Thursday, December 31, 2015

wanderlust ATLANTA's 2015 Photo Review

One of my favorite annual posts is wanderlust ATLATNA's year-in-photos review, particularly because it's an opportunity to look back over the last year and relive so many of the fantastic experiences Atlanta offers.

The photos in this post are all ones I made myself! I attended a significant number of performing arts shows this year and most of the photos from those posts are not mine, so I invite you to search through the blog to see the photos and articles from those shows.

In no particular order, here we go...

wanderlust ATLANTA | Atlanta Botanical Garden
wanderlust ATLANTA | Atlanta Botanical Garden

THIS is my absolute favorite 2015 photo. Serendipity can be a photographer's best friend. And it indeed was on this particular day when I visited Atlanta Botanical Garden. The 25-foot Earth Goddess is a visitor favorite and one of mine, too. 

[Summer in the Garden]

wanderlust ATLANTA | Swan House Capitol Tour | Atlanta History Center
wanderlust ATLANTA | Swan House Capitol Tour | Atlanta History Center

I've not yet seen Mockingjay Part 2, but I've toured President Snow's mansion many times. The Swan House Capitol Tour at the Atlanta History Center is brilliant! I highly recommend this tour.

[Swan House Capitol Tour]

wanderlust ATLANTA | 360 Degree Birthday | SkyView Atlanta
wanderlust ATLANTA | 360 Degree Birthday | SkyView Atlanta

I had the BEST birthday in 2015! My dearest friends joined me for a 360 degree tour of downtown Atlanta! We started in the VIP gondola on SkyView Atlanta, had dinner at Sun Dial Restaurant and finished with dessert and drinks at Polaris! It was an awesome celebration.

[360 Birthday Celebration]

wanderlust ATLANTA | Jackson Street Bridge | Big Zombie Tour | Atlanta Movie Tours
wanderlust ATLANTA | Jackson Street Bridge | Big Zombie Tour | Atlanta Movie Tours

I made this photo the second time I went on Atlanta Movie Tours' "Big Zombie Tour - Part 1"...totally awesome! If you're a fan of The Walking Dead, you know this vista well.

[Big Zombie Tour - Part 1]

wanderlust ATLANTA | Big Zombie Tour - Part 2 | Atlanta Movie Tours
wanderlust ATLANTA | Big Zombie Tour - Part 2 | Atlanta Movie Tours

Atlanta Movie Tours' "Big Zombie Tour - Part 2" was amazing! You get to see so much from The Walking Dead series and I met some pretty amazing people!

[Big Zombie Tour - Part 2]

If you live here or have visited regularly, you know that Atlanta is the land of festivals! Seriously, I would be rather shocked to learn that we didn't have some kind of festival every weekend of the year in the Metro area. Yes...we have a LOT of festivals!

One of my favorite, though, is the Atlanta Dogwood Festival, and as much fun as the 2015 festival was, I can hardly wait for the next one—the 2016 Atlanta Dogwood Festival will be the 80th!

[Atlanta Dogwood Festival 2015]

One of my favorite Museum of Design Atlanta (MODA) perks is their "Field Trips"! The one pictured above was a visit to Formations Studio where the new sculpture "Stealth" was made. It's now installed near Peachtree and 15th Streets in front of The Castle.

[Stealth Field Trip]

I love seeing Atlanta Ballet's Nutcracker at the Fox Theatre and the balance of their season at Cobb Energy Performing Arts Center, however I equally love seeing their off-season, off-campus Wabi Sabi performances! The performance above was on the front lawn at the High Museum of was magnificent!

[Atlanta Ballet's Wabi Sabi]

As strong a proponent as I am for effective public transit, I'm still a car enthusiast. The Atlanta International Auto Show is a great time and relatively inexpensive, with superhero performances, test drives, and stunning automobiles! 

If I recall correctly, the 2014 BMW i8 pictured above was priced at $142,000. Unfortunately, I'd left my checkbook at the house. Silly me!

[Atlanta Car Show]

I'd never been to a convention like Dragon Con until I moved back to Atlanta in 2010 and now I can't imagine not going! There's so much fun going on during this four-day fan convention that I wrote six posts about this year's Con! 

Cosplay, one of my favorite aspects of the Con, is wonderful and absolutely super!

