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The Vortex Blog


I find it confusing when people post angry reviews on our Facebook Fan Page about things we are OPENLY OFFERING TO THE PUBLIC. I mean, it’s not like we’re trying to trick anyone. In fact, we have always strived to be as transparent as possible. Much more so than many other establishments. So why are these people still mad? It’s just weird. Below is the latest example of foolishness we received via Facebook:

Vortex-L5P Facebook Review by Carlos Assaf, 1-star, 10/4/15.
“Really, you allow smoking? How am I supposed to enjoy my meal with he smell of smoke. Not coming back.”

The Vortex Reply:
Dear Mr. Assaf,
Thank you so much for your one-star review on our Fan Page. You are obviously quite a fan. Yes, we do indeed allow smoking on The Vortex premises. We have since 1992. To help avoid any inconvenience for potential customers, we post a very detailed list of company policies on our website (and our menus). This way, people know what they’re getting themselves into BEFORE they visit our bar. That being said, I am more than happy to hold your hand through the process. Below you will find several pertinent examples of Vortex policies taken directly from our website:

While we’re happy to welcome smokers and non-smokers alike, we will never tolerate crybabies. So if your personal preference is to avoid being around any amount of smoke, then this may not be the place for you. That’s okay. Don’t be mad. We’re not. There are many “smoke-free” establishments in town that will gladly welcome your business. We believe that freedom of choice should always be celebrated, as it’s a rare commodity these days.

We’re sorry if you don’t like what we do, or how we do it. We’re sorry if you think our bar is too crowded or smoky, or the music is too loud. We’re sorry if you’re offended by the foul-mouthed strippers sitting at the table next to you. On occasion, The Vortex may get a little rowdy. It’s kind of what we do. Sorry, but we’re really not sorry. If you need to have total control over your environment at all times, then you should probably just stay home. Nobody likes a whiner.

We are realists. We completely understand that some people will like what we offer, and others will not. And that’s totally okay. We have never tried to be all things to all people. We just do what we do, for the people that like what we do. After all, we couldn’t have grown our business over the years without our loyal fans. So running our bar is like hosting a big party for our best friends. That’s why our staff is genuine, fun, friendly and ultimately, professional. It’s also why we offer a lively atmosphere, award-winning food and an extensive selection of booze and specialty cocktails. All day. Every day. We do what we do because we love our loyal fans. And our loyal fans love us in return. When it comes right down to it, The Vortex is really all about the love. Maybe some “hater’s gonna hate,”   but nobody wants those idiots spoiling everyone else’s fun anyway.


In the past, when people would post stupid comments on our Vortex Facebook page, I always enjoyed using the “delete and ban” function. Bye bye, dum dums. But thanks to Facebook’s endless so-called “improvements,” these whiners can now upload “reviews” to our fan page that we can’t remove. Thanks a lot, Zuckerberg. I never reply to these posts because arguing with idiots is tiresome and pointless. Instead, I’ll just blog about them and hope our fans get a kick out of it. That’s more fun for me anyway. So let’s consider this little brain fart we got from Brenda:

*The Vortex-Midtown, by Brenda M., 8/31/15, 1-star (*Edited for length.)
“I had a terrible experience here yesterday. I forgot my ID and though I offered to show them a picture of my license I have on my phone, they would not budge. So I had to drive 35 mins back to my house. More than one hour wasted. My brother and sister stayed and had dinner so I asked them to buy me a burger and fries to-go and I would just eat it when I got back. As I sat in the outside patio eating my burger, a tall heavy set man came out and proceeded to tell me that I had to leave as others may want to use the table. Unbelievable, the food I was eating was from their restaurant and I had every right to sit at a table. Not to mention their license policy had just made me waste time and gas. The burger was good though I do give them that. But the atrocious customer service I experienced here is unacceptable.”

Okay, let’s pretend some people don’t understand driving without a license is illegal. Then it’s not much of a stretch to assume they wouldn’t know bars often check IDs at the door, and that a picture of your license on your phone doesn’t really cut it. “OMG you guys, adulting is like totally super-hard!”  We know, sweet pea. We really want to help you, but until we finish The Vortex brain implant, you’ll just have to learn to read. It’s not like we hide our policies. They’re posted on our walls, on our menus and quite literally all over our website. Here’s a perfect example: “No ID = No entry. If you didn’t bring your ID with you, and are denied access to The Vortex, it’s your own damned fault for being a dumb-ass.” As you can see, we try to make things very clear for patrons unfamiliar with the customs of our country, and for people who have suffered severe head trauma.

