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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!

Condor Chocolates: Local Bulldog 100 Company

Condor Chocolates storefront location in Five Points.

Condor Chocolates storefront location in Five Points (Photo: Peter Frey)

Condor Chocolates’ reputation is growing every day with every shipment. The company is the brainchild of Peter Dale (ABJ ’99) and Nicholas Dale (BSA ’04). Walking into its 1,100-square-foot storefront location in Five Points, you can smell the quality of the chocolate before even trying it. The first bean-to-bar chocolate producer based in Athens, the establishment is truly a labor of love.

“The story began on a bus in Ecuador. Our dad was backpacking and met our Mom, a local. Sparks flew. On their honeymoon, the newlyweds packed up a green VW bus and moved to Athens, Georgia.”

The quote leads Condor Chocolates’ story page and goes onto explain that through returning to Ecuador to visit family during their childhood summers the brothers were exposed to delicious food and, most importantly, to chocolate. Peter says his first memory of chocolate was actually that of La Universal, an Ecuadorian brand of chocolate he used to enjoy as a child. He likens the taste to Condor Chocolates’ bars now.

Relive your glory (Glory) days

 

Condor Chocolates’ process of producing bean-to-bar chocolate is extremely labor intensive since the cacao beans are sun-dried in Ecuador and then shipped to Athens to be transformed into chocolate bars, truffles, and sipping chocolate. The Dales have capitalized on access to college students and have hired several who come to their factory, a location they expanded to due to demand, at various times to sort the cacao and prepare the beans for roasting.

 

Truffles from Condor Chocolates in Athens, GA

Truffles from Condor Chocolates in Athens, GA (Photo: Peter Frey)

Labor doesn’t stop with hand-sorting. It is followed by roasting, grinding and tempering – you can read about the whole process and look at illustrations. But what’s not pictured are the artistic touches on their truffles, which are known for their beauty as much as their amazing flavors. The designs have been created by several of Condor Chocolates’ employees who started hand-painting each truffle.

Starting food ventures is not new to Peter who has started several others– including the award-winning restaurant The National with chef Hugh Acheson. The most difficult part of the chocolate business? Selling the products wholesale. In Athens, Peter is known for his restaurant work, but wholesale brings him into contact “with clients or potential clients who may not know anything about us,” he says. The most rewarding part of wholesale is that “it is an Athens experience that can go elsewhere. People know Athens, which gives us a leg up.”

 

The question on everyone’s mind is: what is the current favorite truffle flavor for Peter and Nick?

Peter: Caramel truffle, which has a liquid caramel center. I also love the passion fruit, which is a seasonal flavor and strong flavor. It has a jam center that is an actual layer of jam.

Nicholas: My favorite is the smoked sea salt chocolate- we use a sea salt from Charleston called Bulls Bay.

Want to order your own taste of Athens and Condor Chocolates? Shop their online store or stop by their café if you’re in town for Alumni Weekend. Check out the other alumni-owned or operated businesses who are leading the way on the 2019 Bulldog 100 list.

 

Fueling Up: Student and Staff Recommendations for a Caffeine Fix

As most University of Georgia students, faculty or staff members know: caffeine is a vital ingredient to keep things moving around Athens. In a college town, though, there are endless options to achieve your java fix. Here are some recommendations from the experts: UGA staff and students.

Iron Works Coffee lobby

Iron Works Coffee lobby (source: Graduatehotels.com)

Ironworks at The Foundry
295 Dougherty Street

“Although I only get coffee there sometimes, Ironworks is my go-to study spot in Athens because of the unique interior décor (I need to be inspired by my atmosphere for my creative projects!) and I always run into people I know.” – Courtney Rutledge, Class of 2020, Graphic Design major

“Ironworks has comfy seating and a cozy atmosphere.” – Lindsey McSwigan, Class of 2020, Marketing and International Business major

SIPS Espresso Cafe with windows open

SIPS Espresso Cafe (source: SIPS Espresso Cafe Facebook page)