[Cosplay at Dragon Con 2015]

The number of programs offered by the Atlanta History Center is amazing...there's something for everyone! Truly!

It's hard to pick a favorite program, but I have attended a number of the "Party With the Past" events, which take place at various historic sites around town. They're consistently loads of fun, educational and I always manage to meet new and interesting people. And the beer is good, too.

[Party With the Past]

It can be great fun when worlds collide. Being a baseball fan and a fan of The Walking Dead, I absolutely had to go to the Atlanta Braves game on Zombie Night at Turner Field, which is where I first met Stan the Zombie!

[Zombie Night at Turner Field]

Orchid Daze at the Atlanta Botanical Garden, an annual event at the Garden, is one that I don't miss. It's consistently gorgeous and oftentimes quite interesting. Starting in February, it's a fun wintertime excursion! 

[Orchid Daze 2015]

My friend Summer Loftin, designer and super-fun human being, had been trying to get me to go to Howard Finster's Paradise Garden for a couple of years. I went this year and had such an incredible experience! This is another must-see!

[Howard Finster's Paradise Garden]

You don't see a lot of peach trees if you live in Atlanta, unless we're talking about street names, but that's a whole other story. I love the dwarf peach trees at the Atlanta Botanical Garden, which typically bloom during the Garden's "Atlanta Blooms!" exhibition.

[Atlanta Blooms 2015]

"Scarecrows in the Garden", another of the Atlanta Botanical Garden's annual events (this one in October), is also great fun. The scarecrows are more fantastical every year. This year, one of my favorites was the "train-farmer" pictured above, which was cleverly placed near the model train display at Alston Overlook.

[Scarecrows in the Garden 2015]

Dragon Con 2015 fun started early in the year with a Dragon Con Night at Medieval Times! There was a significant number of people in the costume contest and we enjoyed the regular dinner and tournament.

I've been to Medieval Times on many occasions—great fun! This particular evening was another example of worlds colliding in a wonderful way...Dragon Con AND Medieval Times!

[Dragon Con at Medieval Times]

Yet another example of worlds colliding was Dragon Con Night at Georgia Aquarium. They sold out! And there was a magnificent costume contest for Dragon Con conventioneers, as well as the whole of Georgia Aquarium being open for our enjoyment. It was an awesome evening!

Pictured above, in a jellyfish costume, is Yaya Han, one of the preeminent cosplayers in the world!

[Dragon Con at Georgia Aquarium]

This is another photo from Dragon Con. It was a happenstance meeting of the Joker and I just love the photo...the vibrant colors of his costume in contrast to the Gotham-esque background was brilliant!

[Reasons to Attend Dragon Con]

I snapped this photo when I was at the High Museum of Art to see an Atlanta Ballet performance, part of their Wabi Sabi program. These "tops" were part of an exhibition called Los Trompos, which was scattered throughout town. Visitors and locals alike had great fun spinning on them and they truly brightened up the High's Sifly Piazza.

[Wabi Sabi & Los Trompos]

I had the pleasure of going on a Peachtree Food Tours tour earlier this year. I enjoyed EVERYTHING about this tour AND I found one of the best burgers I've ever had—the Sublime Doughnut Burger at Cypress Street Pint & Plate! This was such a fun food tour!

[Peachtree Food Tours]

I've long been a fan of The Breman Museum. Their special exhibition "Where the Wild Things Are", which was on exhibit for all of 2015, was magnificent on so many levels. I can hardly wait to see what they bring next!

[Where The Wild Things Are]

The "Victory Tour"—based on The Hunger Games— offered by Atlanta Movie Tours is a brilliant way to spend an afternoon...and see quite a lot of Atlanta! You'll be surprised to see just how much of our grand city is in the movies. I was surprised!

[Victory Tour]

In 2015 I went to the annual Walker Stalker Con for the first time...and quite an experience it was! The cosplayers were brilliant. There were fewer zombies than I expected—but still quite a few—and more diverse theme-relevant costumes.!

[Walker Stalker Con]

I love going to local farmers markets and especially so where there's a local celebrity chef doing a cooking demo. I always know that the days I go to a farmers market that dinner that evening will be one of the best!

[Grant Park Farmers Market]

My blogger friend Terry Kearns—author of Architecture Tourist—was honored by a local artist by painting his face on the side of a building in East cool is that! Terry has been a longtime supporter of wanderlust ATLANTA and an was super exciting to see him honored in this way.

