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Spotlight on 2020 Bulldog 100 business: Agora Vintage

Airee Edwards (AB ’99) wasn’t sure what she wanted to do when she graduated from UGA with a bachelor’s in fabric design, but she knew she wanted to stay in Athens.

So she looked for a business opening, asking herself what was missing, what did Athens not have?

The answer: an open market where anyone could sell their vintage furniture, handcrafted items, art, or whatever, really.

Open Marketplace

“I went to what seemed like every bank in Athens, and I heard a lot of no’s,” Edwards says. But with savings from waiting tables and taking money off the house she’d bought, “a risky move” as she describes it, Edwards convinced a local bank to lend her what she needed to open Agora in 2002. (Agora means “open marketplace” in Greek.)

The only problem? Edwards didn’t have a business degree. But growing up, she’d followed her mother from one craft fair to the next, selling tissue box holders they fashioned from vintage fabrics. That early exposure to entrepreneurship stuck with her.

So she learned as she went, eventually outgrowing the little shop at the corner of Clayton and Pulaski. Sellers had also begun bringing in higher-end items, including women’s clothing and accessories, and Edwards’ husband, attorney and Athens-Clarke County Commissioner Russell Edwards (JD ’10), suggested she move the fashion items to a new store a few blocks away on Broad Street, right across from North Campus.

For a while, the Edwards family headed both stores, an exhausting but incredibly rewarding job. But she eventually decided to focus on one of her first loves—fashion—and grow the now iconic vintage fashion store on Broad, selling the furniture store that would become Atomic Vintage.

When you walk into the recently renovated Agora Vintage, you see an Art Deco-inspired cabinet lined with bags from Chanel, Louis Vuitton, and Hermès, just to name a few. But there are also less expensive, gently used Coach, Tory Burch, and Marc by Marc Jacobs bags toward the back of the store. The counter display is full of beautiful, estate jewelry.

To the left, rows of vintage and modern clothes, all marked significantly below retail. Designer shoes are toward the back.

Honored Bulldog Business

But what makes Agora Vintage stand out is Edwards herself. She’s almost always in the store, greeting customers, suggesting items she knows they have to have, and tracking down pieces they’ve inquired about. It’s that attention to detail that has landed Agora several times on the Bulldog 100, which lists the fastest-growing businesses owned or operated by UGA alumni. Agora Vintage has made the list an outstanding six times in 2013, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2020.

But she never forgets the place that made it all possible, regularly speaking in classes at UGA and supporting the Georgia Museum of Art.

“I tell them the whole story about how I couldn’t get a loan and was eating potato chips for a year, thought I was going to get scurvy,” Edwards says. “I now own a business that allows me to live securely and enjoy some success. UGA helped me build that.”

 

This story was originally published in Georgia Magazine. 

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15 Bulldog 100 businesses to visit in Athens

Condor-Chocolates-Blog-Header

Athens is a fantastic place to visit. Whether you’re in town on a gameday or for a weekend getaway, there is no shortage of fun to be had in the Classic City. Athens boasts a slew of Bulldog-owned or -operated businesses, many of which have made the Bulldog 100 list over the years. Next time you are town, be sure to support the alumni entrepreneurs behind these successful businesses 

 And be sure to check out the complete 2020 Bulldog 100 list–there might be a business you can support in your own hometown!

SAUCEHOUSE BBQ

2018 and 2019 BULLDOG 100 HONOREE

Check out Saucehouse BBQ for a fun, inviting and authentic BBQ experience. They offer a variety of BBQ sauces and made-from-scratch food that will have you screaming … “it’s the best BBQ anywhere!” 

Location:

830 W. Broad Street

Owned/Operated By:

Christopher Belk (AB ’05, MBA ’13)

Website:

saucehouse.com 

 

CHICKEN SALAD CHICK

2017, 2018 and 2019 BULLDOG 100 HONOREE

They love chicken salad—as if you hadn’t guessed from their name—and they serve up more than a dozen tasty flavors every day.  

Location:

196 Alps Road 

Owned/Operated By:

Scott Deviney (AB ’95) 

Website:

chickensaladchick.com

 

CONDOR CHOCOLATES

2019 BULLDOG 100 HONOREE  

Brothers Nick and Peter Dale, born, raised and educated in Athens, own and operate Condor Chocolates located in the historic Five Points neighborhood of Athens. They produce and sell bean-to-bar chocolate bars, truffles, sipping chocolate, hot cocoa, coffee, iced beverages, gelato and a variety of confections. 

