Serving Burgers & Booze Since 1992 view shopping cart


As it says right on the cover of our menu, “Everything we offer is bad for you.” Since 1992, The Vortex has always been the place where you can eat, drink and, yes, smoke to your heart’s content. And many people stand by the old cliché, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” But the plain truth is, we’ve noticed fewer and fewer of our customers utilizing the option to smoke at our bar. And we’ve also seen a significant decrease in the number of our employees who smoke. A few years back it was 100%. Now, it’s definitely a minority

Times change, and people’s preferences often change right along with them. Since we are in the business of keeping our loyal fans happy, we decided to get their thoughts on our current smoking policy. For the entire month of January 2019, we made an online Smoking Survey available through our website. The response we received was overwhelming. Close to 11,000 people shared their opinions with us. We are truly humbled that so many people care about The Vortex enough to participate in our little survey. This just reinforces the fact that Vortex fans are absolutely the best.

Now let’s get down to the numbers. Of people who took this survey, 60.6% claim to have been patrons of The Vortex for 6 years or more, 20.6% stated they have been patrons for 3-5 years, and 8.3% said they are not currently patrons. So, a large majority of those who took the survey actually do patronize The Vortex on a regular basis. That’s a good start.

What was the breakdown of smokers to non-smokers taking the survey? Well, 54.6% of the respondents said that they have never smoked and another 25.7% said that they used to smoke but no longer do. This means 80% of our patrons are non-smokers. That leaves about 20% of survey-takers who claim that they currently smoke: 10.2% of them are social smokers and 9.5% smoke regularly. According to the CDC (if you believe them), approximately 15% of adults in the U.S. smoke these days. According to our survey, it seems Vortex patrons may smoke slightly more than the average American. Sort of. Maybe. Or maybe not.

The big question of “How does our current smoking policy affect your patronage?” had some of the most dramatic results. A 51.5% majority of survey-takers claim that they do not patronize The Vortex (or patronize less) because smoking is allowed and 38.6% said that our smoking policy does not affect their patronage one way or another (because they love The Vortex so much). That leaves only 9.9% of survey-takers that patronize The Vortex specifically because they can smoke at the bar. That 50% to 10% margin is pretty extreme.

The final question had equally extreme results. It asked, “Would you favor The Vortex becoming a ‘smoke-free’ establishment in 2019?” A whopping 69.5% of survey-takers said that they would like to see our smoking policy change, and 9.3% said they had no opinion on the matter. The remaining 21.2% of people said they did not want our smoking policy to change. However, many in this group qualified their response with the comment that they did not want the smoking policy to change only because they did not want The Vortex to become “all-ages” again. That was a pretty common theme in all of the comments. Don’t worry, folks. That’s not happening.

Our fans have spoken, and we have made a decision. Ready? Here it is: Smoking will no longer be allowed anywhere INSIDE our premises. However, since smoking has always been an option at The Vortex, and since a slightly higher than average percentage of our clientele may actually smoke, we will still offer smokers the option to do their thing outdoors.

At The Vortex-Midtown, the smoking of cigarettes (and e-cigarettes) will be allowed when dining outside on our sidewalk patio. At The Vortex-L5P, smoking will be allowed on the open fenced waiting area just outside the bar, known as the “playpen.” The smoking of cigars, pipes, clove cigarettes or anything deemed “illegal” by the evil overlords will continue to be forbidden. These policy changes will all go into affect immediately at both Vortex locations – like, right now, even as you’re reading this – right in the middle of Atlanta’s 2019 Super Bowl celebration.

We believe that this policy change will help satisfy the largest number of patrons possible. I suppose many people will celebrate these decisions, while others may be slightly disappointed. But I hope everyone keeps one thing in perspective. As always, we are doing our best to please our core group of supporters. And this really is only about a smoking policy in a bar. So relax. Everything will be fine. Just take a deep breath – in the newly clean air of The Vortex.

125 thoughts on “THE RESULTS ARE IN”

  1. Some Guy says:

    It’s a shame that you now have to change your advertising from “Vortex is the #1 place for smoking” to the extremely lame “Vortex is the #1 place for infinite beer, epic burgers, and ATL debauchery.” Looking forward to inviting my friends down to visit the bar again. Thanks!

    1. Michael Benoit says:

      Some Guy,
      “Infinite Beer, Epic Burgers and Atlanta Debauchery.” I like it. I may even use it. Thanks. We look forward to helping you and your friends make some very bad decisions in the near future.

  2. JoAnn Hodgson says:

    Awesome news!!! I will be there as soon as the superbowl crowds leave!!

    1. Michael Benoit says:

      We’re glad you approve. We’ll be looking for you next week! You’d better not be teasing us.

