The Euclid Avenue Yacht Club just turned 30 years old, a milestone it will celebrate on May 28 by staying open until 1 a.m., one hour past its normal Sunday bed time. Manager Anna Bender says she’ll serve drink specials, including a $2 “customer appreciation shot” called The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea; the kitchen will make St. Louis-style ribs, “because they’ve got more meat on them”; and live performances from Wasted Potential Brass Band, Heather Luttrell, The Boohoo Ramblers, The Young Antiques, and The Dandyls will begin at 3 p.m.
“The neighborhood is still weird,” says owner Donald Hinamon, a.k.a. Hippie, paying Little Five Points a compliment. “There’s been this delicate balance of strangeness somehow, even though the gentrification of all the residential neighborhoods all around Little Five Points has progressed.”
“They leave us to our craziness.”
Hinamon opened the Yacht Club in a former antique jewelry store in 1987. After studying hospitality at Georgia State University, “it was time to cut my hair and get a job with a big hotel chain or do something else.” He’s run the Yacht Club ever since. Bender has worked there for 18 years. People—including the regulars—tend to stick around. There’s a set of stools at one end of the bar that’s been lovingly named The Bullshit Corner, the food and the drinks are better than they need to be, and the mix of stuffed marlins and skulls on the wall keep it weird. “It’s kind of like Manuel’s on LSD,” says Hinamon.
To show our appreciation for the Yacht Club, here are memories from some of its regulars:
Kevin Gillese, artistic director of Dad’s Garage Theatre Company: “When I first moved to Atlanta in 2010, I started dating a lady on my staff. It was a little bit gauche to be dating someone who’s working for you, so we kept it on the hush-hush. We would always hang out at the Yacht Club, but so would other people from work, so I would wait for her to go to the bathroom, and when she was leaving it, then I would go to the bathroom and steal a kiss. For a while, the only people who knew we were dating were the Yacht Club staff; Anna would call me the Secret Kisser. Now that lady, Amber Nash, and I are married. Anna came to the wedding.”
William “Woodie” Haywood, retired: “Recently a friend of ours passed away. At 64 years of age, Beverly White Pleasants was diagnosed with brain cancer and passed away four months later. She had no immediate family, but she had her Yacht Club family. So we had a memorial for her there. She loved Elvis, so we played his music, and we put up decorations and shared stories about Beverley. That’s one of the heartwarming stories from the Yacht Club; it’s a group of really caring people in the middle of an urban environment.”
Chantelle Rytter, founder of Krewe of the Grateful Gluttons and the BeltLine Lantern Parade: “I’m not sure I would still be in Atlanta if I hadn’t wandered into the Yacht Club. I moved to Atlanta from New Orleans in 1993 and made friends with people playing darts the first time I went to there. Those people have remained my friends for life. I kept Atlanta; I lost the husband. And the high point of my adult life was dancing on the bar of the Yacht Club to “We Are the Champions” the first year that we won the Halloween parade in 2003. I got up on the bar upon the invitation of the owner, which was great because you know you’re not going to get into trouble!”
Christian Green, bar manager at the Variety Playhouse: “Value for dollar, you’re not gonna find a better cocktail in Atlanta. Just show up and you’ll be treated like a regular—there’s on politics, no drama. It’s our neighborhood anchor.”