Location:

1658 S. Lumpkin Street

Owned/Operated By:

Nicholas Dale (BSA ’04), Peter Dale (ABJ ’99)

Website:

condorchocolates.com

 

SOUTHLAND ORGANICS

2019 BULLDOG 100 HONOREE

Southland Organics helps farmers and landscape professionals overcome bacterial challenges and nutrient deficiencies. They work to enhance landscapes by eliminating harmful microbes, and delivering vibrant color and health to your crops.  

Location:

189 Luke Road (Bogart) 

Owned/Operated By:

Mike Usry (BSED ’99) 

Website:

southlandorganics.com

 

ONWARD RESERVE

2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019 BULLDOG 100 HONOREE 

Onward Reserve aims to live authentically. This menswear store, with locations in and outside of Athens, has everything from button-downs to coolers.  

Location:

146 E. Clayton Street

Owned/Operated By:

TJ Callaway (BBA ’07) 

Website:

onwardreserve.com

  

YOUR PIE FRANCHISING LLC

2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019 BULLDOG 100 HONOREE 

Inspired by the Italian culture, Your Pie invites customers to experience the art of making their own pizza.  

Location:

196 Alps Road (Athens) // 1430 Capital Avenue (Watkinsville)

Owned/Operated By:

Drew French (BBA ’05), Bucky Cook (BBA ’77), Allen French (BS ’77)

Website:

yourpie.com

  

AVID BOOKSHOP

2017, 2018 and 2019 BULLDOG 100 HONOREE

Avid Bookshop is an independent, community-focused bookstore with two locations in Athens. Avid aims to be a safe space for locals, while standing up for human rights, equality and the freedom to read.  

Location:

1662 S. Lumpkin Street // 493 Prince Avenue

Owned/Operated By:

Janet Geddis (MED ’06) 

Website:

avidbookshop.com

 

EXTRA SPECIAL PEOPLE

2017 and 2018 BULLDOG 100 HONOREE 

ESP creates opportunities for individuals with disabilities and their families to engage, connect and thrive. When you visit, check out where ESP’s Java Joy team is serving coffee and a smile.

Location:

189 VFW Drive

Owned/Operated By:

Laura Whitaker (BSED ’07, MED ’10) 

Website:

extraspecialpeople.com

 

CHEEKY PEACH BOUTIQUE

2016, 2017 and 2018 BULLDOG 100 HONOREE

Cheeky Peach is a local boutique with the goal of creating a shopping experience that makes customers feel good about themselves. Cheeky Peach’s style is fearless, authentic and fashion-forward.  

Location:

160 W. Clayton Street

Owned/Operated By:

Katie Jacobs (ABJ ’05), Jason Jacobs (BS ’10) 

Website:

shopcheekypeach.com

 

THE SIGN BROTHERS

2018 BULLDOG 100 HONOREE

What started as a sibling-run company has now become a larger team dedicated to bringing its customers’ ideas to life. The Sign Brothers design, produce and install the highest quality signs and graphics.

Location:

195 Ben Burton Circle (Bogart)

Owned/Operated By:

Justin Seibert (BSA ’02) 

Website:

thesignbros.com

  

ENTOURAGE CLOTHING & GIFTS 

2016, 2017 BULLDOG 100 HONOREE

Entourage was founded on the belief that you don’t have to spend a million to look like a million. They are always changing, and always in style.

Location:

2095 S. Milledge Avenue

Owned/Operated By:

Katie Nichols (BSFCS ’05) 

Website:

entourageclothing.com

 

PAWTROPOLIS

2011, 2012, 2015, 2016 and 2017 BULLDOG 100 HONOREE

Pawtropolis is your source for all things pets. Their mission is to create an environment where your cat or dog is safe, happy and mentally stimulated. 

Location:

130 Whitetail Way (Bogart)

Owned/Operated By:

Amanda Rodriguez Crook (BS ’01), John Crook (BS ’02) 

Website:

pawtropolis.com

   

AGORA VINTAGE

2013, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2020 BULLDOG 100 HONOREE

This family-owned, vintage consignment shop has been serving the Athens community for over 20 years. Agora sells quality, designer goods at a fraction of the price. 

