Village Restaurant Deal Sparks Controversy Among Owners

Everybody’s Pizza, a landmark restaurant in Emory Village, will close March 19 after 41 years amid controversial claims about a recent deal between restaurant owners and Steady Hand Pour House needing to relocate.

Steady Hand, a coffee shop that was sublet through a deal with Everybody’s, will move to a different area in late April, though an exact date and location are not yet known, according to the store’s owner Dale Donchey.

The closings are part of a deal between the owners of Everybody’s Pizza and Crawford Moran, the brewmaster of the 5 Seasons Brewing Company, that will utilize the space currently occupied by both Everybody’s and Steady Hand to build a new “brew house” called The Slice & Pint, Moran said. The 5 Seasons Brewing Company is a restaurant and brewery with a location in Alpharetta, Sandy Springs and Westside.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported on Friday that Moran will open a new pizza restaurant and beer bar concept at the location in the next few months, with the installation of an on-site brewery taking place in another six months.

In order to make room for the brew house, the 5 Seasons Brewing Company is terminating the sublease of Steady Hand Pour House, according to Donchey. He said he found out about the deal late Wednesday night.

“We are going to stay around as long as humanly possible until the cops come drag us out because we think it’s a load of s–t that we have to move,” Donchey initially said of the deal. “We are a thriving business that’s proven that a coffee shop that meets quality can stay here in Emory Village and last.”

Donchey said that after the expiration of a previous lease, he recently signed a 30-day lease because he was in the process of negotiating a long-term lease with the owner of Everybody’s Pizza, Andy Kurlansky, and they had yet to agree to terms.

“We figured we had a good gentlemen’s handshake on it,” Donchey said on Sunday. “We were just going to leave it as is, and we figured we knew [Kurlansky] for five years, why would he screw us?”

Moran told the Wheel that he negotiated the lease only with the landlord of the space and Kurlansky. He said he was under the impression that Steady Hand was looking to relocate.

“The way it was explained to me was exactly that the coffee shop had a 30-day lease because they didn’t want to stay there long term,” Moran said.

Moran has since agreed to work with Donchey to let Steady Hand to stay in its current location until the end of next month to give the owners time to find a new location.

Donchey, who originally expressed anger toward Moran, said he no longer believes Moran is at fault.

“I feel hurt most by [Kurlansky],” Donchey said on Sunday. “I feel kind of heartbroken and like I got dumped by a girlfriend out of nowhere. … If [Moran] would have known we had no intention to leave, I don’t think [he] would have taken the deal.

Kurlansky has not responded to multiple requests for comment since Thursday and was not available at the restaurant Sunday afternoon. However, he told the Virginia Highland-Druid Hills Patch last week that he plans to retire.

“Just moving on, retiring,” he told the Patch. “I don’t know if you’ve worked in the restaurant business, but 41 years is enough for me.”

At the same time, some employees at Everybody’s Pizza said they are also upset about the closing of the restaurant.

“Nobody is terribly happy about it,” said Alexander Taylor, the head waiter at Everybody’s Pizza. “We kind of got blindsided. We were told [Wednesday], two weeks until you shut down for good. Kind of out of the blue.”

Taylor said he personally will be in a safe financial position after the closing, but others will not be as fortunate.

“There are people here that this is going to wreck,” he said.

He added that the abruptness of the announcement is what has made it difficult, noting that he does not think the closing was handled in the best way.

“I have met lots of great people here,” Taylor said. “I love everyone who works here. Some of them are pretty much family to me so it’s very sad.”

Employees at Everybody’s are different from those at other restaurants in that there has been very little turnover throughout the past, Roberts said.

“When people wait tables here they wait eight to 10 years,” Roberts said. “We’re kind of a ‘motley crew.’”

Many Emory students also expressed sadness at the closing of both Everybody’s Pizza and Steady Hand.

“[Steady Hand is] more than a coffee shop; it’s a place of comfort,” Goizueta Business School junior Sonia Guzner wrote in an email to the Wheel. “The village will really be losing some personality with the absence of Steady Hand. They were a little niche of a different culture that I will really miss.”

