Serving Burgers & Booze Since 1992 view shopping cart


When we originally opened The Vortex back in 1992, we allowed parents to decide whether or not to bring their children into our bar. Sure, it was smoky, loud and full of questionable characters, but hey, your kid, your choice. It wasn’t until Georgia passed the Smoke-Free Air Act of 2005 that we changed our admission policy. That law required bars to become 100% “non-smoking” unless minors were banned from the premises. Easy choice. Bye-bye kiddies. And the best part? Our loyal patrons LOVED the change. In hindsight, I can’t believe we didn’t ban the little buggers sooner.

In case you hadn’t heard, as of February 1, 2019, The Vortex has eliminated ALL smoking inside our premises, not by government decree, but as the result of a month-long online customer survey. The poll was taken by 11,000 participants. Interestingly, there was a common theme in the comments section of our survey – and I’m paraphrasing here; “Whatever you do – please, for the love of god – stay adults only!”

During the survey a few sweet, naive, adorable folks also asked us the question, “If you go smoke-free, will you become an ‘all-ages’ venue again?” Hahahahaha! Oh, wait – they were serious. Well, the short answer is “no.” A slightly longer answer is, HELL NO. But if you are interested in a little extra context, sure – I’m all about transparency – so I’ll give it a shot.

To be honest, we had briefly toyed with the idea of allowing some form of limited access for minors, but once we started to recall all of the headaches we previously endured while operating under an “all-ages” policy, we quickly came to our senses. Dealing with drunks is bad enough, and babies are like tiny drunks, only they spend way less money. And once these mini-humans become mobile, they love nothing more than to flee the confines of their table (and their parents), to stagger around the premises – also like drunks. Not only do these unannounced visitors often annoy other patrons, but unstable tiny people running around can also create serious safety issues for servers who are also running around, only carrying large amounts of heavy plates and glassware.

And let’s not forget about the ridiculous messes that kids make. Cheerios, Goldfish, crackers – basically anything they can get their sticky little mitts on – will all eventually end-up on the floor. And teething tykes love nothing more than cramming condiments and salt shakers into their wet little mouths. Ugh. So gross. At least when drunks do it we can throw them out. It’s funny that we really don’t miss any of this. Sure, kids have their place, but The Vortex ain’t it. And it’s not as though there aren’t a million other places where kids are welcome. Besides, bringing high chairs, changing tables and booster seats back into The Vortex at this point just seems like blasphemy.

Okay, okay. So we can all agree that children are a hassle, but what about adults over 18? They’re really no problem, right? Wrong. The main issue here is that The Vortex is required to enforce various liquor laws to maintain our Liquor License. The problem is that college kids generally don’t give a shit. For example, a group of six young adults will enter. Four are over 21, and two are not. Their server explains that if the two underaged people are caught drinking alcohol, the whole group will be asked to leave. Inevitably, the underaged pair will attempt to sneak drinks, so the whole group is asked to leave, which then creates a giant ruckus. Look, we don’t make the laws, but we are required to enforce them. And we really don’t want to play “policeman” any more than we have to, because that’s just a big ol’ pain in the rear.

But what about teens with their parents? What about special occasions? What about, what about, what about… Listen, our current “21-and-over” policy seems pretty straightforward, right? Yet people still show up with their tiny spawn in tow, and are highly annoyed when they are not allowed into the bar. “We drove all the way from Alabama, and now you’re not going to let us in because we brought our babies?” Yes. That is correct. Scenarios like this happen way too often, especially considering that our age restriction is CLEARLY posted all over our website. So, do we really need to complicate matters further? We don’t think so.

I guarantee, even if we DID post all the information necessary to offer “limited access for minors,” many people would still turn up at the wrong time, or on the wrong day, or at the wrong location, and then curse us because they never took the time to do their own research. And therein lies the real problem. People revel in being willfully ignorant, even though they have access to all of the information mankind has ever compiled right in the palm of their hand. Pro-Tip: If you have never been someplace it’s always a good idea to check-out the website first, especially if a road trip is involved. It’s not rocket science people.

The Vortex is a bar, first and foremost. Admitting people under the legal drinking age just creates operational challenges we simply no longer wish to deal with. The fact of the matter is that The Vortex is widely known as a place where adults can go to have adult fun in an adults-only environment. And celebrating your 21st birthday at The Vortex has even become a right of passage in Atlanta. We are totally cool with all of this, and our loyal fans are too. I personally think it’s reassuring to know that in this crazy, mixed-up world, The Vortex will be “21-and-over” – forever!  So come on in for some kid-free and (newly) smoke-free, adults-only fun at The Vortex. Now that’s what I call a “Happy Meal.”

