....... I have no idea what the comment about "unless I am considered a VIP". I have met the owner and he seems very nice and intent on establishing a great place for us to eat.

    BTW they have been painting, putting in wood floors and CLEANING all day long.

    Alana Kelly

  23. David, I too think a sports bar with an inventive menu and exotic beer selection would be a great addition. However, I don't know that you're aware of what an awful image is conjured up by the ridiculous name "VIP Sports Bar." It reeks of the Compound, Dantanna's, Strip Steaks crowd trying to be "classy" and exclusive, which is entirely out of keeping with this neighborhood. Look at places like Steinbeck's, Ormsby's, Universal Joint, Leon's, Marley House, Young Augustine's, The Albert. That's what succeeds in our neighborhood, and that's what appeals to a more diverse crowd. I think that by the selection of this name, you have established an image that most of us find repugnant, and turned off potential customers. Won't you reconsider?

  24. This is a lot of posts for something that could have been posted as "We don't like the name" and left at that.

    I'll wait to see what the place is like instead of adding additional conjecture to this thread, which is already rich with it.

  25. I'LL SAY IT SINCE NO ONE ELSE IS: Kirkwood is afraid of a bunch of blacks invading their neighborhood. "Dantana's, Compound and Strip" are all places frequented by blacks and you don't want to deal with "crime, cruising, spinning rims and velvet ropes..." as one one member of the listserv posted. You, with your double-wide strollers, Subaru's and starter homes, relax and stop being so fearful that the neighborhood is going up in flames because a business may (or may not) attract people who don't look like you. It's 2011!!!!!!!! You should be ashamed.

  26. "Kirkwood is afraid of a bunch of blacks invading their neighborhood."
    Honey, Kirkwood is a predominately black neighborhood. No one wants a bunch of Clayton county thugs invading their neighborhood.

  27. Hey Henri,

    How do you know this establishment will bring in a bunch of "Clayton County thugs?" Yet another stereotypical assumption and rush to judgment. I'm sure if this were a Taco Mac "sportsbar," instead of "VIP Sportsbar," we wouldn't be having this conversation. SMH!!!!!!!!!!

  28. Sounds like another Fox Sports Grill to me. Just take the "VIP" out of the name and people may leave their guns at home.

  29. Did you see what happened at the Room Service Lounge last night? Two people have linked to that story in these posts. That is exactly the type thing that VIP brings. I cannot think of anyone that wants to get shot up while they walk their dog.

  30. Hey Henri,

    "Did you see what happened at the Room Service Lounge last night? Two people have linked to that story in these posts."

    As if the two businesses are linked;-) Sorry, but you and other fear-mongers, with your fully-loaded perceptions, are the partly to blame for the oh-so huge race relations gap I'm afraid will never be mended. Shoot it to hell before it even opens!!!! Nice job folks.

  31. I do agree with most on here that a name change may be all this place needs to have some goodwill from the neighborhood when they open. Hopefully based on the owner's comments, the late night "VIP" club is not part of the business plan, because that is something myself or the neighborhood will absolutely not support.

    Kirkwood is quickly becoming one of the most family friendly in-town neighborhoods, and a place to watch sports with cold beer and good food will be welcomed with open arms. However, if it turns into a VIP club, it will be run out of the neighborhood quickly. If the owners have any business sense, they'll know which establishment they should run based on the neighborhood they are spending their money in.

  32. I agree with both Henri and Scoleman. However, I think Henri made a BIG mistake by judging Clayton County residents. I just recently (1 month) moved from Clayton County to Kirkwood. I am far more paranoid in Kirkwood than Clayton County. There aren't sketchy people walking about nor was there crime in my neighborhood as there is in East Atlanta, Edgewood and Kirkwood. I moved to Kirkwood because it was more of a family oriented neighborhood and had many parks in walking distance (something lacking in Clayton County). I do I agree with Henri in that we don't want a VIP type business here in Kirkwood because this is a family neighborhood (not because of fear of black people). The name is tacky and it would have received positive comments if VIP weren't part of the name.

  33. BTW scoleman, many of the "double-wide strollers and starter home" families represent many of the middle class black families in the neighborhood, so you've made quite the assumption yourself. Goes both ways, huh? And, in talking with some of these families, they to are not enthusiastic about a "VIP Club" in their neighborhood as well. This isn't a black or white issue... it's a family atmosphere issue.