College freshman Aris Economou said Steady Hand has served as a welcoming place with workers who are willing to teach customers about coffee.

Meanwhile, College freshman Patrick Zepeta said he will miss Everybody’s Pizza. He said he has enjoyed the meals he has had there.

Still, some Emory students welcome a change to the location and are hoping for an improved dining experience.

“For the location that [Everybody’s Pizza] has, … people expected great things from it,” College sophomore Kevin Botton said. “When I went there it was pretty empty, and the actual architecture of the place is not very nice. You feel confined and overwhelmed and the food is not very good.”

The new owners of the space will likely gut the building currently occupied by Everybody’s and Steady Hand in preparation for the new restaurant, Roberts said.

Kurlansky also said in a press release: “We are proud to have served some 3 million pizzas to multiple generations of Atlantans since 1971. Here’s to all who had their first dates at Everybody’s, met their spouse at Everybody’s or celebrated other of life’s joyous events with us.”

— By Dustin Slade

Editor-in-Chief Arianna Skibell and Asst. News Editor Karishma Mehrotra contributed reporting.

This story was updated from its original version on March 11, 2013 at 1:35 p.m.

  • Kevin

    Seriously, Kevin Botton?

    • Not kevin

      Yea, the food was pretty greasy. never been to the coffee place (the starbuckses are soooo much better). But yea, right on Donchey, rock it OOUUUTT!!!!

  • Crawford

    This is Crawford Moran, the soon-to-be-co-owner of the Slice & Pint. I’d like to correct some of the mis-information in the above article and do want to shed some light on this situation. In no way are we “kicking out” or “forcing out” anyone. Everybody’s is an Atlanta institution and the guys wanted to retire. The Steady Hand is a great place. Cool guys. Far from having no regard for them, I have tremendous respect for their hard work and creating such a great coffee shop. I’m just a hard working small business guy myself. I love to brew beer, create things and take care of people. I try to make an honest living. I love what I do. The Steady Hand guys are in a tough spot and I do feel for them. I went by to introduce myself to them and assure them that we will do whatever we can to make their difficult situation less difficult. I was approached to see if I would be interested in taking over that spot once Everybody’s was closing. We’re going to open a brewery in there. The equipment has to go somewhere and it only works if it goes in the current space occupied by Steady Hand. I was given the impression that those guys were looking to move, were aware of the coming change and that is why they chose to only have a 30 day lease. I have since learned that was not the case. With that said I’m just trying to open up. I didn’t kick them out. I understand their hard work and I think it is great that they have such passionate and loyal fans. That’s cool. But I would hope any anger shouldn’t be directed at me or The Slice & Pint. We want to be a positive addition to the already great neighborhood. We are very excited and can’t wait to get open. I think if you talk to the Steady Hand guys now they have a better understanding of the situation and know that we in no way have screwed them over.

    • Crafty

      Emorhoids don’t actually care about Everybody’s or Steady Hand.

      • Steady Hand

        Crafty, please do not insult my customers nor speculate on their care. It’s just rude.

        With That Said. I have some other things to say and I’m sorry if it’s a touch long winded.

        Hello, everyone.
        Five years ago, a little known coffee shop by the name of Method Coffee Bar opened at 1593 N. Decatur Rd. It’s goal was to show Atlanta that brew-to-order coffee through a Chemex, using responsible/sustainable coffees, using no artificial syrups or sugars could, in fact, be fast and friendly. It did well. It even got a little national recognition for its efforts. This is also where Jordan, Jamie, and I (now owners of Steady Hand) met and where we met our two baristas, Thomas and Frank. We did good business, made great friends, and showed we cared about the community and neighborhood as much as our coffee.