  3. Jennifer says:

    Thanks for asking our opinion before you changed the policy. I am glad that I wont smell like smoke anymore, and I still won’t have to deal with children.

    1. Michael Benoit says:

      I can tell you, after being in business over a quarter century, any time we change anything, someone will cry about it. Since this policy change was a big one, we wanted to make sure it was really what our loyal supporters wanted us to do. The results of our poll were overwhelming. And yes, we are still 21+. No children – no smoking. Now that’s what we call a “Happy Meal.”

  4. Chris Collier says:

    I love THE VORTEX but have not been in years because of the smoking policy. I will start eating there again.

    1. Michael Benoit says:

      We’re always glad to hear about LOVE for The Vortex. Sorry we’ve been so stinky. Hope to see you soon.

  5. Anthony says:

    Thank you for taking the time and caring enough to engage with and identify the customers wants/needs.

    My wife and I went to the L5P location once when we moved here and although we loved the food and staff we are both non-smokers and that deterred us from returning so this news is great for us.

    My only question is, now that you’re going smoke free indoors, do you plan on giving the inside a few fresh coats of paint to rid the joint of the smoke odor or do you plan on leaving it as is for good ole times sake lol?

    1. Michael Benoit says:

      We did not take this decision lightly. That’s why we decided a poll was in order. We were floored that we received 11,000 responses. Our fans have spoken and we have heard them. We’re also happy to hear that you will no longer hesitate to visit. As to your question, since we’re constantly cleaning, painting and renovating (to keep things fresh), any lingering “ashtray” smell will probably dissipate pretty quickly.

  6. Leslie Byrd says:

    This is awesome and I fully support this decision!

    1. Michael Benoit says:

      Thank you for your support. We’ve been getting quite a lot of it. After receiving so much input, now I feel like, “what the hell were we waiting for?” Hindsight is 20/20, I guess.

  7. Casey says:

    I love how thorough you’ve been on this. I truly appreciate the transparency and will continue to patronize your establishments.

    Bonus! I can come during work hours and not leave smelling like smoke.

    I still think if you need a compromise that people should be able to smoke at night. But from the sounds of it, it’s such a minority that it isn’t needed.

    Thank you for listening to your customers.

    1. Michael Benoit says:

      Since The Vortex is an Atlanta institution, we did not want to take this decision lightly. We are so thankful to all the people who responded to our survey, and helped us make this decision. And the fact is, many of our smoking patrons were already stepping outside to smoke, because they’re considerate. That option is still available. We like to think that we have developed an awesome clientele over the years – and we always want to deliver a great Vortex experience.

  8. Andy says:

    Hot damn, this is awesome! Thanks Vortex folks.

    1. Michael Benoit says:

      YOU are awesome. And you are welcome! Hope to see you soon.

  9. David Diaz says:

    Finally I can go back to eating the best burger & wings in town. I quit going the last ten years only because of the cigarette smoke. I will be there in the ASAP.

    1. Michael Benoit says:

      Ten years?! Wow! You’re like the Prodigal Son. Of course we’ll be glad to have you back ASAP.

  10. Tony Sullivan says:

    Will the Vortex remain 21+?

    1. Michael Benoit says:

      It seems that many people were afraid that if we were to become “smoke-free,” we would also return to an “all ages” policy. Nope. That’s not happening. The Vortex is a bar designed for adults, and adult fun – and that is not going to change. Besides, what would we do with the #DickOfDestiny if we started letting the kiddies back in?

  11. Trinkett says:

    Well done, Well Done 👍👍

    1. Michael Benoit says:

      We prefer Medium to Medium-rare. But thank you for your congratulations. Hope to see you soon.

  12. Sel says:

    It saddens me bc like you stated…everything here is bad for you. On top of that your value has always been basically if you don’t like the way we run it then leave.
    With that being said I feel like you have caved into the overlords (so to speak)
    Just my opinion but you’ve let the man win and your whole persona just crumbled.
    Still love the vortex but will see it differently now as I don’t believe the badass rebel is there anymore.
    Still nuthin but love tho

    1. Michael Benoit says:

      To clarify, this decision had nothing to do with “caving-in to the overlords.” This was a business decision made by us, NOT a government decree (like the Smoke-free Air Act of 2005). We’re in business to provide our customers with the best possible experience, in line with our concept. People vote for us with their dollars, and these interactions are still 100% voluntary. Meaning, if anyone does not appreciate anything about our business (including our latest decision on smoking), they are still free to patronize other places more in-line with what they’re looking for. And as all loyal Vortex fans know, we’re all about the LOVE, baby!