As if requiring legal ID wasn’t confusing enough, there’s that other totally perplexing policy too. You know, the one about not sitting your silly ass down wherever you please while other patrons are waiting patiently. What’s that all about? Yeah, as crazy as it seems, we actually pay a person to monitor a list and seat people as tables become available. We call this person the “host.” Checking-in with the host is usually a pretty good idea. But when you’re a perfect little snowflake, company policies, laws, and even plain-old common sense really don’t concern you very much. After all, why should they? You’re special.


In 1997, when we decided to relocate The Vortex from West Peachtree to Peachtree Street, people did not hesitate to tell us we were crazy. And maybe we were. After all, the stretch of Peachtree we moved to was pretty sketchy. None of today’s soaring modern condo towers or fancy shops existed. Far from it. The area had more of a post-apocalyptic, urban wasteland feel to it in those days.

For instance, just one block south of our new location, the Atlanta Cabana Hotel had represented the pinnacle of mid-century modern design when it originally opened in 1958. But as people began abandoning the city for the suburbs in the late ‘60s and ‘70s, it fell into disrepair. During one of its final incarnations as a Quality Inn, it was routinely rented out to a variety of unorthodox groups. A girlfriend of mine once had her nipples pierced at a “Sex Toy” convention held there. Well, actually only one nipple. She couldn’t take the pain. Anyway, by the time we had moved to the neighborhood, the hotel had been permanently shuttered, and sat decaying behind a rusty chain link fence.

The soviet-style brick building that we actually moved into was originally built in 1950. It served as offices for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and later the Georgia Department of Human Resources. The government eventually abandoned the site in the early ‘90s, as the area became increasingly seedy. The building remained boarded-up and blighted until it was acquired by local developer, Jim Borders. His idea was to redevelop the property into apartments with retail spaces on the bottom floor, and open in time for the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games. I’m sure a lot of people thought he was crazy too.

Directly behind us, Cypress Street literally had a world-wide reputation as the place to pick-up male prostitutes. The scene reminded me of the Native American legend that described a time when a warrior could walk from horizon to horizon on the backs of the buffalo without stepping on the ground. Sure, there were a lot of buffalo on the great plains, but I’m guessing there were actually more hustlers behind The Vortex. In fact, you couldn’t drive your car down the street without nudging them out of the way. If you did manage to squeeze through, these young men would openly display their sizeable packages for your inspection, day or night. They were just remarkably friendly, in a terrifying sort of way.

Directly across the street was a Citco gas station that we lovingly referred to as the “Crack-co,” because drug dealers openly sold crack in the parking lot. Catty-corner was a boarded-up Krystal, and just beyond that was the notorious Backstreet nightclub. Originally opened in 1975, this was one of a handful of Atlanta clubs that operated 24/7. They featured a long-running drag show which was immensely popular with both a gay and straight clientele. This place was actually pretty awesome. I’m not ashamed to admit that I stumbled out of its dark depths into the morning sunshine on more than one occasion. But eight years after we moved in to our new location, the forces of politics and gentrification finally caught up with Backstreet, and it too was replaced with a shiny new condo high-rise.

Sometimes the nostalgic side of me yearns for a $3 pitcher of beer at the Stein Club, the smoky dive bar that served as refuge from the trendy Buckhead bar scene of the day. Or a bowl of seafood etouffee from the little French Quarter Food Shop, served-up by Missy, the diminutive owner with the mouth of a sailor. But sadly, those spots were also demolished to make room for more redevelopment. To some it may seem that The Vortex was part of the first wave of urban-pioneers willing to invest in a questionable part of Atlanta. But in hindsight, what I have come to realize, is that The Vortex is actually one of the last remaining links to the “good ol’ days” of drinking and debauchery in this town. So if anyone wants to join me in a toast to those times, you’ll find me sitting at my bar. Come on in. Everyone is still welcome here.

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