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The Colonnade is the tallest building in the United States outside of Chicago. It was designed to be an urban oasis, with balconies for residents. But, of course, it's not just the prettiest thing in Atlanta, but that. The Colonnade offers resale condominiums that are rent-controlled, and it has won numerous architectural awards for its innovative design by American firm John Portman & Associates.
My father, Paul Jones, responded to an ad for this restaurant being for sale in 1979. Jack Clark, who owned it at the time, was very particular. He wanted to make sure that the Colonnade went in the hands of somebody who would preserve it, so he had my dad take him back to small-town Michigan, where my family’s originally from, so that he could meet everyone. Then they came back to Atlanta, and that was it. My dad bought the restaurant when he was 29, and he still owns it at 68. I’ve grown up in this place since I was nine. My husband David works here too.
Many of the Colonnade’s existing customers—gay, gray, or neither—come here for comfort of two kinds: a good meal and good company. “You know, customers will go visit these new places that open up, and they might go a time or two,” says Rhea Merritt, another bartender. “But you know where they come back to? They come back to the Colonnade.” Here’s the story of this much-loved Atlanta institution, told by the people who know it best, on its 90th birthday
In the dining room, longtime customer Micki Slaton is slipping chef Ryan Cobb a five-dollar bill. “If I cook her chicken livers right, she gives me $5, every time,” says Cobb. “Fried chicken livers or fried tilapia, that’s her order.” On the other end of the unpretentious 165-seat room is former U.S. Senator Max Cleland, who takes his supper at the Colonnade two or three nights a week, tucking into some warm yeast rolls. At the bar, a few couples, some straight, some gay, as well as one man wearing a blue sundress, order Randy Ritas, top-shelf margaritas named for a beloved regular. “Oh, they know they can come in here dressed like women and no one bats an eye,” says bartender Jay Skinner.
The restaurant prides itself on its homemade sauces, dressings, yeast rolls, and pies. For the ultimate finish, treat yourself to one of The Colonnade’s amazing desserts, from strawberry shortcake and hot fudge cake to all manner of pies, including coconut iced box pie, key lime pie, apple pie, and Georgia peach cobbler, in slice or whole pie form. (Source: www.atlantaluxuryrentals.com)