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Allison Brooks

Savannah: The downtown renaissance that SCAD built

Savannah boasts a rich conglomeration of talented, tattoo-bedecked art students; driven professionals; and the good ol’ boys (and girls) whose families have been around since General Oglethorpe settled here in the 1730s. Now vibrant and energetic, the Hostess City had become sleepy and rundown by 1978, when Savannah College of Art and Design was founded. The art school sparked a resurgence in downtown Savannah, repurposing both mansions and abandoned strip malls into academic halls and dorms. Now many of the local businesses downtown tie their success back to SCAD.

In Savannah, you can window-shop under a delicate canopy of Spanish moss between classes, or get your reading done before a pickup soccer game at Forsyth Park. Every fall, rub elbows with the city’s elite and national celebrities at SCAD’s Savannah Film Festival while you grab a to-go cup for your mint julep. Or check out Tybee Island, a beach town freckled with sea salt–coated, wind-worn cottages—it’s only a twenty-five-minute drive from downtown. ­

Coffee shop for studying
Gallery Espresso
Decorated with well-worn armchairs and big wooden tables, the cafe is adjacent to Chippewa Square (where Forrest Gump was shot) and is an ideal place to work solo or tackle a group project. 234 Bull Street, 912-233-5348

Coffee shop for coffee
Foxy Loxy
Find quality coffee, comfy couches, and half-price wine bottles and s’mores around the fire pit on Saturday nights. Also: kolaches. 1919 Bull Street, 912-401-0543

Brunch
B. Matthew’s Eatery
It can be a destination for both fancy spring brunch or just some post-partying scrambled eggs and bacon. 325 East Bay Street, 912-233-1319

Dinner—when your parents pay
The Olde Pink House
Tucked next to the historic Planters Inn, this is a local special-occasion favorite and a draw for out-of-towners. 23 Abercorn Street, 912-232-4286

Dinner—when you’re paying
Moon River Brewing Company
The name Moon River may remind you of Savannah native Johnny Mercer’s beloved Breakfast at Tiffany’s theme, but owners Eugene Beeco and John Pinkerton based the name on fire and water elements. Regardless, it has great food—and it’s the only bar in town that brews its own beer. 21 West Bay Street, 912-447-0943

Campus dive bar
Pinkie Master’s Lounge
Nothing good ever happens after 2 a.m. Unless you somehow end up at Pinkie Master’s—then you know it’s been a great night. 318 Drayton Street, 912-238-0447

Savannah must-do
Sixth Sense Savannah Ghost Tours
Savannah’s considered to be one of the most haunted cities in America. Take the late-night tour to find out why. 404 Abercorn Street, 912-292-0960

Essential place to take friends when they come to visit
The Lucas Theatre and Leopold’s Ice Cream
Catch an old movie at the posh and painstakingly restored Lucas, then pop around the corner for a cone of homemade rum bisque or butter pecan. 32 Abercorn Street, 912-525-5040; 212 East Broughton Street, 912-234-4442

Sleepy Hollow at Serenbe

We’re all familiar with Washington Irving’s spooky classic, “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” and its love triangle—awkward teacher Ichabod Crane, lovely heiress Katrina Van Tassel, strapping lout “Brom Bones” Van Brunt—and mysterious headless horseman. Tim Burton twisted the tale for the big screen, Fox is currently shooting a TV series, and I’m pretty sure there was a Scooby-Doo adaptation.

And now: an interpretation at Serenbe Playhouse. Brian Clowdus, director of The Sleepy Hollow Experience and founder of the theater company at Serenbe—better known for its organic farm, eco-conscious upscale housing, and Prius-friendly parking spots—says his version is “a cross between a haunted house and a play.” While Clowdus and the actors will follow a script, the audience will move through the Serenbe stables during the show. “We’ll have movement at the beginning and end to keep the play interactive,” he says. “Plus, there will be live horses.”

Clowdus promises humor along with fright. “What we’re doing is a modern take on the story with lots of candles,” he says. “Our costume designer used Alexander McQueen as an inspiration.”

The Sleepy Hollow Experience at Serenbe runs Thursday through Sunday, October 10 to 31.

This article originally appeared in our October 2013 issue.

The world’s tiniest Walmart opens in Atlanta

Walmart made retail history today by opening its smallest store ever. While a tiny Walmart—the store near Georgia Tech’s campus is around 2,500 square feet—seems like an oxymoron, don’t let the size fool you.