Location:

233 E. Broad Street

Owned/Operated By:

Airee Edwards (AB ’99), Russell Edwards (JD ’10) 

Website:

agoravintageshop.com

 

TERRAPIN BEER COMPANY

2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2018 BULLDOG 100 HONOREE

Inspired by the creative culture of Athens, Terrapin is always adding quality craft beers to its lineup. Terrapin’s mission is to create unique experiences through passionate brewing. 

Location:

265 Newton Bridge Road

Owned/Operated By:

John Cochran (BBA ’93), Dustin Watts (BBA ’03), Irina Melnik Cochran (BBA ’93) 

Website:

terrapinbeer.com

 

NUÇI’S SPACE 

2012, 2013, 2015 and 2016 BULLDOG 100 HONOREE

Nuçi’s Space is a musician’s resource center fighting to end the epidemic of suicide and the stigma surrounding mental illness. Whether you are seeking support for your own well-being, for a loved one or for a friend, you don’t have to do it alone. They are here to help. 

Location:

396 Oconee Street

Owned/Operated By:

Bob Sleppy (BS ’05, MBA ’10) 

Website:

nuci.org

 

Don’t go bacon my heart: alumni-owned breakfast spots

Trying to decide where to eat breakfast or brunch during your next visit to Athens (maybe even for Alumni Weekend)? Why not check out an alumni-owned restaurant, such as …

Athens Bagel Company

Owner: David Asman (BS ’08)
Location: 268 N. Jackson Street
Fun Fact: Athens Bagel Company sells nitro mimosas on draft.

When I go to Athens Bagel, I get to eat good food and support a local business, which I love.” – Zoe Maher ’21  

Heirloom Café and Fresh Market

Owner: Jessica Rothacker (AB ’03)
Location: 815 N. Chase Street
Fun Fact: Heirloom is run by a father-daughter team.

“My favorite thing to get at Heirloom is the ‘doscuit holes!’ Biscuits as donuts? You can’t go wrong.” – Caitlyn Richtman (AB ’19AB ’19) 

 

Photo from @homemadeathens on Instagram

 

Last Resort Grill

Owner: Melissa Clegg (BBA ’88)
Location: 174-184 W. Clayton Street
Fun Fact: Jimmy Buffet performed at Last Resort before it transitioned from music club to restaurant.

“The three-cheese bacon omelet is to die for!” – Austin Grant ’22  

 

Mama’s Boy

Co-owner: Cooper Hudson (ABJ ’98)
Co-owner: Alicia Segars (AB ’93)
Original Location: 197 Oak Street
Fun Fact: Mama’s Boy has a second location at The Falls(8851 Macon Highway, Suite 403)

Check out Sam Flexner’s Haiku below!

 

Photo from @theplaceathens on Instagram

The Place

Co-owner: Alan Pope (AB ’08)
Co-owner: Ryan Pope (BBA ’09)
Location: 229 E. Broad Street
Fun Fact: The Place is named after the owner’s grandfather’s car dealership.

“The chicken and waffles at The Place are my favorite. – Maggie Cavalenes 20 

 

Photo from @zombiecoffeeanddonuts on Instagram

Zombie Coffee & Donuts

Owner: Tony Raffa (BBA ’16)
Location: 350 E. Broad Street
Fun Fact: Each month, Zombie donates 5% of gross profits to local nonprofits–often departments or programs on campus!

“Zombie has tons of different toppings to choose from. There’s something for everyone!” – Julia Strother ’20  

We love celebrating UGA alumni, especially when they open delicious restaurants. On your next visit to the Classic City—to attend a football game, meet your student mentee or attend Alumni Weekend—we hope you’ll start your day at one of these eateries. 

What do you really know about bats?

Duh nuh nuh nuh nuh nuh nuh BAT … WEEK! Not what you were expecting? Neither was I until the Odum School of Ecology launched their Bulldogs for Bats campaign. Since then, I’ve learned a lot about bats that has completely reshaped my opinion. Much like the beloved DC Comics superhero who saves Gotham, bats are saving local ecosystems in the night and are often misunderstood. From Australia to right here in Athens, Georgia, bats serve as natural pest control and are essential pollinators of many plants.

