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City Talk

City Talk appears every Tuesday and Sunday - Email me. Send mail to 10 East 32nd St., Savannah, Ga. 31401.

CITY TALK: New/old 18+ policy will help city's music scene

Over the years, I’ve written regularly about the issue of allowing 18- to 20-year-olds into live music establishments that derive most of their income from alcohol.

I.e., should legal adults over the age of 18 be allowed into bars that have live entertainment?

The Train Wrecks, a Savannah band, take to the stage in 2013 at The Jinx. Joseph Jacob/Savannah Morning News

CITY TALK: Savannah's new cultural center: We need to get it right

I agree with the thrust of the recent criticisms about the city’s handling of the planned new Cultural Arts Center.

The project has taken too long, has been plagued by bureaucratic chaos and is possibly poised for considerable cost overruns.

And those aren’t the only reasons to be displeased.

Savannah's new cultural center: We need to get it right

CITY TALK: James Beard awards spotlight 2 locally

If you’re following the Savannah restaurant scene, you probably already know that two local establishments have been named semifinalists for the 2015 James Beard Foundation Awards. Cheryl and Griffith Day from Back in the Day Bakery are semifinalists in the Outstanding Baker category. The Grey is in the running for Best New Restaurant.

The 2015 Restaurant and Chef Award Semifinalists -

CITY TALK: Sandfly BBQ on Henry Street looks like a winner

The second location of Sandfly BBQ is now open at 120 W. Henry St. in SCAD’s old Streamliner Diner. The vintage diner car proves an excellent space for an established brand like Sandfly BBQ.

Sandfly BBQ on Henry Street looks like a winner

CITY TALK: Mayor's speech: What it said, what it didn't

Mayor Edna Jackson’s state of the city speech last week focused heavily on Savannah’s persistent violent crime.

Jackson cited a variety of reasons for the city’s violence, including Savannah’s gun culture and “generational crime occurring in the same neighborhoods — and same families — year after year.”

CITY TALK: A Savannah St. Patrick's Day tradition: Last-minute decisions

In 2014, Georgia lawmakers passed a bill allowing bars in Savannah to be open on the Sunday before St. Patrick’s Day. The law won’t apply this year, however, because of the narrow way it was written. Savannah bars can open if a Sunday falls on March 16, 17 or 18, but this year the pre-holiday Sunday is March 15.

A Savannah St. Patrick's Day tradition: Last-minute decisions

CITY TALK: Sly's Sliders and Fries offers flavorful menu

Late last year, Sly’s Sliders and Fries opened quietly at 1710 Abercorn St. That’s between 33rd and 34th streets in the Thomas Square neighborhood. The narrow storefront was occupied a couple of years ago by Sammy Greens.

On a recent trip, someone in line in front of me didn’t know what sliders were, so I guess it’s worth saying that a slider is a small sandwich or burger on a bun.

CITY TALK: Georgia transportation proposal tough deal for taxpayers, local governments

When the proposed transportation funding bill was released last week in Atlanta, elected officials touting the measure used various phrases that included three words: “no,” “new” and “taxes.”
But let’s be clear. If the proposed bill were enacted today, it would raise taxes at the pump substantially, and if it becomes law in anything close to its current form, many millions of dollars will be shifted annually from local tax coffers to the state.

CITY TALK: Strong employment data to finish 2014

About a month ago, various analysts around town, including me, were trumpeting a strong 2014 for the regional economy and predicting solid growth in 2015, too.

We were making those judgments and predictions without some key numbers from the end of 2014. Fortunately, the employment data released last week largely reinforced the existing narrative.

According to the Georgia Department of Labor, the Savannah metro area (Chatham, Effingham and Bryan counties) had 166,100 payroll jobs in December 2014, up an impressive 2.7 percent from 161,700 in December 2013.

CITY TALK: Home Depot helps out American Legion post

As many of you know, a fire last spring caused significant damage in the rear of the first floor of the American Legion Post 135 and caused smoke damage throughout the building.

