ONE OF MARIETTA SQUARE’S best-known and longest-tenured eateries reportedly is on the verge of closing. Around Town was tipped off as it went to press on Monday that the restaurant had been unable to work out a satisfactory new lease with its longtime landlord and thus would be closing.
The restaurant has long had one of the most thriving lunch businesses on the Square, catering to workers at the Courthouse and other government buildings there.
Around Town was unable to reach the eatery’s owner as the MDJ went to press and thus chose to withhold the name of the restaurant until the story could be confirmed.
IF THE STORY proves true, it would mark the latest episode in a shakeout of the downtown eating scene that began last spring when Krystal, which had presided at the busy corner of Whitlock Avenue and the Loop since the early 1970s, closed in April after the fast-food chain chose not to sign a new lease with then landowner F.C. Brooks Sr. The property was acquired in August by Joseph Goldstein, son of downtown Marietta property czar and City Councilman Philip Goldstein, and will ultimately reopen later this year as a Starbucks.
Then, in late January, two mainstays on North Park Square, Willie Rae’s and Simpatico, were sold by longtime owner Ben Lyman to Sterling and Nancy Wharton of Marietta. The Willie Rae’s menu will remain more or less the same, but Simpatico is closed for renovation and will be reopened as a local “farm-to-table” restaurant by the Whartons’ daughter, Katie Pfister, and her husband, Micah, both chefs. They also plan to open a bakery upstairs in Simpatico.
And Mariettans Kevin and Kammie Sakprasit opened Pier 213 Seafood last month at 35 South Marietta Parkway next to La Parilla Mexican restaurant.
NO ONE WAS HUMMING that old ’60s soul hit “In the Midnight Hour” at the Cobb Courthouse late Wednesday, but it would have been appropriate. That’s because a jury trial in Superior Court Judge Rob Leonard’s courtroom dragged on not just past the midnight hour, but the first hour after midnight as well before reaching a verdict.
The divorce trial began last Monday and unlike most divorce trials, was heard by a jury rather than just a judge. One of the jurors had a job interview scheduled for Thursday in Ohio, so the jury “just wanted to get the case moving,” Leonard told Around Town afterward. “So we decided we would just keep working.”
Leonard gaveled the court to order at 8 a.m. Wednesday, then kept the trial going through lunch and into the night. The judge charged the jury for the final (child support) aspects of the case at 12:30 a.m. Thursday, and the jury did not finish its deliberations until 1:15 a.m. All told it was a 17-hour day.
“I felt like I owed it to the jury to help them get done that day and to help that juror get to his interview,” Leonard said. “I’m not aware of any other recent cases that have gone that long here. It’s my personal record and hopefully it will stand for a long time. I hope I don’t have to do it again. My court reporter has wrist-braces on today (Thursday) from all the writing she did yesterday.”
WORD HAS IT that Cobb Superior Court Judge S. Lark Ingram fielded phone calls last week from both of Georgia’s U.S. Senators, Johnny Isakson and Saxby Chambliss, urging her to apply for an open seat on the federal bench in Atlanta. We’re told she was flattered, but is happy where she is.
NORTHWEST COBB Commissioner Helen Goreham doesn’t have to face the voters for another 15 months or so, but potential opponents are already lining up to run against her in the wake of her politically unpopular votes to raise property taxes and against a program that would have kept county tax dollars from going to contractors who hire illegal aliens.
Former Kennesaw Mayor Leonard Church and the leader of one of west Cobb’s biggest homeowner organizations, Keli Gambrill, have already made known that they are thinking of challenging her in next summer’s Republican Primary. And a third potential candidate has now emerged.
He’s Carl Di Mare, a retired Cobb sheriff’s deputy who told Around Town he’s fed up with Goreham’s vote late last month against adopting the federal IMAGE ordinance for Cobb, which would have required contractors and subcontractors hoping to do business with the county to show that they had applied for IMAGE certification. The IMAGE program is designed to ensure that jobs funded with tax dollars go only to those in this country legally.