57 thoughts on “WHAT ABOUT THE CHILDREN?”

  1. CSD says:

    Because I understand how rules work, and I know my crotch spawn can be a pain in the ass in public, I fully support this.

    1. Michael Benoit says:

      You are in good company, as MANY parents have congratulated us on this decision. Glad you’re on board.

  2. Christina says:

    I’m a parent and for that reason I LOVE the fact that I have a place I can go that is kid-free! I am extremely happy that you are smoke-free too!

    1. Michael Benoit says:

      No kids and no cigarette smoke. It really doesn’t get much better than that, does it?

  3. Eric says:

    And this is why I fucking love you!

    1. Michael Benoit says:

      We fucking love you too. But, in a purely professional way. Do not be alarmed.

  4. Billy Slocumb says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

    1. Michael Benoit says:

      You’re welcome, you’re welcome, you’re welcome!!!

  5. Anita Sims says:

    Well said! And non-smoking means I can come by a lot more often! Yay!!!

    1. Michael Benoit says:

      I’m glad you enjoyed the blog. We’ll be happy to see one of our original customers more often now. Yay!!!

  6. D Wilson says:

    Thank you. Love you. And see you soon! And yes, I am over 21 by one or two years… LOLOLOLOLOL!

    1. Michael Benoit says:

      You’re welcome. We love you too. Can’t wait to see you. Just bring that ID, because you’re looking pretty youthful these days!

  7. Ellen Lester says:

    Thank you!!!! I make a special point to stop at the L5P Vortex everytime I come to Atlanta. I really appreciate the Adults only policy!

    1. Michael Benoit says:

      We aim to please. We look forward to your next visit.

  8. christopher s lair says:


    1. Michael Benoit says:

      “There’s no such thing as a tough child – if you parboil them first for seven hours, they always come out tender.”
      – W. C. Fields

  9. Valerie Ford says:

    Yay!!!! Agreed. And we are happy happy to come visit now, since we don’t have to get smoked on! Ewww!

    1. Michael Benoit says:

      Sorry the smoke kept you away. What were we thinking? Welcome back!

  10. Awesome! How soon can you open a Vortex in Orlando? Please please please!!!!! We have no childfree places here and your business model is fabulous!

    1. Michael Benoit says:

      Thanks for the compliment! Are you interested in a franchise? Ha! Just kidding. Running our two locations is more than enough work for me.

  11. Missb says:

    This is probably the best article I have read in a very long time! Very entertaining read and my fiance especially enjoyed it when I read it outloud to him! 21 and over FOREVER!

    1. Michael Benoit says:

      I’m glad you and your fiancé enjoyed my blog. I do what I can. Sometimes I may even be funny.

  12. Nikki says:

    Love it 🙂 My fiancé and I are in our 30s. We live in the neighborhood, we don’t smoke, we love burgers & beer and we don’t like kids. Go Vortex in making all the right decisions!

    1. Michael Benoit says:

      Good to hear that you’re close by. Now y’all need to make the right decision by visiting us on the reg!

  13. Stephani says:

    Please, please, please don’t ever change your kids rule! This is one of the main reasons I love Vortex so much – besides your food of course!

    1. Michael Benoit says:

      After bringing Vortex food to a family event, my 8 year old nephew asked me, “Why do you serve all this food that kids love, and not let kids in?” Well, adults love that food too! When I said, “21-and-over forever,” I meant it. You have my word. Promise.

  14. Alex Hecht says:

    First, as a Non-Smoker it has been something I had to accept in the past when the place had smoking and I understood that. However, many Smokers don’t realize that you are able to enjoy your food more when that Tobacco Laden Oder isn’t present. I would continue to give The Vortex my business regardless, but now (at least for me) the experience is even more enjoyable. Between awesome “real” food and great Staff, I could never imagine life without you. G-d help me if I ever move away from Metro Atlanta

    1. Michael Benoit says:

      Thank you for the kind words. You know, my siblings and I do not smoke. The policy was actually a hold-over from the early 1990’s when a big majority of our patrons did smoke. But times change. Don’t worry, The Vortex is now part of the fabric of Atlanta. We’re not going anywhere. At least not until the zombie apocalypse.

  15. Andy says:

    This is the best thing I have ever read.

    1. Michael Benoit says:

      I will take that as an extreme compliment. Thank you very much.

    1. Michael Benoit says:

      Glad you enjoyed it. Come on in and tell me more in person (I love compliments).

  16. Dwain Higgins says:

    Whatever happened to the Yokohama mama ? Did it sell so good that you axed it from the menu?

