Monday, March 13, 2017

Shallowford Elementary - Distant (But So Close) Memories

On my way to visit my mother I decided to just drive around the neighborhood and check out the houses around the neighborhood nearly 38 years after we landed in Georgia.  Lots of changes but still the same old neighborhood with one central icon missing, Shallowford Elementary School.  As I rounded Kellogg Circle passing the Dahl's old house and reminding myself that it burned to the ground years ago and was rebuilt to the same old Five, Four and a Door style, I stopped short when I saw this lone appliance sitting on the old play field years after the building was razed. 
Volleyball pole fabricated in 1980 by Mr. Gholston and Principal Miller
Then I remembered....I remembered watching Mr. Miller and Mr. Gholston build these portable weighted poles in 1980 for Field Day.  How this thing survived the many shifts in uses of the property is beyond me. But what was so weird is as soon as I saw it a load of memories flooded back from my elementary school days.  The memories were more around the teachers and what they may or may not be doing, whether they are alive and the impact they had on us at such a young age.  Then were the happy memories of living so close to the school and the things we were able to do on our bicycles.
Looking Eest from the Kellogg Circle path
The view of the field from the walkway to the 4th grade entrance reminded me of the Jungle Gym (Not Politically Correct Name) made of steel and wood with gravel and dirt underneath.  This combination of now prohibited materials made quick work of our Toughskins and produced plenty of visits to the school nurse.
West Staircase from Kellogg Circle
This view of the staircase to the split level entrance to the 4th grade (downstairs) and 3rd grade (upstairs) hallway.  Then of course was the boiler room and cooling towers being the first thing to greet you as you climbed the stairs.  For me this was the equivalent of the furnace in Home Alone and the scene of the Asbestos removal project in 1982.  Everyone would freak out if you got close to the decontamination zone yet we had to walk past this area multiple times a day.

Center Staircase

Here is the next staircase in the center of the building.  Looking up the steps a little to the right was the scene of the infamous Book Room fire. My friend Jim broke a tooth while head butting a window in 5th or 6th grade and my first rejection from Stephanie Mason when all I asked was to walk her home (I got that idea from Brady Bunch) all took place in this area.

Of course here is the hill at the corner of the building where it is still clear that we used this as a bicycle jump.  Many hours of fun times without helmets!!!

 Looking over to the Goodchild & Goodchild building was the site of one of the baseball diamonds.  Mr. Miller was famous for his home run hits all the way to the roof of the school on Field Day in the Teachers vs. Students softball game.

 Looking towards the D'Lido Apartment complex I remember the line ups for calisthenics with Mr. Gholston.  "Next exercise...Burpees!!  Ready??  Exercise!".  I remember him making us sit quietly as punishment once and Paul Lewkowicz screaming "Chicken Shit!!!" at the top of his lungs to try and get a rise out of him.

(Background) D'Lido Apartments

 Last but certainly not least is the staircase leading to the 6th grade hall.  Kincaid, Sheehy, Johnson, Blum.  Some of the legends of Shallowford.  Of course who could forget Ms. Williams and Mr. Hawkins.

So many memories came to me as I walked that field.  A lot of good ones but in retrospect a lot of remembering the not so great experiences I had moving down from the North to Atlanta.  I will say that one of the things I cherish are the life long friends that I still have from the days on this field and around Shallowford school.  This is all that is left now....such a distant memory yet so many smiles and chuckles as I walked around and thought about all of the people that have crossed paths and now live far far away and yet some (like me) that have never left Atlanta. 

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Nido – A Small Touch Of Rosemary Beach Around The Corner

There is a history to everything at Nido!
Be sure to ask about this chest.
Two weeks ago I stopped by the former Copper Coin Coffee Shop in Vickery Village to see what all of the new construction was about.  The new awning, whitewashed walls and European style patio chairs was the view from Post Road that piqued my curiosity.  After being disappointed year after year by the attempts to have a neighborhood coffee shop with a unique twist and being consistently disappointed by the casual attempts of the inexperienced falling flat on their faces, I was pleasantly surprised to walk into what appeared on the surface to be a fresh concept in Vickery Village.

Upon meeting the owner I commented about the fact that the chairs reminded me of a little tapas restaurant in Rosemary Beach called La Crema which to my surprise and excitement I found out that he was the founder of La Crema. How excited was I??  Well lets put it this way, if my wife and I are in the vicinity of Panama City or Rosemary Beach we will make it a point to drive from wherever we are (20+ miles) to visit La Crème and have some of the Churro & Chocolate which is one of the marquee items on their menu.   
The team at Nido have really put a lot of thought into the unique concept of Tapas, Coffee & Chocolate with an impressive attention to detail.  You will find that the images on their website are matched by what you are presented with in person.  I love the "rosemary candles", the vintage furniture, art deco signage and the modern tables and chairs.  Nido is run by a true restaurateur and the attention to detail in the facility reflects in the food as well.  Their very friendly staff is edgy in style and are as accommodating as can be. 
En fuego Chicken
Nido is certainly not your typical tapas restaurant as the meat portions are considerably larger than what I am used to with tapas.  What I will say is that the quality shows up in both taste and presentation.  For a casual tapas restaurant Nido delivers at a 5 star level.  Be sure to try the Lamb Lollipops with Rosemary and the  En fuego Chicken.  Both are absolutely top notch.  Again the Churro & Chocolate are not to be missed on every visit if you are a choco-holic.  One thing you meat lovers must try is the Bacon & Chocolate....its the best of both worlds! 
Lamb Lollipops
I am so excited to see a fresh face in the Vickery restaurant portfolio and wish Kevin and the staff at Nido the best.   I look forward to supporting these guys as their business thrives. Find out more at