        The owner of Method was not as dedicated as we were and ran out on us without warning. Jordan and I wanted to stay. We did it on our own for a short time, working for tips and using the register money for buying coffee and milk. We worked until the power was turned off. During the month between the power being shut off and Octane Coffee taking over the space, we got to really know Andy of Everybody’s Pizza. He would buy us beer and pizza to help lift our spirits, and well, feed us. At one point, we even rebuilt the wood benches that sit outside of Everybody’s for a little extra cash. Then the space was Octane and things were good. Jordan and I were there for 12 of the 15 months Octane was open, but we wanted to get more creative with our craft. So we traveled to Australia to learn to roast coffee.

        When we got back, we had no desire to work for anyone. We wanted to do our own thing but wanted to be in the neighborhood we’d been a part of for three years. Jordan, Jamie and I formed a coffee company and a started a coffee van. Crazy? Yes. The van is a 1982 VW bus that was driven down here from New York by a “hippie” who wanted to see his “ma” in North Carolina and hang out in Atlanta for a weekend. We outfitted the van with an espresso machine, grinder, fridge, steel tables, and a whole lot of dreams and it became the Rattletrap. It wasn’t overly pretty what with its old brown paint, but it was awesome.

        As the Rattletrap was ready, so was Octane to return 1593 N. Decatur Rd to us. We wanted it; we wanted our customers, our friends, and our neighborhood all back. So, we put most everything we had into it. We put the Rattletrap in the parking lot to show the community we were coming back, while serving the best coffee ever to come out of a van—promise. The shop got a face-lift, and Andy even helped us through our changes. He gave us advice and a month to get everything off the ground before our lease started. The name Steady Hand Pour House was formed as a statement to our dedication to our craft and the people who supported it. Steady because we wanted to assure we would never leave; Hand because we craft by hand; Pour because baristas specialize in not only coffee but also in pouring; and House because it was home.

        In our first year, we doubled sales from the last two coffee shops; we had customers who were our friends; we became know as one of the best coffee shops in the south, and we got Andy to drink cappuccinos. But most of all, we finally had turned the space into a community. At our one-year anniversary, we decided against having a celebration, because we only wanted to celebrate after being there longer than any other shop. When our trial lease was up, we started the back and forth of negotiating a new lease. We started paying what Andy wanted until we could come to a number we both could agree to. After awhile and some building issues, we just shook on it. We were closer then landlord and tenant, and we trusted him. From a business standpoint, maybe we should have done things differently, but I didn’t think our longtime neighbor would sell us short.

        In the last 6 months, Steady Hand Pour House has had a two-year anniversary celebration that will never be forgotten, grown business to a point where we were going to have to hire a third full-time employee, and ventured into roasting our own coffee. Steady Hand Pour House has brought to Emory Village a stand-out, steadfast small business in a sea of big commercial business options. We took on two Starbucks that you can see from our patio, just like Slice and Pint will take on two fast delivery pizza joints. I only ask that no one doubt Steady Hand Pour House loved its community and the people within it. No one asked if we wanted to stay, and we are allowed to be angry about that. I wish Slice and Pint luck, and I hope Andy enjoys retirement. The owner of 1593 should know that he could have asked us to stay and entered into another lease with us instead of trying to provide another location option. Most of all, I hope that no one thinks we’re done. We’ll be around. We are not closing, cause we don’t do that. #SHPH4LIFE

      • Dale

        Crafty, don’t insult my customers nor speculate on their lack of loyalty. I’m one of the owners of Steady Hand and we have written up something I think will put a touch of light on the whole thing.
        Five years ago, a little known coffee shop by the name of Method Coffee Bar opened at 1593 N. Decatur Rd. It’s goal was to show Atlanta that brew-to-order coffee through a Chemex, using responsible/sustainable coffees, using no artificial syrups or sugars could, in fact, be fast and friendly. It did well. It even got a little national recognition for its efforts. This is also where Jordan, Jamie, and I (now owners of Steady Hand) met and where we met our two baristas, Thomas and Frank. We did good business, made great friends, and showed we cared about the community and neighborhood as much as our coffee.