    2. Robert Horton says:

      Uhh…polling your customers is “caving to the overlords”? Lol. It’s just a sign of changing times. Smoke isn’t some ethereal concept or a picture on the wall; it’s a barrier to many people who have a hard time enjoying themselves due to stinging eyes, sore throat, and lingering stank. Better experience for most customers > a minor inconvenience for a few. Don’t let knee jerk emotions override logic, Sel! This is the sign of a good business that appreciates their customers!

  13. Ed says:

    And this is why I’ll always be a patron of the Vortex: you guys actually listen to your patrons. (And by the way, I’m no longer a smoker but voted against changing the smoking policy) Keep on rocking it guys.

    1. Michael Benoit says:

      Everything we do is about pleasing our awesome patrons (and NOT the idiots). That’s how we’ve developed such a kick-ass clientele over the years. Thank you for your support. We hope to be rocking it right up until the apocalypse – and maybe beyond.

  14. Shea says:

    As a long time customer who doesn’t smoke and actually suffers allergic reactions when around smoking, this makes me so happy! It never stopped me from coming completely, it it did make my visits less frequent than I would have liked. I really appreciate and respect your incredibly thorough research and value of customer input. Still the best burgers in town, hands down!

    1. Michael Benoit says:

      Even though you suffer from allergies, you still patronized our bar. That is some serious love! And yes, we always do our best to give our supporters what they are looking for. The Vortex is the Godfather of all Atlanta burger joints, and we agree with you – still the best burgers in town. Thank you for being a die-hard supporter over the years. We’ll be happy to see more of you in the future.

  15. Kitty says:

    Bust out a 5-gallon spray tub of Febreeze ’cause it’s going to smell like a dirty ol’ ashtray in there. LOL.

    1. Michael Benoit says:

      Believe it or not, we have always had an extensive and thorough cleaning protocol in place at The Vortex, so we’re sure any lingering “smoky” smell will not last long. Only time will tell.

  16. Theresa says:

    That’s great! Now I will go to the Vortex👍

    1. Michael Benoit says:

      Come on down!

  17. John Martin says:

    Looking forward to coming more often on date nights with the wife!!! See you next week. I promise you the conversation of if we want to go and smell like smoke did reduce the number of visits. Not an issue now.

    1. Michael Benoit says:

      Happy to hear your hesitation about visiting The Vortex has dissipated along with the cigarette smoke. See you next week – and every week!

  18. Jack says:

    Amazing! I’m coming back.

    1. Michael Benoit says:

      Glad to have you back!

  19. Johan Andren says:

    Thank you for the great article. Can the comments be made public for transparency in the study?

    1. Michael Benoit says:

      I’m glad you enjoyed my Blog. We received about 11,000 comments through the Smoking Survey, so making them all “public” is not really practical. But, I did post a selection of them in my Blog titled “Smoking Survey Update.” You can see them at this link:

  20. Doc Wixson and friends says:

    Suzanne and clan have always presented the most intelligent approach (whether politically correct or not) to business in a F&B establishment. The wait staff is always knowledgeable. The food, always delicious and the overall experience is good enough to warrant our drive from Cartersville, Georgia! Whether smokers or non-smokers in our group, smoking indoors or out, we will continue our 50 plus mile trek to The Vortex, our favorite Atlanta eatery, in 2019 and beyond. Thank you Vortex for all you do and everything that you are!

    1. Michael Benoit says:

      Any friend of my sister is a friend of mine (and of The Vortex)! You know that we do what we do for the people who love what we do, so thank you for your continued (long-distance) support.

  21. Lisa S. says:

    It would have been nice for your smoking (both real and e-cigs) the option of smoking outside in the upstairs area. Have the best of both worlds (no smoking inside but welcome to outside upstairs).

    1. Michael Benoit says:

      We considered that, but our upstairs patio in Little 5 Points has a roof over it, and is closed-up in the colder (and hotter) months of the year, so it’s just not really feasible for use as a smoking section. But the “playpen” (open patio) is easily accessible from all other areas of The Vortex-L5P.

  22. Maria says:

    Will the Vortex L5P continue to be 18+? One of my favorite reasons to go to the Vortex L5P is the absence of screaming spawnlings. I support a childfree Vortex and the continued presence of adult content.

    1. Michael Benoit says:

      The Vortex is actually 21+, and yes – this will continue to be our policy. Like you, we also support a child-free Vortex, and the continued presence of adult content. Adult fun is good fun!

  23. Rick Parker says:

    FYI: You did not “cave to the man.” You carefully considered the needs of the majority of your customers. I’ve always loved the Vortex smoky or not, but you made the right call. Good on you!

    1. Michael Benoit says:

      You are a gentleman and a scholar. Thank you for being so insightful. We think we made the right call too.