Saturday, July 26, 2014

I Salute Thee With My Middle Finger

To the folks at Delta International Check In, the TSA and anyone else in the travel industry with a bad attitude I salute thee……with my middle finger.

Many of my loyal readers and Facebook friends know that I travel a lot.  I don't travel nearly as much as I used to but still I travel a good portion of the time for work.  On a regular basis you can see my status on Facebook (En Route ATL-Wherever). I have been on the road for 3 weeks straight and I have had it up to my frontal midsection with people in the travel industry with a bad attitude.  You see it’s a two way street.  I am keenly aware that working in the travel industry is harsh and thankless so I go the extra mile to ensure that I have empathy for the folks on the “other side of the counter”.  The rub for me is when I run into someone that doesn’t understand the meaning of ownership and responsibility.             
I am sitting at the bar of Ecco – Hartsfield, a wonderful high end restaurant in the new Hartsfield International Terminal.  Yes…many of you may not be aware that Delta and the airport combined resources to build a truly incredible terminal that is dedicated to international travel.  I love it because it is completely disconnected from the Domestic terminal and I don’t have to arrive 3 hours in advance for an international flight.  I was thanking my lucky stars about that because as luck would have it I spent an additional half hour in traffic on the connector on a Saturday afternoon.  To the Atlanta master planners and the idiot Atlanta drivers that created the traffic jam on a Saturday afternoon….FU. 

Now here comes the fun part.  I get to the international parking deck with 1 hour and 10 minutes to spare.  That’s plenty of time to get to the gate as I have already checked in and have by boarding pass.  First is the experience with the shuttle bus driver.  If you have ever seen the movie Lethal Weapon 3 and remember the chase in the very beginning of the movie where the armored car driver Delores falls in love with Mertaugh, this is our shuttle bus driver.  When she was ready to go, she was ready to go, threw the bus in drive and took off…all while a lady was still trying to get her bags situated and starts yelling “ya gotta siddown maam”!!!  As she drove aggressively out of the parking lot, the warning bell on the vehicle was indicating that she did not have her seat belt on which was yet another indicator that she did not care about her safety let alone the safety of the people on board.  So to the ATL Parking shuttle service driver I will name Delores….FU. 

I continue my journey and only a few feet away from Delores is the wonderful kiosks that I use to check in or get my updated boarding pass.  Expecting a normal response and speedy check in the unit informs me that it is too late to check in and to see and agent.  Normally I don’t mind talking to an agent but today was going to be an exception.  The person looks at the screen and grimaces…all to tell me “your late sir”.  “Late??  What do you mean late” I retort.  She informs me that the plane is departing from International Terminal E.  I respond by explaining that there is no international terminal E…only terminal E.  She explains that the gate has been changed.  I show her my slick Fly Delta app and it says to go to the International Terminal.  She responds that yes that means International Terminal E.  Then I freak out….she has now crossed the line with me when it comes to accountability.  You see…Atlanta want to great pains to separate the international terminal.  Every road sign now points to 75 South which puts you on the opposite side of the airfield from the old Terminal E.  Terminal F is the location where every departing flight for international travel is located…period.  If Delta decides to change gates to another terminal then it is their responsibility to fix the problem.  She told me that I should have been at the airport 3 hours in advance.  I informed her that my Fly Delta app did not inform me of any changes of gates and that I have been checking it since I left the house at 4:00.  So to the gate agent that thinks it is my responsibility to make sure that their methods of communication work properly and is unwilling to help…. so to these wonder people I say FU.  Luckily I was able to get on a flight 4 hours later.

Then comes the TSA inspection point.  Note to the TSA and the Atlanta airport.  You can eliminate some costs and service the public better by installing a recorded message about what you are supposed to leave on or take off with the slick video that is language agnostic.  That way I won’t have to listen another Delores say the same thing over and over again…each time with more loathing as she sees folks screw up her instructions because they either don’t understand English (gee you are at the INTERNATIONAL TERMINAL after all), are first time travelers, or are elderly and/or handicapped.  Your money would be better spent if you were to use these folks to help people instead of repeat instructions verbally over and over again in English only.  Oops I’m sorry that would require hiring someone that actually cared about servicing people.  So to the TSA agents with a bad attitude and to the TSA itself that is a useless entity….FU.

You might be laughing your tail off as you read this or you might be thinking that I am a really negative person that is whining about my “rich person problem”.  You may be a little right about the rich person problem as this is exactly what I have.  If you think you know what I mean by FU then you would most likely be wrong….watch this and find out my true meaning of FU is in the context of this entry. 

