The iconic Elliott Street Deli & Pub is officially for sale after 13 years in Castleberry Hill, Curbed Atlanta reported earlier this week. The 600-square-foot dive bar, housed in a former 1870s carriage house across from Mercedes-Benz Stadium, is owned by brothers Mike and Pete Jakob.
Elliott Street is known (and loved) throughout Atlanta for its deli-style sandwiches like the French dip and hot pressed pastrami paired with cheap drinks and PBR tallboys. With walls layered in dollar bills and seating for no more than 30, the bar sees everyone walking through its doors, from artists and musicians to well-heeled financiers and conference attendees.
The brothers, former general contractors who moved their business and residence to 51 Elliott Street in 2004, never set out to own a bar, let alone run one with a three-room inn above it and a music venue beneath it for over a decade.
Mike Jakob tells Eater Atlanta, he and his brother are simply “ready to move on.” Jakob says he’s also always wanted to sail around the world. The brothers are asking $3.3 million for the entire property; a bargain compared to its $1.6 billion dollar neighbor, the Benz.
It’s seen and weathered much with the neighborhood: the 2019 Super Bowl, SEC championship football games, DragonCon, Atlanta United crowds and the team’s 2018 championship soccer season, parking and land disputes with the city, an ice storm which crippled Atlanta in 2010, and a freak snow storm four years later that stranded motorists on nearby highways for up to 24 hours.
Elliott Street Pub resides on the literal front lines of the neighborhood’s real estate development explosion, including the controversial project involving the Gulch and Centennial Yards, directly across the street.
When the brothers purchased the building 15 years ago, it had been vacant for two decades and in rough shape. The roof was caved in nearly three floors, three feet of water was pumped from the basement, and damage from a previous fire needed to be repaired.
“We purchased the building because it was out in the middle of nowhere. It was going to be our shop where we could make a lot of noise late at night,” explains Jakob. “We build cars, we run saws, we’re pretty loud. It’s next to the fire station, and we figured, we can’t be louder than those guys!”
Renovating the century-plus-old building took over a year-and-a-half due to extensive damage and jumping through hoops regarding preservation restrictions placed on the historic property.
The brothers had just completed a 30,000-square-foot club in Milwaukee when the idea to open a bar at their Elliott Street property was born. They were inspired by the gritty neighborhood bars which seemed to be on every corner throughout Milwaukee. Proprietors lived above them and specialized in one food item, ranging from fried fish to chili. Pete decided Elliott Street should keep it simple and with low overhead costs: sandwiches.
It was a pioneering move to open the bar in Castleberry Hill, spurring on other businesses to do the same.
“They never planned on sticking around as long as they have, but they honestly did it because it was what was needed,” owner Josh Calvin of neighboring bar and sushi restaurant Bottle Rocket says. “They saw they could make an impact on an up-and-coming neighborhood in Atlanta and stuck around to make sure it was done right. They’re absolutely irreplaceable, and that business won’t be the same without them.”
According to Jakob, the former carriage house was purchased around 1950 by an African-American businessman named Alfred Smith. He opened a real estate and insurance company there, and later opened a jazz club called the Birdcage downstairs. In the 1970s, the building changed hands and a 24-hour, underground nightclub named Dee’s Birdcage opened. It caught fire in the late 1980s.
Jakob sees the bar as carrying on its jazz club legacy; an underground, out-of-the-way sort of place where everyone is welcome and pretense isn’t tolerated.
Developers have never approached the brothers about purchasing the building. They like to think it’s because developers recognize the neighborhood not only wants the bar there, but understands the impact businesses like Elliott Street Pub have on Castleberry Hill.
“We built this place to be a true authentic place in the city. When you come to Elliott Street, you’re coming into our home. We’re not taking this sale lightly. It’s always hard to leave home.”
It’s not the first time the bar has been for sale. Although, this time, officially. As an anniversary joke five years ago, they put it up for sale on deal site ScoutMob and hosted an “Eight is Enough” party. But Jakob says, a sale has always been in the cards. The brothers moved out of the building last year, their home since 2006.
They hope the next owner of Elliott Street continues what they’ve started there. The sale hinges on whether the brothers and their bar staff like the buyer, in addition to being financially sound.
“The Jakob brothers have been instrumental to the growth and creative spirit of Castleberry Hill,” longtime neighborhood resident and Atlanta Movie Tours CEO Carrie Burns says. “Mike and Pete jumped in and built a super successful business with a great fan base and spurred so many conversations around art and community.”
She, too, hopes the future owner continues what the Jakobs began at Elliott Street over a decade ago.
An ideal scenario for the brothers would see Elliott Street Pub and its adjoining businesses becoming a staff-owned co-op or for neighboring businesses like Bottle Rocket and Atlanta Movie Tours pooling their money together to purchase it.
“Pete and I are just the caretakers of this building, and we’re now in search of its next caretakers to continue this building’s Atlanta legacy. It’s now got a heartbeat and is such a special place, built by the people who love it.”
Open Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 12 a.m.; Tuesday, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 2 a.m.; Friday and Saturday, 12 p.m. to 2 a.m.; Sunday, 12 p.m. until.