  24. Melody says:

    I gotta say, I understand your edgy nature and that it’a a part of your kitsch, but I also appreciate you taking a data based approach to your business policies, and making a change where it seems clear that it’s warranted. This alone means I’ll be back for sure. I know some will be disappointed, but I’m for one relieved. Kick on the deep fryer, and get the tots ready!

    1. Michael Benoit says:

      If we really are edgy, it’s only because we are a family-owned business and not some crap-tastic chain restaurant. Part of the reason we’ve been in business since 1992 is because we have always done whatever we can to give our core supporters exactly what they’re looking for from The Vortex. We may have been behind the curve a little on this one, but better late than never, right?

  25. Mike says:

    Nicely done, guys. Good on ya for listening to the majority but not forgetting the minority. I’m a former smoker and being around it in a bar setting wont stop me from coming, but I HATE it when I’m eating, and your food is too damn good not to enjoy to the fullest. These rules are fair, and everybody gets to still enjoy what you guys offer.

    1. Michael Benoit says:

      It’s impossible to please everyone, so all we can do is try to please the majority of our core supporters the best we can. Most smokers are accustomed to stepping outside to smoke these days, and we really don’t think that’s too much to ask. Besides, the exterior smoking areas at both our bars are pretty easy to access. It’s not like anyone is being sent down the street to smoke by the dumpster.

  26. Pammie Sue says:

    I only sneak a smoke every blue moon, but I go to the Vortex any time I get.

    I never really thought much about it (but then again I’m old enough to remember the hostess asking “Smokin’ or not, honey?” when we’d go down to the Sizzler on Sunday with the family) – but if we’re gettin’ down to the brass tacks, I reckon the smoke is as good for my lungs as the juicy, medium-rare 2000 calorie plate of deliciousness is for my colon and cholesterol… Or at least as good as the 3 to 5 coctails that I’ll inevitably consume is for my liver.

    Everything kills us. Just gotta find what your brand is and embrace it.

    Love the Vortex, smoking or not.

    1. Michael Benoit says:

      Pammie Sue,
      We love you, and all the other Vortex fans that have sent us the sentiment, “Love the Vortex, smoking or not.” The bottom line is that there are still plenty of options to enjoy at The Vortex that may eventually kill you, so having to smoke outside doesn’t seem like that big of a deal. It’s not like we’re going to become a health food restaurant or anything crazy like that. We’re still “The Vortex,” after all.

  27. Nick Besaw says:

    This is truly a sad day…the amount of times that I visit the Vortex, will now be reduced tremendously. I’ve been coming there since 1997, what used to be multiple times a week. Used to be for I could come in and smoke at the bar and enjoy drinks, and the company of friends. Now I guess I will find another place to go enjoy these things at. I won’t say I’ll never be back, but it definitely will not be as frequent as it used to be. Let Stephen and Dave (aka the dude) know that I will miss them.

    1. Michael Benoit says:

      Believe me, I understand that change can be difficult. Of course I am always sorry to disappoint any loyal customer, and it seems you have been loyal. Unfortunately, based on the input we received from our Smoking Survey, it seems we have been disappointing many (perhaps thousands) of our loyal patrons with our previous smoking policy. I think choosing cigarettes over longterm friendships is an interesting choice, but it is certainly yours to make. I wish you well in your search for the elusive bar that will continue to allow smoking, but just know that you will always be welcome at The Vortex. (PS: You do know that Dave hasn’t worked here in over a year, don’t you?)

  28. JOE HALE says:

    Yeah! Good for all. Even though I smoked for years until I smartened up and quit, I now find it offensive so it always bothered me that the non-smoking tables at little 5 were really second hand smoke tables.

    Thanks! Now I dont have to be concerned which table we get!

    1. Michael Benoit says:

      I have never personally smoked, but in our early days in business a majority of our clientele did. So, we wanted to give our patrons what they wanted. Times change, and we are once again striving to give our patrons what they want. I’m very happy that we’ve been receiving such positive response.

  29. SoBER says:

    I regret that I missed the original survey, but respect the way you have handled this.

    I’m a non-smoker, but often felt that the treatment given to smokers lately has gotten just a little crazy. You have really listened to your client-base, and are trying to do your best for all comers.

    Most Importantly: THANK YOU for keeping it a Family Unfriendly establishment. Your loyal freaks and alcoholics raise their glasses to you.

    And so does SoBER
    (The Society of Beer Enthusiasts and Researchers)

    1. Michael Benoit says:

      As a group of researchers, I am flattered that you appreciate our “scientific method” regarding this matter. Smoking in public has become quite a polarizing issue, but we are always happy to see that (a majority of) our clientele do not behave in spiteful, angry or trollish behavior when discussing the issue. As I’ve said before, Vortex fans are the best! Even if they are a bunch of “loyal freaks and alcoholics.”