[Big Terry]

I mentioned earlier that the Atlanta History Center has a significant amount of programming for tourists, local and visiting. In addition to the programming they have gardens, historic homes and quite a few museums.

Their Shutze museum opened in 2014, but I didn't post the photos from my first visit—I've been many times throughout 2015—until early this year, the one above being a favorite.

[Mandarin Shutze]

Any excuse to get to experience the Fox Theatre is a good excuse...getting to see "Ghostbusters" was an awesome one! The Fox's Coca-Cola Summer Film Festival is an event that I and thousands of Atlantans look forward to with great anticipation.

[Ghostbusters at the Fox Theatre]

Blogging has afforded me many opportunities to do things that I might not otherwise get to do. It also keeps me aware of a LOT of what's going on in Atlanta. Earlier this year The Cook's Warehouse invited me to a Bloggers-Only Champagne Brunch...great fun! 

I got to hang out with owner Mary Moore, Chef Jennifer Booker and got to meet Chef Hugh Acheson...all during the same outing!

[Hugh Acheson at The Cook's Warehouse]

I'd wanted to see Avenue Q for years and got to see it twice in 2015! I saw the PG-13 version in Piedmont Park and the full version at Conant Theatre at Oglethorpe Univerisity, both productions by Horizon Theatre. I had the great fortune of seeing a number of Horizon Theatre shows this year and I'll be back to see more!

[Avenue Q...twice!]

The Atlanta Botanical Garden's summer exhibition, "Bruce Munro: Light in the Garden", was spectacular! The photo above is one I made when seeing a Wabi Sabi performance by Atlanta Ballet.

[Wabi Sabi at the Garden]

The finale of my 2015 holiday season was seeing The Santaland Diaries at Horizon Theatre...I laughed and laughed and laughed...and got a fun photo with the cast! This was their 17th year and I have no idea what took me so long to see this delightfully wonderful show...I'll definitely be back!

[The Santaland Diaries]

I appreciate your support and encouragement and look forward to bringing more exciting stories and news of events to you throughout 2016. Be sure to follow wanderlust ATLANTA on Facebook!

Happy New Year, everyone! 

Sunday, December 27, 2015

The Santaland Diaries is Naughty and Nice

Your sides are going to hurt and your cheeks will be so sore after laughing and smiling for a solid ninety minutes! The Santaland Diaries at Horizon Theatre is one of the more fun shows I've seen in a long time...and one that, delightfully so during the holiday season, perfectly balances measures of naughty and nice. 

The Santaland Diaries | Horizon Theatre
The Santaland Diaries | Horizon Theatre

Last year I got an awesome photo with Santa Claus (think Vulcan Salute), but I think Barry beat me out this year. Crumpet the elf commandeered Barry during our photo-op, a memory Barry won't soon forget, mostly because it was such great fun.

All theater-goers are invited to make photos with the cast immediately following the show! I recommend dressing festively and NOT wearing a brown sports coat...what was I thinking! In my defense, I came straight from the office. I'll plan something more holiday-appropriate next year.  

The Santaland Diaries | Horizon Theatre
The Santaland Diaries | Horizon Theatre

To give you an idea of the dialogue you may expect, here's an excerpt from The Santaland Diaries:

"Twenty-two thousand people came to see Santa today, and not all of them were well-behaved. Today I witnessed fist-fights and vomiting and magnificent tantrums." - David Sedaris on NPR

Harold M. Leaver has played Crumpet for 17 years, but he's so much more than an elf! This amazing actor holds degrees from Rhodes College and University of Georgia...AND he is a co-founder of Actor's Express! His resume goes on and on, but what you need to know when going in to see The Santaland Diaries is that Leaver is going to make you laugh til it hurts!

The Santaland Diaries | Horizon Theatre
The Santaland Diaries | Horizon Theatre

Lala Cochran plays "sidekick" in The Santaland Diaries. I'm not certain, but I believe they use "sidekick" because the program would be a book if it listed ALL the characters in this show! Both sidekicks perform an incredible number of characters and celebrities, including Cher!

Having seen Lala Cochran in a number of plays over the last couple of years, I've become a huge fan. She's brilliant! And she's fun. Although The Santaland Diaries had been on my "to see" list for a number of years, it was at Lala's mentioning that she would be in this run that prompted my action to finally get tickets.

