Where I live: Atlanta
Whatever you fancy, chances are Atlanta has it. And then some.
Maybe all roads (and flights) don’t lead there, but many Buckeyes’ paths do take them to Atlanta, a fast-growing metro area where 37 percent of residents are not Georgians by birth.
“Atlanta is a melting pot of cultures, ethnicities and people who have moved here,” says Mark Eppert ’88, chief financial and administrative officer for Coca-Cola and a member of the alumni association’s board of directors. “That’s one of the things that makes it so special.”
A transplant from the Cleveland area, Bonnie Daneker ’89 moved to Atlanta in 1992 at the urging of a fellow Buckeye, “knowing the weather would be nice and the job market, of course, was really vibrant.” Today, she owns a literary consultancy, Write Along With You, and is president-elect of the Georgia chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners.
“I looked at it like a version of Gotham City,” Daneker says of her first impression. “There were beautiful high rises, a lot of metal and a lot of glass. It was just gorgeous.”
The Summer Olympics of 1996 accelerated the city’s growth, creating an economic shot in the arm estimated at more than $5 billion. “Atlanta was already a prominent player in the South, but the Olympics turned us into a global city,” says advertising agency chief Jeff Kamin ’72, who also serves on the alumni board and as treasurer of the Alumni Club of Atlanta. “Our entertainment industry is being called the Hollywood of the South, because the city now serves as the headquarters of many production studios and filming locations.”
Not only is Atlanta a city of movers, it also is home to shakers. Coca-Cola, Delta Airlines and Home Depot are among 15 Fortune 500 companies based in the city.
“With all the business growth down here,” says Daneker, “there is a joke that our state bird is the crane — the construction crane.”
National Center for Civil and Human Rights
Tamira Moon ’01, ’04 MPH, who directs the Georgia Department of Public Health cancer program, lives minutes from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport — the world’s busiest, with more than 100 million passengers passing through each year. That also puts her close to the Porsche Cars North America headquarters and development track, where you can watch cars race from the rooftop terrace of the adjacent Solis boutique hotel.
A fast car won’t do you much good in a city also known for its traffic, but many of Atlanta’s most famous attractions are downtown, within walking distance of one another.
“Sometimes it’s surreal,” says Christopher Perry ’93, a producer for CNN. “One of the great things about working at CNN is that you are right in the middle of what’s happening.”
This “middle” includes the World of Coca-Cola, where you can sample 100 Coke products;the Georgia Aquarium, which literally puts you among sharks; the Center for Human and Civil Rights, where the alumni club hosted an event last year; CNN Center, with studios open for tours; and the College Football Hall of Fame, where a certain team figures prominently.
Centennial Olympic Park shares the neighborhood with those attractions and is just a short jog from Piedmont Park, known for its festivals and concerts.
While so much of Atlanta’s newness is eye-catching, history is all around, ingrained in everyday life.
Each Sunday, Moon attends services at Ebenezer Baptist Church within Martin Luther King Jr. National Historical Park. Both King and his father pastored the church.
The city’s heritage — from the Civil War to the civil rights movement and beyond — is on perennial display. As Perry notes, “You are reminded constantly that you are in a location that has a lot of history in it, important history.”
What’s appetizing in Atlanta?
The city’s dining landscape also features helpings of old and new. “It’s not just the quality, it’s the variety.” Jeff Kamin says.
South City Kitchen has been cooking up southern cuisine in Atlanta for more than 20 years. “There are some things on the menu that will never change, like their buttermilk fried chicken, which is outstanding,” says Bonnie Daneker, “but some things are brand new, like kale salad with duck confit.” South City Kitchen has three locations in and around Atlanta.
Chris Perry recommends venturing north of downtown, near the Atlanta Botanical Garden, to The Colonnade for traditional fried chicken. Founded in 1927, the restaurant also features fresh fish and country vegetables. For barbecue, Perry heads to Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q, just east of downtown in the Candler Park neighborhood.
The Chamblee suburb, with a large immigrant influence, has come to be known with affection as Chambodia. “There are wonderful Vietnamese, Malaysian, Cambodian and Korean restaurants and shops all up and down this street,” Daneker says.
Mark Eppert recommends the historic suburb of Roswell, about 20 miles north of downtown. Among his favorites are Vin25, a wine bar and bistro; Rice Thai Cuisine for Asian delights; Little Alley Steak; and The Whiskey Project, where you can choose a barrel-aged Manhattan, a Louisville Smash or an Osaka Nightcap.
When your crew’s tastes vary, Atlanta offers two food halls with something for everyone: Krog Street Market, near Inman Park, and Ponce City Market, in the historic Fourth Ward. Housed in a 1920s warehouse, Krog Street boasts stalls of produce and prepared food along with 16 restaurants. Ponce City occupies an old Sears, Roebuck & Co. building and, in addition to eateries, includes a shopping mall.
For live tunes while you dine, Tamira Moon recommends Sage Woodfire in Buckhead. “They just have so much on the menu, and they have live music, so the vibe is just really nice.”