    1. Michael Benoit says:

      We occasionally change our menu to freshen things up. Items may be removed for any number of reasons. The YOKOHAMA MAMA was taken off the menu so many years ago that I can’t remember why. But, it was replaced by the FREAKY TIKI – This burger is topped with grilled ham, pineapple salsa, bacon and jack cheese. It’s like a luau for your mouth. We also offer the KA’MANA WA’NA LEI’YA – This burger is served with a big scoop of chipotle cream cheese, 3 slices of bacon and home made spicy pineapple jalapeño jelly, all on Texas toast. Live a little. Be adventurous. Try something new! Here’s our menu:

  17. Angela says:

    BLESS YOU ALL. <3 <3 <3 Wish I could be adults only. ::sob::

    1. Michael Benoit says:

      Thank you for your blessing. We are blessed to have such awesome, loyal fans. And remember, you CAN be “adults only,” every time you visit The Vortex. Now stop that sobbing.

  18. Jeff Thompson says:

    Go you! Bravo!

    1. Michael Benoit says:

      Go us? Go you! To The Vortex. Right now!

  19. Bob Thompson says:

    It’s lent and I am starved after a long Friday. Jumped on the website to re-familiarize myself with the menu in the hope of bringing the FAM in tonight for a killer burger . . . but I’m SOL due to the no kid policy. I understand the kudos in the posts, but most likely the majority of these people are young, and single and will ultimately understand where I am coming from.

    1. Michael Benoit says:

      Sorry for the inconvenience, but The Vortex has been “Adults Only” since 2005. This has not changed with the recent alteration of our smoking policy. And while many of our customers are young and single, we have also heard from a large number of parents who appreciate our 21-and-over policy, because every now and then they want to have a little adult fun too. Our friend Alex runs a chain of burger restaurants in town called “Grindhouse Killer Burgers.” They’re “kid-friendly,” and their burgers are pretty good too. You should give them a try. Cheers!

  20. Andy says:

    Great piece from Mr. Benoit! I haven’t been an Atlantan for almost a decade now and have produced a few spawn since. I loved the no kids policy in my younger days and now that I’ve got 3 boisterous, messy, obnoxious rugrats, I agree with this reasoning. I’m a little sad that I won’t be able to get there when I’m in town with the family next week, but I’m certain a piece of the Vortex is firmly lodged in my heart.

    1. Michael Benoit says:

      Thanks for the compliment on my silly blog. Many other parents (that are fans of The Vortex) also agree with our child-free policy, so you’re in good company. Not that we don’t love them, but everyone deserves a break from the kids every now and again. Hope you get that chance soon.

  21. Dena Barrett says:

    I adore my kids. My whole world is about making sure they turn into decent human beings one day. I am more than delighted to have somewhere I can go once in a while and pretend there is a world beyond Dragonland, Dora and Blue’s Clues. And so happy to know that somewhere out there, there are still people with sufficient backbone to tell the larger sized whiny people that there are places where you CAN’T bring your little bundles of joy and if you don’t like it… tough.

    But glad you decided we should be able to eat without risking lung cancer.

  22. Stormi says:

    I love my kids so so much… buuuut I’m so happy to have a place that is 100% kid free! I can’t go very often because date nights when you have 2 toddlers is kind of a joke, but we can’t wait to head that way when we get a night to ourselves!

    1. Michael Benoit says:

      When you CAN get out for “date night” we’ll do our best to make it special. No squawking kids running around is always a good start. Hope to see you soon.

  23. Michael Benoit says:

    Your goal for your children to grow into decent humans is admirable, and sadly not as common as it once was. Congratulations on being a good parent. For that reason alone you deserve to have some adult fun every now and then. We’re always here to help. Yes, you can now love your lungs at The Vortex – but continue to punish your liver. It has led a spoiled and sheltered life.

  24. Michael Anton says:

    Being the 23 year old young adult that I am, I am so familiar to being around people younger (and less mature) than myself. It is nice that there is a place I can go to with my friends that has excellent food and drinks and that I do not have to be around immature teens or screaming children.

    1. Michael Benoit says:

      “Excellent food and drinks and no screaming children” is kind of our business model. We’re glad you approve.

  25. So…. While I’m kind of bummed I can’t bring my 17 year old in while we’re at GT for his “Endless Summer College Tour”, your explanation was so f’n entertaining that it’s hard to be mad. Plus, I grew up in the bar and restaurant business, back when laws were lax, smoking was embraced, and parents made worse choices than their kids, so yea, I get it. He’ll turn 21 just before his junior year, maybe we’ll see you then.