The Santaland Diaries | Horizon Theatre
The Santaland Diaries | Horizon Theatre

Enoch King, who also plays "sidekick" in The Santaland Diaries, is a riot and delivers punch line after punch line, many of them in for form of facial expressions. This is a fast-paced, quick-witted play with lots of simultaneously delivered, hilarious actions and lines. Some of the humor is subtle, but most of it is in-your-face obvious, all of it hilarious. 

The Santaland Diaries | Horizon Theatre
The Santaland Diaries | Horizon Theatre

Other elf appearances are made by Horizon Theatre Apprentice Company members Nick Suwalski and Jasmine Thomas.

You're going to be blown away by the number of characters and number of costume changes in this's a whirlwind of a performance! 

The Santaland Diaries | Horizon Theatre
The Santaland Diaries | Horizon Theatre

"If you read someone else's diary, you get what you deserve." - David Sedaris

Then National Public Radio (NPR) producer Ira Glass bought David Sedaris, playwright of The Santaland Diaries, to the airwaves of NPR's Morning Edition in 1992. I just listened to their 2015 traditional recording. It made me want to go see The Santaland Diaries at Horizon again! 

This year marks the 17th year that The Santaland Diaries has gleefully entertained audiences at Horizon Theatre. After the show I heard quite a few audience members comment that they had seen the show multiple years, and I totally get it. I will definitely see this one again and again, year after year.

The Santaland Diaries | Horizon Theatre
The Santaland Diaries | Horizon Theatre

Jeff Adler, whom I've not yet had the pleasure of formally meeting, is the returning director of The Santaland Diaries. While I may not have met Jeff yet, anytime I see his or his wife's name—Lisa Adler, who I have had the pleasure of meeting—attached to a production at Horizon Theatre, I know without a doubt that it's going to be magnificent. 

Jeff and Lisa are the Co-Founders and Co-Artistic Directors of Horizon Theatre and the multitude of spectacular plays and performances—since 1983—are testaments to just how brilliant they are!

The Santaland Diaries | Horizon Theatre
The Santaland Diaries | Horizon Theatre

Everyone who attended The Santaland Diaries the night we did will not soon forget Chris, the audience member that Crumpet pulled from his front row seat to participate in the play. I'll leave it at Crumpet has a naughty side—you'll have to witness this fun for yourselves. And Chris' girlfriend was not exempt to the merriment of Crumpet-initiated spontaneous audience involvement. She and Chris, along with a few others incorporated into the spontaneity, were great sports!

The Santaland Diaries | Horizon Theatre
The Santaland Diaries | Horizon Theatre

I haven't mentioned this, but The Santaland Diaries is based on a true story! It recounts the true-life tale of an out-of-work writer's stint as a Macy's Department Store elf. Believe me, you'll be able to relate to much of what is told in this hilarious story!

Remember to stretch your tummy and mouth muscles before the show. But even if you do stretch, you're going to laugh until it hurts, so just plan on that, and get your tickets to see The Santaland Diaries at Horizon Theatre before it closes on Thursday, December 31.

"Thank you!" to the cast for the all the naughty, all the nice, and especially for gifting us an abundance of festivity and hearty laughs!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

The Fabergé of Nutcrackers

A Ballerina, a Nutcracker and a Terrifying Rat King are central characters in a story that's about 100 years old, so you can imagine how many times it's been told and reinterpreted. But none have done it so magnificently as Atlanta Ballet, which has performed what has now been an Atlanta holiday tradition for 20 years at the Fox Theatre.

If you think you've seen Atlanta Ballet's Nutcracker before, think again! This year's performance, its 20th season at the Fox, is even more magical, more entertaining and wrapped with an enormous, tight glittery's the Faberge of any Nutcracker performance I've ever seen!

Atlanta Ballet's Nutcracker | Photo: Charlie McCullers
Atlanta Ballet's Nutcracker | Photo: Charlie McCullers

I probably never told you about my obsession with nutcrackers. I started collecting nutcrackers—had always been fascinated with them—when I lived in Washington, DC. In a mere three years my collection topped off at 65 nutcrackers! 