Sips Espresso Cafe
1390 Prince Avenue

“Sips is one of my favorite places to get coffee in Athens because it has huge windows that are usually open, so you feel like you’re outside. Plus, the lattes and baked goods are delicious.” – Hayley Cox, Development Coordinator, UGA Graduate School

Inside of Walker's Coffee and Pub

Walker’s Coffee and Pub (source: Walkerscoffee.com)

Walker’s Coffee & Pub
128 College Avenue

“Walker’s is the best because it’s so cozy and the chai tea lattes are the perfect motivation.” – Ashleigh Burroughs, Class of 2021, Public Relations major

UGA Orientation Leaders at the Starbucks in Tate Student Center

UGA Orientation Leaders at the Starbucks in Tate Student Center (source: UGA Orientation Twitter)

Starbucks in Tate Student Center
831 S. Lumpkin Street

“I usually go to the Starbucks at Tate on campus to get coffee and study because I have a lot of gift cards to Starbucks! I like that it’s in its own private area, but since it’s on campus, I still feel like I’m among lots of people.” – Meg Pruitt, Class of 2020, Graphic Design major

Jittery Joe's Downtown Athens location

Jittery Joe’s Downtown Athens location (source: Jitteryjoes.com)

Jittery Joe’s (Downtown Location)
297 E. Broad Street

“Jittery Joe’s is roasted by a grad just around the corner from my house, so I have a special affinity for it. The downtown location is convenient for students, but also for faculty and staff. Have a meeting there, grab it to go en route to campus, or grab a bag of their Attack the Day beans to make at home. You won’t regret it.” – Elizabeth Elmore, Communications Director, UGA Division of Development and Alumni Relations

 

1000 Faces coffee shop in Athens, GA.

1000 Faces
510 N. Thomas Street

“1000 Faces is a great place to grab coffee – the space is beautiful, they roast their own beans and it is conveniently located in downtown Athens!” – Megan Powell, Development Associate, UGA Office of Gift & Estate Planning

Jittery Joe's Roaster Tasting Room

Jittery Joe’s Roaster Tasting Room (source: Jitteryjoes.com)

Jittery Joe’s (Roaster)
425 Barber Street

“I’m a loyal Jittery Joe’s drinker, and the Roaster is the most convenient for purchasing a latte or beans. It’s not crowded like campus and shopping center locations, and they have treats for your pup!” – Melissa Lee, Donor Impact Coordinator, UGA Office of Donor Relations and Stewardship

Buvez brick building on Barber Street

Buvez on Barber Street (source: Buvez Facebook page)

Buvez
585 Barber Street

“Buvez is my new favorite coffee shop because of its unique feel and secret location. Located along the train tracks and filled with vintage furniture, the renovated roaster building feels cozy. I love grabbing a 1000 Faces cold brew and relaxing on their indoor bench swing or letting my kids color all over the toddler-height chalkboard in their family-friendly nook.” – Laura Bayne, Communications Associate, UGA Division of Development and Alumni Relations

Hendershots Coffee on Prince Avenue

Hendershots Coffee on Prince Avenue (source: Hendershots Coffee Facebook page)

Hendershot’s
237 Prince Avenue

“I love Hendershot’s because they have live music and empanadas are available next door [at Viva Argentina].” – Tarleton Woodson, Class of 2020, MIS major

 

Alumni Weekend is the perfect opportunity to return to campus and feel like a student again … and what makes you feel like a student more than a little coffee to kickstart your day? We hope you enjoyed these recommendations!

Avid Bookshop: Inspired by creativity & community

Janet Geddis (MED ’06) grew up surrounded by and entertained by books.  She claims her love of books comes from “being a child of avid readers.” She remembers that if she were bored, she was told to go outside, read or draw. She also remembers her parents reading to her every night. Janet founded Avid Bookshop on Prince Avenue in Athens seven years ago and two years ago opened a second location on Lumpkin Street in Five Points. Avid Bookshop was just named a Bulldog 100 company for the third time, which means it is one of the fastest-growing businesses owned or operated by UGA alumni.

