Gay-owned bars get $274,000 to fluff their facades

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Two gay-owned businesses finding success putting the eclectic back in Edgewood Avenue are getting $274,000 in grants to fluff their facades to help pretty things up along the corridor.

Because you can't rehab a neighborhood without the gays, Atlanta's economic development arm included Noni's Bar & Deli and the yet-to-be opened Georgia Beer Garden among the initial recipients of what's expected to be more than $2 million in grants for Invest Atlanta's Downtown Facade Improvement Program.

Noni's received $40,000 and Retroactive LLC, the gay-led company that owns Joystick Gamebar and Georgia Beer Garden, got $233,686 for facade improvements to the building that will be home to the beer garden. They were among 20 businesses on the east and west sides of downtown to receive the initial grants. Invest Atlanta says it plans to dish out nearly $2 million for the program, which requires that businesses contribute at least 20 percent of the project cost.

That means to expect a $60,000 project for Noni's, which opened in July 2008 after renovating a space built in 1902. It now hosts some of the baddest bitches and partiest sunsets in town. For the Georgia Beer Garden, the project will top $350,000. Joystick owners Johnny Martinez and Brandon Ley told us last week about their plan to bring great beer with a gay twist to the 4,500-square-foot building at 420 Edgewood Avenue by next summer; the grant announcement came after our story.

Matt Ruppert, who developed his gay foodie cred when he helped launch the Big Gay Supper Club in 2003, tells WSB that his project will bring a rooftop deck to Noni's, new windows, a new front door, upgraded wood trim, brick repairs and landscaping.

“As you can see there is not much of a better view in all of Atlanta than right here,” Ruppert tells WSB and in the video clip above.

Last week Martinez told Project Q that they want to “coax out” the charm of their building, which most recently housed an animal clinic.

“She's rough around the edges in a Tallulah Bankhead sort of way,” he says. “We think it's part of her charm. Rough edges are to be expected, as she's over a hundred years old. We're somewhat limited as to what we can do on the outside since we're in a historic district. On the inside we're going to try and keep as much of the building's character as possible. There is a lot of Southern Gothic in her we'd like to help coax out.”


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