My sharing that is not to chronicle an obsession, but to note that my intrigue with "Nutcracker" is genuine. When I moved back to Atlanta, I gifted that collection to a friend who I know has used quite a number of them during holiday seasons since.

I've enjoyed various renditions of Nutcracker over the years, but it had not stuck with me that the story takes place in St. Petersburg, Russia. On the other hand, it's difficult to not pick up that it takes place on Christmas Eve. 

Another holiday tradition also dating back more than 100 years were Fabergé's Imperial Eggslavish Easter eggs created by Peter Carl Fabergé for the Russian Imperial family—which were also fashioned in St. Petersburg. Atlanta Ballet's Nutcracker, in my mind, is just as intricately detailed and visually spectacular as the works of Fabergé.

Atlanta Ballet's Nutcracker | Photo: Charlie McCullers
Atlanta Ballet's Nutcracker | Photo: Charlie McCullers

John McFall joined Atlanta Ballet in 1994 as only its third Artistic Director. His retirement from the organization in June 2016 had been previously announced. 

While Atlanta Ballet has performed some version of Nutcracker since 1959, Opening Night of "Atlanta Ballet's Nutcracker" on December 11, 2015, marked the 20th anniversary of what has become one of Atlanta's more beloved traditions, one created by McFarland. 

Immediately prior to the Opening Night performance, McFall was presented a Phoenix Award, the highest honor bestowed by Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, recognizing McFall's outstanding leadership and contributions to Atlanta. It was heart-touching to see Atlanta recognize Mr. McFall in this well-deserved. 

My friend Michelle Khouri, Editor of Where Atlanta, tapped John McFall for an exclusive interview about his time with Atlanta Ballet. I encourage you to read it! (interview

Atlanta Ballet's Nutcracker | Photo: Charlie McCullers
Atlanta Ballet's Nutcracker | Photo: Charlie McCullers

Always an audience favorite, Mother Matrushka’s gown is made of 25 yards of red jacquard. The dancer who wears the 75-pound costume stands on a platform 15-feet tall...and, surprise-surprise, Mother Matrushka is always played by a man.

Arrive early enough to make a photo with a larger-than-life Nutcracker—on the balcony level—or make time during the 25-minute intermission. If you drive, I highly recommend pre-purchasing your parking and remember that traffic is always heavier during the, make plenty of time to get to theatre and relax into the show.

Atlanta Ballet's Nutcracker | Photo: Charlie McCullers
Atlanta Ballet's Nutcracker | Photo: Charlie McCullers

I was impressed to see Alan Vella, President & CEO, Fox Theatre, there on Opening Night. This Atlantan is grateful to see our attractions—whether attended by faithful fans or visiting tourists—supported by their executives. It speaks volumes when I see that they're as invested as those spending their time and money to support the arts and the local economy. "Thank you, Mr. Vella!" for being at the ballet!

Preparation for Nutcracker begins in early August and goes through November to ensure every detail is in place for opening night in early December, including the transport of all the lighting, scenery and costumes from the Ballet's West Midtown campus. And Atlanta Ballet's Nutcracker is the only version in the metro area performed with a live orchestra and choir! 

Atlanta Ballet's Nutcracker | Photo: Charlie McCullers
Atlanta Ballet's Nutcracker | Photo: Charlie McCullers

Atlanta Ballet premiered George Balanchine's Nutcracker—second act only—in April of 1959, not December, making it one of the first companies in the U.S. to perform what would soon thereafter become a holiday classic. The full-length version of Nutcracker was first performed by Atlanta Ballet in 1962. Atlanta Ballet’s third and current artistic director John McFall recreated Nutcracker in 1995. 

Over the past 20 years, since McFall created "Atlanta Ballet’s Nutcracker", more than 3,000 metro Atlanta children have performed in the production, which was created especially for the city of Atlanta.

Nutcracker, at the Fox Theatre through Sunday, December 27, is the opening show of Atlanta Ballet's 2015-2016 season, which has some other fantastic shows coming up! In particular, I'm personally looking forward to "Moulin Rouge: The Ballet", as well a couple of world premieres!

See you at the ballet!

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Goodbye and Good Luck to The Brickery

I recently had the great honor of meeting Bruce and Sally Alterman, two remarkable and delightful people who are the owners of The Brickery Grill & Bar. The connection was graciously conducted by Sandy Springs Hospitality and Tourism, one that I would not have made in time otherwise. I'm grateful I had the opportunity to experience this amazing dining destination!