  30. Martin Knudsen says:

    I am a huge fan of The Vortex. Because of smoking allowed in the bar/restaurant I limited the number of visits, even though I still feel you have the best burgers in Atlanta.
    Now that it is Non-smoking I will be visiting more often, Thank You.

    1. Michael Benoit says:

      I’m happy to hear you’re a huge Vortex fan. It’s also good to know you won’t be limiting your visits anymore. And yes, I agree with you that we still have the best burgers in Atlanta, even though so many fancy-schmancy burger places have opened up in the past few years. The Vortex will ALWAYS be the Godfather of Atlanta’s burger joints. See you soon.

  31. Hoffie says:

    So does this mean teenagers can eat there now or will it still be 18+?

    1. Michael Benoit says:

      Our age restriction is actually 21+, and this will not be changing along with our smoking policy. After all, the kid’s need something to look forward to. Celebrating a 21st birthday at The Vortex has become a “right of passage” in Atlanta.

  32. Brycen says:

    Now that the smoking is gone, can we open up the age range? Seriously I know a lot of teenagers who would kill for a pickle Rick Burger. Yes you are technically a bar but so is TGI Friday’s, Red Robin, Rosatis and a number of other places.

    1. Michael Benoit says:

      I hope you’re not comparing The Vortex to TGI Friday’s! Ouch! What have I ever done to you? As I told Hoffie above, the kid’s need something to look forward to. Celebrating a 21st birthday at The Vortex has become a “right of passage” in Atlanta. Besides 99% of our patrons have confirmed that they really LOVE our 21-and-over policy. Adults need to have some fun too.

  33. Cathy says:

    Yay! Definitely prefer a non-smoking environment, so this is is good news. Seems like a very fair & reasonable compromise. Our federal government leaders could take a lesson from you on listening & responding in a cooperative manner😀.

    1. Michael Benoit says:

      Don’t forget that the government’s ideas are so good they’re mandatory. We don’t have that luxury. Instead we must provide an environment, product and service that people will support voluntarily, without coercion. If taxes were voluntary, maybe some particularly egregious and unpopular things would be defunded. Hahahaha. I need a drink.

  34. Christopher Lair says:


    1. Michael Benoit says:

      Hahahaha! “Folded to the whim of the people!” Priceless. Ever try the “Nacho Tots?” or the “Dixie Wrecked Taters?” Good stuff, man!

  35. Michael says:

    Does the new policy mean the L5P location’s upper patio is smoke free as well?

    1. Michael Benoit says:

      Yes, the deck is smoke-free as well. We considered allowing smoking on the deck, but it makes up a large portion of our seating, has a roof over it, and is closed-up in the colder (and hotter) months of the year, so it’s just not really feasible for use as a smoking section. But the “playpen” (open patio outside the bar) is easily accessible from all interior areas of The Vortex-L5P, and you can drink booze out there too.

  36. Lauren Miller says:

    Appreciate the time and effort you took to come to a decision concerning your guests. We’d come in for your burgers and atmosphere no matter what!

    1. Michael Benoit says:

      I’m happy to hear from another true Vortex fan. Apparently we have many diehard supporters that have just been tolerating cigarette smoke over the years because they love The Vortex so much. I am truly humbled by this.

  37. Jennifer says:

    Thank you! I have asthma and had to stop going. Can’t wait to go back. I hope you still have the fried jalapenos and veggie chili!

    1. Michael Benoit says:

      Holy-moly, you must have stopped coming in a very long time ago. Unfortunately, we no longer offer either of those menu items. We’re sure that you’ll be able to find some new favorites upon your return. You can check-out our Food Menu here:

  38. Bran says:

    I hope in the future, if you ever open another location you make it smoking or open a non-smoking location and revert the originals to glory. I’ll still give you all my money either way, I just really like to drink and smoke at the same time at the bar and telling non-smokers to suck-it (that was the best part).

    1. Michael Benoit says:

      I’m not sure that either me or my siblings see opening another bar in our future. We just want to keep making the two locations we have more and more awesome. So thanks for giving us all your money. That’s how we can make it happen. Since smoking in bars has been outlawed in most other states, the look of surprise on the face of first-timers learning that smoking was allowed at The Vortex could be pretty entertaining. But, you shouldn’t tell anyone to “suck-it,” unless you plan on letting them – you big tease.

  39. Returning to Atlanta for Dragon Con in 2020, and “The Vortex” is top of my list to bring my group of 30-40 kiwis (New Zealanders) for the Vortex experience.

    Can’t wait to fall thru your doors once more… your food was lethal on waistlines, and your burgers are killers 😊

    While I appreciate the no smoking policy now, it’s the 21+ that makes me most excited. Blighter young ankle biters can wreck a good meal out.