Maybe surprisingly, Janet claims getting her Master of Education in Educational Psychology with a focus on Gifted and Creative Education helped her open Avid Bookshop. “In everything I do I think about my professors and classes,” says Geddis. She says so much of the events and strategy revolves around her understanding of creativity and learning. Even if someone is not artistic, ultimately, creativity is stimulating. Avid Bookshop invests in the community through multiple events, including their Avid in Schools program, she says. The bookshop brings well-known or debut authors or illustrators to schools so students can meet working authors and illustrators. The community clearly loves Avid Bookshop back. Janet fondly recalls that one of her most influential professors, Dr. Bonnie Cramond, helped paint the Prince Avenue shop with other community volunteers before it opened. Visiting Athens? Check out Avid Bookshop’s event page for more information about community events.

You can check out the 2019 Bulldog 100 businesses list on our website.

Alumni Spotlight: Josh Collins (BSEH ’97, MS ’99)

Josh Collins (BSEH ’97, MS ’99) is the proud owner of Athen’s newest juke-joint style restaurant, Champy’s Famous Fried Chicken. Located at 1120 Baxter Steet, Athen, GA, the restarunt stives to bring together traditional, southern-family recipes with an atmosphere that will attract a diverse crowd.

The UGA Alumni Association’s Strategic Communications intern, Emilie Clarke ’15, had the opportunity to catch up with this outstanding alumnus. Read below to find out more about Josh’s entrpreneurial endeavors.

You recently opened Champy’s Famous Fried Chicken, tell me a little bit about the restaurant. What steps did you take to open your own business? What accomplishments are you most proud of?

Champy’s was founded in Chattanooga in 2009 by a good friend of ours, Seth Champion, who was raised on the Mississippi Delta.  Although Champy’s of Athens is the fifth location, which also includes Daphne, Alabaster and Muscle Shoals, AL, we are not a franchise. We refer to ourselves as a “friendchise” between buddies that enjoy great food in a fun atmosphere. The atmosphere is fun for all ages.

My wife, Amy, and I have talked about moving to Athens for the past 10 years and I knew that Athens was a Champy’s explosion waiting to happen. We worked on selling the idea of Athens to Seth for over two years then invested everything we had into opening, including having to go all the way to Mississippi to get a business loan because local banks wouldn’t work with us. We cashed in our 401Ks, are still living in an RV and continue to invest all of the elbow grease we have every day.

 

Interior of Champy’s Famous Fried Chicken

Where do you see the company in five years?

For the Athens Champy’s, I can see a destination spot that draws customers from all over Georgia and visiting sports rivals, a thriving catering business for everyone that wants good southern food, and a restaurant full of locals that are drawn to our bluesy atmosphere. As for expansion, I definitely see a second location in five years, maybe an hour or two from Athens.

What chefs or types of cuisines are your biggest food influences?

Flavors from the Deep South – Mississippi Delta hot tamales, fresh fried chicken and homemade sides. Our recipes were handed down from Seth Champion’s grandfather over 40 years ago.

How did your time at UGA help you achieve your personal and professional goals? Did you have a favorite professor or class that really stuck with you? Favorite memory from your time at UGA?

My environmental health sciences degree kick-started my corporate career and provided me with 15 years of business experience that I lean on every day to run the restaurant.

I would have to go with two professors, Dr. David MacIntosh and Dean Phil Williams of the Health Science Campus. You didn’t ask, but I couldn’t forget about Ms. Sandra McPeake who was the department’s assistant in the late 1990s. She couldn’t always keep me out of trouble, but she tried her best!

Football Saturdays in Athens are my favorite memory.  All of them…

What advice would you give to future graduates or young alumni who aspire to own their own business?

Just do it.  No one is going to make it happen, but you.

To learn more about Josh Collins (BSEH ’97, MS ’99) and Champy’s Famous Fried Chicken visit ChampysChicken.com.