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.

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