So what’s Bat Week, you ask? It’s an international, annual celebration designed to raise awareness about the need for bat conservation. And it starts today! Did you know bats face risk of disease, habitat loss, pesticide use and wind energy, just to name a few? Diminishing numbers of bats pose a threat not only to the functioning of healthy ecosystems, but also to human well-being. Insect-eating bats, including the 16 species found in Georgia, save the U.S. agricultural industry at least $3 billion a year in pest control costs and crop damage. Bats also help control mosquito populations and may reduce the risk of emerging diseases, such as West Nile Virus, in the Southeast. This week, we’re spreading awareness about the vital role bats play, and how you can help save them.

Bulldogs for Bats is a campaign that’s been running the entire month of October to raise support for bat conservation efforts. All funds donated will provide local bats with a safe, sustainable environment while enhancing student learning and research opportunities. While many of our graduate students have conducted fieldwork research abroad, building bat houses in the community will provide students more chances for experiential learning and hands-on research right in our backyard.

So when you see some of these so-called “spooky” creatures on Halloween, think of the difference they’re making in our environment. And please consider saving the bats—what better time than during Bat Week?

Bob Sleppy of Nuci's Space, Athens GA UGA

Bob Sleppy (BS ’05, MBA ’10) makes a difference at Nuçi’s Space

Bob Sleppy (BS ’05, MBA ’10) is the executive director of Nuçi’s Space, an Athens, Georgia, nonprofit that allows musicians to meet with doctors about physical and/or mental health issues.

For World Mental Health Day today (October 10), we asked Bob to share a little about Nuçi’s Space, his UGA experience, and how attitudes toward mental health issues have evolved over the two decades since Nuçi’s Space first opened its doors.

How does Nuçi’s Space serve the Athens community?

Nuçi’s Space was created in memory of 22-year-old UGA student and talented musician, Nuçi Phillips, who was diagnosed with clinical depression in high school. Although he fought courageously, Nuçi sadly lost his battle, and on Thanksgiving Day 1996, he ended his life.

Nuci Phillips

Nuçi Phillips

Nuçi’s Space is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization whose mission is to prevent suicide by actively supporting the emotional, physical, and professional well-being of musicians. Nuçi’s Space advocates for and helps to alleviate the suffering of those living with a brain illness while also fighting to end the stigma attached to such illnesses. To accomplish this mission, Nuçi’s Space provides a healthy, safe environment in which musicians are supported and guided to affordable, obstacle-free appropriate professional care. While appropriate treatment of brain illnesses is crucial, Nuçi’s Space also recognizes and strives to heighten awareness in order to help to identify preventive tools, including how individuals can maintain healthy lifestyles.

Since its inception, Nuçis’ Space has financially assisted 2,000+ musicians, subsidized 23,000+ appointments with mental health professionals, at a cost of over $1.2 million.

Nuci's Space, an Athens, GA nonprofit

Nuçi’s Space

Describe your biggest challenge as executive director of Nuçi’s Space.

I don’t know if there is just one challenge that stands out from the others. The challenge is finding balance among all the roles and responsibilities that come with the job. I’ve found that the best way to overcome this challenge is to hire great people and lean on them to help navigate the daily ups-and-downs of managing a nonprofit organization.

How does Nuçi’s Space collaborate with UGA?

Our collaboration with UGA and its students is almost too extensive to share in its entirety. In addition to the students who volunteer with us, we regularly work with the Music Business Program, AU/UGA Medical Partnership, Institute for Nonprofit Management and Leadership, School of Social Work, Student Health Center and the UGA Police Department. The University of Georgia has been a terrific partner in our growth and we continue to look for new and exciting ways to collaborate.

The Sleppy family at the 2016 Teach of the Year Banquet

Bob with his family at the 2016 Teacher of the Year Banquet where he received that year’s honor.

How has your UGA education prepared you for this role?

In addition to the high caliber of professors, fellow students and endless learning opportunities, the attribute that really makes the University of Georgia stand out is its commitment to service learning and community engagement. The opportunity to apply the lessons learned in the classroom to real-world situations is unparalleled.

How has the community perception of mental health evolved since you started at Nuçi’s Space?