    1. Michael Benoit says:

      We love Dragon Con more than Christmas and Halloween combined. The crazy and costumed just hop the Marta train from downtown directly to our Midtown location, and then we have ALL the fun! (Being 21+ makes ALL the fun possible). Look for me next year. I’ll be dressed like a Wookie.

  40. Casey Culbreth says:

    Hi Michael,
    So, what’s the policy on e-cigs inside L5P? Sorry if I missed it above. Kudos on polling your patrons!

    1. Michael Benoit says:

      In order to keep the rules as simple as possible, no smoking or VAPING is allowed inside The Vortex-L5P (and Midtown too). We continue to offer our patrons the option to smoke cigarettes and e-cigarettes on the fenced patio area just outside of the bar. We call this area the “playpen.” The smoking of cigars, pipes, cloves, hookahs or any substance deemed “illegal” by the evil overlords is not allowed in the playpen.

  41. Holly Mueller says:

    As someone who quit smoking YEARS ago, I applaud this decision! I cannot wait to come back and truly enjoy a delicious meal without the smell of cigarette smoke! Nothing better than the wonderful aromas of The Vortex, eating with our eyes, and then tasting your wonderful food! Thanks again!

    1. Michael Benoit says:

      We’ll be glad to have you back. Our food is pretty awesome, in a ridiculous kind of way.

  42. Nurse Amy says:

    I’m a nurse and I love the sinful eating and drinking, however, the smoking was a major deterrent. Second hand smoke increases the risk of heart disease by 75%. I’m happy for us patrons AND your employees. As a former smoker, I never once felt the need to expose my habit to others who didn’t have the choice. Thank you sooo much! I’m so excited to bring more family and friends now.

    1. Michael Benoit says:

      Nurse Amy,
      We’re glad you’ll be coming back to subject yourself to the risk of heart disease by eating here. Who needs smoking on top of that, right? Bring ALL your family and friends, as long as they’re all over 21.

  43. dj says:

    This is great news, and a prudent decision. We were bar flies at 11th street where you guys started, when Stein Club and Frijoleros were around. Times have changed… ask evereman!

    1. Michael Benoit says:

      Besides The Vortex – the Stein Club, Frijoleros and Vickery’s were the only real “hang-outs” in the area back then. And, of course, Club Anytime and Backstreet for after-hours debauchery. Ahhh, those were the days! Ask Evereman, indeed!

  44. Kirk Harrington says:

    The first Scotch neat and cigar I ever enjoyed was in the original location in Midtown. It’s been a couple decades since that happened. Times do change. I drink less Scotch. I don’t smoke cigars in my own house- I do on the deck and the car, however. I will still visit the Vortex when I come to Atlanta. The Ragin’ Cajun Burger with Potato Salad side was by far my favorite when I lived in Atlanta.

    1. Michael Benoit says:

      From our very first day in business, we have always had Atlanta’s best selection of Single Malt Scotch. Still do. I’m not sure that we EVER allowed smoking cigars inside though. You may have been drunk. Or maybe it was me. Anyway, stop in next time you’re in town.

  45. Amanda McD says:

    I love this. One of the reasons my husband and I haven’t been there yet is his severe asthma. Cigarette smoke can literally kill him if around it long enough. We love trying new food and look forward to our first visit within the month!

    1. Michael Benoit says:

      So you’ll be an actual first-timer? Awesome! Here’s my attempt at full disclosure: The Vortex is exactly the kind of place your momma warned you about. Everything we offer is bad for you. That’s why it’s so much fun here. It’s good to be bad. So eat, drink and make lots of new friends. Just don’t be a tight-ass, because if you’re easily offended, you will certainly be offended here. Welcome to the family.

  46. Chenelle Hanks says:

    For Vortex lovers with kiddos can we consider a family friendly day? Once a month? Every other month? Hell, we can start with once a year! We miss you guys 😩

    1. Michael Benoit says:

      You don’t have to miss us. That’s what baby sitters are for. The fact that our patrons really LOVE our 21 and over policy was resoundingly confirmed by our Smoking Survey. Of the 21% of survey takers that said they did not want our smoking policy to change, it turns out that about 20% of them thought we were trying to fool them into asking for a return to an all-ages policy. That was a pretty common theme in all of the survey comments. “Please stay 21+.” But, I will tell you that my siblings and I had several deep discussions about the feasibility about exactly what you’re suggesting. I’m working on a Blog about it that I hope to post next month. So stay tuned.

  47. Mom of 4 says:

    We haven’t been to the Vortex in 12 years since we started having children. We were excited about finally getting to bring our pre-teens to experience the Vortex, but alas no. Bummer, especially given how many families that are in the neighborhoods around you.