    Again, I am very hopeful that this place will surprise most everyone and offer a family-friendly establishment. However, a nightclub would be devastating to the neighborhood and will not survive. Maybe the author of this article can do a follow up piece with the business owner? The article itself was written with a negative vibe, and given Mr. Johnson's response to the article I think he deserves a followup to respond to the comments/criticisms and set the record straight.

  34. Notice in David's reply he said NOTHING about family environment.

    David, please reassure this family oriented community that it will be friendly towards kids, strollers, moms and dads. And LISTEN to the neighborhood; it will make or break you.

    What are your goals with a VIP area upstairs? What's the point of that in sleepy little Kirkwood?

    You need to do some PR work on this and fast, you're losing people before you even started. I'd suggest getting on our website: and giving the community some very specific information.

  35. Wow, I can not just believe my eyes, what is going on in the Kirkwood area. First of all this foolishness about this new place formely know as Kirkwood Public House is just over the top.

    I am a white proffessional male, well educated and family oriented, know with that comes some sort of human responsibility. It is my understanding that this new place was never called VIP sports bar, I took the liberty of going over to the front door of this place many of you reffered to as "not the place to go" and was met at the door by David Johnson himself, and I can honestly say that we are lucky as heck to have this young man bring such a vision to this area, it is classy, comfortable and I will feel comfortable bring my children there during appropriate time of the day or evening.

    In such a modern era many of you should check your pure hate for others and just look at the mere facts, the fact is that we do not have a place in our neighorhood that we can go to that is nice, comfortable and affordable to watch every sporting event possible.

    Bottom line is that i have read and re-read all the comments on this blog and it forced me out of my routine so instead of going straight home from work I made a choice to go meet the person and the place that will represent the Kirkwood area, and I have to honestly say I was impressed with the changes he has made and I am excited to say the least to visit this place on weekly bases, thanks David Johnson for having he courage it takes to bring your vision to my area much respect and blessing to you and your family.

  36. Scoleman and Tim Glademan-

    I am glad that someone finally said it. It is shameful and ridiculous what people are saying. I am frankly embarrassed to walk down the street and think that people are looking at me thinking I may have made those comments. I moved to Kirkwood in a hope to find a diverse and friendly neighborhood with a wide variety of eating establishments and it is just a bunch of suburbanites wanting to turn it into Alpharetta. I am not sure why you moved to this part of town if you are so afraid of people of different races, ethnicities, backgrounds, etc. Perhaps you thought the price of your flipped house would eventually run out the ones you are talking aobut?? There is a private Kirkwood message board where apparently they really air their fear/hatred for certain people. It looks like they sit in their houses at night with the lights out peering out their windows with 9-1- already dialed on their phones waiting for an excuse to push the other 1. I am happy that something is moving in that spot- frankly I was angry about hearing about a vegan bakery moving in- that is way more restricted than a VIP lounge IMO.(oh and btw- Spades has great food at a great and is family friendly and is run by some of the nicest people i have ever met- i would like to know if the commenters above have tried it)

  37. I would like to let everyone here know that not all residents of Kirkwood are as intolerant as the messages on this board would lead others to believe. I personally avoid the internal Kirkwood message board due to the same type of comments as we see here & many of my neighbors do the same. There is a small group in Kirkwood that has nothing better to do that rant on a stupid message board about minor issues - but please do no think that the rest of the neighborhood is of the same mindset. Let's leave the judging of a new establishment until after it is actually open (which as I write this is still around 6 weeks away) and then it will either succeed or fail based on the merits of its food and whether it can draw a clientele rather than on paranoid ramblings on a message board.

  38. In defense of Kirkwood residents, they are some of the most tolerant people around. Nowhere else I have lived have so many different groups existed together so well. White, black, hispanic, asian, gay,lesbian straight, old, young, rich, poor etc. All are embraced in the Kirkwood that I know. What is not tolerated here, though, is violence, drugs and crime. Those are non-negotiable. A vegan bakery or a smoothie shop do not raise any fears but a "VIP" club open late with the owners having a somewhat skechty history does set off some alarms. I think that is the point of the article.

    It seems that the owners have taken to heart what people have posted here, though, and I am looking forward to trying it out. Let's just not lose our heads over this one way or another. I don't think Kirkwood is anything like Alpharetta!

