Smith's Olde Bar, Atlanta, GA
Once upon a time, on the edges of the city of Atlanta, a little hardware store opened up their doors in a burgeoning area called Morningside Strip Center. The year was 1925 and Morningside was dubbed Atlanta’s first strip mall. Consisting of four beautiful and heavy duty red brick buildings living side-by-side, this “strip mall” is a stark contrast from strip malls today. The stature and quality of the design is probably why people in their newly minted model T Fords flocked to the hardware store, eventually paving the way for the area to grow into Midtown.
The red brick building housing the hardware store managed to stick around for a while, but we don’t know exactly how long. What we do know is that Atlantanites wanted less hardwood and screws and more highballs. The hardware store gave up the ghost and in 1965 became Gene and Gabe’s, a renown dinner theater and cabaret. Aside from being frequented by movie legend Rock Hudson, mobsters and President Jimmy Carter, Gene and Gabe’s had the reputation of being the type of place one goes to have some tasty Italian bites, a few too many drinks and a wandering memory of stage acts gone wrong.
When Gene and Gabe’s glory faded into darkness, Smith’s Olde Bar came into existence in 1993. Now celebrating its 25th year in business, Smith’s Olde Bar is to Atlanta as to what CBGB was to New York. Tapping into the veins of the entertainment roots of the building’s history, Smith’s is 100% rock legend. John Mayer got signed there, Zach Brown launched his career there and bands like Collective Soul, Train, My Morning Jacket, Southern Culture on the Skids, Sean Lennon, Janelle Monae, Kings of Leon, Big Boi, Leon Russell, Juliette Lewis and the Licks, Bush, Todd Nance of Widespread Panic have played there. Musicians love coming to Smith’s, and have even created a room called the “Poop Room.” In the dressing area the “Poop Room” is a wall filled with the scribbles of travelling musicians who leave poop-based puns on band names (e.g. Aeroshit, Fiona Crapple, Poopie and the Blowfish, etc). It’s quite a site to see, and will leave you endlessly laughing.
The decor of Smith’s is covered in dozens if not hundreds of signed posters of the bands that played there. You’ll also find stickers of bands and pretty much anything covering the bathrooms and hallways. The overall feel is a twinge grimy, but clean enough you feel good about eating there. Smith’s feels like it’s got history oozing from its walls. Even the bartop in the main room is covered in brass plaques from drinkers who used to be or are locals their. When you come here, come prepared to earn your keep, or at the very least order the Scofflaw or Sweetwater IPA.
Dan Nolan, owner of Smith’s does and has always put rock front and center, and continues to make a conscious effort to keep both ticket prices and service charges as low as possible. He continually reminds customers that they can always just walk up to the bar on any night and buy a future ticket without any extra fees. With two incredible sound stages, the larger one upstairs, any night is a good night to see some music or some stand-up comedy (little known secret they host open mic night comedy pretty frequently). With history like how Bruce Springsteen and legendary producer Brendan O'Brien slipped in to see Tom Morello, The Nightwatchman, play while they were working on a record in town, or when Vanessa Carlton's piano broke when they were trying to get it up the stairs, Smith’s Olde Bar is an absolute must see, must drink must rock out.
Find some Jager and PBR down at Smith's right now!!!