To the folks that make my flight great I just salute you (Amanda).  You are talented in people skills and genuinely care about your customers and your company. Where is my next bottle of wine??

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Restaurant Review - Branchwater Steak, Seafood and Spirits

I was really happy to see activity at the old Robin Hood (Men in Tights) Tavern.  We really need a good Steak and Seafood place near the house.  Yes, we can go to Cabernet on Windward or BistroVG in Crabapple but I like having variety within a 5 mile drive of my house.  The wife and I went to Branchwater for the first time a few months ago and we had a wonderful experience. I typically get the steak special and the wife some sort of a seafood dish.  As she can not have dairy the staff there and Chef Todd have always been accommodating for her dietary needs and even with the elimination of dairy products the food is always great.  I have a friend who is probably the best grill master I know and he is pleasantly impressed with the steaks at Branchwater which is quite a compliment from him.

I tagged this post with Small Business is America At Work as Chef Todd got it right when it came to this venue.  He didn't change everything and completely gut the interior.  Honestly the place is so well appointed that, in my opinion, is a turnkey facility for someone with the right menu and good service to turn this place into a local hotspot.  I welcome Branchwater to Vickery and wish Chef Todd the best of luck!!

Experience Review - Atlanta Motorsports Park Public Karting

A number of years ago there was a rumor circulating that someone was building a private race club in the North Georgia area.  For me this was exciting news as Road Atlanta is a great venue but just a little too far to visit on a regular basis.  Of course there were all of the usual NIMBY issues and legal battles but the folks at AMP were able to complete construction in 2012.  On a wine tour for our anniversary in 2012 we stopped by AMP for a quick tour.  What a place!! 

 Then I noticed a smaller track in the background and saw a shifter kart absolutely flying which we learned later was Chase Elliott.  We drove around the back of the course and this is where the Kart track is located. It is an absolutely top notch facility with true racing karts.  They are significantly lighter than the karts at Andretti and you are on an outdoor course with F1 style lighting, electronic warning markers and CCTV to monitor activity.  They have invested heavily in this facility and the quality shows.

 I ended up taking a friend to the AMP Karting Experience on a whim and wow....we had a very good time.  While the facility is top notch with great equipment and a great venue, the staff is very friendly and makes you feel like you are their number one priority.  The track manager Slade is a very fast driver and he gave me some great runs along with all of the staff running with us at various times during the day.  Steven, Austin, Matt, Cody are all fun to race with and are not too bossy or controlling while maintaining a good focus on safety.  Unlike Andretti it is really easy to understand your lap times and how you stack up against with your lap times published in real time and ranked historically.  My racer name is Big Al:

Go and see the guys at AMP Karting!  Be sure to drive within your skill level and get the kart insurance as there is a higher level of responsibility with these karts.  The staff at AMP Karting will make your experience a pleasurable one and I highly recommend this experience!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Wine Review - A Beautiful White Burgundy

In the spirit of my sister in law moving to France this year I decided to have a variety of French wines with our multiple Christmas dinners.  I roasted a turkey on Christmas Eve and opened this beautiful bottle of Domaine de la Croix Senaillet Chardonnay.  Specifically this is from the Macon district in the Davaye village which is located in the southern Burgundy region of France.

What a magnificent wine!! The sommelier at Harry's recommended this bottle highly and indicated that this wine is very special and you don't see it very often in the States.  Even if you are not into white wine I would recommend this bottle highly if you can get your hands on it.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

7 Tequilas - Round 2=Never Again

All of you know how I am just a little opinionated about things but I will let the news do the work for me.  I posted a review of 7 Tequilas on November 18th that was definitely negative.  What I did not know is that a couple of days after I ate there they were shut down for a 61 health score:

From WSB on November 19th -

"FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. — A Mexican restaurant in Cumming took a big nosedive in its health inspection scores in just four months.

Several of the violations at 7 Tequila's Cantina had to do with how the food in the kitchen was stored and kept, including some improper temperatures.

The Mexican restaurant opened in a strip mall on Post Road within the last year.

On Nov. 8, a Forsyth County health inspection found 11 violations, giving it a failing score of 61.

The violations included the men's restroom not having hot water, pre-cooked food held at temperatures less than 135 degrees and employee tasting personal food on the stove near food for sale.

The inspector also found that food in large containers on the counter tops were not effectively cooling.

The 61 was a big drop from their last inspection in July when they received a 100.

Channel 2's Carol Sbarge was told the owner was not available at the restaurant and has not heard back from him about what's being done to fix the violations.

The restaurant will be re-inspected any day. One worker told Sbarge they take great pride in doing a good job and he believes they'll get a good re-inspection"

In my opinion (along with any other food processional) these guys simply don't know how to run a restaurant.  To go from a score of 100 to a score of 61 in four months clearly tells a story about the lack of professionalism in this place.  Hopefully the guys from Bar Rescue were called for some serious re-training.  Fire your manager and hire someone that actually know what the heck they are doing.  Remember in my last article what I said about the lettering and how it really pointed to the lack of attention to detail? Nuff said and I will never set foot in there again.