        The owner of Method was not as dedicated as we were and ran out on us without warning. Jordan and I wanted to stay. We did it on our own for a short time, working for tips and using the register money for buying coffee and milk. We worked until the power was turned off. During the month between the power being shut off and Octane Coffee taking over the space, we got to really know Andy of Everybody’s Pizza. He would buy us beer and pizza to help lift our spirits, and well, feed us. At one point, we even rebuilt the wood benches that sit outside of Everybody’s for a little extra cash. Then the space was Octane and things were good. Jordan and I were there for 12 of the 15 months Octane was open, but we wanted to get more creative with our craft. So we traveled to Australia to learn to roast coffee.

        When we got back, we had no desire to work for anyone. We wanted to do our own thing but wanted to be in the neighborhood we’d been a part of for three years. Jordan, Jamie and I formed a coffee company and a started a coffee van. Crazy? Yes. The van is a 1982 VW bus that was driven down here from New York by a “hippie” who wanted to see his “ma” in North Carolina and hang out in Atlanta for a weekend. We outfitted the van with an espresso machine, grinder, fridge, steel tables, and a whole lot of dreams and it became the Rattletrap. It wasn’t overly pretty what with its old brown paint, but it was awesome.

        As the Rattletrap was ready, so was Octane to return 1593 N. Decatur Rd to us. We wanted it; we wanted our customers, our friends, and our neighborhood all back. So, we put most everything we had into it. We put the Rattletrap in the parking lot to show the community we were coming back, while serving the best coffee ever to come out of a van—promise. The shop got a face-lift, and Andy even helped us through our changes. He gave us advice and a month to get everything off the ground before our lease started. The name Steady Hand Pour House was formed as a statement to our dedication to our craft and the people who supported it. Steady-to assure we would never leave; Hand-we craft by hand; Pour-not only coffee but also the art of pouring; and House-it’s home.

        In our first year, we doubled sales from the last two coffee shops; we had customers who were our friends; we became know as one of the best coffee shops in the south, and we got Andy to drink cappuccinos. But most of all, we finally had turned the space into a community. At our one-year anniversary, we decided against having a celebration, because we only wanted to celebrate after being there longer than any other shop. When our trial lease was up, we started the back and forth of negotiating a new lease. We started paying what Andy wanted until we could come to a number we both could agree to. After awhile and some building issues, we just shook on it. We were closer then landlord and tenant, and we trusted him. From a business standpoint; we should have done things differently, but we’re those kind of guys.

        In the last 6 months, Steady Hand Pour House has had a two-year anniversary celebration that will never be forgotten, grown business to a point where we were going to have to hire a third full-time employee, and ventured into roasting our own coffee. Steady Hand Pour House has brought to Emory Village a stand-out, steadfast small business in a sea of big commercial business options. We took on two Starbucks that you can see from our patio, just like Slice and Pint will take on two fast delivery pizza joints. I only ask that no one doubt Steady Hand Pour House loved its community and the people within it. No one asked if we wanted to stay, and we are allowed to be angry about that. I wish Slice and Pint luck, and I hope Andy enjoys retirement. The owner of 1593 should know that we would still love to stay, and you too can tell him that. Most of all, I hope that no one thinks we’re done. We’ll be around. We are not closing, cause we don’t do that. #SHPH4LIFE

    • J

      Everbody’s pizza was an institution, but it was not that good. I’m happy to see it go. Nostalgia is no replacement for good food. Dominos, Papa Johns and Romeos are even worse. The Village deserves better pizza. Avellino’s in Decatur, Osteria in VA Highlands and Baraonda in Midtown are the best and what we need in the Village. Hopefully the new Slice & Pint will provide pizza as good or better than these standouts. Please do not promise to keep providing Everbody’s style pizza. I hope Steady Hand finds a good place to land.

  • Anon

    I thought Everybody’s food was pretty good. I love all the toppings they pour on it. I hate it when Emory kids get all high and mighty with their palates.

  • Concerned Student

    Crawford Moran sounds like a terrible person. His establishments will be losing my business. Shame on you, sir!