Backed by Skip Englebrecht (Fishmonger) and Nicolette Valdespino of Paris on Ponce, expect a similar Parisian cabaret vibe and design aesthetic at Pigalle as the pair’s former entertainment venue on Ponce de Leon Avenue. Pigalle also features a hidden bar behind the theater space slinging absinthe drinks and other classic cocktails.
Englebrecht and Valdespino closed Paris on Ponce in 2019 after it was destroyed by fire and the owner of the building declined to repair the damage. The Paris on Ponce building and Englebrecht’s adjacent restaurant 8ARM were eventually sold and will become part of the redevelopment plans by Portman Holdings.
Located across from Future Nightclub at Underground Atlanta, Pigalle is named for the red light district of Paris in the 18th arrondissement, home to the city’s most famous cabaret and nightclub Moulin Rouge. The cabarets and nightclubs of the iconic Parisian entertainment district are reflected in the eclectic decor at Pigalle, which includes gilded mirrors and lamps, marble busts, and red neon lights. Even the servers are clad in cabaret attire, while a wraparound porch out front is lit by gas lamps. The design shifts to more modern decor behind the theater at the absinthe bar, featuring leopard print wallpaper and vibrant blues and greens surrounding the 33-foot bar.
While Valdespino manages the entertainment side of the business for Pigalle, Englebrecht and Fishmonger beverage director Caleb Grubb oversee cocktails and a small food menu at the absinthe bar. Grubb plans to offer absinthe tastings and cocktails, as well as classic cocktails, beer, and wine to pair with a menu of charcuterie and cheese boards and other snacks from chef Darryl Taylor. A walk-up window also serves frozen drinks, including frozen Irish coffee.
For a yearly fee of $350, people can become members of Pigalle and the absinthe bar. Membership is by invitation only and offers private burlesque and musical shows, discounts, and exclusive access to the absinthe bar twice a month.
Underground Atlanta began life as a series of storefronts, restaurants, and hotels built along the railroad tracks paralleling Alabama Street near Pryor Street following the Civil War. It was considered Atlanta’s earliest commercial district.
With pedestrian and vehicle traffic increasing in downtown Atlanta during the 1920s, a five-block stretch was covered over to raise the street level, transforming many of the buildings on what is now Lower Alabama into basement storage for businesses above ground, and eventually into speakeasies during Prohibition, something the absinthe bar at Pigalle also tips its hat to in both vibe and design.
Lalani Ventures purchased Underground Atlanta in 2020 from South Carolina-based WRS Inc. and is working to revitalize the entertainment district with new restaurants and bars, retail, and art installations. Music venue the Masquerade is now open at Underground Atlanta, as is Dolo Pizza, Daiquiriville, and Future Showbar (an LGBTQ-friendly restaurant, cabaret, and dance club.) MJQ nightclub is relocating to the former Dante’s Down the Hatch space by the end of the year.
Earlier this summer, Atlanta Brewing Company announced it was no longer opening at Underground Atlanta as the lease agreement between Georgia’s oldest craft brewery and Lalani Ventures was terminated.
“We’re really sad to announce that unfortunately, Underground Atlanta had to recently terminate the lease due to construction not commencing since our announcement and the [brewery’s] inability to fulfill other lease obligations,” Lalani Ventures senior vice president and head of leasing Mary Turner said at the time.
Atlanta Brewing Company president and CEO Alton Shields credited Turner for advocating for the brewery while they tried to line up investors and navigated a rezoning process with the city to allow breweries to manufacture beer Downtown. Shields indicated that rezoning the area for breweries took six months and investors weren’t seeing the “vision” for Underground Atlanta or the brewery’s place there. Despite terminating the lease with the brewery, Shields said he believes in Lalani Ventures’ plans for Underground Atlanta.
50 Alabama Street, Atlanta. thepigalle.com.