Dubbed “Walmart on Campus,” the midtown Atlanta store offers everything from ink jets to ice cream to shampoo to cold cuts. “I’m pretty sure they have almost everything I’d buy,” said one student as she squeezed past me in the frozen food aisle. While the store doesn’t offer bikes or build-it-yourself furniture, I’d say that student made a pretty fair assessment.

To an attendant, another student said, “This is a great thing that you’ve done,” as others nodded their heads in agreement. When I approached the cash register with a frozen pizza in hand, the cashier who rang me up told me the day had been very busy, but also exciting.

Yes, there’s a Walmart greeter at the door. To your right: a cash register and two self-serve checkouts. The pharmacy, beauty products, and school supplies are at the far end of the space, and a ramp to the left leads to the food and beverage aisles.

Although I had to say “excuse me” every five seconds to avoid running into someone, I agree with what I overheard: it could become a haven for Yellow Jackets. Located at Technology Square (86 Fifth Street), the only thing the little Walmart doesn’t seem to have is ice cold Natty Light—and what’s college without cheap beer?

Will the Waffle House luck hold for a 13th Atlanta Braves win?

You can find some pretty strange lucky charms when it comes to sports—Michael Jordan’s old college shorts, the St. Louis Squirrel, Les Miles eating grass—but a lucky Waffle House? The Braves have gone 12-0 since a scaled-down version of the Atlanta-based breakfast icon opened at Turner Field.

Waffle House takes no credit for the Braves’ record because they don’t want to jinx anything. “We want the streak to continue,” said Waffle House spokesman Pat Warner. “It definitely helps that the Braves are playing really good baseball right now. It’s great [for Waffle House] to be at Turner Field…the Braves are our hometown team.”

And what does the Braves front office have to say? “It’s been an interesting coincidence that since Waffle House opened their concession stand here on July 26, the Braves have not lost a game,” says Beth Marshall, the team’s director of public relations. “It’s not just the front office talking about the coincidence either…many fans have been tweeting after every win that our WH streak is still alive, or posting a photo of themselves in a Waffle House hoping it helps the streak.”

On that note, here’s a Twitter sampler:

@espn “The @Braves are now 12-0 since they started serving waffles at Turner Field. #SyrupStreaking” (August 7)

@JensenEvan “The MVP for the Braves is Waffle House. They have gone 12-0 since signing this key player” (August 7)

@WesleyRozay “ ‘@Braves: W,W,W,W,W,W,W,W,W,W,W,W…’ Affle House” (August 6)

@UnitedBravesFans “BREAKING: All 25 Braves players just went up to the Turner Field Waffle House concession stand and ordered waffles with hashbrowns.” (July 31)

Will the waffle power hold tonight as the Braves wrap up in Washington? Although the Nats are second in the division, the Braves still lead by 14.5 games.

UGA alum Isner wins the Atlanta Open

After Sunday’s finals singles match, the Atlanta Open crowned a new champion: John Isner. Isner, twenty-eight, is a 2007 graduate of the University of Georgia, and as a senior, led the Bulldogs to an NCAA National Championship. Isner is currently the highest-ranked male American tennis player, coming in at twenty. His opponent from Sunday’s championship, South African Kevin Anderson, is ranked twenty-one.

Isner and Anderson have been friendly competitors since college, where the two faced off for the first time. Both men have similar playing styles (powerful serves, tendency to end points quickly) as well as similar builds: Isner stands tall at six-ten as does Anderson at six-eight. Sunday’s match was the “tallest final” recorded in the ATP Tour’s history. But Isner’s used to racking up offbeat statistics like that. In 2010, he played the longest match in professional tennis history, defeating Nicolas Mahut in eleven hours and five minutes over the course of three days at Wimbledon.

At this year’s Atlanta Open, Isner defeated veteran Lleyton Hewitt of Australia to earn a spot in the finals, while Anderson advanced to the championship after putting an end to Ryan Harrison’s hot streak. The championship match, neck-in-neck for nearly three hours, ended in an intense tiebreak where Isner was able to find his next gear. Of the final set’s tiebreak, Isner said: “My last serve of this tournament was 146 miles an hour. I had a lot of adrenaline going through me, and once I got that little lead, I held on.”

By the way, while we’re still tallying Isner-related stats: his 146-mile-an-hour serve was the fastest serve recorded during the tournament.

“The crowd certainly played a huge role,” Isner said. After admitting he hadn’t played his best tennis in the first set, Isner credited the crowd. “It’s tournaments like this where I have support like that…it helps me so much and I want to do my best in front of the fans who are cheering me on.”

