Every neighborhood needs a good corner store, a place to grab a sandwich or a six pack of beer or a dozen eggs. In recent years, Creative Loafing has doted on no other corner store as much as the revived Little's Food Store in Cabbagetown, simply because they've done everything a corner store should do right.
Brad Kaplan raved about their small burgers in a review, writing, "The 'little burgers' sing out like superb little sampled beats from the past - a bit like Krystal's slightly heftier and much better looking cousin - with those achingly soft buns, charred-crisp-around-the-edges thin beef patties, a healthy whomp of yellow mustard, the requisite pickle slices, and a tangle of thin onion slices blasted to the pinnacle of luscious limpness." In a story about the mysterious origin of Cabbagetown's name, I talked with Leon Little, whose family opened Little Grocery in 1929, and Brad Cunard, who owns the store with his wife Nina today. We named them the best hangover cure for neighborhood that loves a good drink.
This is place that has managed to preserve some of that neighborhood's history while evolving to meet the needs of a changing neighborhood. That's no small feat in Atlanta, where new development seems to constantly pave over history. So, when the word went around CL's newsroom that Little's would be closing at the end of the year, we felt a huge sense of defeat. The building they're in is still owned by the Little family, who aren't big developers with the money and resources to patch up an aging building. Apparently, the strain of those much needed repairs could spell the end of Little's.
A few enterprising neighbors have decided to not let this happen without a fight. Volunteers have rallied to put together a fundraising campaign that could save the store, which could be the kind of Christmas miracle we'd hope for Atlanta. Damn the man. Save Little's!
In September, CL ran a feature story about this fall's Do Good Campaign to help Quest Veterans Village in Vine City. Our plan was to raise funds online and rally CL readers and others to help build an outdoor seating area and greenspace for disabled vets living in an apartment building on Rock Street. That complex, one of a handful that make up the Quest community, is located west of the Georgia Dome, in the heart of one of Atlanta's most economically challenged and struggling neighborhoods, yet among its most historic.
We are happy to report we exceeded the goals for the Do Good campaign, raising nearly $2,800 through Indiegogo donations. (Thank you, Loafers!) Those funds were recently matched with a $2,500 gift from the Home Depot Foundation. Trees Atlanta will also be donating trees to the Quest Veterans Village grounds within the next week or two. And a volunteer day is scheduled to take place before the week of Thanksgiving.
What you may not know, however, is the story about one do-gooder we met along the way named Mark Peterson. The Atlanta architect and U.S. Air Force veteran is going above and beyond to benefit the Do Good project by donating his time to help with the landscape design and overall building of the outdoor project.
Peterson, 37, lives in Ormewood Park with his wife, Rachel, a teacher at Paidea, and their two dogs. He owns an architectural company called Paraline which includes a Culture of Giving Program that offers pro bono design services to nonprofits. He works out of the shared workspace NEX in Grant Park.
We met up on Octane Coffee's patio last Friday afternoon for more on his backstory, accompanied by some pretty views of the fall foliage in the neighborhood. The following is part of our conversation:
Q. How did you first hear about the Do Good Campaign?
I got the paper [Creative Loafing] and my wife said 'You should check out this story, they're trying to help some veterans. You should reach out to them.' So I said OK and read the story and then I emailed Quest and I heard back from them in just a couple days. So I met with Leonard Adams [founder and CEO at Quest Community Development Organization] and the rest of them on Rock Street. He's also an Air Force veteran, so we hit it off. I saw the location for the seating area. It's a sliver of greenspace, 16 feet wide by 60 feet long. It's an odd little site but I think for what we're trying to do, it'll be a nice fit.
Q. What are your plans?
We're going to put a new fence in - we've talked about chain-link, I'm a fan of a wood privacy fence. Initially they were going to cut into the ground where it slopes up and just put in a couple picnic tables and concrete slab. Pretty simple, utilitarian. But then I had to mess that all up [laughs]. And they loved it. I told them we only have $5,000 to work with. It needs to be pretty simple, basically. It needs to be elegant. It needs to give these residents a quality place to gather. So I pitched the idea of taking advantage of the slope, because it actually slopes in two directions. So we're going to use the natural grade and use stone, which is pretty straightforward, and have a skilled mason or landscaper show volunteers how to build into the landscape. ... We won't have to use any concrete. Obviously it's very easy to maintain. It's big enough to allow for a garden. The low stone wall will allow for seating, there's room for a table. It's an oval. So they've got some options there. They mentioned a garden. They could grow tomato plants - it gets good sun - sunflowers, any kind of wild flowers will be nice. Posies would be easy to take care of. Maybe they'll put in some azalea bushes. We'll be working on the actual construction, gathering some skilled folks, including me, to lead a group of volunteers. We're going to work with Trees Atlanta. I think we're getting crepe myrtles. I'd love to get a couple paper birch trees. They're beautiful. We'll take what we get. Any tree is a good tree.
The tavern will donate 20 percent of your total check to our project if you mention Do Good ATL. Hope to see you there, do-gooders!
Can't make it out? Go to our Indiegogo page to donate, watch a video, and read more about our plans to create an outdoor oasis for disabled veterans who live at Quest Veterans Village in Vine City.
Thurs., Oct. 24, 6-8 p.m. West Midtown Corner Tavern, 1133 Huff Road, 404-228-5164.
We are approaching Week 3 of fundraising for our fall Do Good Campaign, a project to help beautify a veterans community in Vine City, but we still have a ways to go to reach our $2,500 goal. But reach it we must to get a matching donation from the generous folks at the Home Depot Foundation. The current round of fundraising is for a landscape project to benefit disabled servicemen and women living at Quest Veterans Village in Vine City. Funds will go toward lumber, concrete, picnic benches, flowers, and other plantings - all the pieces we need to create a pleasant outdoor seating area, something the residents long for and the facility currently lacks.
If you can't head Downtown next week for the ride on SkyView Atlanta - which CL readers picked as "Best New Thing About Atlanta" in our Best Of issue - check out the story of these deserving war veterans who are rebuilding their lives in one of Atlanta's most challenged neighborhoods but also among its most historic. The community is the one-time home of some of our greatest civil rights activists, including Martin Luther King Jr.
We'll be announcing more events and a volunteer day in the coming weeks. CL's Do Good fundraising ends on October 26. Until then, help us spread the word. Like Do Good ATL on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and, please, donate now!
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