  39. I'm looking forward to a hopefully-cool restaurant and ignoring those bits of speculation that seem to have no basis other than people's personal bias or fears, except to say this: Mark, I think your baseless comment about the new restaurant's owner having a sketchy history kind of undermines your point about the culture of tolerance in Kirkwood.

  40. Mark-

    Is this your comment from the 15th?

    "Ugghh..Somewhere for the patrons of Morris Lounge to hang out before they go to the club. It will be all people from outside the neighborhood. I hate to say this, but I am rooting for them to fail. Putting something tacky like “VIP” in the name brings in a specific crowd"

    If it is, then I don't know if you are the best person to be defending how "tolerant" the KW residents are. . . may the intolerance. . .

  41. Matt sketchy history , of the owner I spoke to him last week and he has a MBA now how sketchy does one have to be to earn one of those. I challenge you to go visit the owner at the new place called Kirkwood Bar and Grill, now how about that Kirkwood missed yet another fact finding mission because of pure hate. I point blank asked "David" what is the name of the new place and he in the most sincere tone said "Kirkwood Bar and Grill, so please Kirkwood find something elese relevant to talk about and let this man has his chance at one of the most successfull bar and Grills in our area, Aces is great one too, so how about that we have choices!

  42. Kirkwood Bar and Grill does sound a lot better than VIP Sports Bar and Lounge. Wonder why he changed it?

    The sketchy history was referring to his other place in Alpharetta that was open late and was a hangover waiting to happen. Not saying the man has a sketchy personal history. Sorry if it came out that way.

    Why so much vitriol? The guy has an MBA so is likely a savvy bussiness owner. Morris Lounge is the most successful business in Kirkwood so when I heard the name was to be "VIP Lounge" I assumed he was trying to capitalize on an established market. That made sense to me, but I should not assume things.

    It is thankfully looking like I was incorrect.

    Sorry that I offended people. I am new to posting opinions on websites.

  43. Dear tim glademan: I assume you either misread my comment or didn't mean to address your most recent comment to me.

    I hope the Kirkwood Bar and Grill finds a way to squeeze more outside seating into whatever patio space it has. I would like to sit there with dogs.

  44. After speaking personally with the owner of the new Kirkwood Bar and Grille I am SOOO excited. They have amazing plans for this place that include great food, great prices, family and community events, and a comfortable neighborhood atmosphere! There was no attitude and Nothing flashy or VIP about the reopening of our new corner hub. Pleased to learn that it will still be SMOKE FREE, the menu will have pizza, wings, turkey club, salads, and the like...and nothing is over $9...affordable for everyone. PLUS..they have a great kids menu and an excellence program for the neighborhood middle schoolers....if you have a great GPA at the end of every semester they will be invited to a party with cake, balloons, school supplies etc...and acknowledgment of doing well!
    So, dispel the rumors and SUPPORT LOCALLY!!!!
    They need us as much as we need them....I Cant Wait until MAY 1st!!!

  45. David,
    Welcome to the neighborhood! Thanks for taking the time to respond to the neighborhood feedback. I'm a young professional that move to Kirkwood
    2 1/2 years ago and would like a sports bar that is walking distance from my home. I think it's a great idea and I can wait to stop by and support you in May.

  46. I'm all for a sports bar in Kirkwood. Currently I drive over to Midway in East Atlanta, which is a great bar but would love to be able to watch games within walking distance. Lots of people are talking about how they go to Taco Mac, but Taco Mac is an obnoxious chain that I never go to... they have tons of beer, sure, but the more obscure ones never get ordered and taste awful. Not sure if it's bad lines or if the beer just sits forever, but either way, I would love to have a sports bar that isn't some suburban chain in the neighborhood.

  47. I would much rather prefer this place over Taco Mac. Taco Mac has about the worst service and the set up isn't even that good to watch games. This place will be much better.

  48. Did you here about the new bar and restaurant for pet owners??
    It's called,'Very Important Pet Sports Bar' in Kirkwood.
    Pets perform and compete in sports related activities while you eat & drink.
    Lighten up folks !

  49. While looking at the website I discovered on the drink menu that he plans to serve 4 Loko. That is disturbing, this beverage should not be served at a restaurant.

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