Kirkwood Public House to reopen as VIP Sports Bar and Lounge

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‘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

Caleb J. Spivak

Caleb J. Spivak (CJS) is the Founder of What Now Media Group, Inc., the publisher of What Now Atlanta and What Now Los Angeles.
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Alex
9 years ago

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?

jennifer
9 years ago

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.

Alex
9 years ago

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.

Mike
9 years ago

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…

jaymi
9 years ago

Why do so many places in Atlanta have to fancy themselves VIP? What’s wrong with a friendly, kicked back vibe?

9 years ago

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).

MDH
9 years ago

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.

Damon
9 years ago

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… Read more »

kwd30307
9 years ago

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.

jimbo
9 years ago

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… Read more »

Alex
9 years ago

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.

Tammy
9 years ago

Maybe it will be a clone of the uber successful Room Service Lounge.

Greg
9 years ago
jayclay
9 years ago

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.

Mike
9 years ago

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.

Todd
9 years ago

Googled the name — I wonder if this is related to the “VIP Sports Bar & Lounge” in Houston, Texas? Here’s their Facebook page:
http://www.facebook.com/pages/VIP-SPORTS-BAR-AND-LOUNGE/117736208238461?sk=photos

Alex
9 years ago

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.

St. Howard
9 years ago

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.

jimbo
9 years ago

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.

dr. rosenrosen
9 years ago

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.

Mark
9 years ago

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.

Alex
9 years ago

Surprising the Kirkwood neighborhood organization or the Kirkwood business organization doesn’t have any more info.

Jeannie
9 years ago

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.

David
9 years ago

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… Read more »

Sean
9 years ago

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.

Alex
9 years ago

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.

Alana
9 years ago

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

jayclay
9 years ago

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… Read more »

notational
9 years ago

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.

Tammy
9 years ago

Look what happen up in da VIP last night! Just what I want for my neighborhood!
http://www.ajc.com/news/atlanta/vip-room-ruckus-leads-877007.html

Chris
9 years ago
Matt
9 years ago
scoleman
9 years ago

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.

Henri
9 years ago

“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.

scoleman
9 years ago

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!!!!!!!!!!

Chris
9 years ago

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

Henri
9 years ago

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.

scoleman
9 years ago

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.

SCole
9 years ago

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… Read more »

Mary
9 years ago

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… Read more »

SCole
9 years ago

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… Read more »

Bryan
9 years ago

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: http://historic-kirkwood.com/ and giving the community some very specific information.

9 years ago

David,

We’re excited about your plans and can’t wait to see what takes shape at the former KPH. I live just two blocks away…so make it good!!

Ritch

tim glademan
9 years ago

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… Read more »

Jenny Napier
9 years ago

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… Read more »

SCR
9 years ago

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… Read more »

Mark
9 years ago

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… Read more »

Matt
9 years ago

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.

Jenny
9 years ago

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. . .

tim glademan
9 years ago

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… Read more »

Mark
9 years ago

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… Read more »

Matt
9 years ago

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.

tim glademan
9 years ago

Sorry Matt meant for mark I agree patio seating will be a plus

Paris Campeau
9 years ago

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… Read more »

TRA
9 years ago

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.

David
9 years ago

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… Read more »

Alex
9 years ago

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.

gail
9 years ago

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 !

not encouraged
9 years ago

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.

Tundra
9 years ago

4 Loko is served in the VIP area only, thank you very much!

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