Goreham joined Commission Chairman Tim Lee (a fellow Republican) and Democrat Lisa Cupid to shoot down the measure, which had the support only of east Cobb Republican Commissioners Bob Ott and JoAnn Birrell.
“I think our west Cobb representative should represent the residents of west Cobb, not outside interests,” Di Mare told Around Town. “We need to make sure that jobs are available to legal residents, not illegal aliens that have broken the law to come here.”
“I especially disagree with (Goreham’s) IMAGE vote. That’s fundamental. You have a lot of people needing jobs who can’t get hired. But if the illegals weren’t able to hold those jobs, ----
DI MARE, like Goreham, is a New York native. He has a B.A. from the State University of New York in Stony Brook and a juris doctorate from Woodrow Wilson College of Law in Atlanta. Now 62, Di Mare went to work for the Sheriff’s Office in 1982 and retired in 2008. He was in charge of one of the “pods” at the Cobb jail, worked court security, was a plainclothes forgery investigator and did other tasks for the department.
He is unmarried, has a grown son, Matthew Di Mare, and lives just off Ernest Barrett Parkway in the Cheatham Hill district.
He says the county needs to cut spending, but needs to raise the salary and benefits for employees to make them more competitive. He also complains the county has bought “excessive parkland” and paid “top dollar” for it; and says the county has spent too much building sidewalks along rural roads that are rarely walked on but which will have to be maintained.
This would mark Di Mare’s first try for elected office.
“I’d like to see change in west Cobb. Foremost, we need to protect our citizens. The Cobb Chamber has its uses, but they’re not the citizens of west Cobb,” he said.
Di Mare, not surprisingly, also is a strong supporter of continuing Sheriff Neil Warren’s use of the controversial 287(g) program that identifies illegals brought to the jail on other charges.
“Proportionally, a very large part of the crime in Cobb is caused by illegal aliens,” he said. “We definitely need to keep 287(g).”
GEORGIA Attorney General Sam Olens has joined a bipartisan group of 19 attorneys general to file an amicus (“friend of the court”) brief that asks the Supreme Court to review a case challenging a new New York law that the AGs contend infringes on the constitutional right to bear arms. That new law specifies that those seeking to bear arms in public must first provide specific proof to a state official that they need the gun to defend themselves.
The AGs say the case gives the Court an opportunity to 1) determine whether Second Amendment protections have the same force outside the home as they do inside the home; and 2) resolve whether governments can force citizens to provide evidence supporting a specific need to obtain a concealed weapons permit.
SIX FLAGS OVER GEORGIA opens for the year on Saturday. Guests who donate six or more non-perishable food items to MUST Ministries can enter this weekend for just $20.13 per person, according to park President Dale Kaetzel. The newest addition to this year’s line-up, by the way, is the SkyScreamer, an extreme swing ride that spins guests in a 98-foot circle at speeds of 40 mph atop a 24-story tower. That will make it the tallest ride at the park.
FOUR PROMINENT HISTORIANS will headline next week’s March 23 symposium at Kennesaw State University’s Civil War Center, titled: “1863 — Struggles East & West.”
Larry Daniel will discuss “The Western Theater — The Mistakes Made,” Larry Hewitt will provide insights on “Port Hudson: The Most Photographed Battlefield of the Civil War,” Richard McMurry will deliver a lecture titled “Getting Right With Gettysburg,” and Dr. Brian Wills of KSU will share information on “The Logic of Logistics: The Suffolk Campaign of 1863.”
The talks will take place from 9 a.m.-noon at the KSU Center, 3333 Busbee Dr., NW, Kennesaw.
And at 6 p.m. March 22, musician Ross Moore will perform period tunes at the Marietta Museum of History.
Both events are free. For more, go to www.kennesaw.edu/civilwarera.