I was hired as the executive director in 1999. Fortunately, I have seen some improvement in how depression and suicide are perceived by the public. Most of the stigma related to mental illness can be attributed to a lack of understanding and misinformation. The more we talk about mental illness, share our personal stories and feel empathy for each other, opportunities to lessen the stigma will occur. This weekend, during the third quarter of the UGA vs. South Carolina football game, the crowd will be asked to hold up three fingers in remembrance of Tyler Hilinski, the brother of South Carolina’s quarterback Ryan Hilinski. Tyler lost his battle with mental illness when he took his own life in 2018. Twenty years ago, I couldn’t have imagined that 92,746 football fans would pause for a moment to honor those we’ve lost or who continue to suffer with a mental illness.

Did you have a favorite professor?

I had great professors and lecturers throughout my undergraduate and graduate programs. My experience as a student in the Terry Part-time MBA Program was beyond what I could have hoped for. Some of the professors who come to mind are Dr. Ann Buchholtz, Dr. Dwight Lee, Charles Lankau III, and Dr. Bob Boehmer. However, I attribute a good portion of my professional success to Dr. David Harvey. His financial accounting class was very challenging, but it solidified the work ethic my parents instilled in me when I was younger. I have such a profound respect for Dr. Harvey and was delighted when he accepted a position on the Nuçi’s Space Board of Directors earlier this year, nearly 12 years after I attended my first class with him.

Finely and Bob Sleppy

Bob and his daughter, Finley, take in a Georgia game at Sanford Stadium.

What is your favorite part of teaching?

I have been fortunate to teach Theory and Management of Nonprofit Organizations, Social Entrepreneurship and Nonprofit Leadership through the Institute for Nonprofit Management and Leadership at the UGA School of Social Work for the past 8 years. My favorite part of teaching are the ongoing relationships I have with students. I try to incorporate a Socratic style of teaching so that we discover, analyze, discuss and solve problems in the classroom together. Often my interaction with students extends beyond graduation. I receive occasional emails from former students who stay in contact with me. I love watching them transition from students into colleagues.

Has teaching enhanced your ability to perform your role at Nuçi’s Space?

Absolutely. The blessing and curse of teaching very smart students is that they keep me on my toes. My responsibility as an instructor to stay current on trends and best practices in the nonprofit sector directly impacts my role as an executive director.

Most meaningful experience at Nuçi’s Space?

I have so many great experiences at Nuçi’s Space that it’s impossible to choose just one. One of my proudest moments was when my work at Nuçi’s Space and my involvement with UGA coincided. Nuçi’s Space has been recognized four times (2012,2013, 2015, 2016) as a Bulldog 100 business, recognizing the 100 fastest growing businesses owned or run by an alumnus.

AthFest through the years

With year 23 of AthFest taking place this weekend, we asked for your favorite memories from years past. Check out the post below to reminisce on some #TBT pics! We’ve included important details for the weekend at the end of this post.

AthFest 2009:

“My high school’s ET club ran second stage every year – I fell in love with Athens my first trip.” – Virginia Luke (AB ’17)

Photo from Virginia Luke

 

AthFest 2012:

“Seeing Emily Hearn perform! Crazy to see a fellow Bulldog and friend on the Pulaski Stage. Her songs are just so fresh and fun to sing and dance to!” – Laura Bayne (AB ’11, MPA ’19)

Photo from Red and Black

 

AthFest 2016:

“Seeing Family and Friends and Kishi Bashi up close was a dream come true” – Ally Hellenga (ABJ ’16)

Photo from Kishi Bashi’s Facebook page

 

AthFest 2018:

“The music is awesome, but my favorite part was the open-air Artist Market. They have booths up and down Washington Street with a ton of cool vendors, and you could buy unique, local items.” – Caitlyn Richtman (ABJ ’19, AB ’19)

Photo from AthFest Educates

Additional Information:

Cost:

All of the outdoor stages are free! If you want to purchase a Club Crawl wristband, it’s $25. Be sure to check each club’s age restrictions.

Schedule:

This weekend’s schedule is jam-packed.

