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To open an independent boutique hotel inside Atlanta’s perimeter is a big deal. (There are precious few in the city, for reasons upon which no one can quite agree.) But to open an independent boutique hotel above Atlanta’s most legendary strip club? Yes, that’s a big deal indeed.
Perhaps more than any stretch of pavement in the city, the expanse of Ponce de Leon Avenue between Mary Mac’s Tea Room and the Majestic Diner possesses the historic charm, the culinary creativity, and the total weirdness that makes Atlanta, well, Atlanta. Our ode to Ponce.
In this era of hyperlocalism and regional pride, the popularity of French cuisine has been on the decline. But there is hope. In Atlanta, a comeback has arrived inside the recently transformed Hotel Clermont and directly above the lovably grungy Clermont Lounge. Yes, the French resurgence has materialized above a strip club.
The newly renovated rooms at the Hotel Clermont occupy the sweet spot for those who want a playfully retro atmosphere but not at the expense of creature comforts. Now the real question: When will it open?
Someone claiming to have the original "Clermont Hotel" sign that once sat perched atop the more iconic, neon "Motor Hotel" sign is selling it on eBay to the highest bidder.
Claudia Martinez, formerly of Atlas, Umi, and Restaurant Eugene, will lead the dessert program for the Clermont Hotel, including restaurant Tiny Lou's. The pastry menu is inspired by the history and folklore of the Clermont and includes an "Ode to Blondie."
“[Tiny Lou] was a dancer at the hotel’s Gypsy Room, which was there before the Clermont Lounge, in the 1950s,” says chef Jeb Aldrich. “According to Atlanta folklore, she was notorious for being ‘the girl who refused to dance with Hitler.’”
No tour of Ponce is complete without paying respects to Blondie as she crushes Pabst Blue Ribbon cans in her inimitable style.
For nearly two decades, Dona* has entertained and collected dollar bills from bikers, dive-bar enthusiasts, and tourists at the Clermont Lounge, the world-famous strip club in the basement of the eponymous and infamous hotel. But on a recent sunny Sunday afternoon outside an Austell biker bar, Dona was with family, accepting $20 bills and donations in exchange for one helluva car wash to help her and other Clermont dancers and bartenders pay their rent, bills, and grocery costs while the hotel is transformed into a boutique lodge.
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