Elliott Street Deli and Pub goes the distance

Castleberry Hill’s beacon of nightlife turns 10

On Sat., April 2, Castleberry Hill’s Elliott Street Deli and Pub turns 10. The enduring local music hangout, owned and operated by brothers Mike and Peter Jakob, has played a key role in developing Atlanta’s creative jazz scene. Even politicians mingle among the pub’s regulars. “Mike and Peter create one of those authentic, neighborhood-friendly places where everyone feels welcome,” says Atlanta City Councilman Kwanza Hall, who represents the area. “It’s Atlanta at its best.”

Hall says he’s proposed the City of Atlanta recognize the date as “Elliott Street Pub Day” in 2016.

For the April 2 anniversary bash, bassist Kevin Scott and Atlanta Funk Society perform, alongside MC Devon Licker and Talloolah Love’s Burlesque. Kebbi Williams and the Wolfpack also bring the power of Atlanta’s premier large jazz ensemble to the mix. And true to form, fires will roar as a tower created by local artist Evereman burns throughout the night.

The beacon at 51 Elliott St. wasn’t always the nightlife hub it is today. “We found this abandoned, burned-out crack house in the spring of 2004, while riding bicycles through our deserted city at 2 a.m.,” Mike says. “The first thing we noticed was the view of the city — and it had no neighbors to complain about noise. We were only looking at it as a place to live and a yard for Jakob Brothers Construction. We had no idea that we would be opening a pub and a music venue two years later.”

The Jakobs have since hosted countless festivals and parties, including early Flux-related blowouts — the annual art installation street party moved to Old Fourth Ward in 2015. On one memorable night in 2013, a pack of musicians took to the street outside the pub to play a beaten-down Range Rover as a percussive instrument. On another occasion last year, Charlie Smith’s fire-coughing metal rooster sculpture entertained people for a “Burning Man decompression party.”

The Pub started hosting regular jazz nights at “The 51” space downstairs, when Elliott Street employee and saxophonist Jordan Shalhoup suggested booking music on Wednesday nights. “Jordan brought a bunch of really talented local musicians to play, and we started meeting all these badass players looking for a place to play,” Mike says.

Local heavyweights including Akeem Marble, Justin Chesarek, Eric Fontaine, Colin Agnew, and Kebbi Williams became regulars. Soon, guitarist Jacob Deaton introduced the Sounds from the Underground series, and prolific bass player Kevin Scott moved his Tuesday night jams there in 2013. “The 51 is home base for the most progressive musicians and artists in Atlanta,” Scott says. “Elliott Street provides a safe and supportive home for forward-minded musicians, where they can all try new things out collectively.”

Elliott Street Pub may only be 10 years old, but it has witnessed a world of growth in that time. And just as vibrantly as the molten iron flows during one of their many iron pour parties, the pub’s spirit remains a beacon of nightlife for South Downtown.