Parking and Stage Map:

This post was written by Communications Intern Bailey Carreker

First Father’s Day: sharing UGA and Athens with my son

Dear Son,

As Father’s Day approaches, and the reality sets in that I will get to celebrate this year with you, my son, I can’t help but think about how much I’m looking forward to introducing you to everything I love about UGA and Athens. Like…

Walking past the Arch and playing frisbee in the shady grass of North Campus.


Taking you to Sanford Stadium and putting you on my shoulders to see over the crowd to watch the Dawgs run out of the tunnel for the first time.


Tailgating with our family and friends all season long.

Smelling the nutty aroma of coffee and splitting Fruity Pebbles donuts at Ike and Jane.


Playing Connect Four and eating (too many) hot dogs at HiLo.


Ordering the Hermit Crab sandwich at Seabear. Because it’s on the secret menu and that makes me seem like a cool Dad.


Taking you downtown during Twilight to watch the bikes speed by.


Walking fairways at the UGA Golf Course, and teaching you how to stick an iron close.


Taking you to the Farmers Market on Saturday mornings to stand in the Farm Cart line to wait for the best biscuits in town.


Climbing the hill on Baxter to show you Russell Hall – where Dad lived his freshman year. Then over to Gran Ellen where I lived as a junior and senior, just down the street from our favorite spot, Memorial Park and Bear Hollow Zoo.

 

Thanks for making me a father, buddy. You’re a Damn Good Dawg (and son).

 

 

Love, Dad

Alex Bezila (BBA ’10)

Twilight Criterium’s 40th weekend in Athens

On April 26, the annual Twilight Criterium will dash into Athens once again. With two days full of music, food and races, the weekend will continue to signify the official start of spring in downtown Athens. Since 1980, the Twilight Criterium has been a tradition that draws all kinds of cyclists into town for amateur and professional races. Including concerts, a 5K and plenty of activities for kids, Twilight weekend caters to college students, athletes and families.

If you’ve never heard of a criterium, don’t worry. The explanation is simple: it’s a closed circuit, or super short, track with lots of laps. It is similar to how a NASCAR race operates.

Twilight Criterium racers start their laps around downtown Athens.

Twilight Criterium racers start their laps around downtown Athens. Photo by Bear Cieri/Athens Twilight Facebook

When the event first started, there were only 40 racers and the criterium only included one men’s professional race. This year will feature the second annual “joy ride,” a 5-mile ride through Athens, and a 5K race. The main event takes place on April 27 and is the Twilight Criterium itself, an 80km race for men and a 40km race for women in the heart of downtown Athens. 2,000 people are expected to race this year.

The UGA Alumni Association caught up with Athens Twilight co-event director and Double Dawg Ashley Travieso, (BSED ‘05, MED ‘06). Ashley started at UGA in 2001 as a sports studies with an emphasis in sports communication. In undergrad, she was a member in the Georgettes in the Redcoat Band from 2001 to 2006, and was captain from 2002 to 2005. According to Ashley, she had no interest in cycling or even attending Twilight until co-founders Gene Dixon and Linda DePascale took her to lunch at Porterhouse and talked to her about becoming an intern for the event. The rest, as they say, is history.

Athens Twilight was the first of its kind. Since 1980, other twilight criteriums have been founded based off of Athens’ event, which now attracts racers from around the world. Ashley believes that people are drawn to Athens Twilight because “it’s the most insane criterium. The atmosphere is electric, there’s no other criterium in the world like it.” Everyone wants to win this particular race due to the exciting nature of the race itself and the crowd.

Women's pro/am race

This year, Twilight expects to have 2,000 racers. Photo by Adam Koble/Athens Twilight Facebook

Be sure to visit downtown this weekend to check out the festivities surrounding the criterium.

Athens Twilight's logo

This is the 40th year of Athens Twilight. Graphic per the Athens Twilight Facebook page.

Event highlight days/times per website schedule:

Friday, April 26:
Noon-9 p.m.: Twilight Expo
Location: 100 College Avenue – College Square
6-7 p.m.: BikeAthens Joy Ride
Location: College Avenue Parking Deck

6-9 p.m.: Pre-registration pickup & event registration
Location: 200 College Avenue Parking Deck – Bottom Level

Saturday, April 27:

There is a 5K on Saturday morning.

