They got them the old-fashioned way: They earned them.
The first store to pick up a moniker was the Buckhead branch on Piedmont Road; it opened in 1976 as one of the first 24-hour Krogers in town. In 1980, it got a new neighbor in the glitzy Limelight discotheque. Coked-up revelers wearing polyester shirts and bell bottoms could often be seen stumbling through the grocery aisles after hours, giving birth to the sobriquet “Disco Kroger”—a name that stuck. The store is now officially titled “Fresh Fare Kroger,” but it’s still referred to by its original nickname, including by those who weren’t even alive during the disco era.
Much more notorious, of course, is Ponce de Leon’s “Murder Kroger,” which acquired its nickname in similarly organic fashion. Back in 1991, when that stretch of Ponce was seedy, a young woman was fatally shot in the face while walking through the store’s parking lot with friends. In 2002, a body was found in a car parked behind the store. By the mid-aughts, “Murder Kroger” had joined the Clermont Lounge in the popular imagination as beloved relics of Atlanta’s grittier past, even notching its own theme song by a local band.
In 2012, when a 20-year-old college student was shot and killed at the entrance to the Ford Factory Lofts next door, the Kroger folks had had enough. In 2014, company officials called a press conference to rechristen the store “BeltLine Kroger.” That effort came spectacularly undone barely five months later when an Alabama man was shot dead in the parking lot in broad daylight when he tried to stop a man from stealing his truck.
“Murder Kroger” may be gone—725 Ponce, a $200-million development containing a new Kroger recently opened—but it’s hardly forgotten. You can still buy T-shirts, stickers, and magnets celebrating the nickname.
Other crowd-sourced nicknames: “Gay Kroger” or “Kro-gay” for the store adjoining Ansley Mall; “Kosher Kroger” for the one in Toco Hills near the orthodox Congregation Beth Jacob; “Hipster Kroger” for the Moreland Avenue store near Little Five Points; “Krobar” for the Glenwood Avenue location that boasts an in-store wine bar; “Shitty Center Kroger,” for the Citi Center Kroger on Memorial Drive.