After thanking everyone from his parents to his chiropractor to UGA head coach Manny Diaz to his dog, Isner held up his trophy for the first time in Atlanta. Should we expect him back in town next summer? “I’ve played this tournament for four years now and it would be weird if I didn’t come back and try to defend my title,” he said.

Results:
Singles, semifinals:
[1] J. Isner (USA) def. [7] L. Hewitt (AUS) 6-4 4-6 7-6(5)
[2] K. Anderson (RSA) def. R. Harrison (USA) 6-3 7-6(3)

Singles, finals:
[1] J. Isner (USA) def. [2] K. Anderson (RSA) 6-7(3) 7-6(2) 7-6(2)

Doubles, semifinals:
[3] C. Fleming (GBR) / J. Marray (GBR) def. C. Guccione (AUS) / L. Hewitt (AUS) 6-4 7-6(6)
[4] E. Roger-Vasselin (FRA) / I. Sijsling (NED) def. [PR] J. Erlich (ISR) / A. Ram (ISR) 3-6 6-1 10-7

Doubles, finals:
[4] E. Roger-Vasselin (FRA) / I. Sijsling (NED) def. [3] C. Fleming (GBR) / J. Marray (GBR) 7-6(6) 6-3

Georgia Tech “brothers” take on the Atlanta Open

The U.S. Open Series kicked off this week in Atlanta, and luckily for us, some of the players are local. Doubles duo Kevin King and Juan Spir, former ITA All-Americans for the Yellow Jackets, are on the hunt for their first professional title together. The pair, ranked as high as number-two in the country during the 2011-12 season, will play their first-round doubles match tomorrow.

King, twenty-two, grew up in Peachtree City. He graduated with highest honors in mechanical engineering from Georgia Tech this past fall, where he also finished his singles career with eighty wins—ranked as high as seven nationally his senior year. King won his third-round qualifying match over Robby Ginepri on Monday to advance to the main draw of the Open. This is the first time he’s qualified for a major tournament.

After dropping the first set of his match against Ginepri, King came back after a rain delay with the momentum on his side. In the third set, he started getting crafty with his playing style—he even did a split mid-set. “I don’t remember that,” he said when I caught up with him. “Did I win the point?”

He did.

“It was definitely a tough match,” said King. “Robby’s a really good player. But it was nice playing in front of the home crowd, being able to do well here in Atlanta.”

Spir, twenty-three, hails from Medellin, Colombia, and at Georgia Tech, he finished his career with a record-breaking 103 doubles wins in four years. After playing in Monday night’s “Bro Down Showdown,” a mini-tournament comprised of sibling teams (in which the pair filled in for the Bryan brothers), Spir said: “It was just great to get out there and represent Georgia Tech, you know? Although me and Kevin are not brothers, like real brothers from blood, we definitely have shared a lot of things together in school.”

After the Atlanta Open, the doubles team will head to Colombia for the next three months and play in three or four tournaments there. King and Spir will return to Atlanta and play in several tournaments this fall, too. “It’s hard to schedule ahead of time, so we’ll just have to see the tournaments that start coming out and just go from there,” said Spir.

Spir lost in a qualifying singles match, and King lost to the five seed, Yen-Hsun Lu, 6-3 7-5 in a battle yesterday. But you can expect to see the doubles team focused and ready to go as they square off tomorrow against the fourth-seeded Edouard Roger-Vasselin and Igor Sijsling for a place in the quarterfinals.

The Atlanta Open brings the heat

Tennis fans rejoice: the BB&T Atlanta Open is in full force this week. The tournament began Saturday and the first round of the main draw started yesterday. Both the singles and doubles championship matches will be played on Sunday, July 28.

Catch some of the area’s rising stars as well as beloved players such as Mardy Fish, James Blake, and UGA alum John Isner. But don’t expect the infamous Bryan brothers—they pulled at out the last minute due to injury.

Atlanta has hosted the tournament since 2010, but BB&T signed on only last year as the title sponsor. This is also the second year the tournament’s home has been in Atlantic Station. Although the courts are temporary, the tournament has a great setup. Between matches, fans can play cornhole in the food court, buy freshly squeezed lemonade, and wander Vendor Row—a street where fans can meet players and sponsors have set up tents.

Like clockwork, our daily thunderstorm raged Monday afternoon, causing an almost hour-long rain delay. However, the tournament crew dried off the courts as quickly as possible and play resumed in what felt like 110-degree heat. Luckily, some of the sponsors handed out racket-shaped cardboard paddles so people could fan themselves. Note, if you plan to attend: WEAR SUNSCREEN.