There is a 5K on Saturday morning. Photo by Bear Cieri/Athens Twilight Facebook

8-9 a.m.: Sparc Twilight 5K presented by Fleet Feet Athens
Location: College Avenue and Washington Street

10 a.m.-9 p.m.: Twilight Expo
Location: 100 College Avenue – College Square

7-8:10 p.m.: AOC Twilight Women’s PRO/AM presented by Terrapin Beer
Location: Downtown Athens – College Avenue and Washington Street

8:30-10:15 p.m.: AOC Twilight Men’s PRO/AM presented by Terrapin Beer
Location: Downtown Athens – College Avenue and Washington Street

National Beer Day: Alumnus brewing for a cause

Matt StevensMatt Stevens (AB’03, MPA’14) is the Director of Community and Culture at Creature Comforts Brewing Co. in Athens. For National Beer Day we’re asking the questions everyone wants to know – from how Creature Comfort’s philanthropy started to Stevens’ top three favorite beers.

The fact that your role exists is unique. You’re clearly passionate about the Athens community, how did that come about?

My role tries to activate the same value with both an internal and external focus, that value being the question of how to use a company to add value to people’s lives. The external focus is, obviously, the community side. Before we’d ever brewed any beer—before there was Tropicalia—there was this value system. What we know how to do is brew beer. But why we do it, in part, is to add value to the community around us. We hope the city of Athens is better off because we’re here helping to support it.

As for my internal focus, we hope our employees view their work as more than “just a job.” We hope every hire is a lifetime hire. Not merely for retention purposes, but we look to invest in our people, and more than just professionally, but personally as well. It looks a lot of different ways, but that’s the basic framework: The simple question of how our employee experience can add value to our people. Great companies recognize that their employees can work anywhere. The fact that they’ve chosen to dedicate their careers to steward our brand demands that we endeavor to, in turn, invest back into them.

Share a little about the Get Comfortable Campaign.

Get Comfortable started in 2015, and initially it was just a slice of the year—from November to January. One of the first things we did once we had more bandwidth was to extend the campaign duration. We wanted this community impact work to be who we are, not just something we do. So today we launch the program every year in January and wrap mid-November, which gives us six weeks at the end of the year to close the books, to disburse funds, and then reload for the next year.

Creature Comforts SignThe program itself stems from our belief that companies have a role to play in the solutions of tomorrow. We cannot simply outsource social services work to the government or nonprofit agencies. Though both sectors absolutely have a role to play, the private sector has a responsibility as well. John Mackey, who founded Whole Foods, wrote a fantastic book a few years back titled Conscious Capitalism, wherein he makes the argument that companies can be capitalistic but also conscientious in the way they go about it. The Get Comfortable campaign, then, is our expression of this belief, our flagship program to participate in the civic wellbeing of our community.

Specifically, we hope this program helps to align the business community to resource the agencies who do our city’s most pressing work. We hope to make serving as simple, as strategic, and as effective as possible for local businesses.

For a full list of the partners and events, visit GetCurious.com.

What was your favorite UGA memory?

I am going to have to go with a sports memory—my father and grandfather played football here so Georgia football memories run deep. I would say being with my dad in Jordan-Hare back in 2002 when we clinched the SEC East for the first time in years. It was the David Greene to Michael Johnson in the fourth quarter with 15 yards and basically zero seconds to go—I leapt into my father’s arms. It was just one of those classic Georgia sports memories.

Favorite UGA professor?

Richard Neupert. I took his introduction to film course—that’s why I not only changed my major but also why I went on to grad school. I received my masters in film studies from the University of Edinburgh before returning to UGA for a now-defunct PhD. Dr. Neupert and I still cross paths from time to time since he still serves on the board of Cine. He is so community-minded, but he’s also this incredible scholar and I admire him greatly.

What are your top three favorite beers?

creature comforts

Arcadiana, it is a barrel-aged saison. Subtle, juicy, delicious. If you like a saison, you should totally try this one.

The Silent World is one of our lesser known releases. It’s a black lager, which is a very unique style. Given its inky black appearance, our brewers named it in homage to the classic Jacques-Yves Cousteau documentary from the 1950’s titled Le Monde du Silence. As a former film scholar, I obviously appreciated the nod to quirky cinema.