The grand ballroom on the second floor, which has been home to many weddings and other special events, reopened months ago, but renovations have continued on the first floor, which houses Legion offices, a meeting room, the organization’s popular bar and Betty Bombers All-American Eatery.

CITY TALK: Pros and cons of expanding city's to-go cup zone

Savannah officials are dropping a few of the more problematic proposals from a draft revision of the city’s alcohol ordinance.

According to information on the city’s website (, city staff are scrapping the proposed requirements that many license holders hire additional security even if they have no history of police calls and that 18- to 20-year-olds be banned from restaurants that serve alcohol after 10 p.m.

CITY TALK: For 'fall-down drunken St. Paddy partying'

Up in Sullivan’s Island, S.C., folks are trying to get control of their St. Patrick’s Day celebrations. “Mainly,” writes Charleston Post and Courier columnist Brian Hicks, “they want to cut out some of the vomiting and public urination.”

Hicks quotes Sullivan’s Island Mayor Pat O’Neil: “If you want that kind of party, Savannah is only two hours away.” Hicks adds: “If you want fall-down drunken St. Paddy partying, Savannah is your town, not Sullivan’s.”

CITY TALK: Downtown favorite returns with Lady Saigon Cuisine

For years, Saigon on Broughton Street was one of my favorite downtown restaurants. The flavorful Vietnamese and Thai dishes, the moderate prices, the solid service and a variety of other factors made Saigon a staple of the downtown scene.

CITY TALK: Neighborhoods have much in common in new 2nd District

In last Tuesday’s City Talk, I looked at some of the issues that might influence the Savannah city elections in 2015.

Later in the week, City Council approved the new aldermanic map that I referenced.

At a candidate forum a couple of election cycles ago, a resident argued that downtown needed a single alderman to represent the interests of the Historic District. A sitting member of council pointed out that the area was represented by both at-large council members and by aldermen from Districts 1 and 2.

CITY TALK: The Grey a thrilling addition to food scene

On your first trip to The Grey, pause outside so you can appreciate the restored glory of the Streamline Moderne architecture of the old Greyhound depot at 109 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd.

There are beautiful curves to the exterior wall and to the windows through which Greyhound patrons would have watched the bustle of what was then West Broad Street.

Take a second and feel the Vitrolite glass on the exterior walls and enjoy the view of the diners and drinkers in the beautifully lit bar.

CITY TALK: Trends to watch in upcoming city elections

So 2015 is an election year for the city of Savannah. With residents so frustrated by crime and other issues, could we see a sea change at City Hall?

Anything is possible, but not everything is likely. We don’t seem to do ourselves any favors by having city elections in odd years, but that seems fitting for Savannah.

CITY TALK: 2015 looks promising for Broughton St.

In a City Talk column almost exactly one year ago, I mentioned the efforts of developer Ben Carter to market a “premier portfolio” of downtown Savannah properties. Carter’s ambitious efforts made big news throughout 2014, but it’s worth reminding ourselves that Broughton Street has been attracting major national retailers for years.

Some of my first columns almost 15 years ago were about the evolution of Broughton Street with the arrival of Gap and Banana Republic. Retailers such as Urban Outfitters and Marc Jacobs arrived later, and, more recently, we’ve seen higher-end chains such as Kate Spade and Free People.

CITY TALK: 2015 local economy looking strong

So what are the prospects for the Savannah area economy in 2015?

It looks like there are lots of green lights ahead.

The leading index of the Coastal Empire Economic Monitor published by the Center for Regional Analysis at Armstrong State University shows solid growth into the middle of next year, and I’m betting data for the fourth quarter will indicate growth even deeper into 2015.

CITY TALK: Can city of Savannah save police merger?

When the annual statistics are released next year, 2014 will look like a fairly average year for crime in Savannah.

But it’s been an uglier and more disheartening year than the numbers indicate.

CITY TALK: Liberty Street Grill, Liberty Street Gallery add to street's local flair

This newspaper recently spotlighted the surge in locally owned businesses on Liberty Street. Last Wednesday, a friend and I checked out two of the newest entries: Liberty Street Gallery and Liberty Street Grill.