After a day of intense qualifying and first-round matches, organizers staged an exhibition match, the “Bro Down Showdown,” a doubles round-robin mini-tournament, that featured the Blake brothers, the Sock brothers, the Harrison brothers, and Kevin King and Juan Spir (doubles partners from Georgia Tech who filled in for the Bryans). The informal, low-key matches allowed the players to roam freely and trash talk. During the final, the Socks and the Blakes let four ball boys play a few points as the “host” caught up with the Harrison brothers and the Yellow Jackets duo. Ryan Harrison even got pantsed by his younger brother, Christian, at one point.

Monday’s results:
Singles, first round:
R. Williams (USA) def. D. Kudla (USA) 7-5 6-4
R. Harrison (USA) def. M. Matosevic (AUS) 6-2 2-6 6-3

Doubles, first round:
[3] C. Fleming (GRB) / J. Marray (GRB) def. E. Donskoy (RUS) / D. Istomin (UZB) 6-3 7-6(5)

Qualifying Singles, third round:
M. Ebden (AUS) def. C. Guccione (AUS) 6-4 7-6(2)
T. Smyczek (USA) def. D. Young (USA) 7-5 7-6(3)
M. Zverev (GER) def. P. Amritraj (IND) 6-4 6-2
K. King (USA) def. R. Ginepri (USA) 2-6 6-4 6-4

A ride on Downtown’s new SkyView Ferris wheel

After weeks of thunderstorms and rain delays, SkyView Atlanta finally opened today in the sweltering, sticky July heat. Luckily, the air-conditioning in the gondolas works pretty well.

The futuristic-looking gondolas are made of tinted fiberglass—the walls are see-through but the floors, thankfully, are not. Four people fit comfortably into each capsule, although the guidelines say up to eight may ride together.

Light piano jazz played in the boarding area as people entered their gondolas, and professional photographers snapped pictures of guests pre-rotation. Once atop the giant wheel, I could see all the different colors of the bricks that weave through Centennial Park, the rooftops of the Georgia Aquarium and the World of Coke, the Georgia Dome, and how Atlantans severely suffer from road rage.

Overall the ride lasted about twenty minutes, with the wheel making five rotations; and because SkyView is two hundred feet tall, guests can see for miles in every direction. With its prime location, this attraction seems set to become a destination for families and the tourist lot this summer.

Tickets are $13.50 for adults and $8.50 for children.

The giant Ferris wheel is almost finished

After much hype (and a little delay) the 200-foot SkyView Atlanta Ferris wheel now has an opening date: Tuesday, July 16. There will be a noon ribbon-cutting ceremony prior to the first gondola’s circumnavigation, and SkyView spokesman Jason Evans says he expects a big crowd.

This morning, the still-being-assembled wheel looked like a giant Pac-Man. But the crew hoped to install the final seven spokes by today’s end, completing SkyView’s frame. At a media event this morning, Evans compared building the Ferris wheel to playing with the “world’s biggest Lego set,” as behind him workers installed steel pins the size of small children into the massive structure.

Every inch of SkyView will be covered in LED lights—one million to be exact. The lights’ colors will correspond with holiday festivities.

Here’s a good piece of news for those of us who aren’t fond of heights: each gondola has a panic button. If you get anxious while riding, operators will bring you down immediately. I still have some hesitations, but I’m getting excited to give this wheel a whirl.

If you wanted to ride a giant Ferris wheel in downtown Atlanta, you’ll have to wait a little longer

If you were hoping for a Ferris wheel and fireworks combo, you’re out of luck: SkyView Atlanta won’t open in time for the Fourth of July.

The delay is partly due to the spate of stormy weather. But the biggest wrinkle comes not from the sky but below the ground. Like the Atlanta Streetcar, the Ferris wheel project has been slowed by utility issues, namely the recent detection of a Georgia Power duct that cannot be moved. The duct discovery opened a Pandora’s box of difficulties: though the Ferris wheel only had to be moved by one foot, the construction crew had to use 120,000 extra pounds of concrete and 400,000 more pounds of stone to compensate for the shift in height.

The 200-foot wheel, traveling from its former home in Pensacola, Florida, should be up and running by the third week of July at the latest, according to SkyView. The company sent photos both of the attraction being dismantled and the shipping containers bringing it ATL-ward.The goal is to have SkyView Atlanta set up in about two weeks once the new platform is complete; normally, this process takes four weeks to complete.

We’ll keep you posted about further advancements (or delays).

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