This year’s Get Comfortable IPA is a collaboration with Russian River. It was a dream to have Vinnie and Natalie Cilurzo come from California this past January to work with our team on that recipe. The result is staggering, one of our best IPAs to date. And of course, all the profits go toward a philanthropic end.

What’s one of your favorite places to grab dinner post-Creature Comforts?

Got to go with my gut, Seabear. In a city full of incredible dining, it remains my very favorite. 

Creature Comforts has expanded to the Southern Mill, which was previously a warehouse near Chase Street, what’s the future of Creature Comforts?

Opening the Southern Mill has given us tremendous new capacity. Throughout 2019 we are looking to continue expanding our distribution footprint statewide. For context, we opened our doors in April 2014 and from day one we were in only two markets, Athens and Atlanta, until last November. In November we opened Augusta and Columbus. And last month we opened up Savannah and more of coastal Georgia. So we’ve gone from two cities for four years to nearly the entire state in the last six months! The new tank capacity, then, has enabled us to release quite a bit more volume and, just as exciting, to create many new recipes through our innovation program. So both our customers and our brewers are pleased with the recent expansion.

Eat Your Heart Out: Student Recommendations for Every Meal of the Day

For many students, good food is an essential part of the UGA college experience. In Athens, there are countless tasty restaurants to choose from when wanting to indulge. Here are some recommendations by students as you plan to grab breakfast, lunch or dinner when in town for Alumni Weekend.

Breakfast

Mama's Boy restaurant

photo by the AJC

Mama’s Boy Restaurant

197 Oak Street

8851 Macon Hwy Suite 403

“I really love their biscuits and grits. The bread is huge and so fluffy. It’s always so good!” – Morgan Jones, Class of 2019, nutritional sciences major

 

Last Resort Grill

photo by yelp.com

Last Resort Grill

174-184 W Clayton Street

“I love love love Last Resort Grill! My friend and I stumbled upon it once in high school after a UGA campus tour and fell in love. The intimate feel of the restaurant and friendly staff makes the food taste even better.”- Curria Johnson , Class of 2020, marketing and international business double major

Big City Bread

photo from Big City Bread Cafe Facebook page

Big City Bread Cafe

393 N Finley Street

“I really enjoy getting brunch with my girlfriends at Big City Bread Cafe because they have a Southern, family-owned, friendly vibe to their restaurant. Plus, the food is delicious.” – Jillian Jones, Class of 2019, public relations major, theatre minor

Lunch

Cali N Tito's

photo from Cali N Tito’s Facebook page

Cali N Tito’s 

1427 S Lumpkin Street

1245 Cedar Shoals Drive

“I love Cali N Tito’s because everything is authentic. The food definitely is and the physical locations were each made specifically to make you feel like you’re in Latin America.” – Rachel Webb, Class of 2018, advertising and marketing double major

Taqueria Del Sol

photo from Taqueria Del Sol Facebook page

Taqueria Del Sol

334 Prince Avenue

“It’s the tacos, the margaritas, the memories you make after going there every Friday of senior year. It’s everything. It’s the first place my friends and I go back to when we’re back in Athens because it means we’re home and all together again.” – Stefanie Will, Class of 2019, Master of Accountancy

 

Tlaloc

photo from Tlaloc Facebook page

Tlaloc

1225 N Chase Street

“The food is great, and I love it.” – Caitlyn Richtman, Class of 2019, journalism and women’s studies double major

Dinner

Trappeze Pub

photo from Trappeze Pub website

Trappeze Pub

269 N Hull Street

“Trappeze’s fries. End of story.” – Cat Kendrick, Class of 2020, journalism major

Maepole

photo from Maepole Instagram page

Maepole (NEW!)

1021 N Chase Street

“Maepole is new favorite place in Athens because it’s different from all the places we’ve grown used to. I love being able to choose whichever protein, base and sides I like , and then sitting in their outdoor area to enjoy my healthy meal.” – Lauren Diaz, Class of 2019, journalism major, sociology minor

Clocked

photo from Clocked website

Clocked

259 W Washington Street

“Clocked has burgers that are indescribably good. It’s so much fun to eat good food with friends there.” – Maya Jones, Class of 2019, public relations major, Spanish minor

 

Come home to Athens March 21-23 for Alumni Weekend and feel like a student again. We hope you enjoyed these restaurant recommendations!