An interview with a neighbor: Dave Blanchard

Brick Store Pub co-founder Dave Blanchard has big hopes for a revitalized Avondale Estates

Brick Store Pub co-founder Dave Blanchard came to Decatur more than 15 years ago. After working at another brewery, he helped oversee a small-but-packed Irish bar near Decatur Square during the 1996 Olympic games. At the time, Blanchard became fixated on the building next door — a women's hair salon. It would soon become the beloved gastropub that it is today and would help pioneer downtown Decatur's revitalization in the years to come. As he's seen Decatur come into its own, he wonders why Avondale Estates, where he and his family reside, can't keep up.

Decatur and Avondale were pretty much as bad as they could be 15 years ago. And talk about the difference now ... You got to remember, Decatur had nothing in every single storefront.

There was just no one in Decatur. It was really easy to see how cool of a place it would be ... Eddie's Attic was here. Trackside was here. Twain's had opened the year before. ... None of the condos on Ponce de Leon Avenue and Church Street were built. I can't even remember what was there before. I want to compare it to sitting around and watching your hair grow — it's been slow for such a long time.

The best thing the city did was come in with a plan to revitalize Decatur. They started before anybody even came in by redoing all the sidewalks, the streetscape, the streetlights, the lamps, and the trees ... it really makes a difference.

When we opened here, you went to the Brick Store or you went home. ... People aren't gonna settle for anything that's not a little bit better, you know? The bar's been raised high and there's enough people now that it makes a difference to just about everybody.

I think the combination of Cakes & Ale moving into Decatur Square and No. 246 opening next door ... they were exactly the kind of additions to Decatur that we were always wanting. And what we've always wanted here was unique, funky, independent businesses that have a niche.

One thing I've always felt is that Decatur and Avondale are so close, but it seems they're separated just enough and the people seem to be just different enough, I think most people think Avondale's just not very cool and it's not ... College Avenue between Decatur and Avondale Estates is such a weird corridor.

Avondale's always been a beautiful neighborhood, the houses are great, and they're affordable ... I mean all those streets — Dartmouth Avenue, Exeter Road, and Berkeley Road — look like one of those neighborhoods you see in the movies. Especially in the fall when all those leaves are changing. ... All the power lines run behind the houses on the big streets, so you get the canopy of trees. ... There are old growth trees. It's designed beautifully.

The absolute greatest thing about Avondale is the swimming pool. It's just perfect. They renovated it about 10 years ago. A few years ago they installed gas grills, redid all the picnic area. ... Everybody goes there. It's sort of the town center.

The two things always lacking have been schools and the commercial district. Well, the school thing has sort of been solved with the Museum School. You're not guaranteed a spot, but at least it's there.

Downtown Avondale Estates is not a whole lot different. It's a shame. There's two schools of thought on the whole thing: Some people are fine with it being in disarray, not having to deal with traffic and noise ... the other school is that we live here and there's literally nowhere to go and eat.

I do think a really neighborhood-oriented bar and restaurant that did really did cater to the neighborhood ... would have instant success. It does take an anchor. The positives so exponentially outweigh the negatives. It's going to take some time. My hope is that somebody, like Brick Store back in the day, goes in there and calls it home and makes it Avondale's place. I guarantee you it will grow. It will just organically grow and get better.

More By This Writer


Wednesday January 18, 2017 08:43 pm EST
Guns, health care and some good old-fashioned edumacation | more...


Wednesday July 29, 2015 04:00 am EDT
GSU researchers conduct homeless youth count in hopes of increasing services for at-risk population | more...


Wednesday July 22, 2015 04:00 am EDT
Too many Atlantans sit on the sidelines when it comes to shaping the city. That needs to change. | more...


Tuesday July 21, 2015 10:42 am EDT

  • Joeff Davis/CL File

“This is real and the worst part of it — not unlike the Snowden incident, which I hope none of you have sympathy for him because we need to hang him on the courthouse square as soon as we get our hands on him — but just like we’re gonna lose American lives as a result of this breach."

In a response to a question about the nation's largest federal data breach, former...

| more...


Tuesday July 21, 2015 09:02 am EDT

Jamie Hood, an Athens man who faced charges for killing two police officers, was found guilty in the death penalty trial. Hood had made the rare decision to defend himself in front of a jury of his peers.

The Atlanta City Council has postponed the approval of a contract that would have equipped the bulk of Atlanta Police officers with body cameras. Concerns arose at the last minute over the...

| more...
Search for more by Max Blau

[Admin link: An interview with a neighbor: Dave Blanchard]