AJC Takes Another Stab at Summing Up Annexation

31 01 2008

Today’s hard copy of the AJC has a map of the proposed annexation area that city commissioners are reviewing currently, but the online version is just a bunch of bullets summing up the process.  No real new info.

I guess that means its just for readers of the AJC that DON’T read Decatur Metro. (Yuck, Yuck…)

Here’s the top line summary…

People living in and around Decatur are collecting petitions, sending out mass e-mails and attending City Commission meetings, concerned about an annexation plan —- even though it’s still in the conceptual stages.

A lot is at stake. There’s the possibility of adding as many as 7,800 residents, a move that would have far-reaching implications on the city’s school system and tax base.

Read the full summation here.

Why does it seem that some folks are acting SO surprised about the strong reaction this process has received early on?  Even though an actual vote is months away, this plan is under serious consideration.  That’s enough to get residents of any city out of their armchairs and into the streets, especially in a civic-minded town like Decatur.

A Liquor License Explanation

31 01 2008

It seems that we’ve got the AtlantaCuisine.com forums talking about the Liquor License Non-Renewal too. And these are some knowledgeable folks!

Read the thread here or at least check out the comment below from the thread that gives the best explanation I’ve seen on how one could potentially get tripped up by the endlessly bureaucratic liquor license process.

“For those unaware, it takes two alcohol permits to be in business: a state license in order to purchase from a wholeslaer and a city (or county if you are in an unincorporated area) to sell to customers. Plus, the local license is wortheless unles you also have the state permit.

Well, lets see here. Most companies with more than a handfull of employees use a payroll service and they automatically take out state payroll taxes each pay period. The cost to renew the STATE permit is $200 (L,B,&W) and could be done online this year and paid with a credit card. So if the state is refusing to renew permits because these businesses owe money to the state, it almost certainly has to be because they are not remitting the sales and use tax due the 20th of each month for the previous month.

Read the rest of this entry »

Suffering Starbucks

31 01 2008

A year ago, the sky seemed to be the limit for Starbucks. Plans for 40,000 stores worldwide were met with some skepticism, but most seemed to think if anyone could do it, it would be Starbucks.

But then, as 2007 got into full swing, the wheels started to come off.

It became apparent that while Starbucks still had tremendous growth opportunities overseas, things were very different on the domestic front. Same store sales data seemed to show over-saturation and the stock fell 40%. The once trendy status symbol, which I once heard described as a “four-dollar Mercedes”, wasn’t so trendy anymore.

Others looked past the saturation argument and instead blamed the quality of the product. These folks accused the fully-automated machines that could better handle the growing lines at the counter, but removed much of the “je ne sais qua” that the friendly, but fiendishly busy Barista provided.

Regardless of the reason, in 2008, Starbucks is looking to reinvent itself. CEO superstar Howard Schultz is back in the saddle and has promised that the company will return to its roots. That means no more hot breakfast sandwiches, which were being tested in many metropolitan areas, as well as many other secret plans not yet revealed.

So, after that brief recap here’s the question of the morning: Do you think Starbucks can pull it off?

If the coffee chain were to revert back to a time when their service was more personalized and focused on the coffee, would you make a point to stop on the Square a grab a cup? Or are the Decatur coffee animals (Java MONKEY or Dancing GOATS) more your style? Perhaps you just prefer to brew your own…

Square Roots on the Square Closes

30 01 2008

If you’ve been to the Brick Store lately you may have noticed that the little folk art shop next to Zocalo, Square Roots, has closed up shop.

Like many Decatur shops, this one sold an array of local art and antiques, but apparently not enough to survive.

The most recent comment (June ’07) on CitySearch about Square Roots portends its closing and asserts that new management hurt the business. See below…

“Wow, this store USED to be a gem! The new ownership has really caused a downswing in what used to be an adorable and eclectic store. Now, it is drab, with crabby employees and a dour, sour, and overwhelmed looking store owner to over see them all. Beyond the boring atmosphere ( no music and just plain uninviting!) the merchandise is nothing new. Some of the art is interesting, but certainly not worth what they’re asking for. It’s time for those roots to be pulled up and something new planted in it’s place! “

Honestly, I never ventured into this particular shop, so I rely on the opinions of others to hypothesize about its demise.

Cakes & Ale To Open Feb. 2008 – Menu Now Online

29 01 2008

The misses and I took a stroll downtown with the dog this evening before the rain came and we noticed that Cakes and Ale now has their menu and a sign proclaiming that they will be opening next month in their window.  Well the same also true online.

See Cakes and Ale’s menu here, along with a note from the owners.

It’s easy to see the connection that Chef Billy Allin has with Watershed when you look at the menu.  Lots of dressed up, organic southern eats.

Can’t wait to try it!

Also found this posting about Chef Allin and Cakes and Ale in case you wanted to know every little piece of info out there on the place.

The Angel Planning To Reopen Under Same Management?

29 01 2008

That’s what Karen @ The Chocolate Bar was told when she inquired about the availability of the building, according to the intrepid Rus.

This news after Carl informed us a few days back that both Hand in Hand and Fox and Hounds had reopened.

So perhaps Derek Lawford Pubs will indeed come back from the brink and in the end Prince of Wales will be the only victim.