    1. Michael Benoit says:

      The fortunate thing is that almost every other bar and restaurant around our locations does admit minors. There is no shortage of options. And, if you haven’t heard, the Sugar Factory has begun building-out the 8,000-square-foot space at 1080 Peachtree Street. It will be huge, and it will be all-ages. Plus, they offer literally EVERYTHING. Pancakes, waffles, French toast, crepes, mini burgers, soups, salads, sandwiches, pasta, several “Monster Burgers” crazy desserts and a bunch of other entrees. No need to be sad. Besides, you can bring the kids to The Vortex for their 21st birthdays.

  48. Kath says:

    😍 My favorite spot ever, but now 1000000+ times better!

    1. Michael Benoit says:

      I’m happy to hear The Vortex is your favorite spot EVER. It’s mine too! So, now that we’re even a million times better (that is a million, isn’t it?), will we see you a million times more often? I sure hope so.

  49. Taco says:

    Great news! I will come celebrate with some cold PBR’s, Fireball and of course an amazing burger and tots!! Thank you for doing the survey and giving your fans an opportunity to voice their opinions. Vortex continues to be the bar in ATL!!! 🍻

    1. Michael Benoit says:

      We’re all about celebrating… everything! And we always aim to please our loyal fans. I’m glad you’re one of them.

  50. Mr Boo says:

    I’ve always been torn between loving The Vortex, but hating sacrificing breathing and smelling good for awesome food with friends. I’ve definitely passed on meetups there because of this.
    Looking forward to my next visit!

    1. Michael Benoit says:

      Mr. Boo,
      We have heard so many sentiments just like yours. If everyone who claims they’ll be visiting The Vortex more often is telling the truth, we’re going to be very, VERY busy.

  51. Deanna Dennis says:

    Damn! This sucks nuts. I won’t be there nearly as often now. Not out of any kind of protest, but sometimes I just want to go out and eat greasy food, drink a beer and smoke a cigarette. I can do that at home for a lot cheaper now. This makes me so sad. 🙁

    1. Michael Benoit says:

      Please don’t be sad. First of all, you don’t have to stay home. Our good friends at the Highlander still allow smoking, and they’re awesome. We’ve always considered ourselves “sister bars” because we opened just a few weeks apart back in 1992. And you can come visit us anytime you’re ready to smoke on the patio (or quit). Don’t let this come between us. What we have is REAL.

  52. Lindsey says:

    Bummer, smoking made this place unique and kept a bunch of the whiny liberal fart snifffers away. Oh well. Public Service Announcement: smoking is still allowed at The Pink Pony and the food is just as good.

    1. Michael Benoit says:

      I’d like to think it’s more than just our smoking policy that makes The Vortex unique. And I’m not sure of whether more liberals or conservatives smoke, let alone which smell more farts. But what I do know is that the Pink Pony is the only strip club in Atlanta open on Sundays. Their “featured act” dancers graced us with their presence for many years at our original location, and sometimes still do. Also, the nudity there is licensed, whereas, at The Vortex it’s always totally accidental – and we have no control over it. I swear to god.

  53. Georgia girl says:

    While I don’t go often enough to make a difference, I was just telling my man who’s never been here, what an awesome place this is. “You can even smoke inside!” I then went to your website and started reading this. This won’t deter my yearly or so visit, but I am disappointed to hear that one of the last few places has taken away my last little enjoyment of being able to smoke while waiting for my food. Poo.

    1. Michael Benoit says:

      Georgia Girl,
      The only real problem I have is that you only come to The Vortex once a year. What’s that all about? I know you can’t be bad ALL the time, but I’m pretty sure you can do better than that. Double-Poo.

  54. Don says:

    Last time I was there was about 7 years ago for dinner with a friend. I have bad asthma and ended up with a bronchiole infection. It’s sad because I love the food and no kids!!!! Now I can go back!!

    If only the 529 and The Earl would follow suit!!

    1. Michael Benoit says:

      Sorry about the infection. Seven years is a long time. Things may have changed a little around The Vortex, but I’m sure you’ll approve. It’s important to understand that local businesses want to provide the atmosphere and options to please their chosen target market. It took us a long time to realize our smoking policy was potentially hurting business, which the results of our survey seemed to imply. So, maybe some of your other favorite joints will eventually reach the same conclusion. Or maybe not. That’s the beauty of the free-market. Something for everyone.

  55. Dennis says:

    This is awesome, I can leave my smoking children outside, come in and have a burger!!!

    1. Michael Benoit says:

      Your children are obviously hoodlums. You deserve a burger and beer break. Welcome!

  56. Eileen Woods says:

    Used to live in Atlanta and am visiting for the weekend. Have tickets for Laughing Skull Lounge tonight and was trying to figure out where to eat dinner beforehand because I can’t take the smoke. So happy I decided to google and find out that smoking is finally out. Yeah! Will be eating there now. Thanks!!