    1. Michael Benoit says:

      Celebrating 21st birthdays at The Vortex has become something of a tradition in Atlanta, so I recommend bringing your son in for his. We’ll be sure to treat him right!

  26. Amanda says:

    I’ve seen places lose their identity by trying to make themselves more “family-friendly.” Very glad you are not going to make the same mistake.

    1. Michael Benoit says:

      We’ve never tried to be “all things, to all people” at The Vortex. That’s a sure-fire step into mediocrity. We simply continue to do what we do for the people that love what we do. We’re glad you’re one of ‘em.

  27. Beverly Wolf says:

    You ROCK !
    Congrats on making the Best Burgers in America List!
    LOVE your “Adults Only” policy. Back in the day when seaters asked “Smoking?” My standard response was “Adults Only Section.” Sooo want to enjoy my dinner in peace and quiet. To this day I wish families were put in a “Family Only ” section in ALL restaurants.

    While Beverage Manager at the former Peachtree Café, your menu hung above my desk. Things I WISH I could tell our customers

    Rock on !!!

    1. Michael Benoit says:

      Thanks! We’re on a lot of “Best Burger” lists. It’s always nice to be appreciated. And it seems like you really appreciate our 21-and-over policy, and the other company policies we list on our menus. Before these “rules” were available for free on our website, we used to have to re-stuff our menu covers almost every day because people would take them as souvenirs. So I guess you’re not alone. Thanks for being awesome. You rock on with your bad self!

  28. Tim Simpson says:

    I’m likely to get torched for this… but I have an opinion too. Any torching by the way would just tend to support the clientele you are aiming for so that’s fine. Your decision was shared on a friends FB page and was feeling just ODD today to comment directly. While I support your decisions to do business as you see fit, I still find it incredibly hard to believe that allowing children would somehow decrease your profit margin. I went to the EAtl spot once about 17 years ago. Burger was not as good as hyped (just my opinion certainly not shared by many) and didn’t go back due to the overwhelming smoke (we all make choices). Then I had a child. Have not returned, and apparently will not return despite the curiousity that I just caught the burger on a bad day. Despite what I am sure your spot-on marketing research through an online poll tells you, I am fairly certain that dealing with “tiny drunks” who don’t spend money would by far outweigh the losses. Think about it… opening your restaurant up to a whole new population and customer base vs doing business as usual. Do you seriously think you’d LOSE clientele if you have a few booster seats and cheerios on the floor (I’m assuming you do actually clear the floor every day regardless is adults or children drop things on the floor, so no hit to the net profit line there)? And if you answer “yes” do you honestly think that loss would overwhelm any gains you get from new customers with kids (who by the way actually do enjoy a good burger, fries, chicken tenders, etc from a kids menu… though granted not the tequila shot list. I believe it’s called building generational customers. Those cheerio babies grow up going to places they enjoy, then start spending money on their multiple return visits)? No way. A very simple pivot in marketing campaign would bring in tons of new people along with those past customers who have procreated along the way. At least own the idea that this is a choice you made to keep an image and maintain a brand. Pure and simple. I respect that, but I seriously hope you didn’t bank the future of the place on an online customer survey. Guess who answers those. Current customers. New money isn’t what you seem to want. I am also absolutely sure that you will not be shuttering the place any time soon. Much respect. Sad to drive a Kia when Mercedes is right there, but that’s a choice. By all means, I’d be glad to work on that marketing campaign if you’d like.

    1. Michael Benoit says:

      Don’t worry, I’m not going to “torch” you. And while I appreciate your offer to help work on a marketing campaign to welcome children to The Vortex, I’ll remind you that we operated as an “all ages” establishment from 1992 until 2005. In hindsight, we don’t ever want to do that again. This stance was confirmed for us by the comments we received through our online Smoking Survey, as explained in my blog above. These comments came from parents, and child-free folks alike. So, after much in-house deliberation we decided to discontinue smoking inside The Vortex, but we did NOT alter our age restriction. To be perfectly clear, this was a business decision made in an attempt to further solidify our brand. We have never tried to be all things to all people. We just do what we do for the people that love what we do. Thanks for supporting our right to do business as we see fit. That’s very big of you. The Vortex is a bar for adults, and we really, really like it that way.

  29. Richard Mellow says:

    +21 and over gives me a reason to leave my monsters at home and enjoy a meal with out have to yell at them to sit their butts down and stop fighting!! The Vortex has always been my favorite spit since I first moved to Atlanta in 1995. Now it serves as my favorite spot and a safe zone from my goofy ass kids!!

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