But then why put a sign on the door that says “closed indefinitely”?  Why not use a slightly less daunting word like, say “temporarily”?  Maybe its just a British English vs. American English thing?

Pondering Blogistance in Decatur

29 01 2008

I’m not writing this post in response to any particular critique I’ve received or recently heard. In fact, all of the personal comments I’ve received about this blog thus far have been overly generous with their praise. This post is more the result of observations I’ve made over the past 4 months of blogging, spurred by recent events and subsequent posts.

At last week’s city commission meeting, multiple commissioners seemed to imply that news of the city’s recently unveiled annexation plan had gotten out of hand, in part, because of “rumors” that had spread quickly over the internet. And while I do honestly believe that each commissioner appreciated the increased participation, the comment got me thinking about how Decatur has gotten its news in the past and how blogs fit into that mix.

Up until last year, there was a noticeable lack of sources, either in print or online, where Decatur residents could get news about the city. Many have had to rely on word-of-mouth, internet message boards, official city publications, or Atlanta/DeKalb focused publications to piece together their news on a daily basis.

Of these options, the first two were pretty hit-or-miss concerning whether a certain piece of news would ever reach your ears. The city’s official publication, Decatur Focus, is a great asset, but it’s only a monthly newsletter and sometimes only gives a cleaned up “official” perspective of current events. The Oakhurst Leaflet is another great newsletter, and while its not a city pub, it also only arrives in Oakhurst mailboxes monthly.

And finally we come to local papers, either online or hard copy. Much of the time the AJC just doesn’t get it right. Take this recent story about the annexation. On hold? Not quite AJC. Nice try. Then there’s GoDeKalb, which probably provides the most up-to-date, accurate and detailed articles about Decatur. But unfortunately, Decatur isn’t big enough to justify daily complete coverage, so we have to settle for occasional drips.

This is where the little, independent blogs come in. InDecatur, Decatur-DeKalb (both authored by the same intrepid blogger) and Decatur Metro attempt to fill the void where all these other forms of media leave off.

I believe that in the 21st century, Decatur residents shouldn’t have to wait for a monthly newsletter or for a questionably factual article to be written in the AJC to find out what going in around town. We want to know about the issues as they are happening, so as many residents as possible know about the destruction of Decatur Stadium or the PATH through Mason Mill Park to be able to speak up about them before its too late. Though this more efficient spread of news and info may at times compel more folks into the commission room at city hall, hopefully they will also better informed.

At the same time I acknowledge we must be careful. While half the fun about this blog is reading and responding to the comments of others, we must take caution not to take things out of context or give undue weight to rumors that may prove untrue. I will continue to do my best to moderate these sorts of tips, and figure I can only improve with time. Right? Right?!

I also believe that it is in the city’s interest to have a voice in this new, online dialog. City government should be able to respond to issues when things on the internet get too heated or misconstrued. They should use it as a way of getting the word out about events and meetings. Opening this channel will go along way to “improving communication” between the city and its residents, which is a key concern among residents today.

So enjoy reading. Who knows what the coming months have in store? Maybe some one will build smart mixed use down the street from your house with a Trader Joe’s at the ground floor. Or maybe the Artisan will decide that a grassy, barbed wire parking lot was really much better than millions of dollars in real estate and just knock the whole thing down!

Regardless, we’ll be here, pondering it all for your amusement and information.

What Happened to the Condo Development on Hillyer?

28 01 2008

Yesterday, in a letter to the AJC, Sembler Co. asserted that it wasn’t a vocal neighborhood opposition, but the hideous real estate market, which led to a scaled back version of “Town Briarcliff”.

That got me thinking about the proposed condo on Hillyer that prompted Old Decatur to become a historic district.  It’s on the lips of residents again, but not because its beginning to cast a shadow over the homes of Old Decatur, but because a similar battle is in early stages over at 315 W. Ponce.

I believe it’s been a good four months since this plan was approved by the planning commission, but today the property remains a vacant, grassy lot.  What gives?
Is this another casualty of the weak real estate market?  Or is the sister building of 345 W. Ponce still a go?

(Photo Courtesy of DecaturHighRise.org)

Benedetti’s Italian Restaurant Closed

27 01 2008

Carl reports that Benedetti’s in the Fed Ex/Kinkos Plaza at the corner of Clairmont and N. Decatur is closed.

Whether this closing preceded the recent liquor license crackdown or the old school Italian joint is just the latest victim of a Dept. of Revenue sweep through the Decatur area is yet to be determined.  Can anyone help pinpoint a date?

If you like old-fashioned Italian dining, your closest option might now be Alfredo’s on Cheshire Bridge.

I’m getting a bit worried about what this rash of closings is saying about the local economy.

Some Where In Georgia, There’s a Boy Named “Decatur”

26 01 2008

Unless he’s moved out of state.

The AJC has an online searchable database of names given to children born in Georgia in the past 18 years.

Take a look. You won’t be disappointed by the creativity of Georgia parents. To assist your search the AJC has also broken out a bunch by name “types”, in case you want to see lists of kids named after animals, cities, alcohol or brand.

If you feel moved, post your favorites below.