This was my first visit to The Brickery and unfortunately my last visit. I had an exceptional experience, however, to the dismay of countless loyal customers, the restaurant is closing on Wednesday, December 23, 2015. 

In my conversations with Bruce and Sally, and witnessing many touching longtime customer interactions, it became distinctly obvious that The Brickery has been more than a local restaurant. It has been a restaurant "home"; it has been the place where many citizens of Sandy Springs "grew up". 

They hadn't planned to close, but the strip of real estate on which The Brickery resides was purchased by big-business developers. Bruce and Sally have explored the area for a suitable site, with an approachable price, for a privately-owned restaurant, but to no avail. So far... 

Caesar Burger | The Brickery
House Caesar Burger | The Brickery


While Bruce and Sally are open to the possibility of reopening somewhere else nearby, should this indeed be the final week of The Brickery, there's still one last hurrah on the calendar...the 2016 South Beach Wine & Food Festival in Florida!

They won Hellman's "Best Burger in Atlanta" competition, beating out 12 other local finalists, and will be competing with celebrity chefs from all over the United States! Yes, they informed the organization that they are closing, but they're still invited to compete!

One of their signature dishes, the customer favorite House Caesar Burger, will compete in the 10th annual "Burger Bash" to be held on Friday, February 26, 2016. As of this writing, VIP tickets have sold out, BUT there are tickets still available for the main Burger Bash event, which I'm sure will also sell out. 

The year's Burger Bash will be hosted by celebrity chef and television sensation Rachel Ray! The panel of judges is equally awesome with David Burtka, Neil Patrick Harris and Natalie Morales!

The Food Network & Cooking Channel South Beach Wine & Food Festival event, presented by FOOD & WINE, is insanely popular! "Bring home that trophy, Sally and Bruce!

Sally and Bruce Alterman | The Brickery
Sally and Bruce Alterman | The Brickery


Sally and Bruce expressed only the sincerest appreciation and gratitude toward their customers and staff. They've created a unique restaurant "culture". I've rarely seen a community like what The Brickery has created, and I love it when I do see it. I invite you to check out their Facebook page for some of the wonderful customer comments...these restaurateurs are definitely going to be missed!

Bruce and Sally opened their first restaurant four years before The Brickery. Bruce's brother was operating Perimeter Cafe at Perimeter Mall—I'm certain I dined there, given I worked at Perimeter Mall part-time when I first lived in Atlanta in the late 80s. They succeeded as restaurateurs, with Perimeter Cafe II, in a space where there had previously been four restaurants in only five years! 

That's also where they started catering. Not wanting a second restaurant—they didn't want to be sweet!—catering became an additional revenue stream, one that they've continued during their 24 years at The Brickery.

When I asked Sally what advice she would give someone wanting to get into the restaurant business, she offered, "Know how to run a business and love people." She explained that it wasn't just about the recipes. You can have stellar food and run a business into the can have amazing recipes, but if you're not a people person, it's not going to thrive. After 24 years at The Brickery, Sally and Bruce obviously are business savvy and love their customers as much as their customers love them.

Knowing it would be a challenge to name a single favorite memory during The Brickery's 24 years, I asked Sally for just one of her favorite moments. She immediately cited the day that they got to cater the 100th birthday of Garnett Cobb, the "Queen of the Sandy Springs". The event was held at Heritage Sandy Springs, a non-profit and park that is part of Garnett's legacy. 

Garnett had visited The Brickery for her birthday every year for years. She passed away at 104 years of age in 2013, certainly missed by many Sandy Springs citizens and friends.

Onion Rings | The Brickery
Onion Rings | The Brickery


While Sally noted that knowing how to run a business and possessing a love for people are key to success, I think their incredible food is the icing on the cake...The Brickery has amazing food! I believe one of the keys to their culinary success is that they're a "scratch house". 

As Bruce puts it, regarding the competition, "We cut. They pour." Meaning that The Brickery cooks from fresh, scratch ingredients instead of using mass quantity factory-manufactured products. As a foodie, I can tell you that that makes a huge difference in food quality...The Brickery "gets it".