    1. Michael Benoit says:

      Burgers, booze and comedy is a great combination! We’re glad to offer it all in a smoke-free environment. You’re welcome!

  57. Rollergirl24 says:

    This is great news! We come every time we’re in Atlanta but last time some douche was vaping near us with huge dragon clouds of cinnamon (that I’m allergic too) so I had to use my inhaler to breathe while we ate. Thanks for creating a space where we can eat without giant vape clouds.

    1. Michael Benoit says:

      We think it’s great news too. The response we have gotten has been overwhelmingly positive. Smoke-free, vape-free. No second-hand anything. Now you’re totally responsible for whatever bad decisions you make at The Vortex.

  58. Josh says:

    I have to say, even as a smoker I applaud this change. I can’t stand smoking inside anywhere. A patio bar, sure, but inside it just kills me. However, since I freaking love the Vortex I went any ways 🙂

    Unfortunately, now I live in Austin, TX and only get back to Atlanta every few months. First place I go right off the plane … The Vortex.

    You should build one out here! I cant find anything even remotely close to what you guys offer.

    1. Michael Benoit says:

      Thanks for being such a huge fan. We really appreciate it. Funny story: Two separate companies have tried to open “Vortex Bar & Grills” in Texas, and we were notified by our loyal fans down there. We had to send each of these places a “cease and desist” notice. Apparently our concept is so good, people keep trying to steal it.

  59. That Snake Guy says:

    Excellent. I haven’t been to The Vortex in probably 10 years. I love the food… I just like breathing more. So, now I can breathe AND eat good burgers? Looking forward to coming back.

    1. Michael Benoit says:

      Snake Guy,
      Sorry the stupid smoke kept you away for so long. But YES, now you can breathe AND eat the BEST BURGERS IN ATLANTA. We look forward to your return.

  60. Kevin Stoner says:

    Hey Guys. My wife and I love The Vortex (we come in from out of town), and are so happy to hear you listening to your patrons on this! We love that we now don’t have to worry about smoke. We will be back, and bring as many as we can! Thanks so much!!!

    1. Michael Benoit says:

      We always try to listen to our fans. Sometimes we’re just a little slow, that’s all. So come on down, and bring all your pals. It’s a (smoke-free, child-free) party up in here!

  61. Doug Gaskins says:

    I’ve been a loyal patron for over 8 yrs. The current policy doesn’t bother me. I know some people do not like to smell smoke while they eat and I understand that. I would have the inside of the bar as non smoking and the outside for smokers. Best of both worlds.

    1. Michael Benoit says:

      Thanks for your loyal patronage. Hey, you’re in luck, because your solution is exactly the policy we decided on, based on customer input. Smoking is now allowed outside only. Our fans love the change. Business is up. Life is good.

  62. Bella says:

    What about vaping though? That’s nothing like cigarette smoke, since it’s technically vapor, and it smells pretty good to be completely honest.

    1. Michael Benoit says:

      To bring you up-to-speed, back in January we featured a month long online survey to gather our patron’s input on The Vortex smoking policy. After receiving responses from 11,000 people, we decided to relegate the smoking of cigarettes (and e-cigarettes) to outdoor areas, and go 100% smoke-free (and vape-free) inside.

      Jump ahead to July of this year: City Councilmen Matt Westmoreland and Andre Dickens cosponsored legislation to ban smoking in restaurants, bars and a bunch of other places around Atlanta. The City Council voted 13-2 in favor of the ordinance. Council members Howard Shook and J.P. Matzigkeit voted against the ban. Matzigkeit commented, “I am against smoking, but I am for the freedom of people to choose.” Council member Marci Collier Overstreet proposed an amendment for adult entertainment establishments, but it failed. To clarify, this legislation also re-defines “smoking” to include vaping and e-cigarettes, so that behavior will now be banned in Atlanta businesses too.

      At The Vortex, we have always believed that the smoking policy of any bar is best left up to the individual business owner, based on the preferences of their chosen target market. According to the Georgia Restaurant Association, Atlanta has about 3,000 restaurants. Currently, about 30 of them, (that are not specifically “cigar bars”) permit smoking. If I’m doing the math correctly, that’s about 1 percent. So, people who are offended by smoking literally have THOUSANDS of smoke-free options to choose from. Smokers, not so much.

      But those facts are all irrelevant now, because beginning on January 2, 2020, smoking (and vaping) will not be allowed inside bars and restaurants in Atlanta, regardless of what their customer base would prefer. Thank goodness that “top men” know what’s best for everyone. I don’t know about you, but I sleep much better at night, knowing my betters are looking out for me.

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