Check out the plump, vibrant red, vine ripened tomatoes pictured on their Facebook timline and you'll see with your own eyes just how fresh and delicious the food is. They source tomatoes, corn and other items from a farm in Lumpkin County, where they also have a cabin. I've enjoyed a number of visits to Lumpkin County, specifically Dahlonega, which is quite lovely.

I haven't shared with you the specifics of the Caesar Burger! Hands down, it's one of the best burgers I've had. I say "hands down" deliberately...I made the mistake of trying to pick up the burger with my hands, even after having been sufficiently warned. This is a messy burger! In all the best ways. 

I do not recall the specific order of the burger's layers, but it includes: buns that are offered in whole wheat or sesame egg (I enjoyed the latter); two different layers of shredded lettuce; their house-made creamy Caesar dressing (delish!); grated mild cheddar cheese; and an 8 oz. beef patty...and lots of magnificent flavor! Just remember to roll up your sleeves!

In addition to my amazing Caesar Burger, I enjoyed a side of onion rings...the best I've had in years! I demolished the burger and every single onion ring on my plate! Another best-seller is the restaurant's fried chicken. Bruce treated me to a's outstanding! I totally get why it's so tastes perfectly homemade!

A fellow foodie friend of mine has been to The Brickery many, many times and raved about the Caesar Burger and said also that their seafood is fantastic. And she highly recommended their martinis, which of course I had to sample—also very well done! She's such a fan that the next morning when I was talking about my experience, she decided to go to The Brickery that evening. Good reports all around!

The Brickery
The Brickery


The restaurant's tagline, "Casual Dining...Serious Food", is exactly what diners experience. Speaking of casual, Bruce pointed out to me that some of the staff were in t-shirts and jeans, a perk (to be able to wear jeans on these final days) he and Sally extended the staff if they'd wear a "Caesar Burger" t-shirt, which many accepted. I'm impressed that they've done so much to make closing as painless as possible for their employees.

When I arrived, the restaurant was packed! I was graciously offered a table, but was dining on my own that night so I opted for a seat at the bar (pictured above), which had a great view of the whole of the!

Please allow me to share with you a bit about the staff at The Brickery. Since the announcement in November that the restaurant will be closing on December 23, there have been ZERO employees to leave. That, my friends, is loyalty...they truly must love their Brickery family!

How have they managed to keep employees who know their last day will be two days before Christmas? Many of them have worked there for many, many years. The two ladies who waited on me have been there for 9 and 19 years! You really do get a sense of family when you're there. 

Also, Bruce and Sally started a reverse customer appreciation campaign. I've never heard of something like this, but then I saw it in action. They're accepting donations from longtime customers to go into a bonus fund that will be distributed to all the staff when they close. The fund already has thousands of dollars

While I was talking with Bruce, a former employee—one who started with them when the restaurant opened in 1992—who had dined there that night came up to Bruce and handed him a check for $200 to put into the fund. Another customer later gave him $400 cash for the campaign...and those are just the ones I personally witnessed! What a wonderful demonstration that customers are so appreciative of the service they received over the was quite touching.

Yet another endearing moment, The Brickery's former Kitchen Manager's wife and mother stopped by for a visit. After working with Bruce and Sally for 22 years, he lost a battle with cancer. His mother was in town and wanted to see where he had worked all those years. The mother was elated to see so much happiness in the restaurant...such a touching moment.

It saddens me that such a treasure in Sandy Springs is closing, but it was quite remarkable to see the outpouring of love for the restaurant, for its staff and for Sally and Bruce.

I'd like to offer a huge wanderlust ATLANTA "Thank you!" to Sandy Springs Hospitality and Tourism for connecting me with Bruce and Sally, and a huge "Thank you!" to Bruce and Sally for the dining experience and delicious food, and to The Brickery staff for being so awesome! 

If you're interested in obtaining a piece of Sandy Springs history in the form of furniture or kitchen items from The Brickery, they're holding an auction on Tuesday, January 5. Stop by and do tell all of your restaurateur and foodie friends!


What's next for The Brickery? After the Burger Bash competition at the 2016 South Beach Wine & Food Festival things are up in the air. We may be in the final few days of one of Sandy Spring's most beloved dining destinations. 

On the other hand, they're open to possibilities, so they just might be back...

(All photos in the post are courtesy of The Brickery) (This is not a paid story. All opinions are sincere and my own.)